Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Big Bend Ranch State Park, TX. Displaced Big Bend National Park Visitors. Terlingua International Chili Championship. Stock Market Crashes. Killer Smog. Super Sandy. Feast at Trinity, TX.


For "Travel Tuesday": This is a good time of the year to visit Big Bend Ranch State Park in the Texas Big Bend Country region.

#Region.R_Description#"Named for the Big Bend National Park, the westernmost region of Texas boasts pristine parklands, wide open skies, popular hiking and camping areas, and the beautiful Davis Mountains. Relive the days of the Wild West or experience the international culture of old El Paso. Discover the Park Lands of the Texas Big Bend Country."

Big Bend Ranch State Park

"Big Bend Ranch is located adjacent to Big Bend National Park and shares the national park's Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem. However, in one significant aspect the state park is managed very differently from the nearby national park, as the state park encompasses a network of cattle ranches operated according to the principle of the open range. A herd of longhorn cattle is based here, and there is a semi-annual longhorn roundup.

The Big Bend Ranch manages 23 miles (37 km) of frontage along the Rio Grande, and river rafting is popular here. Away from the river, visitors can hike, backpack, go horseback riding or enjoy mountain biking in the Big Bend Ranch's substantial backcountry. The park is open year round and an admission fee is charged." More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bend_Ranch_State_Park_(Texas)

Over a quarter million acres to horseback ride, raft, mountain bike and camp under a blanket of stars.

Over a quarter million acres to horseback ride, raft, mountain bike and camp under a blanket of stars.

Welcome to the Other Side of Nowhere!

"Big Bend Ranch State Park offers outdoor recreation for the truly adventurous. This remote park features rugged mountains, steep canyons, amazing views, unparalleled night skies, and solitude in a high desert setting. The park stretches along the Rio Grande in far west Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The largest state park isn’t just grand in size, it’s full of grand adventure.

The largest state park isn’t just grand in size, it’s full of grand adventure.

Things to Do

Visitors can hike, mountain-bike, backpack, paddle, ride horses or explore by vehicle (the park has two- and four-wheel-drive roads). This is Texas’ biggest state park, so there’s a lot to explore!

The park has 238 miles of multiuse trails (for hiking, biking and horseback riding). Visitors can explore 70 miles of unmaintained dirt roads in high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles. The Rio Grande/Rio Bravo area offers great day-use access. Visitors can float, fish and hike, or drive the scenic Camino del Rio (FM 170). Each February, the park helps host the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest. Visit our Activities page to learn more.

Campers can choose from vehicle-accessible, backcountry or equestrian sites. All sites (except backcountry) can be reached by vehicle. Some roads require four-wheel-drive or high clearance. Campsites offer solitude and great vistas; all (except backcountry) offer some camp amenities. Limited lodging and food service are available at the Sauceda Ranch House and Sauceda Bunkhouse.

The park also has a 5,500-foot paved airstrip. If you plan to fly in, call ahead to let park staff know when you will arrive and to get up-to-date information.

Pick up backpacking, camping and river-use permits at the following places. You can also purchase maps and hunting and fishing licenses, as well as find information about the Big Bend region.

For more information on visiting the park:

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are always needed at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Visit our Volunteer page and keyword search for “Big Bend.”

Ranger Programs

Park rangers lead tours throughout the year. These include hikes and four-wheel-drive trips to learn about archeology, geology and nature. Rangers also lead mountain-biking and photography tours. Call the park at least seven days before your visit to request a tour.

For more information, visit our Activities page. Check the Events page for upcoming activities.

Commercial Outfitters

Commercial outfitters lead guided tours and rent sports gear. They rent kayaks, canoes and mountain bikes, as well as other camping equipment. Outfitters lead horseback rides, river rafting trips, 4x4 tours, mountain bike tours, campouts, nature and birding hikes, and art and photography classes.

Are you uneasy about tackling this rugged park on your own? Do you want to try a new activity, like mountain-biking? An outfitter may be able to help. Visit our Outfitters page for contact information.

Area Attractions

On your way in or out, stop for a dip in the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool at Balmorhea State Park.

Near Fort Davis, you can visit Fort Davis National Historic Site or Davis Mountains State Park. Learn about desert plants and animals at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center. Enjoy a solar viewing or star party at the McDonald Observatory. You can also tour museums and art galleries, and road bike and hike through scenic areas.

If you like desert quirky, check out Terlingua. Tiny Marfa offers art galleries, mystery lights, and more.

Photo of an Explorer PackAsk about the Junior Ranger Explorer Packs available for free checkout at the park!"

More pictures at: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/big-bend-ranch


Big Bend Ranch State Park relishes influx of displaced Big Bend National Park visitors

"One possible silver lining to the partial shutdown of the federal government: The closure of Big Bend National Park has created a welcome influx of visitors at Big Bend Ranch State Park.TH0212ifc

Campers at Big Bend National Park in far West Texas had about 24 hours to vacate the park after Congress declined to pass a budget to keep the National Park Service and other federal operations running beyond that Monday.

Barrett Durst, superintendent of Big Bend Ranch State Park, said the state park has seen a 100 percent increase in visitation over the past two days. The phone has been ringing frequently with inquiries from people who originally planned to visit Big Bend National Park.

“Our clientele is probably 90 percent return customers, so hopefully we’ll have a few more people come back to the park now,” Durst said Friday in a telephone interview. “It just opens up the door a little more. Hopefully word will get out, and more folks will start to visit.”

