Talk about a road trip!
A few weeks ago, I was asked by old friend Terry “Tex” Tolar to attend a board meeting of the “Friends of the Big Bend”. I can’t turn Triple T down. This man loves Texas. He used to be head of the Texas Tourism business at McCann Southwest and knows more about Texas than anyone I have ever met. Some of it might actually even be true! Back to the story, I love making new friends and I love the Bend National Park. So, I thought I could kill two armadillos with one truck bumper and I drove out to the Park. I am so glad I did.
The Big Bend National Park is truly a magical place. If you haven’t been there, you should, particularly if you love Texas. The drive isn’t easy. In fact, it’s darn near hell on wheels to get there, which makes it even more appealing. Ya take, I-20 about 400 miles west, hang a left a few miles outside of Odessa and you’ll run into Fort Stockton. From FS, it is only a couple more hours to Marathon, where you will find the Gage Hotel and White Buffalo Bar, then another 70 miles to the entrance of the park. I really didn’t enjoy the ride into the Park (as I was told I would) because a quick pit stop at the Gage for dinner, turned into a three hour detour, so it was well past dark before taking the last leg of the drive. Therefore, I missed seeing the magnificent peaks as I drove into the mountains.
Bright and early on Friday morning, I met the board, headed up by president Richard Lannen, a Dallas attorney. Everyone on the board was passionate about the Big Bend. They spend their spare time raising money for the park and even travel to the BB once a year to paint buildings and rake paths. As I was told, they do what the federal government doesn’t have the money to do. (They approved to spend money on how to train local cowboys to “capture” wild burros and cattle that have wandered into the park and are busy tearing up paths and vegetation. In the past, the burros had been “destroyed”. But thanks to the Friends, no more. The board also discussed many other projects that they will be actively involved in such as a films for visitors and a home for the dinosaur bones that are constantly being unearthed.
Finally, we were taken on a tour of the park, which again can only be described as breath-taking. The setting sun lights up the ridges of the mountains along the Rio Grande and casts incredible shadows across the desert. We walked along the Rio Grande. And stood on a cliff over looking the small Mexican town of Boquillas which is barely a hanging on anymore. (The river crossing was closed after 9/ll. Prior to that the town thrived on Big Bend tourists who came to town for beers and tacos.) On the way back to the motel, we even saw the longest snake that I have ever seen, a red racer. I hate snakes, but I have to admit, this one was gorgeous, as far as snakes go…
Agencies are constantly being leaned on for help. We already have a pro bono account here at Jake:Ferguson, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. But what the heck, even a bunch of snakes, lizards, javelinas could use a few more friends….