The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

All Good Things Come to an End but not this one.......Death of an Engine

The next morning we headed out of BJs RV Park. I told my friend we could either go back up the road to Alpine or we could drive into Big Bend and heading north to Marathon. She was wondering about the road and I had to tell her I had never driven the road north through the park to Marathon so I didn't know if it would be more or less winding and hilly than the road we came in on. The speed limit in the park is 45 so it could take a little longer but then we didn't go much more than that coming from Alpine. We decided to take a chance on a new route. It turned out to be just fine.....less hilly and winding as a matter of fact. We initially had Sonora on the route as a possible overnight but then we found the Wagon Wheel Rest Area. This rest area is very nice. It even has an RV dump station with potable water. We parked in the shade and fixed dinner which we ate at one of the neat picnic areas. Harley got several walks in. About 10PM, traffic on I-10 died down and the road running behind where we parked was completely quiet. We had a lovely quiet sleep.

The next morning we took off on what was supposed to be the last night of our trip. It wasn't all that long before my friend pulled off at an exit for Roosevelt Texas. She said her engine made a horrible noise. When she tried to start it again, it did the same thing.

It was about noon when she called Good Sam Roadside Assistance. We were at least safely off the road. Thus began the wait


The tow truck didn't arrive until 5 PM. They had to send a really big tow truck to tow the F250 diesel and the 35' 5th wheel.

The closest Ford dealer was in Kerrville and they said they couldn't even look at it until the next week. They said we might be better off to go back to El Paso.....I don't think so. They found a repair shop in Junction and my friend talked to them. The tow truck guys wanted us to go ahead so we could tell them where to pull in with the truck and trailer. They had to unhook the drive shaft so that took a while.

The repair shop was closed by the time we got there but the woman my friend spoke to said to call her when we arrived and she would come back in to show us where to park. They had room behind the shop for both of us and even ran 110 electrical out to the 5th wheel. I have a generator and solar so I was fine.

The news the next day was not good at all. The engine was shot. Replacing it was not really a good decision. My friend consulted with several knowledgeable people and made arrangements to sell the truck to an online company and cut her losses. The repair shop said we could leave the 5th wheel there for several days for no charge. They were really nice. We left in my RV to head back to San Antonio. It was Thursday and the company picking up the truck couldn't get there until Monday.

My friend's brother came from Louisiana with his diesel to tow the RV back home. He arrived on Saturday and they went back to Junction to wrap things up.

RVing is not for the faint hearted. I get upset every time someone who has never RVd asks if they can live on $600/month. You need to have a decent RV, you have to maintain it on a regular basis, you have to have a fund to cover the unexpected, and things still happen. This was a very well maintained truck but things still happen that you could never anticipate. The good news is that my friend is very level headed and responsible. She will be RVing again soon but only because she plans for the unexpected. The end but there will be a new beginning.

West Big Bend....Santa Elena Canyon....Castolon

On our final day in Big Bend, we were headed to the western part of the park.

The scenery in this park of the park is unique in it's own way.


There are several completely different types of rocks mingled together.

We decided we would head directly to Santa Elena Canyon at the far end of the road so we would have a better chance of slightly cooler morning air.


I have been here once before but I stayed in the truck with the dogs while the kids and grandkids hiked the canyon. Keep in mind that no dogs are allowed on the trails in the park.

The parking lot was relatively empty which is very unusual.

Hmmmmm......looks like there was water way  up here

Normally you cross a very small creek to get to the trail into the canyon. Well, the mud was at least mid calf deep and much of the trail in the actual canyon was probably worse. Remember, I told you the Rio Grande was really up. It will be a while before this is dried out enough to enjoy.




We left and headed back stopping at places we went past on the way in. The river access is where trips by boat come and go. It was pretty messed up too.


This part of the area had ranches prior to the National Park.



La Harmonia Store was very important to the area both to Americans and Mexicans. It was the focal point for everyone in the area and served many different functions.







Our next stop was the Cottonwood Campground. I think it is the nicest campground in the park although it doesn't have hookups and offers only outhouses.....no showers. There is water available.

There was a huge fire in this area back in May. You can see how close the fire raged to the campground. There were only a couple of campers but we were lucky to get a couple of pictures of the roadrunner.

The road up the hill to Castolon was blocked to vehicle traffic but Carolyn walked up the hill to get a few pictures. The fire went through this area.

It didn't get all the buildings.

You can see the building on the left which is very large and quite important and very damaged.

These were original buildings that settlers lived in. The big building was built as a barracks but never used as one once finished. It housed the Castolon Park Store and Visitors Center......a tragic loss.



At least some of the buildings are okay and hopefully the park will get this important area opened soon.


Goat Mountain.



There is an overlook and a trail down to the Homer Wilson Ranch. It was one of the largest ranches in the area in the early 20th century. The trail down is a little rough.




The next stop was the Sam Nail Ranch. It is closer to the road and easier to get to if you are interested in hiking.


This windmill is still functioning and water bushes and trees and providing water for the birds.





The buildings are gone with only foundations to give you an idea of what the ranch looked like but the trees the Nail's planted are still there.


By this time, the sun was really hot as were we so we were ready to head back to the RV park. This particular part of the park left us feeling like we missed a lot with the fire at Castolon and the Santa Elena Canyon trail flooding.  Oh well, as I told Carolyn, you can't come to Big Bend just once.