Monday, August 04, 2014

ALPINE, TEXAS



 



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You can see on the map above that Alpine and Marathon are gateway towns to the Big Bend National Park.

So - some of you are wondering, Alpine, Texas?????  But the Aschliman clan knows that cousin Cathy and husband Mitch have a home in Alpine, and Rhonda and I recently made a road trip to visit them.  Just a few notes on the trip down:  got off of I-25 a few miles after it makes an westward turn toward Santa Fe.  New Mexico 3 heads south through several small towns that are classic old New Mexico -  Ribera, Sena and Villanueva.  We continued south for an overnight stay in Alamogordo.  As we drove into town, there was one of the heaviest downpours we had seen in quite some time, but it soon passed and the rain cooled the evening.  In the morning, we headed to the White Sands National Monument and enjoyed the otherworldly beauty of the world's largest gypsum dunefield.  We then continued our southerly journey through El Paso, getting off of I-10 at Van Horn and then heading through Valentine and Marfa to Alpine.  Near Valentine we saw this:

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It's a tethered surveillance blimp that can be raised aloft to scan the desert for illegal aliens.

Outside of Marfa, we saw the Marfa Lights Viewing Area - we did not visit Marfa after dark - way past our bedtime!!

After unpacking at Mitch and Cathy's, we took a short drive around town and then went to eat at the Saddle Club, a very nice college-town type of pub.  We were up late talking, and up early to head to Big Bend National Park. We passed through Marathon, (population 500) and saw the Gage Hotel and Gardens, an interesting old jail, an unusual organic bed & breakfast, and a home with aliens painted on the fence.

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Once in the Park, we stopped at the fossil exhibit then on to Rio Grande to purchase our tickets for
the boat crossing into Boquillas, Mexico (population 173).  The crossing, dubbed the Boquillas International Ferry - Your Ride to the Other Side, was a big row boat, seating four!  I loved the rowers shirts [logo shown at the link] and I was able to purchase one at the Park's gift shop. There is no electricity in town other than their solar collectors and generators - interestingly there were lots of satellite dishes!  The nearest real food shopping is 3 hours away on an unpaved road. Very simple and a unique experience. Our tour guide assigned to us was 11 year old Jerry. He just finished 6th grade and did an outstanding job. Jerry joined us for a nice real Mexican lunch at the local open air restaurant. Jerry also assured us that their governor was going to soon be bringing electricity to town - we all agreed that someday Jerry would be governor.
 
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Boquillas
We then went to the Hot Springs Resort historic area that flourished 1942-1952. Last stop in the Park was at the basin at the highest elevation in the park and the temperature dropped from 104 to 85 degrees. What a relief! We went through a lot of water.

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Santa Elena Canyon

Monday we went back to the National Park to see the one third we didn't have time for on the first day, visiting Santa Elena Canyon's breathtaking views of where USA meets Mexico with steep cliffs, and returned by the famous River Road. We stopped at the Contrabando Movie Set where 8 movies have been filmed.  We also stopped by the Porch in Terlingua and met Dr. Doug - I previously wrote about The Porch and The Real Dr. Doug here.

Passing through Marfa we saw the antique jail cell out front of the new jail. It was made to put on the back of a truck and go pick up prisoners. Then it was left outside the courthouse with the prisoners in it. There are 4 bunk beds in it.

We spent one day hanging out in Alpine, checking out the resale shops and some interesting things that were unexpected.  A short list:  Great cinnamon rolls at Judy's Bread and Breakfast;
a visit to the Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University; very tasty breakfast and dinner burritos at El Patio; a lovely dinner at La Casita; a tour of the Stable Performance Car Center, and a great craft brewery tour at Big Bend Brewing Company - I will write another post about that!!  This will give you a 'taste' of the Beer From Out Here.

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On the way out of town, we went past the home of the Pecos League's Alpine Cowboys [I got a Cowboys shirt at the resale shop], and headed toward Fort Davis.  Wended northward through Pecos [don't bother!!] and then Roswell - did not stop to by any alien memorabilia.  Stopped in Espanola for a Blake's Lottaburger and stayed overnight at a favorite B&B in Taos, the Dreamcatcher.  Headed to Boulder the next morning, completing an interesting and enjoyable adventure to Alpine.  Many thanks to our gracious hosts, Cathy and Mitch.

Enjoying the cool morning, a cup of coffee and the awakening birds

 

 Facebook Friends of Cathy can see many pictures here.

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