Big Bend: Day 4

Thanksgiving Day found us wandering around Big Bend Ranch State Park, the largest state park in Texas, with more than 300,000 acres of pristine desert wilderness. Adjacent to Big Bend National Park, the state park is similar to its national counterpart in desert ecosystem and topography, but different in its use of the land. The “ranch” part of the park’s name comes from its open range principle, which allows a network of cattle ranches to operate within its boundaries. In fact, an entire herd of longhorn cattle is located in the park, necessitating a semi-annual longhorn roundup. In addition to scenic views of the Rio Grande corridor and the winding mountain roads, we enjoyed seeing a few “hoodoos,” mushroom-shaped geologic formations caused by water and wind erosion, in which harder deposits are left in place to form protective caps over the softer material beneath.

We also stopped for a family of javelinas crossing the road. The collared peccary looks like a pig, but is a distinct species of mammel common throughout tropical and subtropical regions. When threatened, they release a strong musk or give a sharp bark, but this little family had nothing to fear from us. We waited patiently for them to pass and find shelter in some roadside brush before proceeding on our tour.

Upon our return to Cloud 9, Cliff began preparing our little feast. We say “little” because every aspect of it was small. Cornish hens, fingerling potatoes, baby carrots…you get the idea. Although the elements were small, the feast was full-size, complete with sweet potato casserole topped with maple pecans, cranberry relish, Mexican corn, haricot verts almondine, cornbread dressing and rolls. It was a blessed Thanksgiving in our tiny house, surrounded by our beloved Chihuahuas in the amazing Chihuahuan Desert.