From Austin, we began making the daunting drive west across Texas to Big Bend National Park. I’ve never spent time in the desert and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from what, at first glance, seems like a lifeless and desolate landscape. I quickly fell in love with this unique environment which is actually teaming with life and beauty despite its harsh exterior. I have become absolutely smitten with desert plants, particularly the ocotillo, which each of the kids easily identifies now as, “that’s Mommy’s plant!”
Our trip wasn’t without a few hiccups. The morning we were planning on heading into Big Bend, we woke to a flat tire. Despite Rick’s skill at changing the trailer’s tire, we were significantly delayed and arrived at the park only to find all the sites booked up.
Not to be deterred, we found luck finally on our side, a last-minute cancellation in the full hook-up campsite meant we had a place to sleep for the night. The next morning, we were able to slip over to the main campground bright and early and snag a primo spot with privacy and easy access to the nearby trail – where we spent each morning and evening watching herons, snakes, nutria, and the most gorgeous star-studded sky we have ever seen.
We spent the week in the park exploring trails, meeting new friends, paddling the Rio Grande, and visiting our neighbor to the south. Liam earned not only his ranger badge, but two patches for hiking a rugged 3-mile trail and testing out his own botany skills identifying the various desert plants.
Despite the low water levels, we managed to paddle the Rio Grande twice, on an easy run from the Hot Springs to our campsite about a 3 mile trip with some sharp turns and a few shoals to make it interesting. We got to see swallows darting in and out of their nests on the cliffs and watched goats and burros graze on the Mexican bank.
Our last day we forged the river to visit the nearby Mexican town of Boquillas, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch of enchiladas, goat tacos, tamales and of course margaritas (literally everything on the menu).
Big Bend was the third National Park we have visited on this trip and one of the largest. We deeply enjoyed our time there being able to explore a terrain that was new to us, but also the chance to connect with other full-time families we met at the campsite. Liam, in particular, enjoys when we’re able to meet other families so that he can have some playmates, and Rick and I enjoy being able to meet and talk with other families living life on the road. Unfortunately, we left the park a day early due to the oppressive heat – temperatures were in the upper 90s – and while we were sad to go and leave the new friends we had met, we were hopeful to run into them again as our paths continue to cross.