Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're taking a few days off for the holidays, but wanted to send a grateful shoutout to all the hardworking folks in the region who take such great care of travelers.

You help others have the time of their lives in the Texas Mountains.  You enrich lives.

You show care for the safety of our visitors.

You take every opportunity to extend hospitality to new and old friends.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hospitality Heroes Award to Bill Blaziek

Our Texas Mountain Trail awards "Hospitality Heroes" designations to folks who've offered distinguished service to the region, or who've provided outstanding support to travelers.  Earlier this month, the latest award was given to the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau retiring General Manager, Bill Blaziek, for his support of regional partnership and cooperation, and support of our non-profit Texas Mountain Trail's efforts to market the region to travelers.
L to R: TMT Board Member, Leesy McCorgary; TMT Emeritus Board President,
Bernie Sargent; Bill Blaziek, El Paso CVB; TMT Vice President, Rebecca Diaz
Previous award winners include:
--Van Horn's Ralph Gilmore, of the Crossroads Coffee Shop, now of the Hotel El Capitan for outstanding friendliness and hospitality to travelers
--The staff of Marfa Public Radio, for their lifesaving coverage during the 2011 wildfires
--The staff of Big Bend Ranch State Park, for their care to travelers during the extremely cold 2010-11 holiday season
--Hyatt Place in El Paso (Airport location) for their "early adopter" willingness to participate in new programs for residents and travelers, and exceptional support of our Texas Mountain Trail organization
--Rep. Dee Margo, for his efforts in the state legislature to secure funds for historic preservation and heritage tourism
--The people of Van Horn for their care of stranded travelers when I-10 is closed due to bad weather

Congratulations to Bill on his retirement, and thanks to all the folks in Far West Texas who make traveling through our region a great experience!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

All melted now!

The ice that turned much of our region completely white this weekend has all melted, including this beautiful scene along Hwy 90 between Marfa and Alpine.  But it is so pretty, we wanted to share some images from the ice storm...since we rarely have winter weather like it!  Most of the time our winter is clear, bright, sunny and warm!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Scenes from this weekend's (rare) wintry weather!

Rarely does winter weather take hold and stick around for long.  This weekend, we got rare cold and icy weather, but today's forecast calls for a warming the time you read this, all that ice will have melted!

Ice on a tumbleweed!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Visit the Remington Exhibit Before it Closes 12/8

Remington's Charge of the Rough Riders, which has
never been exhibited outside Odgensburg, NY
Just one more reminder to head to Alpine's Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University before the Frederic Remington exhibit heads back to its home in Ogdensburg, New York after December 8.

From the Museum's website:

"The iconic bronze, The Broncho Buster, and the never-before toured painting, The Charge of the Rough Riders, are but two of the pieces in the exhibit. Brought to the museum through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mallory and The Holland Hotel, the exhibit will contain more than twenty-two works that explore the diversity of the media and styles that Remington used in his pursuit of creating fine art while chronicling the West."

The Museum is located at the northeast corner of the Sul Ross State University campus and can be reached from Entrance Two on U.S. Highway 90 or Entrance Four from Harrison Street. Once on campus, follow the small, brown signs.
Admission is free.
Donations are always welcomed.
Tuesday - Saturday
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
The museum is handicap accessible.
Guided Tours are available by appointment.
For more information, call: 432.837.8143 or 432.837.8730.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Glory Road Teaching Materials Contest!

We just learned of a neat contest to develop teaching materials about the historic Texas Western (now UTEP) basketball team from 1965-6.

From the website:

"One of UTEP’s most important moments came on March 19, 1966, when the men’s basketball team beat Kentucky for the NCAA National Championship. Coach Don Haskins and the entire team were later admitted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 and 2007, respectively. In 2011 the team was featured on a Wheaties box and the next year, during the 75th anniversary of the NCAA tournament, ESPN ranked the victory the #3 moment in the entire tournament history.

But the victory’s significance extends beyond basketball. The fact that the Miner team started five black players against Kentucky’s all-white team thrust the game into the nation’s civil rights movement. In 1955, the school had been the first in Texas to desegregate but the national struggle for rights was far from over. The victory challenged the color line in college athletics and the rest of national activities. The Miners’ story was immortalized in the 2006 motion picture Glory Road.

The Center for History Teaching & Learning invites recommendations for teaching this story and its significance in El Paso schools during 2014. We seek innovative and exciting strategies that will take this story to a new generation.

1. Review the resources on this page to familiarize yourself with the history. Feel free to draw on any other resources of which you are aware.

