Monthly Archives: March 2016

How We Planned the Big Bend Adventure on the Teardrop Trail

Photo of road atlas,maps and brochures

The 2004 Road Master Atlas, guide books, maps and brochures.

As Jim and I had discussed our next trip on the Teardrop Trail, Big Bend came up in conversation. In 2006 and 2007, I had worked onsite at the Lajitas resort, located on the Rio Grande between the Big Bend National Park and the Big Bend Ranch State park. The office was in Austin and we flew back and forth to the resort for meetings, but I had never seen the parks. What a cruel tease. So close and yet so far. Big Bend remained on my bucket list.

At last, our time had come. I love planning trips. It is like putting together a multi-dimensional puzzle. I had heard that it was a very long drive from our home at Roy Creek Ranch. Fueled by wanderlust, I began looking for options with the 2004 Road Master Atlas that had accompanied Jim on his many excursions around the country complete with velcro strips to secure the book to the dashboard of his pickup. It had showed us the way during our earlier trips on the Teardrop Trail.

For me, old habits die hard and my addiction to research that had begun when I studied art history in graduate school was alive and well. So to the Internet! I began to search in all the obvious places – state and national park websites. Other websites from organizations like Texas Beyond History, the Virtual Museum of Texas Cultural Heritage, The Texas State Historical Society, even Facebook and others. I found information on routes, campgrounds with hookups, hikes, tourist attractions, canyons, rock art, ghost towns, cafes, art galleries and much more. I began to use Google maps to determine possible routes and mileage.

I picked up a Texas State Park Guide and finally located a deluxe, 100% waterproof, plastic National Geographic Trails Illustrated map of Big Bend which unlike the Internet maps provided an overview of the entire area I could put in my pocket. Guess some of us still like to hold a map in our hands.

Madeline, a friend from college has volunteered in Big Bend for many years. We invited Madeline and her husband Jimmy to join us for lunch and planning session. From scenic drives to hikes, they provided valuable tips as only insiders can including an update on the wildflowers. One of my fellow Master Gardeners, Carol, also provided a list of favorites from past trips as well as Road Guide to backcountry dirt roads of Big Bend National Park.

As the departure date approached, all the details came into focus and reservations were made. Armed with the trusty 2004 Road Master Atlas and my copious notes, I hopped into the co-pilot seat of The Lady as the navigator and tour director. Jim started the engine and we began our adventure on this installment of the Teardrop Trail.

The Law West of the Pecos

Teardrop Trail Log: March 23, 2016

Not long after leaving Seminole State Park on our way to the Big Bend, we spotted a sign for Lantry, Texas. The Mothman had mentioned it, and Marilyn remembered that it was the home of Judge Roy Bean. Another sign mentioned a museum and we decided to see what was there.

I didn’t expect much, and the town itself looked abandoned. Some of the Adobe buildings had caved in, but there was a modern-looking building that advertised free admission to the Judge Roy Bean Museum across the street from the Langtry Post Office. Worth a look.

Inside, it turned out to be a Texas Pecos Trail visitor center, and had a small but well-curated exhibition. With a large glass case containing several artifacts, including the original Texas Statute Book he used, and several dioramas, there was plenty to capture our interest.


photo of The Jersey Lilley Saloon Bar

The Jersey Lilley Saloon Bar


Outside, you can tour the original Jersey Lilly Saloon, preserved where it stood. The “Opera House” (the Judge’s home) is a short distance away and is also open for inspection.

A beautiful cactus garden is part of the museum as well. With a well-preserved 19th-century Eclipse Windmill at it’s center, it a nice way to stretch the limbs.

photo of windmill

The Eclipse Windmill and Cactus Garden


Some of the ruined buildings in town turn out to have belonged to the Judge’s contemporaries and the state historical markers make for a good history lesson of Langtry and it’s original inhabitants. A great stop for the history buff!


photo of ruined house

The William H. Dodd House


The Lady and The Ambassador 


photo of car with trailer

They Pave the Way

Teardrop Trail Log: March 24, 2016

We’ve never named our car or teardrop. Prior to working with our friends on the Tiny House, it didn’t seem like much of an issue. They name all their vehicles however (the tiny house has been named Pandora — for all the reasons you can imagine) and it suddenly seemed like a good idea to christen ours as well. Trouble is, our vehicles do not have troublesome or quirky characteristics to help suggest a name.

So now we’re on this epic trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas. We stayed last night in the Seminole Canyon State Park (look for other posts on that) and today we continued to Big Bend. We’ve noticed on other trips that the teardrop generates interest, and by now we’ve come to expect a visitor or two inquiring how we like it, how much did it cost, can we see inside, etc, and have learned our teardrop is the best way to meet our campground neighbors. Last night was no different. One of our neighbors struck up a conversation around the teardrop, and suddenly we had two new good friends. Jim (good name, that) and his wife Suzanne are from Indiana, and he’s a wildlife photographer. Specifically, he is interested in moths and calls himself “The Moth Man.” They were going into Langtry, Texas last night to try for some specific moths that are native to the area.
Today, we stopped in Langtry ourselves — the home of Judge Roy Bean, the The Law West of the Pecos. Interesting place, but while we were touring the adjoining cactus garden (amazing!), I had a conversation with another guest who was interested in our teardrop. He was from Minnisota, and had noticed my Case/IH hat. Another pleasant encounter with a total stranger.

Later today, when we stopped for gas in Sanderson, Texas, we were approached by yet another curious person. Ed and his wife split their time between Sanderson and Rochester, New York, and wanted to know all the standard stuff about teardrops. Of course Marilyn spent 17 years living there, so we were off and running with a new friend.

While driving away from Uncle’s (the station in Sanderson), Marilyn commented on what a good ambassador our teardrop was — and we realized he’d been named. Shortly after, I realized that the Mazda has been such a good and reliably comfortable car on our trips — and not without her own bit of flash — that she was a real lady.

So now we have names for them both: The Lady and the Ambassador.

Preparing to hit the Teardrop Trail again!

Electric Travel Refirgerator

Electric Travel Refrigerator

Marilyn, March 19:

When we got the teardrop trailer, we started to look for ways to take some of our favorite foods along. Most people know the hassle traveling with an ice chest can be. Looking for ice in some remote areas can be extremely frustrating. On one of our shopping trips, we found this amazing little fridge. It plugs into the cigarette lighter in the back of the Mazda but does have an adaptor for a wall outlet. We carry many things that normally live in our home fridge. It’s a great way to prepare a lunch for the road. As we get ready for our Big Bend trip, we are getting the little fridge ready for to go.

Just one warning – unplug it from the cigarette lighter when you stop in the campground. It can plug into shore power. We found out the hard way that this little wonder can drain your battery when I failed to disconnect it. Makes for an unpleasant surprise in the morning. It is also not the optimum way to meet other folks in the campground.