Thursday, April 23, 2009

Big Bend: A Two-Day Extravaganza of Photos

A few weeks ago my sister Umulu and I took off for a few days of camping in the desert. Big Bend National Park sits right at the border between Texas and Mexico, and from what I'd heard it was beautiful. Given that most of Texas is... um... well. Not so beautiful, let's say, I was kind of psyched to see it.

So we drove for hours and hours and hours and hours and HOURS through the west Texas wasteland, and when we got there, guess what. It was beautiful. Hooray! It was worth the siberian death march! So first we spent some time in the desert, where I got to exclaim over the thousands of ocotillo, which is one of my favorite plants. See this tall sticky looking thing with red flowers on the end? Now pretend it's the top of a person's head, and that person has about 15 braids hanging down, all fastened with red barrettes. Now that person sticks her finger in a toaster oven, and WA-HOOOOOOO!!!! Ocotillo. Just try and tell me that isn't an amazing plant.

And of course, it's springtime in the desert, which is just about the most wonderful season on account of all the flowers. For example, the famous Texas blue bells. But you know what, I think I don't know my Texas wildflowers that well, because when I called them blue bells, Umulu said, "wait, I thought they were called bluebonnets." Which sounded right to me, too, but then why is the ice cream called Blue Bell? So many unanswered questions.

So right now you're saying, "wow, the Texas desert sure is beautiful!" And you're correct, but wait, cause you ain't seen it all yet. Big Bend has a whole mountain range, too! Here you go, the Chisos mountain range. Lovely, no?

Naturally, there was celebratory leaping.

Yahoooooooo!!!! Mountains!!!!!

But deep in these mountains lie unimagined dangers, some of which put Umulu a little on edge. For example, bears.

Lucky for us, that sign told us just exactly what to do in case of a bear attack. Unluckily for me, Umulu got so freaked out at the possibility that she accidentally mistook me for a bear, but at least she followed the Bear Attack Rules correctly.

Rule number one: throw things at the bear:

Rule number two: wave your arms and scream. Scare the bear.

Lucky for me, I'm smarter than a bear, and I managed to disarm her and calm things down, and we kept on climbing the mountain. At times it was rough and windy going,

But eventually we got to the top. Look at this picture and tell me that wasn't worth the risk of bear attack.

(Coming tomorrow, tales from the low desert.)


Frank Irwin said...

What a great description of ocotillo! And, yes, it is an amazing plant. Those are bluebonnets; they grow 'em bigger out there.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's installment.

Claudia said...

um...what is that supposed to mean most of Texas is not beautiful?? I don't have a lot of texas pride, but I think the hill country is so gorgeous just to drive through--a little brown sometimes, but no matter! and the unique charm of south Texas brushy flatness...

I guess it is an acquired taste.

But you are right--Big bend is without a doubt bee--u-tiful and so are your pictures!

Cheasty said...

Frank, my savior. Thank you for clearing up the blue bonnet question. Now what is a blue bell and why is the ice cream called that?

Claudia, my sweet! I hope the texan in you can forgive me, but while Texas does have a certain charm, and parts of it (hill country) are rather lovely, compared to some of the other places i've lived and seen, it comes up a bit shallow on the beauty scale. but maybe that's just me. personal taste counts for a lot, i guess! Either way, Big Bend more than makes up for it, and I'm glad you like the pics!

Lindsey said...

The pictures are beautiful and hysterical. Oh, man, that made me laugh so hard! I love it! Someday, come on up here and we'll go up to Canada for some other gasp-inducing scenery, OK?

Prunella Jones said...

I love the desert esp. in the springtime. Have you been to Joshua Tree?

I'm glad to see that you are a celebratory leaper. It makes me like you even more!

Kate said...

My folks went to the bluebonnet festival in Ennis recently. They said it was beautiful. While there are parts of Texas that leave a lot to be desired (like Dallas, yeah I said it,) mountains are always beautiful. Especially when there is celebratory leapage in front of them!

Looks like Umulu very quickly became a professional bear scarer-offer, even without 10 full phalanges. What a badass!

Cheasty said...

Lindsey, you can count on it. It might take me a while to invent a reason for somebody else to pay for the trip, but rest assured I will die trying. To Canada and beyooooonnndddd!!!!

Pru - Joshua Tree is wonderful - I was there several years ago when i still hadn't realized i can't rock climb. It was an exciting trip - close encounters with rattlesnakes in the wild! Are you a celebratory leaper, too? If so, bestill my heart. Marry me.

Kate - where's ennis? Umulu is a badass, in a half-cracked sort of way. Just wait until I tell you about the Adventures in Naming Her Brand New Cat.

Cheasty said...

Ha. I just looked at that picture of Umulu "leaping" and it looks more like a stiff wind just pushed her off. I must say, the big sister in me likes that idea. :)

Kevin said...

And to think I always took ocotillos for granted.

Renny said...

I LOVED your description of ocotillos! And PS, the Tucson mountains are way prettier and just as desert-y, I'm looking at them out my parents' kitchen window right now!

I agree with Claudia, I think the Texas hill country is beautiful in a very relaxing, sit a on porch and sip sweet tea kind of way.

Kate said...

Ennis is about an hour south of Dallas according to my dad.

I look forward to cat naming! We always have fun naming our dogs--the important thing is that you find a name that doesn't make you feel like a fool when yelling it across the neighborhood!

Art said...

I was born and raised in Texas and I agree; it's not much to look at. Many miles of blah. When I lived in Houston, I would make about one trip a year to Big Bend. Now I live in Arizona and have beautiful desert and mountains around all the time. I love it.