Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It Weren't Nuns on the Bus...

It weren't On The Road...It were two strong-willed, Type-A, big people in a fiberglass space pod about the size of your bathroom, blasting off on a 4,600++ mi. loop around the underbelly of southern America.
It's rough out there amongst the 99%. There ain't any places out there to work, to speak of. Pickups & poverty galore, with a pinch of divine decadence here and there--big house on a hill way off the highway; winding driveway; three bay garage. Saw a single-wide with all its aluminum siding gone--sold @ the recycling plant--just pink insulation between the studs & the lights were on inside. And child with a stick was running in a circle around the bare yard.
But then there was goodness--with people laughing and clowning around and slapping each other on the
back. And women hugging and talking about secret things.
And then there were enough sights to last a hundred lifetimes. Big Bend is a mind-bending experience but it's way the hell away from everything else in the lower 48. Maybe you'd want to fly, rent a car, and stay in the lodge. You'll need a week to experience the parks 800,000++acres. We've seen a bunch stuff, but this takes the cake. We'll never be the same.
The photos in previous Big Bend blogs were all taken with smart phones--lazy, but quick equipment for photos.
I'm outta here. Spent all day yesterday cleaning oily road film, bugs--even part of bird from the EGG. Birds were pooping on her as I scrubbed. They're eating some kind of red berry, making for vicious, hard-setting poop. Got her back in storage away from trees & she welcomes the rest, as do we.

Love to all,
Dick Randall/Ann Franklin
Back to our loop (loopy) trip: Both Ann and I feel like it morphed into a sociological field study. We stay in state parks because they're cheap, they have elec., H20 & sometimes sewer hookups, but....I repeat, but...they're often located in the heart of poverty. Real estate is cheaper there, thus a state park rather than a business site. The folks in these parks & adjacent areas are salt of the earth, bare bones Americans. We'd get that "Y'all ain't from around here, are you?" look every now and then. It was our weird EGG camper, our license plate & it was simply the different way we dressed and looked--maybe our accent was a little less southern. The upshot was that everybody was nice--often, in spite of their drab stake in life.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Whoops; 7th Ring; Dallas; Natchez Trace; Lo Octane apology for using the "S" word in last night's blog title. George Carlin was a cool dude, but there are several youngsters who may be reading this foolishness & they'll have plenty of time for George's rants on taboo language. Sorry, parents...
A brief update on stuff that's gone down: After Ft. Davis, McDonald Observatory, etc., we began the trek home. There was Midland, Tex.,-- Dante's 7th Ring of Hell, with debris, mile after mile, fracking towers galore, dust, stench, oil wells dipping like those old silly dashboard flamingos; the disgust with the whole scene coupled with feelings of hypocrisy, as I drove along in my big engine pickup. But then lo and behold, on the horizon were hundreds and hundreds of wind generators--their 50' blades slowly rotating--creating no pollution--simply quiet, steady energy. There is hope; there is wind; there is solar; there is hydrogen et al. Maybe our grandchildren will be able breathe.
From the 7th Ring to Dallas for a visit with Ann's son; then east to another goofy trailer park I can't even remember even though it was last night; then today, with a beautiful drive up Natchez Trace, a Blueridge Parkway sort of drive with no angst, no traffic, simply a 55 mph cruise through pristine, Mississippi woodlands and from time-to-time alongside a huge, clean lake with ducks and herons being ducks and herons. Tonight, we're in another goofy, nondescript trailer park near Louisville, Mississippi. Memorable tidbits are a jumbo Confederate soldier statue in the center of town & gas pumps that sell "off the road diesel" & have pump handles that are red, not green like most diesel handles. Additionally, most stations sell 87% octane gas--maybe a few with 89% octane. You'd think these fellows with their huge Chevy's & Fords would insist on the high octane stuff. Alas....
This'll be the last blog till I reach the crib, when I'll attempt a silly wrap-up of the whole adventure. If you've been reading this stuff I hope you found it a little entertaining. If so, it makes me happy & I appreciate it.
Peace & good will. And don't forget to max out your credit cards as it's only a few more days till "Alpacalypse."

