07 March 2006 Tuesday

Another beautiful sunrise.  Since we hiked about 22 hard miles in two days, we’re taking it easy today.  We unpacked and stowed our backpacks and other gear in the “attic”, our Thule carrier on the roof.  We’re making coffee and tea ]when we’re greeted by some volunteers who are checking permits and cleaning sites.  Ed and Nancy Bump, i.e.. “Bumps on the Road”, are retired and traveling, for a couple of years and counting.  They live out of their trailer and volunteer for a couple of months at a time at different parks.  We talked with them for a while about our trip and our rig.  Ed talked about a similar setup he had years ago for fishing trips.  They had to go about their duties and we headed off for the hot springs to soak our sore muscles.  

The hot springs was packed with people, but after a minute, I could tell it was one family with five kids and a just one or two others.  We soaked for a while and talked briefly with some women who were trying to paddle up the Rio Grande.  They were having trouble with shallow water and the Mexican guy selling walking sticks on the other side helped them find deeper water.  

Since the borders tightened with Mexico, we can no longer go from the park across into little Mexican towns like Santa Elena (that got electricity the year before we visited in 2001), or Boquillas del Carmen (that didn’t have electricity at that time).  These little towns exist off subsistence farming and a little revenue from tourists that visit.  Tightening the borders really hurt these towns.  At the hot springs, every time we’ve been there, we’ve seen someone trying to sell walking sticks, rocks, jewelry, anything they think a tourist might buy.  

As we were leaving we talked with a German family that had just showed up.  The father translated, the mother and son didn’t seem to speak English.  We bid them “Aufwedersehn” and headed out for lunch.

We went to a little oasis for lunch called Dugout Wells.  Dugout Wells in a natural spring “seep” in the desert that has been “dugout” to increase water flow at some time in the past.  It’s now the location of larger trees and Cottonwoods and provides much welcome shade in the heat of the day.  We stopped there to make lunch and so did several others.  We ended up sharing our picnic table with some folks from Tennessee visiting their mother “who lives in Texas but is not FROM Texas”, as she was clear in telling us.  They had been to Big Bend many times over the years.  They gave us a chunk of some wonderful beef jerky that they had picked up somewhere along their travels.  Yummm… We cleaned up and headed up to our next campsite, Nine Point Draw.  We walked around the site a little and found what looks like an old homestead.  It looked like the foundation of an old building with lots of rusted cans and bottle caps, broken glass and broken porcelain plates.  I can’t believe the number of people who have tried to live out here in the middle of the desert!  We’re taking some time this evening to download some photos and computer stuff.  We plan on a day hike tomorrow morning and then we leave Big Bend.

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