7.12.2010,12:14 PM
Verdent Desert

Traveling can serve as destinations, journeys, or escapes. Sometimes traveling can satisfy all three. My recent trip to Big Bend quenched the latter; it was a needed escape. Sometimes one has to step back from the center of chaos to regroup and face it anew. This trip did more than just that.

We left the Fort Worth area in the rain Thursday night only to surrender to a motel room after several hours of being hypnotized by pitter-patter, the swoosh-swish of tires and windshield wipers, and accumulative sleep deficit. I don't remember my head hitting the pillow in the motel room on the I-20 frontage road. 

Barely sunrise, I was eager to get back on the road. The sole driving force (pun intended) was getting to the gravel road that would take us deeper into the desert west of Chalk Draw, a handful of miles north of the Big Bend National Park boundary. Breakfast was coffee and more coffee, half a sandwich left over from the night before, and a stronger hunger for the desert. A phone call the night before from Randy warned us regarding the road condition into the Ranch. Parts were rutted from the recent rains and a few stretches traversing flat plains of bentonite were like water on ice. Sure enough, we slid and fishtailed through brown snot in the four-wheel drive Jeep.

Ruts and washed-out areas demanded concentration and slow maneuvering in 4WD. Yet there was an excitement that fed us while our eyes feasted on the abundance of green covering the desert floor and mountains. We later learned from Randy that the area's annual rainfall of 10 inches had already arrived. And it would continue to fall.

The four days we were in the desert received rain ranging from a perpetual drizzle to sprinkles and brief downpours. We were treated to blankets of fog embracing mountains and rolling around canyons, to angry blue-gray clouds threatening thunder and lightening. But that didn't prevent us from enjoying the desert.

Every day we had the Kawasaki Mules out exploring close by or, as in one day, venturing far into the Christmas Mountains where the vistas below, west and north are mind-blowing. Our last evening was on top of Sunset Ridge where the 360-degree views were painted with creeping shadows, sunset-colored clouds and rainbows.

As usual, none of us wanted to leave. But return we must, to our other lives, those that demand more than we want to give. They take and reward us with little. For me, this trip strengthened my resolve, determination and commitment to break the bonds here and fly south. South to the land that has me; hook, line and sinker. I didn't choose it as much as it chose me. And return I must. To stay. 


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posted by Macrobe
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