Day #5 of the West Trip: There is always a silver lining.

We slept in today when we realized the winds would probably be unruly, and there was no point in getting up to see Santa Elena at the crack of dawn. It was a smart move. The moment I stepped out to check our hookup connections, three people practically ran at me shouting “Are you guys okay?!”

It was a rough night with little sleep, but we made it through unscathed. The winds were much lower when we got up, but my weather app warned me that it wouldn’t stay that way.

The next thing out of everyone’s mouths was “Please, please don’t go into the park today!” When the experienced RVers are telling you not to drive, they mean it. I assured them that we do not have a death wish, and they all let out a collective sigh of relief.

However, we only had two days in Big Bend before heading out to White Sands, and we weren’t about to spend it sitting in the RV. I called around, but absolutely none of the tour groups had availability. The next time we visit Big Bend, we definitely won’t be doing it during this region’s Spring Break! We decided to strap on our photography gear and walk into Terlingua. We were staying in a ghost town, and while it wasn’t Big Bend, it was definitely worth exploring. As we set out down Highway 170 and stopped to take pictures of the stone ruins right outside the RV park, one of our neighbors rode up to us on his motorcycle (We didn’t feel comfortable towing a vehicle for this trip, but we may have to next time!) and handed us a hand-drawn map. Apparently, there are hieroglyphics in the mountains in Terlingua. I say apparently because we never did find them. Amusingly enough, he’s never found them either!

Abandoned building
This adorable, abandoned home was within walking distance of Paisano. 

We had a fantastic time wandering the desert looking for them, though! Terlingua is literally a ghost town. There is nothing here. As soon as we stepped off the road, that was it. The town was gone, and we were in the wild.

Hiking Terlingua
Terlingua has its own beautiful scenery! 
Terlingua 1
Big Bend is not the only place with gorgeous views! 

We ended up finding this incredibly creepy cowboy graveyard out in the middle of nowhere, and we immediately turned tail and went in the opposite direction as soon as we found it for fear that we had stepped on private property. Our misadventure led us down a path, and we saw high rock walls in the distance. We had been stopping and snapping pictures for a while at that point, and we were about to turn around and go back, but I dragged us around yet another corner, and behold, we found an old, dried up river that had probably been enormous and beautiful thousands of years ago.

Dried up river
If you get the chance, go looking for this gem! 

We had SO much fun in that river bed. We were quite disappointed that we couldn’t go into the park today, but that was probably one of the best hikes I’ve ever been on. We spent five hours out in the desert, and we ended up frying in the sun. It was so worth it!

For lunch, we dragged ourselves into one of the two restaurants in Terlingua (that we are aware of!). We had been eyeing the Chile Pepper Café since we got here, and we were not disappointed with the tacos or tres leches!

Chili Pepper
The Chile Pepper Cafe in Terlingua, Texas. 

We finally dragged ourselves back to the RV as the wind started to pick up, so it was a good decision not to drive today. The wind has largely calmed down as I type this at 9:00 at night, and the wind should be gone by the time we leave in the morning.

We absolutely want to come back here one day. Big Bend gets a 10/10, and when we come back, the first places we want to stop at are Santa Elena Canyon (and the Rio Grande) and the Chisos Mountains. We might even be brave enough to venture into Mexico! One of our neighbors raved about a restaurant called La Kiva, so that is where we will eat next time.

All in all, we are disappointed that we didn’t get to see as much of Big Bend as we wanted to, but we did manage to drive all but maybe two roads that were accessible to our RV. That being said, we have twenty-seven stops on this trip, and bad weather was bound to impact a few! It just means that we have to come back to Big Bend one day, and we certainly aren’t sad about that!

Published by Alyse N. Steves, Ph.D.

Alyse N. Steves received her Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University. She is also graduate of Kennesaw State University, where she received a B.S. in Biotechnology. Alyse is a published author, with her first book making its debut in August 2016 ( Outside of science and writing, Alyse is an avid traveler who also enjoys the company of her family, friends, and pets.

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