2. Design a learning activity for social studies (especially grades 4, 7, and 11) or any other subject. We don't seek entire lesson plans, but rather exciting ideas that teachers may use to create their own plans to meet their own students’ needs. See these samples.
3. Submit your activities via email to by December 22, 2013.
The best ideas will be published by the Center and the creators will receive a UTEP Centennial Prize Pack."

Click HERE to go to a terrific website about the 1966 NCAA Basketball Champions! (Loads of photographs!)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Our Updated Far West Texas Wildlife Trail Maps are IN!

A couple of years ago, we partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife to create the last regional birding and wildlife watching trail in the state--the Far West Texas Wildlife Trail.  Now updated and newly available, you can order the map from TPWD!

So, there are new birding and wildlife watching locations noted, some updates and loads of fun and exploration coming your way.

Click HERE to purchase your own hard copy maps! 

You can still view the original online version of the map free, to get a sense of what the map is, and how it works.  The online version does not yet reflect the updates and new sites available on the new printed version though.  Want to take a look?  Click HERE to see the information on the Big Bend loop of 12 sites noted in the original version of the map.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Traveling to Big Bend, 1940

One of our favorite books is the WPA Guide to Texas, published in 1940.  A product of the New Deal, intended to employ writers and increase spending in travel across the state, it offers a unique view of life in our area and what it took to travel across our region just 70 years ago.

One driving route began in Marathon, with a 1940 population of 750.  It is described as a

"treeless, arid, mountain-bound, has many unpainted adobe houses, and is the supply center for the vast ranching country, extending almost across the 5,935 square miles of Brewster County, covering the Texas Big Bend."
White sedimentary rock outside Marathon
 noted in the 1940 WPA Guide to Texas

The book goes on to describe the route to Big Bend, then on State 227, roughly following the route south through Persimmon Gap and the area of Big Bend National Park, known as Panther Junction.

Starting at Marathon:

"State 227 and all the side roads are unimproved dirt roads, usually passable except during the rainy season (August and September) when care should be taken at creek beds, draws and dips.  THE TEXAS BIG BEND CAN BE SAFELY BY THOSE WHO DRIVE CAUTIOUSLY AND FOLLOW THE MAIN ROADS.  MANY SIDE ROADS APPEAR, BUT ONLY WHERE RECOMMENDED, ARE SIDE TRIPS ADVISABLE.  THE ROUTE IS PASSABLE WITH TRAILERS ONLY ON THE MAIN ROUTE.

"This area is geologically called the Marathon Basin--one of the oldest sedimentary formations on the North American Continent.

South of Marathon State 227 follows the general route traversed by Spaniards in their exploration of the most forbidding part of New Spain.  Earliest expeditions were made into the Big Bend in 1583.  Many others, during the years that followed, ended in tragedy when starvation and thirst took their toll.  Penetration into this region was slow, as one writer said, "The tide of Spanish exploration split upon the rock formed by the Big Bend country and ebbed and flowed along either side."  Besides barren deserts and formidable wastes, a living reason for this existed:  the fierce mountain Indians, who were as savage as the land they had taken from earlier cave dwellers.  Hence every mile that is covered now by automobiles once was gained only by daring and ingenuity."

Heading south on State 227:

Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park
"The route traverses the southern part of Brewster county, largest in the State, with an area of almost 6,000 square miles. Yet so thinly populated is the area that rarely are more than 30 votes cast in the lower Big Bend. Neighbors travel a hundred miles or more to attend dances, barbecues, or fish frys.  (Channel catfish in the Rio Grande attain great size, and furnish a favorite basis for entertainments.)
Adobe ruin near the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park

Luna's Jacal in Big Bend National Park

Isolation is as great a barrier between the Big Bend and the outside as the jagged mountain ranges.  Only the hardiest of men and women brave the loneliest of desert ranches, which range in size from a thousand to a half-million acres; few venture close to the untenanted banks of the Rio Grande to farm irrigable lands.  Virtually all houses are made of adobe bricks; the non-Latins have store-bought furnishings, but the Mexican inhabitants have only what they have made by hand.  Cottonwoods grow along the river, pinons, firs and oaks in the mountains; timbers are transported on burros to sunbaked jacals, where crude beds, tables and chairs are whittled out."

Stay tuned...we'll be sharing more passages from this great 1940 travel book in the coming days and weeks! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cycling through Big Bend--The Path Less Pedaled

Big Bend National Park
Last week, at the National Bike Tourism Conference (where we spoke on Far West Texas cycling assets) we ran into our old friends, Russ and Laura of the Path Less Pedaled.  We first met them during their 2010 trip through West Texas, and have been in touch ever since.  They had a great time pedaling through all of our Texas Mountain Trail region, and gave us permission to share highlights and photos of that trip.

