It’s raining just outside of the little enclave of a fire pit and shelter I’m currently calling home.
The sound is sweet and soft, in an ironically harsh, contrasting way compared to the usual sounds of freight trains and traffic that play like commercials between good conversation and casual music here in Marathon. I’m sitting beside a fire, a roof over my head, where free wood burns hot enough that the thought of adding any more seems ridiculous. Yet I still do. Swallows sleep away in their nests above, and not far away hotel guests and RVers follow suit.
Last night we were boondocking blazing hot until just before sunset in Big Bend Ranch State Park. The Rio Grande and River Road did their nature’s parallel as the occasional passer through, a park ranger or tourist or local on their way home, trekked two lights in and then out of the distance. And not a sound otherwise but the turkey vultures soaring to disrupt the silence of the moon boasting over the stars.
Before that, in the Terlingua Ghost Town, people I’d never met played music I loved and then somehow new my name. Strangers with beards and old acquaintances alike shook my hand, we all discussed bygone times. Some of those times I didn’t remember, others I didn’t need to. Friendships are like time-served in some places, if you stick around long enough, everyone knows your name and remembers it half a decade later. Big Bend is kind of like Cheers that way.
We may head to Fort Davis tomorrow. We may just not. A guy riding his bicycle and–if I may draw the story incredibly short–providing Christmas toys for kids who would otherwise have nothing on a day so many of us are just throwing shit away appears at the bar. He’s riding his bike from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida.
Josh is his name, and he doesn’t claim it specifically, but it’s clear he’s hoping to raise awareness for this beautiful piece of civilization he’s created. Still, I think it’s kind of spiritual for him, too. His dog is in tow, literally, and he’s living a traveling life hardcore beyond what we’ve ever done.
Plus, all the while he’s been doing this Operation Elf Box endeavor, he’s been surfing couches, roaming around, living the wild but not luxurious life. He’s a man who deserves attention, and he gets it. You should read all about him.
Meanwhile, the rain pours on. The flowers have already been in an exceptional state of bloom as we’ve toured the state and national parks, and equally beautiful areas between. After tonight, the ocotillos will scream red. The roadsides, where the water washes in more than fair droves off of the pavement and into the desert, will go bluebonnets and red and yellow prickly pears and another few hues of orange, violet and white’s worth of flowers I don’t yet know the names of.
Tourism will die down here in a few weeks. The desert will get hot. It’s already 100 degrees, but still it will get truly hot. The locals will tuck in, and nature will hibernate a bit. But nevertheless this area will be sitting like a copperhead ready to strike beauty and outstanding piles of toppings onto nachos like you seriously can’t believe.
Big Bend is, or damn well should be, at the top of any list worth listing when it comes to where travelers should go, and how people should be.