Leaving Van Horn where I last posted, John and I had a fine days ride. However, come dusk and finding ourselves surrounded by barbed wire fencing and locked gates all day, the only spot to camp where we could get out of view of the road was near the train tracks . We picked a spot under a little bridge, set up and enjoyed dinner and conservation under the night's sky. All day riding next to the tracks no trains ran, John joked that they were probably all night running trains. Unfortunately, he turned out to be right. During the night 10 trains passed, each with their bright lights and whistling away, shaking the ground beneath us. If this wasn't enough to keep us from a good night's sleep, what I'd anticipated would happen one of these days finally did: Boarder Patrol found us and gave us a nice 4:30am wake up. I'd expected to be woken up with a gun in my face, but luckily they just had their flashlights in hand. We showed our ID, they asked some silly questions, then left us alone. Not the best night, but could have been much worse.
John's tent by the tracks
Our luxurious accommodations (John joked that even inside a house, I managed to tuck myself behind a bush!)
After a hard riding day, we pulled into Terlingua Ghostown where I'd set up a Couchsurfing stay with Cynta. She warmly welcomed us into her beautiful home and after showers we heated up Thanksgiving leftovers so I got my traditional thanksgiving dinner, and man was it good! Cynta says that her couchsurfers always stay longer then they plan on. Well, I'm no exception; I'd planned on one night and now I think I'll be spending four. Cynta is much too amazing of an individual, and this town is too intriguing to rush through. A winter storm also came in this afternoon which hasn't made it too enticing to leave.
Cynta has the warmest, most beautiful spirit. She's an old river guide, having guiding around much of the world. She's come back from being completely crippled and having been given two years to live (this was many years back) to walking everyday and being able to swim again. Although she's still having to live on disability, she uses it as an excuse to put her time and energy towards helping the community around her. When Homeland Security closed off the boarder crossing with Boquillas, Mexico within Big Bend NP, the town was then separated from their source of income, food, medical, etc. Cynta started up a quilting cooperative, teaching the women to quilt, then taking and selling their quilts to Americans to raise money for the village. Due to her extensive knowledge and activism, she is a liaison between the the people and the Boarder Patrol. She's the town historian and reads books over the local radio station every week. I could go on and on about the things Cynta has done and I'm sure I don't even know the half of it. Needless to say, Cynta is a true inspiration and I feel blessed to have this chance to meet her.
Terlingua is an old mining town, I think the second largest mercury mine in the country. When the mine closed down it was abandon. In just the past forty years or so it has been re inhabited, started up by river guides who after guiding down here, moved in. So, this is an old hippie town. For a population of 4-29 in the Ghostown and up to 300 in the surrounding 20 miles, this place keeps blowing me away with all that it has. There are guide services and a bike shop (great news since my bike shorts got eaten by one of the pups and it was going to be a week until I could get a new pair), an art gallery for local art, restaurants, a vibrant music scene, a theater and more. This is also a community unlike any I've ever heard of in the US. They have no government (they had a beer-drinking goat for their mayor), no permitting, can bury their own dead, and take care of every person in the community. They're building an area for housing the elderly in the center of town so that they can easily help them. Just today one of the guy's houses burnt down and the whole community is getting together to do everything they can for him. It's just nonstop how tight-knit and caring this town is. It's the kind of place you dream about (if it didn't get into the 120's in the summer). Even with the tiny section of Texas I've seen thus far, I'd say this town is it's biggest secret, but I've been told to keep hush, so don't spread word too far.
Ruins in the town. This is about what Cynta's house looked like when she bought her property for $2,500.
View in the town, ruins amongst the current houses, some permanent,
others more temporary
Inside the basin, looking out of "The Window"
And the crowds rushed in as we left
Bill and Katie
View of the Chisos as we drove out of the park.