Some excerpts:

"Way before we ever reached the border into Texas, we started hearing all sorts of comments about what we would find. The reputation that Texas has gained outside of its borders is really quite extraordinary, and we had no idea what to expect. A bunch of yahoos with shotguns? Pick-up trucks running cyclists off the road? Cranky ranchers eager to kick you off their land? Nope. Just gorgeous wide-open country, amazing vistas, wonderful roads with wide shoulders, and some of the nicest and most accommodating people! Turns out, our foray into West Texas has provided some of the best cycling so far, and fantastic connections with other folks. If you have a chance to come out this way, we highly recommend it. In fact, we think you should consider making it your next vacation destination!"

Starlight Theatre, Terlingua Ghost Town

Big Bend National Park
"There is so much to explore in these parts that you could easily stay for weeks, so we suggest having a lot of time to putter around, or having some sort of rough plan. From Terlingua Ghost Town, we decided to head east into Big Bend National Park. There is a $10 entry fee for cyclists (or buy an annual pass for only $80!), and there are numerous camping spots throughout the park. We opted to head up to Chisos Basin, an utterly breath-taking location in the belly of a ring of mountains. You will hurt if you climb this road on a bicycle, but it will be absolutely worth it when you get to the top and have the chance to experience this amazing spot. Camping is $14 per night, and there is drinking water and a sky full of stars. (Head up the hill to the lodge to dine in the restaurant, explore the visitor center, pick up some supplies at the small store, or just snag a room in the hotel.)"

Cycling into Terlingua

"As we prepare to head out of West Texas toward Hill Country, we’ve been thinking back about how beautiful and wonderful this area has been. It’s a harsh terrain, where water is scarce and you have to plan extremely well because of lack of services. We have battled a lot of wind that whips its way across these open plains. Mostly, we have been stunned by the vistas we have seen and people we have met. Cycling through West Texas feels epic, as if we’ve stumbled upon a part of the US that few people experience (and even fewer know exists!). We have loved out stay in West Texas and hope that other folks will be inspired to head out here for their own adventure (just be sure to carry a lot of water!)."

Catch up with Russ and Laura at their website,
Or follow them on Facebook:
Or on Twitter:

Read the entire post on their trip through our region here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Speaking the Same Geological Language: Golden Spikes at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

GUMO Superintendent Dennis Vasquez,
GUMO Geologist Dr Jonena Hearst,
Dr Charles Henderson, Dr Shuzhong Shen after installing
Capitanian GSSP marker on Nipple Hill, May 2013
Geologists all over the world work with rock that helps us understand in the timing of events in earth history.  To help geologist "use the same language" worldwide, they rely on standards and definitions to name geological stages so the same unit or formation would mean the same thing to everyone, no matter where they are. 

Global Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSPs)--also called Golden Spikes--are established by consensus within the international geological community...recently three points were established in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. 

 These sections and points allow geologists to correlate rocks and fossils from one locality to another across continents and oceans, giving geologists a common reference and vocabulary for discussing local, regional, and global events in geology and paleontology.”
Guadalupe Mountains National Park has been recognized by the Subcommission on Permian Stratigraphy of the International Union of Geological Sciences with the placement of plaques marking the park's three Global Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSPs). Dr. Shuzhong Shen, current Chair of the Subcommission, Dr. Charles M. Henderson, past Chair of the Subcommission, and Guadalupe Mountains National Park geologist Dr. Jonena Hearst placed the bronze markers in the park this past Spring.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Clark Hotel Images in the Portal of Texas History

Several years ago, our Texas Mountain Trail organization wrote a grant that digitized the photograph collection of Van Horn's Clark Hotel Museum.
Maggie Jackson, Photograph, 1940; digital image,
( ),
University of North Texas Libraries,
The Portal to Texas History,;
crediting Clark Hotel Museum, Van Horn, Texas.
Click on the photo for a closer view!

This is one of those images of everyday life from the 1940s, and we're not sure about the location or the event, but it is clear that cake was served!  We like to wonder about the gentleman who put his hat on the post.

You can see a closer view by clicking on the photo above, or following this link to the Portal:

To view other images of Van Horn's history at the Portal to Texas History, click HERE.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Walk a little farther....Big Bend National Park's Hot Springs Trail

The view in Hot Springs
Big Bend National Park
Many travelers head to the great Hot Springs Historic District in Big Bend National Park for the 105 degree water, and for a warm soak.  But if you walk just a little bit farther, you'll see more spectacular views.  Follow the trail beyond the ruin of the hot springs and as the trail forks to the left and hairpins back and up, you'll climb a bit as you hike to even more spectacular views.

