Amarillo to Big Bend National Park, Texas
March, 2001

Out of the snow and into warm weather.  Our next stop was Amarillo, Texas.  We only stayed two nights here.  The cold front was still headed our way and snow was predicted.  But I'd rather deal with a little snow than the heat of August in this area. 

We did have a chance to see Amarillo and we drove to the western outskirts of town on I-40 to "Cadillac Ranch."

Mitch climbing out the back window
and Max with his tumbleweed.

The entire line of Cadillacs
Cadillac Ranch has been around since the 1970's.  It's a tribute to the America's love of the open road, (something we can definitely identify with.)  This unique work of art is located where old Route 66 rejoins the interstate, just 6 miles west of downtown Amarillo.  We've seen it often in pictures -- it was great to finally see it in person.
Max holding "Texas George"
Here's Max with a tumbleweed that blew across his path while we were at the Cadillac Ranch.  He decided to save it and bring it to his Grandma, (Ed's mom,) in Seattle.  This old tumbleweed sure saw some miles.  It was strapped to the back of our trailer for two months as we traveled across the southwest and then north to Seattle.  It will even be seen on the NHK documentary as we drove off into the sunset.

Grandma made a little stand on her back porch and thought a fitting name for this little bush from Texas would be "Texas George".

It's funny how things happen -- three days ago when we were in Central Kansas, we thought we'd head west to Pike's Peak in Colorado, but that pesky snowstorm got in our way.  So a quick left turn and here we are in warm, sunny Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas.

Here, Mitch is looking down on the Rio Grande, the boundary line between the United States and Mexico.  This beautiful National Park is located in Texas where the Rio Grande bends to the south. Mexico is just across the river. 

A contest starts up to see who can throw a rock across the river and hit Mexico.  They weren't quite able to hit the other side, but they could hit the sand bar.  Max figured that since hitting the sand bar didn't count as Mexico, and that it also wasn't part of the U.S., he wanted to know if we could set up camp on the sand bar and claim it as our own country.  That might work until the summer rains come.
Along the river was this large sand dune that was blown up along the side of a mountain.  It doesn't look very big in the pictures, but it is.  The boys took off for the top.  A strong wind was coming down the mountain blowing a lot of sand into their faces.  But after reaching the top and then rolling back down to the bottom, they were all ready to do it again.

A few days later we crossed the Rio Grande to go get a taco.  The little town of Boquillas del Carmen is in Mexico just a mile from the river.

Boquillas del Carmen is a tiny tourist town that depends on visitors to the National Park for business.

From the U.S. side we called across the river to the "shipwright," (but I doubt is there's a shipwright union.)  We navigated across the mighty Rio Grande, (we hopped in and he paddled back across the waist deep water.)  Now we had three choices ... walk to town, or rent four mules, or go by taxi, (i.e. pickup truck.)  A lady at the sand dune told us how much fun they had going by mule and how her mule took off and wouldn't stop. This didn't sound like fun to Max and he refused to go by mule.
 So we hopped into the next pickup truck in line.  The boys jumped into the back and our driver yelled out for a few guys to push him back, (he had no reverse gear and another truck had pulled in front of him.-- his automatic transmission wasn't in the best of shape for going forward either.)   In the U.S. his truck would be considered "junk", but in Mexico I bet that old truck had more than ten years left in it.  He most likely bought it at a wrecking yard in the U.S.  But that's the nice thing about Mexican culture -- people there keep a good piece of machinery running for years.  They are far less wasteful then we Americans are. The black truck above the boat is the one we rode in.
Here's a young boy riding a mule into town.  After Max saw him he wished he had chosen riding the mules.


Cantina and Liquor Store
These two buildings made up about sixty percent of the town's business.  I'd guess the population to be about 100.

Follow me.  I'll protect everyone with my Mardi Gras spear.  Max took the spear he got during Mardi Gras, removed the black rubber spearhead and replaced it with a rock that he found.  You can see it's got a pretty good point.

So with Max in the lead, we headed into the bush to hunt for "Wild Javalina." 

There were plenty of Javalina in the area, often roaming the campground at night.  The Park Rangers warned everyone to keep a safe distance.  They have been known to attack dogs in the campground that were left alone on a leash -- they have large fang-like teeth.

Max was very brave with his spear until he was within 30 feet of the Javalina, then he was quick to retreat.

Stay Cocoa, we'll be right back.

Here is one of Cocoa's favorite games.  She has dropped her ball just out of reach.  Her paw looks like it's next to the ball but it's actually just centimeters away.  She eventually stretches her neck back and her leg out enough to get the ball.  Then she drops it and does it again.


Sunset against the red rocks
Time to move on -- we're headed west.  We took the scenic route along the Rio Grande to El Paso. The road winds around with ups and downs as it follows the river.  We stopped here for a stretch break and a final look at this beautiful area.  From the top of this rock we could look down upon the Rio Grande.
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