get real: the inspiration of Terlingua.

in this part of Texas, its rare to see more than one homestead within a few miles; isolation is a way of life.  

the town Terlingua has been a part of our history for as long as Texas has been Texas, with legends and folklore and campfire stories handed down for generations.  mercury was first discovered in the late 1800s, and by 1900 at least 3000 residents harbored near the Chisos Mine.  

young children attended school near St Inez church while their siblings and parents worked long hours in the cavernous mines.  many deaths occurred at various ages, the local cemetery filled with remains upon remains of accidents, explosions, health outbreaks, and malnutrition.  

this part of the country is harsh. 

weather, even with the brush, mountains, creeks, and streams, is very dry.  Terlingua lies in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, so growing much besides peppers, tomatoes, and onions seems futile.  there are no big box stores or grocery chains for hundreds of miles, the only shopping local general stores.  Southwestern art blooms.  

with a population of less than sixty, the people here are rugged like the terrain, but gentle like the ecosystem.  like many others in West Texas, they long for rain and clouds and access to usable water.  their heritage is Native and Mexican and Anglo, a mix of hardiness that defies all scenarios; an infinite wisdom lurks plainly.

farther north, more famous towns known for their art appear on the map.  here in Terlingua, the artists keep odd hours, but once they’ve caught you in their web, you are hypnotized, drunken with respect and envy and awe.  

the unique culture of the region abounds. 

we are blessed to have made your acquaintance.  

namaste, Terlingua.  

get lost: exploring the Rio Grande.

we are staying at a resort built in the 70s for golf enthusiasts. it sits nestled between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park; the adobe villas and old west styled saloon rooms are surrounded by mountain ranges that extend beyond the wandering eye. 

we arrived in the sweltering heat of the evening, and took in strolls around the property. later we watched the sunset reflect off the hills in chihuahua, our neighbors to the south literally a stone’s throw away.

rising early the next morning, we met the outfitters from Far Flung Outdoor Center off the main road, then drove around 20 miles into Big Bend Ranch State Park. the twists and turns of boiling asphalt put us in a daze, the meandering of the mountainsides collided in our minds: walls and hoodoos and breaks in canyons all melted together in our memory.

a gravel lot appeared, and we left our vehicle to traverse to the Rio Grande River with the other patrons. unsure what to expect, the break between the river banks seemed small, more like a creek running through ranch land versus a mighty international border. 

in Texas tradition, the water was murky and muddy… in all honesty the cleanest dirty water I have ever seen. recent rains washed off the mountain rocks and parlayed into the valley bellow, bringing the dirt and the sand and the leave behinds from the big horn sheep that dot the landscape. the mud on the bank was so thick and sticky our shoes were soon covered in a clay like slime that would become to define our access back to the world we had left.

for three hours we kayaked through small rapids and rocky river runs. without technology to enslave us, we could all finally just listen to the gentle stream, birds flying overhead, and wind blowing through the canes. the local geologic empire amplifying this world.

while floating and steering and swimming down the river, I often wandered how life was before all the border patrols. families literally split apart by only a simple creek. stores are sparse in this region, towns with more economy often hide on the southern side.

it was well past noon when we reappeared to our rooms, famished and swampy and smelly from the Rio Grande. food was stuffed into our showered mouths before we settled in for long overdue naps.

but make no mistake. we would not miss a Big Bend sunset. 

the light encompasses our spirits, and drunkens our senses. 

behold the great beauty of West Texas.