Texas Highways recently included a trip to Hot Springs in their article about visiting the Big Bend in the winter about it here!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Remington Exhibit in Alpine through December 8th

Wolf Scout Arnel Holguin, finds a small snake
that scared horse and rider in this piece by Frederic Remingtond
In less than three week's time, the Frederic Remington exhibit at the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine, will head home to Ogdensburg, New NOW's the time to see it!

From the museum's website:

"This historic exhibit will display a large number of Remington’s best known works from September 20th through December 8th. The iconic bronze, The Broncho Buster, and the never-before toured painting, The Charge of the Rough Riders, are but two of the pieces in the exhibit. Brought to the museum through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mallory and The Holland Hotel, the exhibit will contain more than twenty-two works that explore the diversity of the media and styles that Remington used in his pursuit of creating fine art while chronicling the West."

The exhibition entry on our Texas Mountain Trail events calendar is HERE.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sabroso Posole and Chipotle Texas!

Chipotle Texas, a homegrown business in Fort Hancock, has a retail store just south of  I-10 exit 72.  Worth a detour, their store offers dried chile and spice/chile blends for all kinds of great cooking.  We profiled the business for Texas Folklife and their statewide survey of foodways, which we'll compile soon and share with all of you.

Here's their recipe for Sabroso Posole:

3 lbs. boneless pork loin, cubed
2 tblsp. Fiesta Chipotle Blend
Sabroso Menudo Blend (to taste per serving)
2 (15 oz.) cans white hominy, or 1 package frozen posole corn
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tblsp. Chipotle Texas Chipotle Flakes
2 tblsp. chopped garlic
6 limes halved
  • Place cubed pork pork loin in a large kettle and add about 5 quarts of water or enough to cover meat. Add 2 tablespoons Fiesta Chipotle Blend and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for about 1 1/2 hours. 
  • Remove excess grease from top and set aside. Reserve liquid. 
  • Drain and wash the hominy very carefully until the water is clear so as to remove lime from kernels.  Put in large kettle and cover with water. (If using frozen posole corn boil until kernels have popped.)
  • Mix in pork loin and hominy or posole corn. Add oregano, garlic, onion, and chile pods.  Let simmer for about 1/2 hour. 
  • Add a squeeze of lime and a shake or two of Sabroso Menudo Blend to taste, then serve. (For added flavor top with shredded cabbage and diced radish.)
Earlier this month, we shared their recipe for cornbread!

There's more to come from our partnership with Texas Folklife on Far West Texas's two summary documents from that project, and two more are in production!
Bob Kinford, Cowboy Cook
Van Horn's Pecan Dessert Contest

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sharing your photos of our Texas Mountain Trail region!

We love to hear from all our friends on our social media venues, and although many of you are already doing so, we wanted you to know that YES, we'd love to see your photos of travels to Far West Texas and the Texas Mountain Trail region!

So here's your invitation:  Please feel free to post your own adventure and travel images (of your travel in our six county region--from Marathon and Big Bend National Park all the way to El Paso and the New Mexico state line) on our Facebook page,

We'd love to see them and have them posted there so others can see them too!

Where can you find us?


and of course, our main website,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Are you ready for the Pecan Dessert Contest?

Van Horn is holding a Pecan Dessert Contest at the Hotel El Capitan on the same day as their annual Lighted Christmas Parade.  This is the biggest holiday celebration in town, and is one of the best small-town celebrations you'll find in the Texas Mountains. Want to enter the contest?  Contact Brenda Hinojos at the Town of Van Horn!  Contact information is at our calendar listing for Van Horn's special holiday festivities, December 14!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From the Collection of the Clark Hotel Museum

Click on the photo for a closer view!
Mr. and Mrs. Ponciano Villalobos, Photograph, April 8, 1912;
digital image, (,
University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Clark Hotel Museum, Van Horn, Texas.
Several years ago, our Texas Mountain Trail non-profit wrote a grant to allow the photography collection of Van Horn's Clark Hotel Museum to be digitized and join the archives at the Portal To Texas History at the University of North Texas Library.

Rare in this collection, a view of everyday life in Van Horn, the record says:

"Photograph of couple outside adobe building. Photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Ponciano Villalovoz (Villalobos), April 8, 1912, in Van Horn, TX. Dedication at the back of photo reads," Dedico Este Retrato a, Mi Querida Mama, Pas Chacon En, Pruevas de amory y, Respecto. que le Tengo. Ponciano Villalovoz, Van Horn, Texas, April 8, de 1912"

Monday, November 11, 2013

We're on Instagram!

