Friday, November 30, 2012

Huh...What's That at the Side of the Road?

On either side of the River Road (Hwy 170) between Terlingua and Presidio is a long stretch of Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Keep a close eye on the south side of the road, very close to the Rio Grande, and what appears to be a little village appears...but really it is an abandoned movie set.  You can park there and explore, and we hope you do, as the place provides a quiet little respite from the road.

The Contrabando Movie Set is featured on a 2013 Big Bend calendar, produced by our friend, Derrick Birdsall.  Derrick is a friend of our Texas Mountain Trail organization, and is donating a portion of the profit to help us continue our work connecting visitors to their own adventure in Far West! 

With the holidays coming (hint!) you may know someone (you?) who'd enjoy one!  Click HERE for information or to order one for yourself!  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Confluence: The Big Bend Reach of the Rio Grande

Boot Cut Films and The Rio Grande Research Center at Sul Ross State University present:

Confluence: The Big Bend Reach of the Rio Grande
This 32 minute documentary film highlights the Rio Grande's environmental management challenges and potential paths to restoration through the viewpoints of 8 professionals who have lived and/or worked along the river: Je Bennett (National Park Service), Terry Bishop (Presidio Valley Farms, Inc.), Karen Chapman (Environmental Defense Fund), David Dean (Utah State University), Andrew Sansom (Texas State University), Joe Sirotnak (National Park Service), Aimee Roberson (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), and Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk (Rio Grande Research Center @ Sul Ross State University).  The film is directed by Chris Hillen.

Big Bend area screenings:
Friday, Dec. 7th - Terlingua, TX @ Starlight Theater, 10pm

Thursday, Dec. 13th - Alpine, TX @ The Granada Theater, doors @ 7pm;

Q&A w/ A. Roberson & K. Urbanczyk

Friday, Dec. 14th - Marfa, TX @ The Crowley Theater, doors @ 7pm;

A Marfa Book Co. & Marfa Live Arts presentation

FREE + Q&A w/ filmmaker and available cast following screenings

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Trip to Candelaria (Part Two) by Monte Riggs

Continued from yesterday's post....
(Click on any of the photos to get a closer view)

On this road through Pinto Canyon Ranch, a ten mile stretch of private property, I stop several times, turn the engine off and just look and listen. Only the sound of wind and bird and maybe your own heartbeat disturb the absolute silence. Though parts of the road are so rough that you can only creep along some it is surprisingly smooth and fast. Shortly after the turnoff for Chinati Hot Springs the road widens and begs for high gear.
Suddenly two of the buildings of Ruidosa appear as I crest a small hill and come around a corner and seconds later I am back on pavement, FM 170, known as the river road. I turn north for the last 12 miles to Candelaria, the end of the road for FM 170. The two lane highway follows the Rio Grande(Bravo) so closely that at several points I come upon great white egrets wading just a few feet off the road. The rugged landscape on both sides of the river is carved out of ancient sediments by the meandering channel which evidence shows changes frequently. Like the river it shadows, the road snakes back and forth, climbs small hills and drops suddenly into dips from old washouts. Cresting a rise I come upon a small green sign announcing my arrival in Candelaria.

Strangely, houses seem grouped in small clusters separated from each other by fields or pastures as if the original settlers were unsure about where the town should be. A small church loosely defines the center of town, assisted by the water tower and the cemetery, an apparently the school, as announced by a sign painted on the salvaged hood of a 60’s era sedan mounted against a power pole declaring “we are proud of our skool.”
Even with the separation between groupings of homes there is an interestingly strong sense of place about Candelaria that I find appealing. FM 170 continues past the sign that says “Pavement Ends” making a turn due west toward the river and the neighboring town on the other side San Antonio de Bravo, sadly no longer a legal crossing.
My first stop is the church, with its low block wall painted white and lovingly built grotto in the side yard. The sanctuary was erected in 1917 and has all the charm of an old world church. After touring the grounds and the cemetery behind it I sat on the block wall in the shade of one of the small juniper trees and ate my lunch. A few local folks came by on or in a variety of vehicles and everyone waved and smiled. I wonder as I’m eating my sandwich and carrots how often they see strangers in town.

Like many places in this region, Candelaria seems like a town with an easily imaginable more vibrant past but a present that seems only to be hanging on. There is no store of any sort or place to buy water or gas. For the visitor it is the end of the road, only a place to turn around and go back the way you came. Perhaps someday the border crossing will reopen and that will change.

