Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From Big Bend to Tucson and some near misses.

A major rain and windstorm were predicted and it would be right on my nose as I turned north and west so, regrettably, I left Big Bend behind in a hurry to get home.

That drop in the road was every bit as steep as it looks.  
I stayed on FM 170 and headed west as the road paralleled the mountains along the Rio Grande.  I loved the rows of mountains and the variations in color the further away they were.    

There were a number of ghost towns along the highway, some were quite large in their heyday.
Terlingua Ghost Town was one of them.

The town isn't completely deserted, though the businesses that are there are due to the attraction of the ghost town.

This little taco restaurant with outdoor seating incorporated some of the ruins into its structure. Two very pleasant Mexican American ladies were the proprietors and cooks and the tacos and tamales were exceptional.

Someone was repairing this place...

but most of the town looked like this. 

There must be a story here….

And I would guess that many a John Wayne movie appeared here.

There are lots of HooDoos around but this one really caught my eye….

If you don't see a square headed robot basking in the sun then you don't have any imagination.

I was back to the river again when I came around a bend and saw….

Another deserted town!
There was a locked gate on the road leading to the town and on the gate was a sign that read:

The small village of Rancheria you see here was never a real village.  It was constructed in 1985 as a set for the border-western comedy "Uphill All the Way".
Since that time, nine different movies have been made on this original set…

"Streets of Loredo"
"Rio Diablo"
"Gambler V"
"My Maria"
"Dead Man's Walk"
"The Journeyman"

You know, I kind of miss those old westerns.


Just across the river lies Mexico.  It is easy to see how this area inspires both artists and filmmakers.

The wind was really blowing hard by the time I got to Marfa. This town has become a sort of Mecca for artists and I wanted to spend a little time seeing what it had to offer….

but once again I was pushing against the wind.

By sundown I had not found a suitable place to camp for the night until someone mentioned The Marfa Lights.

The town has provided a paved area out in the desert for viewing the lights and I was told it is a good place to park for the night.  Sure enough, cars, trucks and RVs pulled in all night--hoping I'm sure, to witness an apparition of some kind….


The Mystery Lights are visible on many clear nights east of Marfa while looking towards the Chinati Mountains.  The lights may appear in various colors as they move about, split apart, melt together, disappear and reappear.
While tending cattle, Robert Ellison, a young cowboy, reported the lights in 1883.
Apache Indians believed the lights to be stars dropping to the earth.
Viewers have theories ranging from scientific to science fiction as they describe their ideas of aliens in UFO's, ranch house lights, St. Elmo's fire, headlights from cars on US 67, electrostatic discharge, swamp gases (What swamp?), moonlight shining on veins of mica, or ghosts of Conquistadors searching for gold.
One explanation as to why the lights cannot be located is that atmospheric conditions produced by the interaction of cold and warm layers of air bend light so that it can be seen from afar, but not up close.
The mystery of these lights still remains unsolved.

Marfa also built this lovely public restroom and I decided to avail myself of it since I was parked near by.  I strolled into the ladies side but accidentally let the stall door slam.  Instantly there were loud chirpings and squeakings as hundreds of slapping wings beat the air over my head.  In a panic I looked up to see bats!  Hundreds of Bats! I am not sure if I beat them out the door or if they beat me.
That night I never saw the lights!  And I wasn't abducted by aliens in a UFO.  But it was a spooky place all the same.

Could this be an explanation for The Marfa Lights?

I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I came up on this thing just out of town.  Take a look at that semi parked under the nose.

And once again there was a locked gate and this sign.  What's a 'TARS'?

Leaving Texas and entering New Mexico I began to notice the arthritis in my hands had kicked up. Could be the excessive driving, I was breaking my own rule and driving more hours than my usual limit of three per day as I tried to race ahead of another rainstorm.
Now I have a small confession to make.  Please note the salve in the photo below.  It was a gift from a friend (who shall remain nameless--no matter how much you torture me).  This friend lives in a state that has legalized medical marijuana and she makes this salve for her own use.  It contains essential oils, lavender, beeswax, a bunch of other herbs, and  Medical Marijuana--and you know it immediately by the smell. But it is truly a miracle-drug and has soothed my aching hands a number of times.

Now, lets jump back to the trip.  My last morning in Texas, I started looking for the container of salve but couldn't find it anywhere.  So I took an aspirin for the arthritis and forgot about the salve.  I stopped for lunch in Deming, NMex and began reading some of the news blogs I follow regularly on the internet.
One of them had a long article about three different people (on different occasions) who had been stopped by the border patrol or highway patrol in New Mexico because the drug sniffing dogs indicated there was something suspicious.  All three of these people (including one middle-aged woman) were given cavity searches right on the side of the road (can't you hear the rubber gloves snapping?) and when no drugs were found on the persons or in the vehicles the people were taken to the hospital for further probes, several enemas and then a cat scan.
Hmm, I thought, I better not do any speeding today.
Back on the road I came up on a border patrol check point and pulled over for the dogs to sniff around the RV.  It was at that moment that I realized my wonderful, but very smelly, salve could have brought me all kinds of grief. (But just imagine what a great posting it would have made in this blog.) I have no doubt the drug-sniffing dogs would have picked up the scent in that salve immediately.
There were two more checkpoints before I reached Arizona, but I encountered no problems at all.  I admit, I did feel a little apprehensive. Later when I reached home,  I found the salve in the glove compartment.

This is it--the last two years and 4 months have ended a wonderful trip--temporarily, I hope.  Stay tuned.


  1. TARS... they are observation radars hovering in a fix place. Probably watching the border.

  2. What an amazing life you lead!