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!

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