Our thanks to Monte Riggs of Marfa, for sharing his impressions and images on possibly the least visited community in the Texas Mountain Trail Region!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Trip to Candelaria, in Two Parts by Monte Riggs

Candelaria Texas, November 8, 2012
Knowing that there is no place to stop and eat or buy gas, I pack a sandwich, some carrots and trail mix, fill up the truck and head for Ranch Road 2810 which heads south at the Rock Shop on highway 90 west of downtown Marfa. Neither food nor fuel will be available until I get back to Marfa unless I head over to Presidio, but that’s 35 miles out of the way.
It’s a good day to be on the road in Presidio County Texas, the lovegrass, goosegrass, burrograss and grammagrasses, their families and friends are abundant and glowing in their best fall golden yellows and rust. A slight breeze blows out of the south arching their long stems to face me as roll by at 55 miles an hour. I pass a border patrolman parked on the side of the road and wave because I’m probably the first car he’s seen in a while and continue on. A solitary raven sits precariously atop a small fence post, it’s feet dwarfing the tiny perch of weathered wood. I see no other traffic on the road for the 32 miles to Pinto Canyon, this is why you learn to always consider the “what ifs” when you travel some of these back roads.
If you’re in no hurry, this drive is as beautiful as any in the country. Endless rolling pastures bearing scars from numerous geologic disturbances softened only by erosion and a healthy savannah which segue into the ruggedness of the Chinati Mountain range further south.
Thirty two miles south of Marfa the pavement stops and from here on to the Rio Grande the trip is over a gravel road that gets increasingly rough and challenging to the abilities of both car and driver. I shift into four wheel drive and slow down to keep the wake of dust behind me to a minimum. Besides, this road has enough blind corners where the unexpected can tear up your car in a heartbeat. Even in a high clearance four wheel drive truck a slow crawl is sometimes necessary.

Continued tomorrow!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Local foods for the holidays: Pecan Dessert Contest!

Prize Winners from Past Years in Van Horn's
Pecan Dessert Contest
Hotel El Capitan decorated for the holidays
Pecans are grown in the fields around Van Horn, one of the area's agricultural when the Town of Van Horn asked our help adding to their holiday festivities a few years ago, we suggested they add a pecan dessert content.  This will be the fourth year entries will be judged at the Hotel El Capitan, and prizes given for the best desserts.  The Van Horn Convention Center is coordinating the contest, for information, visit with Brenda Hinojos, 432-283-2682.  The contest will be held Saturday, December 1.  Entries are due to the Hotel El Capitan that morning!

Stay in town that evening for the charming Lighted Christmas Parade!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Most CHARMING holiday event next Saturday!

Small, or....
...large, the community comes out and decorates for....
The Van Horn Lighted Christmas Parade
Click here for more information!  See you there!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Very last light of day

Taken at the very end of the day, Thanksgiving Day
just southwest of Marfa

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Road Few Travel, But Most Should!

Hwy 54 looking west, about 30 miles north of Van Horn
From the collection of the Clark Hotel Museum,
the R.P. Bean Ranch, c. 1910
On what is now Hwy 54 about 18 miles north of Van Horn
Part of the original historic driving loop established in the 1960s
to promote Texas during HemisFair '68,
Texas Mountain Trail,  Hwy 54

Hwy 54, connecting Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the most scenic drives (auto, bicycle, motorcycle) in the state.  Nearly untouched by man, the road still has the same "feel" it did in 1940, when this description was included in the WPA Guide to Texas, though it was called Hwy 90 at the time:

"US 90, rounding the northeast shoulder of the Baylor Range, heads north up the broad arid valley that lies between the frowning rampart of the Sierra Diablo (6,513 alt.) on the west and the Delaware Mountains (5,670 alt.) on the east, traversing one of the most desolate yet weirdly beautiful stretches of country to be found in Texas. The view sweeps almost level reaches, gray-green with sage and greasewood, dotted here and there with prickly pear, yucca and ocotillo. Beyond the middle distance a streak of blazing white gleams (R) like a hazy silver ribbon. It is the crystal-encrusted shoreline of a salt lake. On the horizon the ragged crest of the Delawares loom stark against the sky. Closer at hand, the sheer wall of the Sierra Diablo rises (L). Somewhere in the tangle of ridges and deep narrow canyon of this range are mines, lost and active. Gleaming white salt lakes appear. Far ahead lifts the blunt nose of the Guadalupe Range where it shoves its triangle of lofty peaks across the State Line from New Mexico. Higher and bolder loom the broad cliffs."

