Holiday Travel and Border Update:18-27DEC09
I know this post reads more like a travelogue than my usual Border Update, but it’s my blog so what the hell? It's punctuated with seemingly random pics of three out of four of my favorite things, dogs, guns and motorcycles. (I like bare naked ladies too but this ain't that kind of website)
I hope y’all enjoy reading about my trip and seeing the photos as much as I did experiencing it. And I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and I pray that you have a safe and Happy New Year! -C1
Friday 18DEC09-588 miles
0700- Hot Shot and I departed the C1 compound with Christmas in Big Bend National Park in Texas as our destination.
Stopped in Yuma, and the I-10/8 split for gas and at Bowlins Continentental Divide for a rest stop.
Thankfully Hot Shot has a bigger bladder than I do and by Friday evening we made it to my home state of Texas where we stayed at a motel in Anthony.
Saturday 19DEC09-141 miles
Slept late after a long drive the day before. By 1030 Hotshot and I were at the Border Patrol Museum in El Paso.
We were welcomed by the curator, whose husband was the first BP K9 trainer! Needless to say she and Hot Shot hit it off.
We enjoyed the various exhibits and displays as well as the amazing gift shop.
After an hour or so we hit the road again and by 1520 CST we were in Van Horn, Texas where we spent the night.
Sunday 20DEC09-218 miles
At Marathon I turned south toward Big Bend.
I arrived there at 1045 and was greeted by the Ranger who gave me the rules, maps and points of interest of the National Park.
At my request she also gave me the cell phone number of the Border Patrol Agent in charge of the park and the main BP number as well. While she was talking to me at the entrance gate I also studied a large sign posted in her window reminding me that loaded weapons were still illegal in National Parks until February 22, 2010 when the new law pertaining to Concealed Carry Weapons permit holders goes into effect. After leaving the entrance I found the first spot out of her view, pulled over and, much to my dislike and dismay, stowed my Glock 36.
Further on up the road a herd of seven or eight Javelina crossed hurriedly in front of my truck. Too fast for me to get a picture.
1520- While my campsite was very near the banks of the Rio Grande I could not see it due to reeds and brush.
Wanting to see the river, which forms the border between my home state and Mexico I drove to the Boquillas overlook.
There I could see the river but also found something curious. On the rocks of the high overlook were painted walking sticks and hand made scorpions
and a sign which read, “For the children of Boquillas Del Carmen (the tiny town in Mexico aways across the river.)
I also noticed two Mexicans and a horse across the river.
I hollered, “Is this stuff yours?” To which I received the reply “Si” In the spirit of Christmas, I purchased one of the scorpions, which were probably made from stolen copper wire. I place six dollars in a butter tub left by the sign, then hollered, “You ain’t gonna spend this money on cervesa are you?” A Mexican across the river hollered back, “No……Oh, maybe one.”
I laughed and headed for my truck when I heard splashing. I looked and to my amazement a Mexican was crossing the river on a small horse! He was coming to get his money! When he got to my side I said, “What makes you think I won’t call the Border Patrol?” (I carry three cell phones on three different providers, none had a signal there, I suspect he knew this) He replied, “Oh, we know when they come.”
This was probably true as BP was few and far between in the giant Park and the little town of Boquillas Del Carmen is high on a hill that overlooks the only road into the area where I was.
We chatted for a bit and then we were both on our way. Some much for being an effective deterrence to illegal border entry in my home state.
We then traveled to the road into the Hot Springs,
where I hiked into the river area, viewed pictographs on the canyon walls and saw the hot springs.
Supper was homemade tamales I bought at the Shell station in Marathon on the way in and Hot Shot and I bedded down in the tent early that evening.
That night a herd of Javelinas came through our camp, snorting and brushing up against the tent. Again, they were gone before I could emerge and get a picture.
Slept kind of late and spent the morning drinking coffee, reading and walking the dog around camp. In Big Bend dogs are not allowed on any of the trails due to the abundance of wildlife and while in camp must be chained or on a leash. They can never be left unattended. While I didn’t see any, there are mountain lions, black bears and bobcats in a addition to the coyotes and javelina, which I did encounter. My trusty K9 hated the chain and looked at me sadly like I no longer trusted him each time I hooked him up. He adapted well, however.
That afternoon we decided to drive around the park a little and headed to the south entrance of Old Ore Road, a gravel path with a sign recommending four-wheel drive.
I had intended to the lady at the store in Rio Grande Village where I was going but had forgotten.
Traveling at about five miles an hour on the old trail I encountered a truck coming the other way about two miles in. I asked them if they would tell the camp where I was, just in case I never made it back.
They said sure, but that I could just call someone if I had trouble. I explained that none of my cell phones had a signal. The passenger in the truck said, “AT&T has great reception out here.” I looked and sure enough I had full bars on my AT&T phone on that desolate stretch of gravel road in the middle of nowhere. It was one of only two places in the park where I could make calls (the other was just outside of Chisos Basin) I made a few calls to family members while I drove until losing the signal again. We made it to the road to Ernst Tinaja, but the sun was setting and I decided I’d better save the trip to the tinaja for another time and headed back.
