A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Big Bend National Park and a Senior Moment

More TTWP (through the windshield photography). Okay, I know, but there are a lot of miles in Texas and I had to do something for entertainment.

I came upon these two cyclists on a training riding with their support vehicle. Fine, Texas is flat so it is easy riding, unless you are beating into a head wind. But why here in the middle of nowhere? Seems a pretty boring area to ride a bicycle. The vehicle had California plates too.
These two had just filled up in Marathon Texas. I ride motorcycles. I cannot imagine doing so with two huge flags flapping around behind me though. I know the guy is trying to make a statement for the stars and stripes, POW's and MIA's and that is all well and good, but gee...maybe he could tone it down a little.
I had passed through beautiful Alpine Texas opting to fill up in Marathon 30 miles further. This way I'd have more fuel with me to tool around in Big Bend with for it is a really big park. My AAA map showed Marathon to be a sizable town (it had 2 red circles marking it on the map, instead of just one circle) so I thought no problem. As the end of 30 miles neared, all I could see in the far distance was a few weathered wind blown buildings - no big town. I began to get nervous. If there were no gas stations there, I had enough fuel to go back to Alpine but surely did not want to do that and waste an hour of valuable time. It turned out to have two stations and only the second one, on the very far edge of town had diesel. Whew! Yeah, I paid a premium price for it too. I thought I had learned my lesson on this experience, but later on in the trip it backfired on me.

Entering Big Bend National Park, I pulled up to the kiosk booth and read the sign as I waited for the car in front of me to clear out. "$20 entry fee for 7 days." Further down I read something about "Senior Pass (62 and older)"
I pulled up and Ranger Cindy greeted me. "Welcome to Big Bend."
I said "You only have to be 62 to get a senior pass? I thought it was 62 and a half."
Cindy said "No just 62. The government wouldn't make it that difficult." Having worked for the Federal Government I beg to differ.
"Well I will have to get one of those" I replied.
"Show me your ID and $10 and I can give you one right now." Really? She went on explaining the benefits of my new Federal Parks Senior Pass as I marveled at it in my hands. I guess I wasn't really paying that much attention. I mean I was a bit rummy having been driving all day long. I was all excited to finally be at Big Bend and now I was getting a Senior Pass? I told Cindy this was about the best birthday gift I've got in a long time and it isn't even my birthday.
It was weeks later when I was entering Arches National park and I handed my new Senior Pass and a 10 dollar bill to the ranger lady that I learned that the $10 I paid at Big Bend wasn't a discount to get in, but the one time fee for the lifetime pass that gets me into national parks, monuments and more for FREE!  Was I a happy camper? At least I had already been using the card for half off camping fees.

Cindy also suggested a better campground than what I had in mind. She said I should arrive there right at sunset and handed me a paper she made up with sunset pictures she had taken and where to go to take them yourself. So you can well imagine that I was just plain giddy driving along enjoying the beautiful scenery with my new Senior Pass sitting by my side. Right away I noticed a change in the plant life, especially the prickly pear cacti. What I am use to in California has much shorter spines and I've never seen it with this purplish cast to it.
The campground was great. We got a nice spot off by ourselves much to Sinbad's delight. And who should be the first to greet us?
I am going to have fun here!


  1. Is that a vermillion flycatcher? gorgeous!

    you just perfectly defined the term "happy camper". :)

  2. Great post from you again my dear blogfriend:)
    ...and congrats with a senior pass:)
    Love the biker-picture. and Sinbad is a beauty as usual.
    Looking forward to see more pictures from your hikes:))
    Have a great weekend:)
    Greetings from,

  3. I wondered whether you had a pass or not and was going to ask, but didn't. I bought mine this year because the other guy left his at home. It is an amazing pass, so pretty, too.

  4. What a gorgeous bird, and since you saw it right away, I assume you had plenty of fine bird watching!
    Nice to get that Senior Pass. Steve reached the mark this year, so we'll purchase one on our next national park venture.

  5. It's good to know you and Sinbad had company for a while. ;-)
    This bird is so beautiful!
    Have a good weekend!

  6. Loved your travel log and photos. As a fellow Senior Pass holder I have to say that it is one of the best things our feds have done. I try to get as much use as possible from mine.

  7. The bird against that blue sky is amazing. As always Sinbad is looking as handsome as usual.

  8. I'm wondering if that senior discount will still be in effect when the magic number rolls around for me. hmmmm. I'm not holding my breath.
    and I see Sinbad is keeping it safe for you. what a shot. perfection.
    all of them, especially the cacti and the bird. but Sinbad has that adoring look in his eyes - that's priceless.

  9. I love it when things work out like that! We have a purple prickly pear cactus here - it's really pretty and quite purple!

  10. Nice to hear about the added features to your pass! Your trip is so entertaining to me. The last photo on this post is enticing. What is the name of this bird?

  11. WonderfulPicture


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