All Hail West Texas, Pt. 2 (More Pictures)

When I left off the last post, we had just started (full) Day 2 at Big Bend. We ate breakfast and packed up the camp since it was to be our last night there and hit the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive through the park. We stopped along the way and hiked the Mule Ears Point Trail, which I found more forgiving than the Window trail, despite the lack of shade. We hiked all the way down to Mule Ears Spring, which was all dried up, despite all the rain we got the previous night and back to the car, about 3 miles round-trip. From the trailhead, it was back on the road with stops at Tuff Canyon for some pretty scenic views.

See the "mule ears" in the distance?

Tuff Canyon

Cerro Castellan as seen from Tuff Canyon
The goal after Tuff Canyon was to head to the Santa Elena Canyon, through which the Rio Grande runs through, but the main road was closed due to wash out from the storm. It was a real bummer but I still wanted to see the Rio Grande, so we pulled over at another campground from which you could literally walk right up to the river, so it wasn't a total loss.

The Rio Grande. If you look closely over on the Mexico side, you'll see two horses and a little white burro.

After that, we decided to leave the park for Terlingua, Texas. Last fall I had purchased a Living Social voucher for a hotel stay at La Posada Milagro (or "the miracle inn") after a couple pictures caught my eye from my inbox. The voucher was for a discounted hotel stay but I honestly never heard of Terlingua or had any idea where it was, which is partly for good reason - Terlingua is a ghost town! The mining town had seen a boom in the 1880s when quicksilver (mercury) was discovered there but was all but abandoned by the 1930s. Now the town sustains itself on tourism, what with being in such close proximity to Big Bend.

Hogan, our hotel welcoming committee chairman.

I was so looking forward to this hotel stay, not just because of the chance to take a shower but also because La Posada Milagro just looked so beautiful in photos, I couldn't wait to see it in real life. I had ignorantly thought that once we got to town, I would be able to look up directions to the inn on my phone but as it turns out, cell service in that part of Texas (at least for AT&T) was pretty much non-existent all weekend. I got directions from a convenience store clerk but luckily it turned out to be very easy to find (being a ghost town, there are only so many standing buildings and businesses left).

Look at that view. And I can't get over that pink door, it's so cute!

Our room

View from our front door

Inside our room

Back of the inn

Me really excited to take a shower, hotel robe.

We freshened up and decided to go find food at 3 p.m. The bad news is that in Terlingua and nearby Study Butte, most of the restaurants are closed until dinner at 5 p.m. We were almost resigned to go back to the hotel and scrape together a sad, pathetic meal with what food we had brought with us for camping (i.e. dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, etc.) when Alex spotted that the Chili Pepper Cafe was still open so we had Mexican (god bless that guacamole). On the way back to the hotel, we explored the Terlingua  Ghost Town Cemetery (which, despite the name, is still an active cemetery) and some of the other ruins around town.

Does anyone know what this is? There are pennies/coins on it, some kind of offering, maybe? Dying to find out.

We ended up taking epic naps (belly full of Mexican + desert heat = sleepy combination). We were finally able to get moving again, prior to sundown, we went back into Big Bend since temperatures had cooled off to find somewhere to watch the sunset and do a twilight hike.

Sunset from Sotol Vista

Cool Dude Alex™

Tarantula seen just after sunset on the Ward Springs Trail

Then it was back to our room for some Battlestar Galactica on my iPad and sweet sleep.

The next morning we decided to take advantage of the cafe at La Posada Milagro that runs out of the guest registration office. The hotel manager Noemi is basically a one-woman operation, from what I could tell: she took our orders (English muffin with bacon, an egg & Swiss cheese for me) and made the food herself. Alex also had the excellent idea of grabbing a slice of the apple crumb pie, which Noemi had also baked. I love that when you're a grownup, no one can tell you that you can't eat pie for breakfast. THE HELL I CAN'T. While we were sitting out on the cafe patio, finishing up our breakfast, Alex couldn't help but laugh as I got up from the table and said "I'll be right back..." 

"You're going to go Instagram that old car, aren't you?"

To quote him from the day before, "This place was made for Tumblr." We packed up the car after breakfast, did the final checkout and braved the seven hour drive back to Austin. All in all, it was a fantastic getaway and I'm really glad we came and dare I say, I can't wait to go back? Perhaps not in May again, since the temperatures peaked at well over 100 degrees. But in good time I'll definitely return to see the Santa Elena Canyon and the Milky Way (the most incredible night sky I've ever seen) and I'm keen to explore other charming West Texas towns, too (I still haven't been to Marfa & I've been here five years). It's a big state with lots to explore. I just need to find the time to get to it all!

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