Southwest 2021:
Day 19 - Marathon [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

Southwest 2021: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Kansas] [Day 3 - Kansas] [Day 4 - Ft. Collins] [Day 5 - Perry] [Day 6 - Salt Lake City] [Day 7 - Salt Lake City] [Day 8 - Salt Lake City] [Day 9 - Goblin Valley] [Day 10 - Torrey] [Day 11 - Kodachrome Basin] [Day 12 - Coral Pink Sand Dunes] [Day 13 - Lees Ferry] [Day 14 - Grand Canyon] [Day 15 - Grand Canyon] [Day 16 - Lyman Lake] [Day 17 - Carlsbad] [Day 18 - Davis Mountains] [Day 19 - Marathon] [Day 20 - Arlington] [Day 21 - Hot Springs] [Day 22 - Bowling Green] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Saturday, March 6, 2021: Our goal was to be on our way at 8:00 AM.
Nailed it! Our mileage was 8212 at this point, so we'd gone 4200 miles so far.
Y'all come back. Thanks, Davis Mountains State Park!
This lovely building is Jeff Davis County Courthouse in Fort Davis.
More scenery.
In the town of Alpine, we stopped to get gas, so Debbie went inside to pick up some essentials.
A minute later, we passed a donut shop, ...
... so Debbie picked up more essentials. Tom trusts Debbie with his donut picks because he knows she'll get an apple fritter if they have one. We learned early on in our trip that buying cake donuts is a smart move, because we can store them in the refrigerator and they're still tasty a day or two later. Inexplicably not shown are the two dough-wrapped hot dogs that we bought, which served well as breakfast for two days.
Tom went into Morrison Tru Value Hardware, ...
... to pick up a timer for our space heater. We were now having warm enough nights that we didn't need the space heater going all night, so we decided to get a timer to turn on the space heater in the middle of the night when it really starts to get chilly. Tom was amazed to find that there was an actual Radio Shack in the store too.
We passed Cathedral Mountain to the west, ...
... and flat-topped mountains as far as the eye can see.
Santiago Peak was off in the east.
Here's some west Texas scenery.
The mountains in the distance were various shades of blue in the morning light.
Donkey crossing!
That's Hen Egg Mountain off to our west (it's the one on the left).
More scenery.
That's Bee Mountain up ahead.
Still more scenery.
We arrived in Big Bend National Park before 10:30 AM, ...
... and spent 10 minutes in line waiting to get in.
It was very scenic along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
We stopped at Sotol Vista.
It offers amazing views of the park, ...
... with Santa Elena Canyon visible in the distance. See that opening in the cliffs way out there? That's it. Let's go there.
Our trusty Thor Sequence did a fantastic job of handling the steep mountain roads. This viewpoint was the highest point of our drive in the park so far, ...
... and we were about to go downhill for a while.
We stopped at Mule Ears Viewpoint to see, well, mountains shaped like mule ears.
We passed lots of pretty Texas bluebonnets along the side of the road.
We were getting closer to Santa Elena Canyon, ...
... and soon, we were following the river and cliffs to our destination.
Behold the overlook at beautiful Santa Elena Canyon.
Tom took a picture of Debbie taking a picture of the informational signs.
We took advantage of the scenery and the lack of people by parking The Ocho so we could enjoy the view.
We had lunch and spent 45 minutes here. Occasionally, cars came and went, and another RV followed our lead and had lunch here too. It was a lovely way to spend time in Big Bend.
Before leaving, we got a photo looking to the left ...
... and to the right of the impressive wall of rock. We opted not to go do the Santa Elena Canyon hike because that's where all the cars that stopped here were heading. Again, the theme of our trip was, "Go Where the People Aren't."
We passed the boat launch for rafting the Rio Grande.
Hey! That's a Thor Sequence! We had never heard of a black one before, but sure enough, that's the same vehicle we were driving.
Hey! That's another Thor Sequence! Well, maybe it isn't but it sure looked like one.
We got a nice photo of the Rio Grande at one of the few places where it is visible from the road.
By the way, that's Mexico right across the water. This is the closest we had been to a foreign country since the start of the pandemic.
We passed acres of trees that had been burned in a 2019 fire ...
