Gary’s leg is not too bad after the muscle strain from chasing the car, but we decided to take a driving day in part as a bit of convalescence time. In addition to Big Bend National Park , there is also a Big Bend State Park here as well. Within a limited amount of time, we generally might have ignored a state park in favor of more time in a national park, but in this case we feel that would have been a major mistake. The drive through Big Bend Ranch State Park is spectacular. Sure, it has the overall feel of the Big Bend region with the mountains, plains, canyons and the Rio Grande River, but one of the differences with this drive is that it follows along the river whereas in the national park you basically can just drive to the river in a few spots, not generally drive along it. And because you are following along the river and along the walls of mountains and mesas, the road has a lot of character. It is about like driving n a roller coaster track. Virtually every up is to a crest that you cannot see over; you never seem to know which way the road may turn when you get to the top. And every down goes all the way down into a gulch or a wash. They couldn’t possibly build enough bridges to cross over all of these crevices so the road just becomes a part of the wash when rainstorms do pass through. They even have flood gages anchored next to the road so you can know how deep the water is passing through the wash.
And of course in all of this uping and downing they can’t build the road to typical maximum grades in the range of 5-6-7%. The real highlight of the trip is the 15% grade up and down in about the center of the drive through the Park. Keep in mind that we have that manual transmission that got Gary in trouble the other day and with which you either have to select a gear before going up the grade or downshift while doing so, and one doesn’t want to be doing a lot of shifting when on such a grade. Gary hit the hill in second gear with high revs and was able to pull the whole rise without a shift and this is a pull of around half a mile. Whew.
We still are more than a bit underwhelmed by the Rio Grande River as it seems almost like a glorified creek with the low volume of water presently passing through it, but following along it does make for an amazing drive. The mountains along this drive on the Mexican side seem huge, even larger than all the ones on the Texas side. And we found cacti with even more blooms than we had seen anywhere else.
Toward the western end of the drive we finally saw some farming apparently irrigated from the Rio Grande. We had a late lunch in the dusty border crossing town of Presidio, Texas. We didn’t cross over to Mexico; Ojinaga didn’t seem like it would have the tourist character of a Nuevo Progresso.