June 6, 2017
Although our first camping experience this trip wasn’t much of a success we decided to give it another shot. This time in Terlingua Texas, close to Big Bend National Park. The part of west Texas where Terlingua is located is the most isolated area in the entire lower 48 states. Once you are here in the Chihuahua Desert you are basically on your own.
To give you a sense of how far out there it is and to get an idea about the size of Texas in general: In the time it takes our camp site owner to drive to the nearest Walmart, do some shopping and get home; I could take the car in the Hague, drive to Montmartre in Paris, find a cafe and be halfway through my second coffee and croissant. Floortje Dessing actually dedicated one of her episodes of “Naar het einde van de Wereld” to his place LINK (Dutch)
With temperatures typically rising over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and no shade to keep you cool we Initially were a bit worried about staying in the desert in a tent. Fortunately the heat wasn’t an issue at all. Unfortunately we had the pleasure of experiencing the largest hail storm in years. Who would have guessed that it could hail in the desert… As such it took a grand total of three hours after us arriving to Terlingua for the second camping experience to turn into another disillusion. Within minutes after the hail and thunderstorm started our tent started leaking, half an hour later and the tent was more or less gone. In the meanwhile the windshield of our car got destroyed and we got a couple of hundred dents. The car now closely resembles an Orange or Golf ball.
Luckily the owner of the camp site already had a bad feeling about this particular storm and provided us with the key to a little cabin they were currently building to rent out at a later stage. This so at least we could sleep in a dry place if something were to happen to the tent. She turned out to be a visionary.
The next day we mostly spend exploring Big Bend Park and tried to get our windshield fixed. Of course the only place that resembled a garage didn’t repair windshield, however they did give us advice to get some superglue and put that on the cracks to stop the from growing. Long story short: we bought superglue, applied it generously to all the cracks, all the cracks kept growing anyway; as a result now we had a cracked windshield that kept getting worse AND large areas of the windshield we couldn’t see through anymore because of all the superglue.
The next stop on the list was Marfa. Best known for two things: 1. The Marfa Lights which appear at night in the middle of the desert and which nobody knows the origins of. Are they UFOs? Ghosts? Or just headlights?
2. Prada Marfa a scuplture in the middle of nowhere that resembles a Prada store.
Of course after sitting for three hours in the freezing cold we had seen zero lights and when we wanted to visit the Prada Marfa sculpture there was road work which resulted in us being unable to actually stop and visit. We did make a quick shot from the car however.
Since we started the trip we have turned into true spelunkers visiting caves in three states so far, slowly building up to the most famous one: The Carlsbad Caverns. Carlsbad isn’t the largest cave system we have seen, Mammoth caves is much longer; it isn’t the most beautiful one we have seen either as that honour goes to the Sonora Caverns. It is however the most impressive one. In most caves we visited rooms and passageways were roughly the size regular hallways in your house and large living rooms or small theatres. Carlsbad is a whole different animal, their big room has the size of a large Cathedral. The floor space of the room is 33,210 m2 (357,469 square ft) and at its tallest it is 78m (255 ft). The room is aptly named The Hall of Giants.
From the caverns we continued to an even more impressive location: White Sands National Monument which is the largest gypsum dune field on earth. The gypsum feels like very very fine sand and looks like snow and the best part is that it doesn’t warm up when the sun shines on it. So even though we were in the desert we could walk barefoot over the gypsum. The fact that the gypsum is so fine also makes it a great underground of sledding. Unfortunately six weeks of burgers, steaks and fried chicken also increased our drag significantly, so no speed record were broken.