... that also damaged the Castolon Historic District, a place listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The site includes some cool old mechanical structures.
A small building serves as the temporary visitor center.
We passed lots of beautiful scenery as we retraced our steps.
The view of Mule Ears was quite different from this angle.
We returned on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, ...
... but turned right at the junction of Gano Springs instead of left, which is the direction from which we arrived. A short drive took us to the Panther Junction Visitor Center. The building was closed due to the pandemic, but the rangers had tables set up outside with information and a small store, so we had to buy a U. S. Geological Survey magnet to add to our growing collection.
Then we headed north on Main Park Road.
We drove for nearly a half hour ...
... before reaching the park entrance gate. This is a really large national park!
We passed another cool ranch entrance gate on the 45-minute drive to ...
... Marathon, Texas.
Marathon is home to the historic Gage Hotel, ...
... but we were staying at the Marathon Motel and RV Park.
There's a nice little courtyard in the middle of the property but there were always kids in it so we stayed away.
We got checked in at our campsite then headed to the bathroom.
We passed these black curtains which surround Marathon Skypark. More on that later.
Here's the bathroom building.
There is exactly one room/toilet for men and one room/toilet for women for the entire campground. Each has a shower, too, so if someone is taking a shower, you'll be waiting awhile. Debbie snuck Tom into the women's room since the men's room wasn't available.
We decided to get some dinner in town before connecting to our campsite. Debbie waited in The Ocho ...
... while Tom went in to Brick Vault Brewery and Barbecue to pick up our order.
A tumbleweed blew across the road as we headed back.
We ordered a three-meat plate, consisting of brisket, sausage, and pulled pork, with two different side sauces plus coleslaw and potato salad. It was the perfect amount of food for two people.
We relaxed in the rig for the rest of the day and got to enjoy seeing a train roar by, just across the street. They were loud but didn't keep us up at night.
We were fortunate to not have people in the spots on either side of us.
Pretty sunset.
One of the selling points of this RV park was that the Marathon Skypark was on the site. It is independent from the RV park, but when checking in, we were told that there would be a star talk at 8:00 PM if we were interested.
Yes, we were. We arrived at 8:00 sharp and met Bill, the astronomer and host for the evening. Several other groups of people joined us too. Bill told us about how Marathon was a Scale 1 on the Bortle Light Pollution Scale, which is about as dark as it gets.
The first thing Bill showed us in his 24" Newtonian telescope was the Orion Nebula. Coincidentally, one of our friends posted a picture of the very same thing the next day. Next, he pointed out zodiacal light - the phenomenon of a cone of light visible in the sky above where the sun has set. Skies have to be extremely dark to see it, and we were so fortunate to have witnessed it.
As a reminder, the bathroom/shower building was right next to the skypark, and there were cars parked in front of the building the entire time with their headlights on as people waited their turn to either shower or use the toilet.
When a truck pulled up with its headlights aimed at our light-sensitive eyes, Debbie took the opportunity to get a quick photo of the scene. We stayed about an hour and also got to see the Beehive cluster in the Cancer constellation and the Pleiades open cluster in the Perseus constellation.
There is no more welcome sight than the back of our little RV when it has been converted to our bedroom.

Day 20 >

Southwest 2021: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Kansas] [Day 3 - Kansas] [Day 4 - Ft. Collins] [Day 5 - Perry] [Day 6 - Salt Lake City] [Day 7 - Salt Lake City] [Day 8 - Salt Lake City] [Day 9 - Goblin Valley] [Day 10 - Torrey] [Day 11 - Kodachrome Basin] [Day 12 - Coral Pink Sand Dunes] [Day 13 - Lees Ferry] [Day 14 - Grand Canyon] [Day 15 - Grand Canyon] [Day 16 - Lyman Lake] [Day 17 - Carlsbad] [Day 18 - Davis Mountains] [Day 19 - Marathon] [Day 20 - Arlington] [Day 21 - Hot Springs] [Day 22 - Bowling Green] [Day 23 - Heading Home] [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

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