My Big Bend National Park Exploration: The Shortest Long Day In The Desert

Big Bend National Park Adventure

Our adobe house in Marathon, TX is only 30-40 minutes to the Big Bend National Park. This misled us to have a simple plan: we just sleep-in late this morning and take our time to get to the park. What I underestimated was the size of the park itself: more than 800,000 acres.

Big Bend National Park Welcome Sign
Big Bend National Park Welcome Sign

Half hour was the distance from Marathon to the first sign:
Big Bend National Park
Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River
A US Biosphere Reserve

It took a few minutes to get to the real entrance at the Persimmon Gap entrance booth where we paid $30 for the category of “private car”. The receipt was supposed to be posted on the windshield, which was good for 7 days. We grabbed a brochure at the booth’s brochures holder. The first paragraph says it well: “Big Bend National Park is in a remote part of southern Texas. Check supplies before leaving Alpine or Marathon. Gas stations and water sources are few and far between. Cell phone service is unreliable. Some park roads may require four-wheel drive.”

Cool Rock Formations Big Bend National Park
Cool Rock Formations

The Persimmon gap visitor center was closed, due to the Covid19 pandemic. By the time I seriously needed to go to the bathroom, it was another hour’s drive to get to bathroom facilities at Panther’s Junction. For a while, I was looking for a bush 🙂

Along the way, there were beautiful desert plants. Actually the desert’s rainfall mostly comes in the July-to-October monsoons. Some of the plants had leaf-like spines, however, if you think you can hide behind them, you are making a big mistake. The “leaves” are very sharp and spiky.

Big Bend National Park Desert Plants
Desert Plants

Not only does Panther’s Junction visitor center have nice bathrooms, there are also a post office and information center. The drinking water is provided here. Considering we only had soda in a small cooler, we quickly drank up the soda and filled the cans with drinking water.

In Big Bend National Park roads end at the Rio Grande, the boundary between the United States and Mexico.

Subaru at Big Bend
My White Subaru Crosstrek at Big Bend

Unlike in the park’s brochure, the Rio Grande looked yellow and muddy in my pictures. Maybe because the color is different each season.

I tried to be as close to the edge as possible to have a better view of the river, but I was stopped by my husband, worrying about me falling off the gravel paths.

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park
Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park
Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park

I saw some Mexican art and crafts, off to the side for sale: $8, $10…but no salesman around. There was a glass jar, the cash register? No idea. I was tempted to buy a little wire snake but decided against it.

With no cell signal, you have to rely on the road signs like the old days. It took us a while to find our way back to Marathon.

One little highlight on our way back to Marathon: we spotted the world’s smallest Target store, a competitive parody to the Prada store in Marfa, TX.

The worlds smallest Target Store in Marathon, TX
The Worlds Smallest Target Store in Marathon, TX

When we got home in Marathon, it was almost 7:00 pm.
We had the shortest long day in the Big Bend desert.

I will write about our trip to Ft. Davis, Alpine and Marfa next time.

Until then, please take care!

Marathon, Texas : I Was Delighted And Thrilled To Find This Ancient Adobe Hacienda In The Starry Desert

Adobe Hacienda in Marathon, Texas

The house is located at a corner lot in a small town called Marathon, Texas

When I was searching for an Airbnb accommodation as my base to explore Big Bend National Park, one house caught my eye: a restored adobe style hacienda with a world-class garden, composed of native plants, rocks, unique garden furniture and art display.

Marathon, Texas
Garden Wall Marathon, Texas

Two days prior to our arrival day the owner lady communicated with me via text message about the check-in process. What came across funny to me is this: “I will leave the door open for you and the key is on the dining table.” This reminded me of a saying about Marathon: the best kept secret in Texas. Here we don’t have a  mayor; we don’t have a police department or city council. Please forgive me for including myself as a resident of Marathon’s 500 residents now. 

The original house was a farmhouse. It was recorded to be built around 1917 but the actual construction could be much earlier. The house is beautifully restored and renovated with love. There are a lot of custom features such as Spanish Talavera tiles throughout, saltillo tile and refinished hardwood floors.

On Thursday, September 24, we arrived at the adobe house around 3:00 pm. I came to the front door but found it locked. I went around the garden wall, getting to the back of the house. The kitchen door was open and the key was indeed on the dining table.

The house looked more charming than in the pictures, however, I found two bags of trash by the kitchen door. No big deal, I told myself. I soon found the dumpster and threw the trash in. Getting ready to unload our bags, a lady showed up.

Marathon, Texas
Native Plants Out of the Kitchen Window Marathon, Texas

She said the house was not ready for us and she was the cleaning lady. She offered us a different unit next door, which was totally cleaned and ready for the guests. I took a look at that unit and agreed to take it. However, my normally agreeable husband had a different opinion about this arrangement. He said at least we should talk to the owner about this and all the parties should be on the same page. Out of his laidback character, this time he even took the initiative to make the phone call to the owner.

Marathon, Texas
Backyard garden and picnic Marathon, Texas

It turned out the owner preferred us to stay at our reserved original space, and apologized for not getting it ready on time.

We like our adobe house and were glad we would be able to stay here. We told the cleaning lady that we would go shopping and she could take her time to clean. By the time we returned, the house was clean like a whistle.

Marathon, Texas
Mariachi Singers Marathon, Texas

A little patience goes a long way. Now we have been in the house for 3 days, loving it more and more. Not only do we love its old world charm, but also how we wake up every morning to the rooster singing.

I will write about our Big Bend experience next.

BTW, if you are interested in the hacienda for your Airbnb stay, I will send you a link. I am not related to the owner and don’t receive kick back for promoting her place.

Until next time, please take care!