The Call to Nature


Around 0035 of last Saturday the silver Ram pulled in outside of my house. I walked out with my backpack, guitar, hammock and cooler full of drinks and food, set them in the truck bed and we hit the road, headed south on I-35, to merge into 290, to eventually get on the No-Country-for-Old-Men famous I-10. It was dark and the night was lukewarm, and as we covered ground I started feeling the relief of disconnection. Music blasting in the pristine sound system of the truck, I dozed on and off, and before long, the west Texas sprawl began to glow with the first rays of sunlight. As we stopped in the last gas station before the desert, construction workers bought bananas, coffee and cigarettes. We got gas and water and hit the road south from Ft. Stockton, and as the sun began to show itself we arrived at the entrance Big Bend National Park.

 

Big Bend is located in the southwest corner of Texas, along the segment of the Rio Grande that snakes its way through a fault line that dictates the geographic layout of the area. In ancient times it used to be covered in water, and the majority of its rocks are some sort of limestone, rocks formed by the sedimentation of minerals and the remains of marine life, along with tougher igneous rocks that have remained substantially unchanged through time. In the center of the park are the remnants of an old volcano, the Chisos Basin, where the main lodge and campground are located. We zoomed past the desert into this enclave to speak with the Rangers and hopefully find a campsite to spend the night at. The Chisos campground, where I had stayed the previous year, was unsurprisingly full, so we looked at the map and chose a campground the southeast corner of the park. We got to our campsite and surveyed the area. After a two-hour walk on unmarked ground, we saw some “Hot Springs” in that corner of the map, and with the temperature at 95F and rising, we figured we’d go down and find some water to freshen up.

 

    We jumped into the water, which wasn’t exactly cool. The fact that it was there in the middle of this scorching sun was enough for us, and as I floated in the current I thanked God for giving me such a beautiful day, man and nature in one uninterrupted exchange of energy. I hadn’t been camping since the previous summer, and being able to tune in back with nature was a pleasure I had missed dearly. We had lunch underneath a palm tree that provided us with a very cool shade, I strummed on the red guitar for a couple of hours as people walked by us, and two of our companions took their much deserved nap, as they had driven all through the night to get us there.

    Liviu and I took the truck and drove around for a while as the afternoon settled in. The clouds had been gathering all day, as predicted by the weather report. We took advantage of the light to take some pictures, mainly the Rio Grande Valley where you could see Mexico and the Sierra del Carmen at the other side of the meadows that flanked the Big River.

 

 

    It was around 1800, and the weather was starting to turn. We headed back to the main lodge to get some more ice and water, and got rid of our trash as we organized things around the truck. On the ride to our campsite, we drove through the storm that would hit us that night. We set up the tent, and sipping on a Pacífico we sat underneath darkness, a half moon, and the stars. I played some songs for a bit while Liviu fiddled with the harmonica. Slightly sunburnt and exhausted from the day, we fell asleep. A couple of hours later it began to rain, which turned into an all out thunderstorm. The next morning, we got up and went for a walk up a nearby hill, took some pics, and headed back to Austin to resume our lives. I hadn’t used my phone all weekend, got some sun on my skin, and more importantly, recharged to continue life in our urban hustle.