Big Bend Ranch State Park is Texas’ largest state park, encompassing 486 square miles of the Chihuahuan Desert along the Rio Grande from southeast of Presidio to near Lajitas. The park sits along the river just west of Big Bend National Park.

The state park recorded 963 visitors in October 2012 between its Sauceda Headquarters, Barton Warnock Visitor Center, and Fort Leaton State Historic Site, Durst said. Durst said he expects the park to reach that number this weekend—the first weekend of the month.

Barton Warnock Visitor Center.

Barton Warnock Visitor Center.

But there’s still plenty of space at the park, which is only about 25 percent full, Durst said. The park has 107 drive-up primitive camping sites and 86 backcountry camping sites.

“Historically, we would have not seen very many people at this time at all,” Durst says.  “This is a really good thing. People walk through the door, and say they didn’t even know we were here.” From: http://blog.texashighways.com/?p=3081


In nearby Terlingua:

imageOctober 30 - November 2

Terlingua International Chili Championship 

Phone: (432)371-2595   www.chili.org
"Features local cook-offs of chili, barbecue, beans, salsa and more Wednesday through Friday, with the Championship Chili Cook-Off event on Saturday. Also enjoy live music and dancing Thursday through Saturday nights. Rancho de los CASI on F.M. 170."


On This Day:

Stock market crashes, Oct 29, 1929:

"Black Tuesday hits Wall Street as investors trade 16,410,030 shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. Billions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors, and stock tickers ran hours behind because the machinery could not handle the tremendous volume of trading. In the aftermath of Black Tuesday, America and the rest of the industrialized world spiraled downward into the Great Depression."



Killer smog claims elderly victims, Oct 29, 1948:

"Killer smog continues to hover over Donora, Pennsylvania, on this day in 1948. Over a five-day period, the smog killed about 20 people and made thousands more seriously ill.

Donora was a town of 14,000 people on the Monongahela River in a valley surrounded by hills. The town was home to steel mills and a zinc smelting plant that had released excessive amounts of sulphuric acid, carbon monoxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere for years prior to the disaster. During the 1920s, the owner of the zinc plant, Zinc Works, paid off local residents for damages caused by the pollution. Still, there was little or no regulation of the air pollution caused by the industries of Donora.

Beginning sometime on October 26, weather conditions in the valley brought a heavy fog into Donora. This fog appears to have trapped the airborne pollutants emitted from the zinc smelting plant and steel mills close to the ground, where they were inhaled by the local residents. Soon, a wave of calls came in to area hospitals and physicians. Dr. William Rongaus, the head of the local Board of Health, suggested that all residents with pre-existing respiratory problems leave town immediately. However, 11 people, all elderly and with heart problems or asthma, were already dead.

Most residents then attempted to evacuate, but the heavy smog and increased traffic made leaving difficult. Thousands flooded the hospitals when they experienced difficulty breathing. It was not until October 31 that Zinc Works shut down operations. Later that day, rain fell on Donora and dispersed the pollutants. By that time, another nine people had already perished.

The Donora smog disaster received national attention when it was reported by Walter Winchell on his radio show. In the aftermath, air pollution finally became a matter of public concern; the incident led to the passage of 1955 Clean Air Act. The Donora Zinc Works shuttered operations in 1957. Although the types of heavy visible pollutants responsible for the deaths in Donora have now been mostly outlawed and eliminated, invisible pollutants such as ozone remain a threat to people with chronic respiratory ailments." 


"Superstorm Sandy",

Storm path

"Early on 29 October 2012, Sandy curved north-northwest and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds, around which time it had a wind diameter of over 1,150 miles (1,850 km).

Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Its storm surge hit New York City on October 29, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Damage in the United States amounted to $65 billion (2013 USD)."



As I knew that I would be gone for a long time, I left the foster cats with extra food, and took Misty for a good long walk when I went to pick up Jay.

On the way to the last day of The Feast of Tabernacles at Trinity, TX, we took a wrong turn, so we drove through all the traffic lights in the historic college/prison town of Huntsville, TX.  Fortunately we had allowed extra time for the trip. 

We found the assembly and it was good to see the people from Georgia that we had met when they visited our little church on the 19th, again. Many from our church were there, too.  This time there were more people to meet, as some had come from the Virgin Islands for the Feast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Islands  Lots of hugs all the way around.   This congregation has longer song services than we do at our church, and with the extra visitors there was a calypso theme to some of them.   There were talks by ministers from the different congregations, but I had trouble understanding their accents.  Jay enjoyed the talks and seemed to glean something from them.

As it was the last day of the Feast, there were a lot of 'thanks' speeches to all those who had made the successful Feast possible.  Jay got bored with that, and walked down to look at the lake close by, Lake Livingston, which is fed by the Trinity River.

The potluck was great, curried chicken, lasagna, lots of veggies, salads and desserts, one of them mine, a big Spice Cake and Fruit Trifle.  I was glad that I had bought that extra large 12v. cooler a few weeks back.  Jay didn't eat any potluck, he stayed outside.  We couldn't stay until the finish of the meal as I had to get home, because I can't drive in the dark.

Misty and the foster cats were very pleased to see me, they wanted their dinner!  Misty was fine as Ray had let her out a couple of times during the day.

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