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Claiborne (Foghorn Leghorn) St. Pk., Homer, La., way the hell back in the woods. Earlier, running on vapor, I skid up to a single pump at a 2-bit store & pay for $10 worth of what's probably enriched kerosene. An urchin in a rust bucket F-150 Ford pushes in the clutch and the pickup is rolling toward another rust bucket with an old black fellow screaming in unknown tongues out the window. Granny is cussing the urchin and straining to ambulate across the gravel--a bag of Lay's Potato Chips tumbling from her sack. Wham! Too late. And too late for me. Gas is running over my hand. I've pumped in $52.20 worth of this crap-for-gas. Whatcha get for rubbernecking.
Oh well...we're hooked up and everything is working. No more monster noises in our water system.
Brief update: From our campsite way up at Chisos Basin, Big Bend Nat. Pk., we trailered to Ft. Davis Pk., with its bountiful deer and "trigger pigs".. And of course, nearby, was McDonald Observatory--truly a mind blowing event. Oh.. to look at Jupiter's rings and two of its planets; to look at objects and clusters of objects whose light was emitted 100s of light yrs. ago (light speed being 186,000 miles per second), and to hear lectures by noted astronomers. Makes one as humble as Big Bend--probably more.
Assorted photos are attached.
It's dark, we're bushed and don't "have miles to go before we sleep."

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Rated "moderate", but at the upper end of moderate to put it lightly.
4.8 miles round-trip but it felt like 7 or 8. Of course being old had a little to do with it. Check the photos from today and yesterday. A picture's worth more than a bunch of typing.
Off tomorrow, about 200 mi. north to Fort Davis @ about 5K feet. Supposed to be some neat stuff there.
Our water pump is on the blink--going "clunk-clunk-clunk" & just putting out a trickle of water. A neighboring camper said it kept his kids up all night--they thought it was a monster. I think we can fix it as soon as we have water under pressure at our next campsite. We can then purge the Egg's water system, thus, getting the air out--this being the source of the of the problem (we think). Whatever.... We're happy...
Again...these photos are from yesterday during our 60 mi. round-trip drive through Big Bend countryside, down to the Rio Grand & the spectacular visit to the Sierra Elena mountains, towering some 8 or 900 feet. And these photos are coupled with those taken during The Lost Mine Trail hike, today, which went up to 7800 feet.
There will also be a photo of Rob and Liz from Conn. on their nifty Harley tricycle. They quit their jobs with ETNA Insurance and took off in their little camper, towing the Harley. Good folks we may well re-connect with.
The Chisos Mountains, towering in a circle around the basin where we're camped (in several of the photos) were named by Spanish explorers who called these mountains "henchizos", which means 'enchanted' in Castilian Spanish. This was later shortened to "Chisos."
Also, note the photo of the tarantula, spotted trucking across our campsite.
Oh yeah...note photos of old windmill & portion of Sam and Nena Nail's "ranch". Two brave, resourceful souls who homesteaded out here in the 1800s--doing everything themselves--enduring all the hurt, fear, anger & pain with no one to lean on but each other. . And we get in a tizzy when our AC unit goes on the fritz.
It's Sat. Dec. 1st and we're here at Fort Davis St. Pk., one of the best spots yet. Were here about 30 mins when in strolled 6 or 8 deer then two Javelinas--all brave as could be--obviously they'd been around people before. The Javelinas are thin critters, shaped much like trigger fish with legs., so I've deemed them trigger pigs. They are considered pests by the locals, can be fearsome in packs, especially the males with their curved tusks.
McDonald Observatory is a few miles down the road & we're setting aside today to participate in their Star Party & Twilight programs, allowing us to view some deep sky objects, seasonal planets, constellations, etc. Can't wait! We'll be "goobering" up a storm--both fascinated by the heavens, with all the mystery and infinity.
Peace & chuckles to all.....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


