Monday, May 19, 2014

The Rio Grande, looking into Boquillas Canyon and towards the Sierra del Carmen mountain range in the distance

During our last trip into Big Bend National Park we also visited the Boquillas Hot Springs,  some four miles upriver from Boquillas Canyon. 
A series of thermal springs exist adjacent to the Rio Grande along a stretch beginning upstream of Rio Grande Village but this is the most famous one.

There used to be a bathhouse here that was build over the spring but today only some ruins of the foundation are left and in one corner you can see the 105F hot water bubbling up to the surface.
You're allowed to soak in it if you want to, it is supposedly beneficial for your health , especially if you suffer from arthritis or skin conditions.

We had worked up a sweat during the mile long hike to get there, it was very hot that day, so we really didn't feel like soaking in hot water. (That, and we also forgot to bring our bathing suits. (Of course!)

A short, and flat, hike along side the river brings you to the springs and a slightly longer one through the hills loops you back to the parking lot.
From up above you have a great view of the river, the canyon and the mountain ranges.

This beautiful Great Blue Heron was overlooking his empire from up above....

... as was this noisy little Brown-crested Flycatcher from the prickly Ocotillos.

Talking about prickly! You don't want to go near these Hedgehog Cacti!

When they bloom they almost look approachable ....


... if you're a bee ..

As you can see this blog is hugely 'after the fact' again, since the next pictures show our dinner at 'Long Draw Pizza', 10 minutes away from us on the road to Terlingua.
It was my Birthday dinner on the 26th of April!

We ate at the bar (see the picture I made using the mirror opposite of us) and choose a pizza with blue cheese and ham. Although the crust is a standard thin crust that comes from the freezer it is surprisingly good, nice and crispy, and the pizza is LOADED with cheese and stuff and piping hot straight from the oven.
Combined with a nice cold beer and a very friendly and laid back atmosphere it was a great dinner!

Finally, I know it's hard to understand for some but discovering a bird I've never seen before can just make my day (or week, or month!)

I love his little crest and you should've heard him sing!

I'm always partial to birds that show some color (sorry my LBB's (Little Brown Birds), so I was thrilled to see this  'Silver Cardinal' or Pyrrhuloxia. 
That is to say I only discovered it really was one when I enlarged the shot on my computer. He was very far away, I had to use full zoom and still had to enlarge it in Picasa without blurring the image (which wasn't as much as I'd liked). 
I actually thought in the field it was a true Cardinal but since I'd never seen either one before I was very happy to 'score' this one!

I know. Silly me...

Thursday, May 1, 2014


The truth is in the eyes they say. 
Ha! If only I had not listened to that, it would have saved me a couple of frustrating hours trying to find the name of this bird!
Here's the 'mocking' irony: it's (just) a northern mockingbird! 
Well, in MY book(s), they have 'mostly' yellow eyes. Or at least, yellow-ish to orange. So, here I am. Looking for a bird with yellow eyes. You see any yellow in these ones?
Turns out, 'some' (and 'most' juveniles) have 'mostly' black eyes. 

To top it off, it turns out to be the Texas state bird! Duh.
Texas designated the mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) as official state bird in 1927. Northern Mockingbirds have extraordinary vocal abilities - they can sing up to 200 songs, including the songs of other birds, insect and amphibian sounds, even an occasional mechanical noise. The northern mockingbird is also the state bird of Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.

The Texas legislature noted that the mockingbird:

" found in all parts of the State, in winter and
in summer, in the city and in the country, on the prairie and in the woods and a singer of distinctive type, a fighter for the protection of his home, falling, if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan..."

Other than that I've been trying for several frustrating WEEKS now, to upload pictures to blogger. Or even text for that matter. Heck, I couldn't even open my post/draft list!
James finally took 'everything' off my computer and did a complete re-install. It's still giving me some fits but I've managed to put this blog together. For now. Phew!
Well see what happens when I try again.


This is Boquillas del Carmen. In Mexico. Where we went. Already 2 weeks ago....  (stupid computer)

Anyways. The Boquillas border crossing is in the far south east of Big Bend National Park and was one of the few destinations we had not 'done' yet. So, off we went, on a nice, sunny day.  


Interesting enough, this crossing is un-manned. That is to say, un-manned by customs officials. Since the building doubles as a visitor center for the State Park, the rangers inside will point you out through the back of the building where you than take a short walk to the river.

Here a Mexican in a little row boat will be waiting to row you to the Mexican side! 
All the while you're being serenaded by Victor Valdez, the singing boatman, who for 30 years has ferried people across the river. Retired now he's kept on singing, sitting in the shade of a tree on the other side and asking for a donation when you clamber up the river bank.

As if that's not 'authentic' enough you're than being hauled on a horse or burro to make your way to the village about a mile away! (no palm leaves though)

(OK, you CAN walk there yourselves, or take a ride with a truck, but James had never been on a burro so that's what we did. Only cost us $5 pp/return trip).


A 'guide' will walk behind you to make sure the stubborn beasts will get you there. He'll actually stay with you the whole time and will also point you to the Mexican customs in town, where you have to be screened and documented before you can venture into the village.


Although lots of people came up to show us their handmade souvenirs they weren't pushy and left us alone to explore.
That being said, there's really nothing much to explore I'm afraid. The village is poor, there's not much going on, it lacks any 'quaint-ness' and the people are polite but quite bored with tourists.
We ate some tacos and burritos that were OK but nothing to write home about and after 2 hours we made the whole trip again in reverse this time.

The day had gotten very, very hot and it was strangely overcast which had upped the humidity to quite uncomfortable levels.
I don't know who was sweating more, us or those poor donkeys!

Tourists. Oh, the shame of it all!

When you come back to the visitor center on the American side you than have to scan your passport through a machine and talk to a custom official in El Paso by phone and in front of a web camera, before you're being let out the front door by the park ranger again.

All in all it really wasn't more than what you'd call a 'tourist trap'. 
Not that they're really too aggressive in trying to make money off you but they at least succeeded in making me feel like a pretty stupid gringo ... or maybe a dumb-ass?

The Park at least didn't disappoint and was in full bloom right now and very pretty!


These blazing Desert Paint brushes along the side of the road were hard to miss!

And Opuntia Grahamii or Graham Club Cholla:


So pretty!

In the gardens around the Resort there's these:


Tree Tobacco and Desert Willow

For Easter we enjoyed a (complementary) dinner on the patio of the restaurant. James wasn't supposed to work this weekend but had to unexpectedly so we were offered this fabulous meal to make up for it!


The days have been very sunny and very warm lately. The temperatures have been up into the high 90's, even 2 days in the 100's already!

No wonder everything is flowering!

Not the ideal time to be upon a (hot) roof but James has been working on better cellphone/Internet reception for the resort:


And I re-upholstered our foot stool that had been professionally shredded by Merlin. Much better, but for how long?


            James is always very popular when he comes home from work!
(or it's the apple pie next to him they're after ..)