Dec. 3 to Dec.14: Silence, and more, at Big Bend, Texas


Sierra Del Carmen - lit by the setting sun


No sound.  That’s right … NONE.   No cars, no trains, no planes, no buzzes, bumps and passing hip-hop.  This is not the only attraction at Big Bend National Park, but it is becoming truly rare to listen hard, and hear nothing.  I turn my hearing aid up full … and still nothing.  Just peace and quiet –Fantastic!

Campsite in Big Bend Park


It is not silent all the time.  Sometimes the wind blows through the cottonwoods and mesquite trees.  The birds chirp and sing, and occasionally another would-be camper cruises around looking for the perfect site.  At night the coyotes have the occasional howl at the moon, and from the swamp by the Rio Grande there is the occasional quack or anguished squawk as the cycle of life continues there.

 There is no electric power, and since we lack a generator, we stay in the “no generator” area, but this was an extremely  quiet period, and with only about ten other RV’s and tents around, even the normally noisier areas were completely silent most of the time.

I cannot improve on the superlative writing in the Big Bend guides, so look there if you want more descriptions and pictures of the stunning scenery.   We managed the odd picture, and were impressed that the cottonwoods had their fall colours, even in mid-December.

Our trailer is too big to negotiate the hairpins up to the Chisos Basin, but we took a day trip, and photographed the spectacular “Window”.





This is perhaps our next RV

Also in the Chisos Basin we saw a home-made camper from Alaska.  Charming, but possibly more cozy than ours, so we did not make the owner an offer.

The Rio Grande water level was low, but it is always attractive, and a major contrast with the surrounding desert.  Mexico is close, but we only saw one inhabitant, as he walked his dog on the far bank and sang loudly.


The National Parks people go to some lengths to preserve the pristine nature of the area.  An electrical box would spoil things, so they disguised it as a rock … not very convincingly!





Bobcat at Big Bend Campground

Also outstanding was the wildlife, likely because the campground was so devoid of people.   A bobcat came to visit frequently, and I did manage a picture on my small camera.  Usually these cats are extremely shy and only prowl at night.  Several coyotes wandered past, but too far for a picture.  One confronted the bobcat, and crouched down as if it meant serious business.  As cats do, the already large and heavily clawed feline hunched up and defied the coyote.  Score one for the cat … the coyote slunk off.   

 The coyote had bad luck all round.  Like a TV cartoon, he crept up on a road runner.  Suddenly the bird saw him and ran off at an incredible pace.  The wily coyote was gaining, when the roadrunner spread its wings, and soared about eight feet into a tree.  In the cartoon, the coyote would have run into the tree, but in real life it just sat below and snarled.  The road runner just looked smug: “You didn’t know I could fly in a real pinch, did you, you dumb dog!”

 Then a mountain lion came past, ignoring everything and everybody.  King of the Beasts, and he knew it.  I was going to follow him and see if I could get close enough for a picture, but sanity prevailed!   Bobcats are one thing, lions are quite a different matter.   No javelinas at Big Bend this visit, but the presence of the other beasts likely deterred them!  The lions just love a Javelina for supper!

 The birds were as spectacular as ever, and a heron stood in majestic splendour on the swamp tree.   The vermillion flycatchers fluttered around, gila woodpeckers and lots of cardinals and pyrrhuloxias.  There were also many other birds but we are not expert indentifiers of little brown, grey and yellow birds!

Big Bend Heron by Boardwalk


 Coots and grebes frequent the pool and swamp with its walkway, and this is one of our favourite spots at dawn and dusk.

Surreal Coot at Big Bend


 Again I refer you to the excellent internet material on Big Bend.  It is a wonderland of mountains, desert cacti and creosote bushes.  Sunsets and vistas that defy the imagination, and certainly my writing skills.  Some pictures here only serve as an appetizer for the main course … which is to visit, and we do plan to do this again in February.


Grapevine Hills Trail - Big Bend NP


Oh, did I mention it was warm?  75F or more most days, but, like all deserts, cold at night where the milky way shines as you will rarely see it anywhere else.



If you reached this point you will know what comes next:


 John, with much input from Elaine.

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5 Responses to Dec. 3 to Dec.14: Silence, and more, at Big Bend, Texas

  1. Judy Brillinger says:

    Wishing you both and your family a very Merry Christmas and all the best of everything in 2011. Wondering when you head south again. I am enjoying your trip enormously thanks to your wonderful blog,tremendous humour at times and really great pictures. This is the closest I’ll ever get to any of these places, so keep it up please!

  2. john says:

    We have c0me to Toronto for Christmas, and more about this interesting journey later (44 hours on the train!!). We managed a brief and unplanned trip to Elora, and sorry we missed some folk, like Judy and Goran, who were out. We saw the condo coming along well, and we are looking forward to April 28. Nice to chat with Peter and briefly with Renate … amazing that the video worked over our wet-string wi-fi.

    In the meantime … turkey and trimmings, and another journey back to the sunshine on New Year’s Eve!!

    Have a good Christmas, and the best for 2011.

  3. judy and Goran says:

    Very much enjoying your blogs, and presume you will be back in Canada for Christmas, we had a great party for Goran’s 75 on Sat but his actual birthday is today the 20th. Have a great Christmas, and see you in the Spring, – your condo. looks as if it will be ready for you!!! All best wishes and hugs, Judy and Goran.

  4. Peter says:

    Great speaking to you yesterday! Reading your desriptions of Big Bend and looking at the photos, I must say that sitting here in minus 15 degrees Celsius, I was just a little envious! Perhaps the (unknown?) sage was right, ‘Tis better to journey than to arrive’ – stay on the road!

    We wish you, and all the family, a very Merry Christmas and hope 2011 will bring you all everything you wish for yourselves.

  5. Vi says:

    Hi There, Just on to let you know I have been following all along.I have enjoyed my trip…till the desert..I am not a desert person.. The stories are fantastic and pics awesome.. I do hope you have a Merry Christmas wherever you are.Where is it you intend to stay longer than the other places. Do you have an exact place?Well you take care and enjoy the Merry Christmas season. Will talk soon. Love from Vi and Jim too.

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