Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park (Feb 10 2014)

It’s a morning of socializing. Big Dog loves talking to people and is having a fine time telling the story of how we flew into the Polar Vortex to pick up Sprockets.

We talk to people from Ohio, Pennsylvania, as well as a younger couple from Germany. We noticed them the other day, coming into the campground in their VW “California.” Big Dog had been looking at VW campers a while back, including the California which is only available in Europe. The Germans have a pop-up tent – the kind Big Dog had wanted on a low-top Sprinter. (Sprockets is a high-top, extended Sprinter.)

DSC01818.JPG“I always used to tell foreigners that the best way to see the U.S. is through the National Parks,” Big Dog reminds me. You meet people from all over the country – as well as other countries – get tons of information, maybe even offers to stay when you are near them.

We love talking to other travelers. The more traveled they are, the more we enjoy talking to them. The German Couple traveled across Africa (“And at that time, we didn’t have the pop-up tent so we were camping outside, on the ground.”) and are now doing a 24-month trip across the Americas. We exchange information, and invite them to come and stay with us at The Ranch when they are in that area.

DSC01820.JPGDSC01824.JPGAfter the leisurely morning, we go back to Hot Springs for another soak and rinse, then to the Dugout Wells trail that goes around another oasis. Afterwards, it’s up to the Chisos Basin, a basin surrounded by the Chisos Mountains that rise 1000 feet above Panther Junction.

DSC01825.JPGThe flora and fauna here are different because of the elevation and water. As the land rose, whatever was here got trapped – they cannot survive in the desert surrounding these mountains – so there is a unique ecosystem in the basin.

DSC01837.JPGIt is a smaller campground and the big cliffs all around give it a more claustrophobic feel than the Rio Grande campground, but I love how one park could have such diversity. And speaking of diversity, what about all these different types of campers, from tiny teardrop trailers to camper vans to giant MAN vehicles. These are German rigs that look like massive armored vehicles. I can’t imagine what kind of mileage they get, but it’s great that all these people from around the world are seeing the US this way. Nature is the absolute best part of North America. Europe has its castles and culture, other places have exotica. But nothing can beat the natural wonders of the Americas.

DSC01850.JPGDSC01861.JPGThere are many hiking trails here at Chisos and they all sound cool, though most seem too strenuous. We do a short 2 mile hike that climbs up a bit, crossing paths with a group of young people who were at the end of their day long hike and a group of men on horseback.

DSC01844.JPGBefore getting back to our campsite, we check email at the visitor’s center where there is a lodge, restaurant, store and decent free WiFi. We are learning to live and operate in Sprockets, bit by bit. How to stay clean, warm, fed…

DSC01848.JPGDSC01860.JPG

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Author: ontheroadwithsprockets

I've been traveling since I was born -- the first big trip was before I was two, across the Pacific, from my native Japan to Los Angeles on a cargo ship. There have been many journeys since then, through many continents and cultures.

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