11.06.2012,3:50 PM
Retirement Ride with No Particular Place to Go
The overlook for Santa Helena Canyon, Big Bend National Park

After spending nearly a month in New Mexico (stories on that later) and Fort Davis, Ed and I parked and set up the Coyote Turtle at the RV park in Study Butte near Terlingua, TX. Roads to our place were in bad shape from the last rain storm: sections washed out, dried mud ruts at least 6" deep and 8" high. There is no way the truck was safely going to haul our current 'home', a 30' travel trailer (by the name of Coyote Turtle: a brown turtle hauling a coyote) into El Punto Coyote, our spot on the desert ten miles off pavement.

So here we are temporarily. In between dealing with an inefficient, incompetent, and.......... [deleted] personnel at state offices (Texas Retirement System sent my retirement packet to the wrong address twice, then sent an incomplete packet -missing documents- finally to the right address; after UTSWMC lost my last paycheck and sent my vacation pay to the wrong address), I did a Retirement Ride on the DR350 into Big Bend National Park.

Because Old Maverick Rd and access to Santa Helena Canyon were closed due to rain and flash flood damage, I dawdled around elsewhere. With no particular place to go.

I even had a water crossing.... (behind the green mesquite foliage sticking out over the road). Got my butt wet and water in my boots, but it was refreshing.

Alamo Creek water across Park road.

Lot of water in the river. A beige silty color instead of north Texas reddish-brown.

Rio Grande

This seems to be a place I come to almost every ride in the park: the Castalon store. A quiet place for a cold iced tea and ice cream. They know me already.

Castalon Trading Post.

I then explored around the Castalon area, which I haven't taken the time to do before. The store and outbuildings, including the Ranger's office, were built as a military camp, but never used. Only after Cartledge and Perry bought the compound was it utilized. The original Castalon was down below, where the restored Alvino adobe house stands. The adobe was built by a very enterprising Mexican named Hernandez, who built and opened at least four stores in the Big Bend area (Shafter, Santa Elena, Castalon, and Terlingua Abaja). Back then, people used buildings efficiently: house, store, chapel, social gatherings, funerals, post office, even railroad stations.

Alvino adobe house.

The restoration of the adobe in the Park was done well, utilizing natural earthen components and recycled metal parts, such as the gutters. Although the first roof was probably dirt and/or thatch, the new roof may have incorporated into it cement to protect it from water leakage. The adobe blocks and plaster are clay, sand and chopped straw in the traditional vernacular buildings of pre-modern Big Bend. Manure was also used in earlier adobe blocks and plasters to help bind the earthen components. Some of the vigas look old, but they may also be recycled from another building. The stem wall is motared rock upon which the adobe blocks are laid to help reduce erosion of both plaster and blocks from weather.

It was a leisurely ride. No need to hurry. And I made several of these rides in the weeks to follow.

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posted by Macrobe
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