We made it Pecos, Texas, so weren't looking at a long drive yesterday and took our time in the morning. I did my yoga, worked on my blog and we practically ran to breakfast because it was so cold and neither of us were dressed to handle it.
While eating a sub-par breakfast, I got to thinking about something I had just written in my blog. About how this cross-country drive was becoming like a commute. How it wasn't feeling like an adventure but a chore.
We had planned to veer off our course and go hike/trail run in Guadalupe Mountains National Park where we had reached one of our most memorable high points.
Then I looked at the map. Due south of us was Bend National Park. It was out of the way, but didn't look that much more out of the way than Guadalupe. What would Pecos Bill do?
So south we rode, I mean drove.
I have been fascinated with borders ever since reading T.H. White's, The Once and Future King. In that book Merlin turns a young King Arthur into all manner of creatures to further his education, one of them being a hawk who flies over the kingdom and yet sees no borders, even though fights over these borders were what was tearing his land apart.
They are completely artificial man-made constructs and yet determine practically everything in our lives.
The Rio Grande acts as the US-Mexican border for more than 1000 miles.
Where Skye first saw the Rio Grand, in El Paso, it was encased in cement and high electric fencing.
Down in Big Bend, which gets its name from the sharp, almost u-turn the river takes, it flows unencumbered by human manipulation. In this picture, Mexico is on the left of the waterway and the United States is to the right.
After we finished our hike we looked at the sign at the trail head to realize what the interesting potholes in the rocks actually were; ancient prehistoric mortar holes that nomadic people from long ago used to grind seeds, roots and mesquite beans.
We'd seen such things before, but its always fascinating to stumble upon them.
Yet the mortar holes as cool as they were didn't compare to the excitement and thrill got out of learning how to skip stones.
Such a simple past-time that took me back when I skipped pebbles with my grandfather as well as my day and brother.
"Dad, did you see that one, 5 skips. I've got to find the perfect rock. Something smooth and thin, something just right."
This sign welcomed us to where we had planned on going for a quick trail run, which quickly became a hike because I was nervous to go to far ahead of Skye.
I tried to imagine what sort of illegal contraband these Mexican Nationals would be peddling.
Drugs, guns, people, my mind was racing with the possibilites and I was getting concerned that I might be putting us in undue harms way.
When we pulled up to our first vista look out point, I was a rock with a little blanket atop it and some trinkets and such.
At first I thought it was some sort of shrine, but when we approached, we realized they were handmade souvenirs left by the aforementioned Mexican Nationals, relying on an honor system of donations.
This was the illicit commerce that the sign was warning against. When I finally read the park's guide packet it goes into great detail and stresses how wrong it is to buy these things and the severe consequences that might suffer if you did.
As we often do, with mixed results, we went to the visitor's center on the way out.
There were multiple signs warning about recent mountain lion encounters, urging people not to jog.
One more reason I didn't even know about as to support our decision to hike not trail run.
But one doesn't have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight in life. I have been curious about Bend National Park for years.
And now I have a better idea of what it is. Do I plan to go back anytime soon?
Might I go back?
We had the time to explore. We didn't make it to our friends in El Paso, but we will today.
We encountered snow falling, something Skye has been looking forward to for months.
I'd rather have tried something and been disappointed than not and left to wonder, what if?