Follow our travels all over the Texas Mountain Trail region on Instagram!  We're at @texastrailgirl and we post from everywhere--Big Bend, the Davis Mountains, the Guadalupe Mountains and the Franklin Mountains of El Paso!  Lots of great adventure, food, hotels, fun!

Our facebook page is
We tweet at @trailgirl

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our FREE Events Listing!!

If you're an event planner here in Far West Texas consider yourself invited to use our FREE events listing program online! 

Outdoor events
There's an online form you can use to send us all the information on your here to get there:

Once you fill in the blanks, we'll get an email to review your listing.  As long as your event would hold interest for our travelers--be it an historical, cultural, preservation, active endeavor--we'll post it on our calendar!  We'll review it, make some formatting updates and make it go "live," so it will appear on our calendar here.

Museum exhibit openings
The service is FREE, and we know it will help you spread the word about FUN in Far West Texas!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Just another beautiful sunset...can you see Chinati Peak?

One of our region's assets is our unspoiled landscape, clear bright skies and unencumbered views...what better way to relax, forget your troubles, and leave the noise of the city behind?!?

One of our typical autumn sunsets, seen north of Marfa....but if you look closely, you can see Chinati Peak at the horizon. 

(click on the photo for a closer view!)

Bonus Video!  One of our volunteers, the El Paso Troubadour, sings his own composition...sit and listen awhile and watch photos of Big Bend, Van Horn and other parts of our Far West Texas!

Friday, November 08, 2013

"The Forsythia of Far West Texas!"

One of our Twitter followers calls Ocotillo "the forsythia of Far West Texas," and we're inclined to agree!  They leaf out when there's rain, and several times a year, they can develop brilliant orange/red blossoms. 

Our Executive Director thinks they're the "happiest and friendliest of desert plants, making us feel like spring!"

However, ocotillo is not considered a true cactus.

For a good part of the year, and when our desert is dry, the ocotillo appears to be a composition of dead sticks, but when the rain falls, small leaves are sprouted all along the vertical branches.

Click here to read more about the ocotillo!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Our Newest Cycle-Friendly Hotel: Eve's Garden Organic Bed and Breakfast!

Our region's cycling assets--with our incredible mountain biking opportunities, our scenic roads with NO TRAFFIC, and our heritage bike routes--it seems a "no brainer" to identify hotel properties willing to provide special services to cyclists.

Announcing our newest Texas Mountain Trail Cycle-Friendly Hotel:


Eve’s Garden Organic B&B, Marathon, TX (located at Ave C & North 3rd St, one block north of Highway 90 in Marathon.) 432 386 4165 or cell 432 386 3479.   

A peaceful boutique B and B tastefully constructed of recycled and re-purposed materials (primarily papercrete). This family run business features; hand-built rooms, indoor gardens and courtyard, fire pit, star gazing deck, and courtesy room (with complimentary coffee, tea, cocoa).

Amenities also include in-room mini-fridge, romantic electric fireplace, A/C, private bath, fresh flowers from Kate’s organic greenhouse, and a gourmet organic breakfasts, featuring locally-sourced eggs, milk, veggies, etc.

Cycle-friendly features include: secure overnight storage of bikes; nearby packed lunch possibilities and bike supplies (at French Co. Grocery). Owner requests cyclists remove cleated cycling shoes to protect unique unique structure of the B&B.

 We have cycle-friendly hotels all across the Texas Mountain Trail region.  Some are historic hotels, others are chain hotels, some offer cabins, or screened "porch" rooms...there's something for everyone!

Click here to see the full list.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A tasty detour from I-10 Chipotle Texas

Getting off the freeway can bring tremendous--and tasty--rewards.   If you take I-10's exit 72 at Fort Hancock and head south, you'll soon come to a CHILE STORE.  Walk inside and you'll see the products of a local business that's done so well, they're sending Far West Texas chile flavors around the world.  Chipotle Texas has its home in Fort Hancock, and it dries and smokes chile, produces specialty spice blends and wins awards for their work...all from Hudspeth County.

Here's their Chipotle Texas' Hot Cornbread for you to try at home!

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp.  Chipotle Texas cayenne chile powder
3/4 tsp salt

Combine ingredients, mix well. Pour into lightly oil coated baking dish.  Place in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Not planning to head through Fort Hancock soon?  You can order from their webstore!