Thursday, February 3, 2005

Today the weather here was beautiful -- we should have waited a day on getting the bikes out. Since we'd already explored the Rio Grande Village area pretty thoroughly (and also, our water tanks were done), we loaded the bikes back up and broke camp this morning. Our water tank was so completely empty that we spent a full half hour at the dump-and-fill station on our way out.

We had a nice drive through the park to the Castolon area, also adjacent to the river. Due to the terrain of the park, it is necessary to drive 20 miles away from the river back toward the park entrance to make the transition, unless one has what the park service euphemistically calls a "high clearance vehicle" (think old-fashioned Jeep, or maybe humvee). We ended up driving all the way around the Chisos mountains that we had ascended yesterday. They were quite spectacular in the clear sunlight. Also the geology and terrain on this side of the park are quite different than the other side -- it feels like we've entered the realm of the Roadrunner cartoons. Of course, that image is reinforced by the fact that the park is chock full of coyotes and, you guessed it, roadrunners (which had a nasty habit of crossing the road right in front of Odyssey).

We are parked tonight in the Cottonwood campground (map). This is a much smaller campgound than Rio Grande Village, and generator use is prohibited here (there are no hookups), making for a nice quiet camp. Nearby is the historic Castolon site, which was formerly a cavalry barracks and then a small store and settlement. The store still operates in the fomer barracks building, although sales have fallen off since the border was closed and the townspeople of nearby Santa Ellena, Mexico can no longer come here for their necessities.

This particular campsite presented the opportunity to easily walk down to the river, where we saw several species of birds.

Tomorrow we will head west out of the park, through Terlingua.

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