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.