6.30.2011,8:04 AM
Going Home
Lake Ahmet area, north of Big Bend National Park, looking west.

By sunrise tomorrow morning, we will be running south down the tarmac to that place I call 'Home.' As the sun pushes back the darkness and hides the stars, the landscape will have changed from green bunched trees and browning grasses to a never-ending horizon of sky dotted with mesquite. By noon, mountains and cacti will guide us closer to our desert home, El Punto Coyote. 

Constructing the walls.
The past week we have been constructing our first outbuilding for our place. Because we have no infrastructure there, such as electricity, Ed's idea was to make it modular to transport it down on the trailer. The doors and windows are salvaged and purchased from ReStore, a chain of stores that sell used, salvaged and surplus building materials usually lower than retail prices. This raises money for Habitat for Humanity and diverts materials away from landfills.The walls, floor, roof, door and windows are pre-built and ready to be attached to each other by hand tools. I will try to video or photograph the last process; it should be entertaining. 

Bird soaring over Chalk Draw.
As in years past, we will be spending a few days with Randy at Cedar Springs Ranch, deep in the desert on Chalk Draw area. The Draw runs 38 miles from north of the Rosillos Mountains in the national park to about 28 miles south of the town of Alpine. The ranch sits atop a limestone and igneous mixed mesa near Santiago Mnt. and a few miles from the cliffs that overlook the miles-wide draw. The wide draw was predominantly a semiarid grassland with abundant animal life, but overgrazing beginning in the late nineteenth century destroyed this former biological community. In the 1980's the terrain was dominated by Chihuahuan Desert scrub, but sections are beginning to recover, especially within the boundaries of the national park. This area is a marked contrast to that west of Hwy 118 where our place is: numerous springs, pockets of abundant green life, greater diversity of plants and animals. Our routine is to explore most of the day on the Mules and enjoy sitting in the cool waters of the springs. 

July and early August are the rainy season in Big Bend. Last year we had rain in some form every day we were there. This year, however, has been exceptionally dry and we may or may not have rain. I hope we do; the desert takes on a life that is transient and wonderful. Everything changes. And the weather is more conducive to long hikes with camera and dogs. This trip will offer me the opportunity to experiment with casting animal tracks. My tracking kit -plaster of Paris, cups, mixing containers, spoons, ruler, guide books- are packed together and waiting to go into action.

Everyone have a safe and happy holiday; and, please, be careful with fire and sparks. It's dry and hot out here.

Little white Sammy exploring ahead of me as we hike down a dark and wet old volcanic arroyo.


posted by Macrobe
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