Read more about this stretch of road on our "El Capitan to El Capitan Heritage Bike Route" page, here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shot in the rain at Fort Davis National Historic Site

Earlier this fall, one of the Texas Mountain Trail's great friends, Dave Gibson of Abilene and DAKVideo shot this wonderful piece for us at Fort Davis National Historic Site.  We've launched our first-ever membership program for the Texas Mountain the video to learn more about our organization.  We hope you'll!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Big Bend Sunset...2013 Calendar!

One of our organization's dear friends, Derrick Birdsall, is offering a portion of the profits of sales of his Big Bend calendar to our Texas Mountain Trail!  A great option for holiday giving (hint! hint!) you can learn more about the calendar and place an order here!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Head to the region on December 1 for some great holiday fun!

Van Horn's Lighted Christmas Parade!
Head to Van Horn for that community's evening Lighted Christmas Parade!  A charming event involving the entire community.  Read more here.

Cut your own Christmas Tree on December 1 (and December 8) at the Davis Mountains Preserve run by the Nature Conservancy north of Fort Davis.  Read more here.  You can also hike, watch birds and wildlife, have a picnic, just enjoy the Preserve!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Catch the fall color while you can!

Our friends at Guadalupe Mountains National Park tell us that wind has taken the leaves off the trees in exposed areas, but there's still plenty of fall color in the sheltered areas of the park's trails.  Plan to take a trip there SOON, to catch the color! 

While you're at it, take on the Peak Fitness Challenge, a free and fun program to encourage folks to get out on the trail.  Hike, log your miles online and you'll be eligible for some prize drawings!  Learn more and sign up at:

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Road Beckons....

Here's a terrific image from our friend Derrick Birdsall who's put together a wonderful 2013 calendar of images from Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park...and generously has pledged to send a portion of the profits back to our Texas Mountain Trail non-profit.  So now, you can enjoy Big Bend everyday!  You can purchase your calendar here...what a great idea for a holiday gift, right?!?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ready for a Trail Run? Fort Davis National Historic Site

There are some terrific trails at Fort Davis National Historic Site to hike or even run....and the cooler weather makes it easier to tackle a fast ascent.  Once you're up above the Fort, the view is magnificent! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hikers, Join the Peak Fitness Challenge!

Early hiking photo from the collection of the
Clark Hotel Museum, Van Horn
Now you can get better prepared for the big peaks, by joining the free Peak Fitness Challenge.  All the trails in the Challenge--in both Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Franklin Mountains State Park--are coded according to you can start at the easier trails and gain experience and confidence for the highest peaks in both parks.  That includes the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak! 

Once you sign up and hike the trails, you're eligible for free prizes...simple as that! 
On the way to Guadalupe Peak!
From the top, looking down at El Capitan

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Alpine's Art Walk is this Weekend!

Featured artist: Teresa Elliott
One of our region's premier fall events is Alpine's Art Walk, which will be held this Friday and Saturday in downtown Alpine.  A festival of visual art, music, and spectacle, Art Walk begins at 10 am on Friday and ends 10 pm on Saturday.

Twenty-seven locations will display artwork (most along Holland Street) or have activities for the public.  (Click here for a printable map!) Artwork will be featured in downtown stores, or in booths in the festival area.  All the music performances will be free--click here for a schedule of performances.  Once again, the amazing Bike Zoo of Austin will coming back to Art here to read more about them!

Come on out to Alpine and join the fun!

Texas Mountain Trail Spotlight!

Now you can join the Texas Mountain Trail as a member and receive early notice of regional events and adventure opportunities.  Memberships are for visitors and residents of the region--anyone who loves the Texas Mountains and our communities.  Earn great benefits for your membership from the Museum of the Big Bend, Friends of Big Bend National Park and REI!  Click here to learn more!  As a non-profit organization serving all of Far West Texas, your support helps us send you great ideas, great images and great connections to all that's fun and GREAT about being here!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Making Goat Cheese in Marfa

Sit back and enjoy this lovely video about making goat cheese in Marfa, with the folks of Marfa Maid Goat Cheese.   In addition to enjoying their cheese (available most Saturdays at the Farmstand and at local venues like The Get Go), and taking their cheese-making classes, now you can participate in their business. 

This (very) small business wants to streamline their work,  making it possible to share their product with more of US by getting an industrial pasturizer and milking machine and they've launched a Kickstarter campaign.  Like goat cheese?  Consider being one of their investors, for as little as $5! 

Their campaign ends November HERE to learn more and participate!