Travel Back to Your Roots in Big Bend National Park
One question I often hear from outsiders is "Are there mountains in Texas?" I always laugh. Because clearly they haven't heard about Big Bend National Park. But that's a good thing, isn't it? The less people know about it, the more unspoiled adventures we lucky ones can have there.
Big Bend National Park was just voted one of the top 50 destinations in the entire world to camp. The remoteness, the stars, and the history make this park incredibly rewarding. I recently went on a trip with Reel Texas Productions where we brainstormed the foundation for some upcoming retreats and photography workshops. Just a quick checklist of what we experienced: Mountains, valleys, deserts, hills, hot springs, and crossing the Rio Grande River into Boquilas, Mexico, thanks to some friendly locals who were pleasantly shocked when I spoke fluent Spanish with them. The lesson there: Don't judge two white girls by their covers.
But even before reaching the park, you will be enchanted by the gas stations, drive-thru's and motels that once dominated wide open west Texas. It’s easy to see how artists from around the world have been captivated by this landscape.
Part of our trip was scouting out the splendor of Boquillas, Mexico a charming little border town with barely 20 buildings, which includes just two restaurants and one bar. The city can be accessed through the park system but you will need to bring your passport. It's about as authentically Mexico as you can get. Cabo and Cancun, this is not. We scarfed down some tasty bean-and-cheese tacos on homemade flour tortillas with an ice-cold Coke to wash it down. And yes, it was the best kind of Coke possible: In a bottle, made with real sugar, producing that oh-so-satisfying fizzy pop when opened. It was like being transported backwards, living in a time when the West was more of a concept than development.
Since that wasn't enough fun for one day, we traveled to the Langford Hot Springs for the afternoon. Okay, so here's what's really cool about Langford. Until about 1943, the Langford family owned the land where they operated a motel and small one-stop shop full of necessary goodies like lighter fluid, water, and bread. This was the only outpost for hundreds of miles around and legend goes Mrs. Langford would never let a hungry traveler leave without a hot meal.
The now-defunct family motel doubly functioned as a small six-room natural health spa to take advantage of the nearby hot springs. Maggie Smith ran the resort for several years after the Langfords sold the land until the resort finally closed for good. It still stands today, though, and if you know me, I couldn't help my imagination run wild. I pictured weary travelers passing through this desert oasis on their horse and buggy carriages with dirt-covered faces and grumbling stomachs desperate for a hot meal and proper bed. Unnatural palm trees adorn the motel entrance and you can tell the Langfords probably planted them as attractive garnish to their tiny isolated refuge. Before returning to their westward expansion, I see these opportunity-seeking nomads in their long johns taking relief from the scorching sun underneath the shade of these tropical trees, wishing they were lounging on a Caribbean beach instead.
But more than anything I want tell you about the pictographs. These pictographs, honestly, represent why I started my business. Along the way from the motel to the hot springs reside stone carvings so subtle you’d probably miss them if you weren’t looking. Etched into the rock are small symbols like squiggly lines, circles, and this V-shaped thing I thought was a mountain. They’re so simple, perhaps primitive, and yet represent something so fundamental to us as temporary pilgrims of this Earth.
Our nature as humans is that we will never change no matter how advanced our society becomes. At our very core we are people of nature and people who need to be moving from place to place constantly. Otherwise we become wasteful, stagnant, and even more combative with one another. The reason I know hiking feels so good is because we’ve been hiking for thousands of years. We haven’t been on our phones for thousands of years, we haven’t had lights for thousands of years. But we’ve been wandering, we’ve been exploring since the dawn of time.
So when you look at these pictographs, really, you feel like you’re going home. You feel nostalgic for the person you are. That’s the way I want everyone else to feel and something I hope to deliver for every adventure seeker who travels with me, regardless if it’s one of my retreats or one of the many journeys we go on throughout life.
I hope this post inspires you to explore more outside your comfort zone. I know that it’s places like these that continue to motivate me in all areas of life. As always, if you like to come with me on a retreat like this one, you can check out the Rooted Method calendar. Regardless I invite to take more adventures experiencing the untamed spaces in our country.
Photos courtesy of Reel Texas Productions.
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