Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seminole Canyon State Historical Park

Northwest of Del Rio, TX is a hidden gem of a park which will transport the traveler back in time. A place where the railroad's western expansion meets ancient cave paintings.

The park preserves artifacts of both of these activities which span a 4000 year sliver of time showing man's presence in this dry, windy land. The modern sculpture represents a combination of ancient man and animal interaction. The figure holds an atlatl, a tool that uses leverage as it speeds a spear to the intended target. The rock oven was used to bake food for men as they sliced passages through the harsh landscape for the Southern Pacific Railroad's 1882 expansion.

A 15 minute walk into the canyon below brings you to a protective overhang where 4000 year old petroglyphs provide a peak into the minds of previous dwellers.

Seminole Canyon State Historical Park, an out of the way gem that's worth the trip . . .

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Boquillas Del Carmen

While plant life on the eastern side of Big Bend National Park may seem inhospitable, just across the border, the small pueblo of Boquillas Del Carmen is full of friendly people who had a close relationship with tourists as they enjoyed man powered boat rides across the Rio Grande to take pictures, sample local food, and gather souvenirs and memories. That was, of course, until 2002 when the US government closed the crossing for security purposes. The town's economy has been devastated ever since.

Today, as you take the road to view Boquillas Canyon, you may see some treasures perched on a rock near an overlook. Wire scorpions, necklaces, and hand painted walking sticks are among the items to be found.
A note next to a donation cup asks for support to help the citizens of Boquillas Del Carmen for any items taken. It's on the honor system.

Tourists may find a walking stick that is just right for them as they wander around these parts.

No . . . this isn't a raiding party coming across the river . . . it's merely Sylvestre Sanchez, who has been patiently watching from across the river, resupplying the treasure rock with walking sticks.
Sylvestre and his trusty steed pose for a photo with a happy tourist.

Down at Boquillas Canyon itself, you will find mortar holes dug into the river bank rocks by ancient Indian civilizations, used to grind and process grain. You'll also get a good view of the Rio Grande as it meanders through a deep fissure cut through the land on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2012, an updated border crossing to Boquillas Del Carmen should open, once again allowing folks to enjoy a bit of the flavor of Old Mexico . . .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Walking Bob's Grave

Texas' vast territory offers a wide variety of landscapes. One of those is the Big Bend, sort of an "elbow" poking south towards Mexico, filled with rugged vistas, colorful people, and unique stories. Rising mountains are far off in the distance as we turn south from Alpine to go exploring.

With camp set up, we looked around and saw rugged beauty off in the distance. This is the view from our new front yard.

The next morning, Oscar & I went for a walk to explore our local environment. There's a strange beauty about this place that tends to grow on you as you saunter over the pathways in the hills.

Lack of rainfall has resulted in many cactus plants being under stress, causing them to shed the usual green color of chlorophyll.

Visibility was unlimited and standing at this overlook, we could see for countless miles.

As we worked our way back to camp, Oscar noticed a low, man made object in the distance.

Being curious, Oscar ran over to it and yelled back "Hey Pete, it's a grave!!" Sure enough, he had come across the burial site of Robert K Savidge, aka - Walking Bob.
It seems Bob owned this part of roughhewn landscape and loved it so dearly he had one of his friends bring over a tractor with a hoe. Bob supervised as a hole was dug and oriented exactly where he wanted to be laid to rest, when the time came, that is. Well that time came a few short years after the digging. Mournful well wishers brought Bob's casket to the resting place only to find the hole was too small . . . folks in this neck of the woods have learned to be flexible so another back hoe was brought in as they patiently waited with Bob. The hard rock earth was too much for the back hoe . . . soooooooooo . . . one of the mourners said he had an idea and hopped in his Jeep and went to his house to get some dynamite to remedy the situation. Everyone stood back as the grave was expanded with a bang! Unfortunately the Good Samaritan's Jeep was too close to the boom and its soft top was riddled with holes from flying rocks.

Oscar paid his respects to Walking Bob, a friend of all around these parts whose walking legend and burial story will live on and on . . .