That evening Hot Shot and I dined on Dinty Moore beef stew (Hot Shot’s favorite)
My parents arrived in their motorhome and my cousins in their 5th wheel and they set up in the RV lot with full hookups on the opposite side of the camp from where I was staying. My dad, cousin and I hiked up into Boquillas Canyon,
where the Mexicans sat on the other side singing up into the canyon.
Of course there were small cans to place money in on our side. My cousin was admonished by the Mexicans when he placed some change in the jar. “No coins!”, they said. So fuck ‘em. They got nothin’. Afterwards we went back to the RV, visited and had lunch which included tasty venison sausage made from a deer my cousin killed on his property in the Texas hill country. Hot Shot liked the venison too, but it didn’t agree with him. Mom made Jambalaya that night which was awesome! Thankfully, with temperatures at night in the upper twenties, Hot Shot and I both had enough blankets on at night that his brutal dog farts were muffled in the tent.
My dad took my cousin and I on a tour of the park. Both of them had been there many times but I had not. If fact, it was my dad’s lament some time ago that he regretted never having taken me to Big Bend that inspired me to make the trip and spend Christmas with my parents in the park. My mom graciously volunteered to keep Hot Shot and we struck off. First stop was the Chisos Mountains and the lodge at Chisos basin. There we walked down a small trail to an overlook of “The Window”, a gap in the mountains with a view of the valley below.
The pictures of this gorge eroded by the Rio Grande to not do it justice.
It was breathtaking. Dad and I hiked well up into the canyon.
The terrain does the border watch in Santa Elena.
Then it was back to the RV for tasty grub and great family times.
Thursday 24DEC09 Christmas Eve
After sleeping kind of late, for me anyway, My dad and my two cousins piled in my cousins four door diesel truck and headed back to the south entrance of Old Ore Road to hike up to Ernst Tinaja. Again, My mom graciously volunteered to stay behind and sit with her “grandson” Hot Shot, who was spoiled accordingly. Thanks Mom!
We hiked up into the canyon towards Ernst Tinaja.
Again, my pictures do not do it justice.
The multicolored rock formations were beautiful and geological forces at work to form the area do much to inspire reverence. I was in awe.
Back at the RV my cousins treated us to a Christmas Eve dinner of Guacamole, Tamales and Chili. Then Hot Shot and I headed back to the tent where we were greeted by a curious coyote. He left quickly upon seeing Hot Shot and Hot Shot, on the leash dragged me down the road, frantically peeing on everything the coyote had marked before him.
Friday 25DEC09 Merry Christmas!
Hot Shot and I headed to the RV for coffee and Christmas presents.
It was so nice to be with my folks, in my home state and in a beautiful National Park. I remain overwhelmed with gratitude, not only for my country and my folks, but for my wife who graciously sent me packing with her blessings. To them and to all my friends and family, to all the readers of this blog, to those who help keep this country free and safe, and to the Creator himself I humbly and sincerely say, Thank You!
Dinner was a beef tenderloin feast made by my mother, which we all enjoyed, including Hot Shot. I had packed up my campsite during the day so Hot Shot and I slept on the floor of my parents RV enabling us to get an early start the next morning.
Saturday 26DEC09-716 miles
0645- We said our goodbyes and hit the road. Just outside the park boundaries I pulled over and holstered up. A big buck and doe jumped in front, too fast to get a good picture.
In El Paso we took a detour off the beaten path onto old Highway 9 in New Mexico towards Columbus. This road runs parallel to the border and we soon found an entrance to the border.
Hot Shot and I patrolled a while and were soon joined by a BP agent, curious as to what we were doing.
I explained my MO and he said the new “fence” ( the vehicle barrier placed there about a year ago) had done much to stop frequent drive throughs. He admitted however that it did little to stop pedestrian traffic, only the remoteness of the area did that. He said too that from time to time ramps were employed by the Mexicans to breach the relatively new barrier.
Sunday 27DEC09-427 miles
Indeed the new fence in right in the back yard of many residents. And, like so many places where the new fence was built, it works real good, until it just stops!
We patrolled a bit then pressed on to San Luis.
In San Luis they have the old landing mat fence, the a new taller fence, then a chain link fence with barbed wire on top, then about 100 yards of open ground before reaching a game fence and beyond that an irrigation canal!
All this is lighted and monitored with cameras.
There was also a heavy BP presence.
I chatted for a while with a couple of agents who came to check me out then headed east down the secondary border road until I reached what will soon be the new San Luis Commercial POE, which looks very much like the one in Tecate only larger.
We took one more diversion through Yuma in hope to visit Spragues, and awesome sporting goods store, but it was closed.
Then we headed home.
But we had one more stop to make on our way back.
To pay our respects to a man who gave his life protecting our porous southern frontier.
And to say a prayer for a family who did not get to have their father and husband with them this Christmas.
By 1600 we were back at the C1 compound having driven a little over 2000 miles in our 10 day adventure.
If you have never been to Big Bend National Park I highly recommend it. I hope I can meet my children there someday.
The Border Patrol Museum is also an awesome attraction for those of us who are fans of their work.
And if you still have the opportunity to spend Christmas with your parents, by all means do so!
I hope to meet up with ya’ll again soon on a dusty border road to be extra eyes and ears for the Border Patrol. But don’t wait on me! Get down there and be of service to your rapidly disintegrating country. Whether or not I am there in person I shall be with you in the fellowship of the Spirit of America.
May God Bless You and Keep You.