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!
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.
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.
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!
Coots and grebes frequent the pool and swamp with its walkway, and this is one of our favourite spots at dawn and dusk.
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.
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:
MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
John, with much input from Elaine.