sensory overload thereof. The pictures speak for themselves.
Talk about switchbacks! Second gear and smelly brakes, but we're here at Chisos Mountains Basin +- 5500ft, extinct volcano surrounded by peaks as shown in the photos, which rise another 3000 or so feet. It's all that we expected and much more. The Basin is 20 degrees cooler than the desert floor & harbor pine, juniper, assorted cactus, deer, mountain lions, bears and misc. other wildlife. A fellow camper spotted a bear yesterday. We've seen no fearsome critters, yet, during our hikes, but we make lots of noise.
Big Bend Nat. Park is 801,163 acres & was estab. in 1944. Much of the park's const. was done by the CCC
(another example of "good" the government has done), & the park is the largest in the lower 48.
At all points of the compass there's a spell-binding photograph.. Never have I seen anything to match it and I've seen a good bit of stuff.
The rocks of Big Bend are a complex lot. Two seas--one after another flowed & subsided in the region 100s of millions of years ago, The mountains uplifted along with the Rockies, +- 75 million years back.
There is remarkable diversity of life--1200 plant species--some found only here & 450 species of birds.
Inhabitants include Apache, Span. Conquistadores, Comanche, US soldiers, miners, ranchers and farmers,
Mex. revolutionaries, international outlaws, bandits and us, for a week or so.
Hiking every day, constantly "rubbernecking" the flora, fauna & topography. Pretty whipped right now.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Can't get over that whirring wind--the vastness--the harsh, harsh landscape (note the photos).
Roughly 4k yrs. ago native people lived beneath mammoth rock outcroppings in the canyon walls away from unfriendly critters--4 & 2-legged, and painted from the heart. There's a Shaman, a portal to pass through upon death & assorted animals. We're talking legitimate religion, here.
Iron oxide mixed with animal fat constituted that dominant reddish color which proves to be the most permanent.
Creationist contend that the world is 6K yrs. old, (that evolution is pretty much a crock). Hence, in their minds these indigenous Seminole Canyon natives would have been around a mere 2k yrs. when they did this painting--when they mastered the art of subsisting on this unforgiving land and dinosaurs would have been running around in their hood.
Met a flint-lock deer hunter and re-enactment nut this evening--they do an annual re-do the battle ofSan Jacinto when the U.S. Army whipped the Mexicans and officially stole their land. Said he shot 20 female deer last year during an approved hunt to cull the over population. Whatever....
Back to the rock drawings, I think about the fact that +-50% of Americans don't believe in evolution and this prompts me to go outside on this windy clear night with clean cool air, nothing much for as far as your eye can see, and think about tomorrow--the last leg to Big Bend. Trippin out...
hope the photos show up. lots of mystery associated with this electronic stuff. Gates and Jobs have the last word.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Up on a ridge at Seminole Canyon St. Park and the wind is 20 mph-- whistling & buffeting the EGG a bit, but then we put the cooler on the tongue and she settled down a bit.
Blows the mind to switch from hill country tall tan grass, live oaks & cedars to this Big Bend Country with canyons and endless harsh prairie. The photos were taken as soon as we arrived. A little weather looks like it's blowing in, but it's so far away there's plenty of space for it to dissipate.
Gonna hike around tomorrow and look at some Native American cave drawings, geological wonders of assorted types, and probably run into a few other goobers who are out trailering around. On that note, a block away through the brush at another trailer, some dude and his wife have five dog cages filled with five dogs. We're figuring they're touring around to dog shows, but then I'm fhinking maybe they simply love their canines and it costs too much for a sitter.
Jumping to Conclusions Is a Cheap, Rather Effortless form of Exercise. Beats the hell out of Weightwatchers & its free.