More Texas

So, as of now, we’ve had 3 long days in the car.  The first was 10 hours to where we camped in Arkansas, then it was another day with 8 hours to Austin, then another 10 hour day from Austin to Big Bend National Park.  To entertain ourselves on those long drives, we did a couple of things.  We talked, we listened to music and Emily would read out loud and we would talk about the books she read.  The book that we started out with was In Defense Of Food by Michael Pollan.  Its a fantastic book and if you haven’t read it, you should.  He talks about the western diet, how it has changed over time, how it has created so many diseases and so many health problems, how most of the food is grown, how food is processed into food-like substances.  He also talks about diets from many different cultures and how they have effected societies and nourished, or not nourished, those people groups.  He talks about the applications of science to food and how in most cases science has led to a gross simplification of the understanding of food, a huge misunderstanding of the interconnectedness of all the parts of food, and the total confusion about the what to eat and how to eat of the western diet.  The end of the book gives some suggestions of how to eat a more healthy and more environmentally conscious diet: read the ingredient labels and if your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize any of the ingredients, don’t eat it; eat whole foods, mostly plants; if and when you do eat meat, eat wild meats or grass fed meats.

So, at this point in the trip when we were in the car we were eating mostly peanut butter (or almond butter) and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread and granola.  These foods fit with the suggestions made in that book, but we were starting to crave some fresh veggies.  I’ll come back to this later.

Big Bend National Park was pretty cool.  It is way out in the middle of nowhere, which was a nice change of pace from Austin.  About 2 minutes after driving through the entrance of the park, we saw some pig-like creatures on the left side of the road and I really like pigs so I stopped to take a look.  Off in some of the brushy desert plants were probably about 5 or 6 of these animals that we found out later were called javelinas (pronounced ha-va-leen-as).  They looked like little black pigs and I slowly walked over to the side of the road and I got to probably about 20 feet away from them before they ran off.  I really wanted to try to ride one, but they apparently didn’t want any part of that.  The other cool parts about Big Bend were stars at night, wow, I’ve never seen that many stars before, it was spectacular, and the hot springs.  There weren’t really many trees anywhere, so it was clear sky and ridiculous amounts of stars over the entire panorama of the sky, beautiful.  There was a soaking tub that was fed by a hot spring that was piped into the tub and it over flowed into the Rio Grande.  You could literally jump into the river from the hot tub if you wanted to.  Since I had never been to Mexico before, we decided to walk a little bit downstream to a place where the water wasn’t moving to fast.  We swam across and spent about 5 minutes in Mexico, then we were cold so we swam back and got back into the hot tub.  We stayed at Big Bend for 2 nights and then we were ready to leave.

After Big Bend, we drove Northwest to Marfa, TX.  This place was weird, it was a mix of typical west texas town and yuppie New York artist.  Apparently in the 70’s a group of artists from New York moved to Marfa and started a bunch of art stuff, it was interesting.  Also, Marfa is home to this so called unexplained phenomena called the Marfa Lights.  At night there are supposed to sometimes be these mysterious lights that appear in the distance out over the desert just above the horizon and they change colors and dance around.  We went to the viewing area and waited for the lights for a number of hours and no lights.  We talked to some people that had seen them before and they said that they’d seen the lights about 10 out of 20 times that they’d been out there, so I guess we just missed them that night.  We didn’t bother to find a place to stay until after we decided we’d give up on the Marfa Lights so it was late at this point and we couldn’t find a campsite so I had the bright idea of pulling into a Motel parking lot and seeing if we could get away with sleeping in the car out in the back (we didn’t want to spend money on a room).  Emily slept up on top of the pile of stuff in the back of the car and I set up my sleeping pad and sleeping bag outside on the ground and went to sleep… for a while.  I woke up a couple of hours later to a border patrol guy shining his headlights and flash light on me all bundled up in my sleeping bag.  He asked me what I was doing and I said that I was sleeping.  He responded by saying that we couldn’t sleep there and that we should be more careful about sleeping on people’s property in Texas.  He did tell us that we could go back to the Marfa Lights viewing area and sleep there, so we did that.  We didn’t sleep very well that night because it was cold and the sounds of cars, trucks and trains going by kept waking us up.  When the sun came up, we were outta there.

Next stop was Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

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