This past July we decided to take a little road trip, when it was over, we had driven over 2,800 miles worth of adventures across Texas and New Mexico!!!!
Our first destination was Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas, but we took a little detour through Waco to have breakfast at the Silos Baking Co, Joanna and Chip Gaines’ (Stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper) tourist destination, The Silos.
We got there fairly early on a Monday morning thinking it wouldn’t be really crowded. We were wrong. Parking was kinda crazy, but we eventually found a spot around back and headed in.
We arrived before the Magnolia Market opened and there was a LONG line to get into that store. The bakery line was out the door, but we hopped in anyway, and it moved pretty quickly.
We each ordered different pastries/sandwiches to share and they were tasty. We brought our own water with us, since we were traveling on a budget.
When we finished eating, the Market was open and we went right in. (That made me wonder just why people were in queue before it opened.)
The store was rather crowded and it was filled with Magnolia brand home goods and souvenirs. LeAnn bought a souvenir t-shirt and I went outside to find Dillon, who was playing with some other kids in the recreation area in the middle of the small complex.
It makes a great place to stop on a trip as the young ones can run around a bit.
There are also some pretty gardens and plants to purchase.
After about an hour, we were back on the road. It felt good to walk around and break up the almost 11 hour drive from our house to what would be our base of operations for the next week, Alpine, TX.
The drive across Texas was amazing!!! There were giant green hills, that overlooked sprawling towns. There were tons of antique and junk stores. (I’m coming back for y’all with the trailer)
There were vast plains, enormous windmills, and then the landscape changed slowly to desert, where we saw large plateaus separated by great distances. Then, plateaus got closer and closer together until we started seeing mountaintops.
The terrain became quite rugged with jagged brown rocks and mountains. You would drive through mountains, only to emerge on flat expanses that were many miles across.
When we finally saw the little mountaintop in Alpine, we were still an hour away. The drive was long, but so beautiful!!!
We arrived in Alpine tired and hungry, so we ordered Dominos and went to the pool.
After a well needed night of rest, we left Alpine, south on HWY 118 and headed toward Big Bend. On the way, we stopped at the Terlingua Ghost Town.
The ghost town is a deserted mining village which has ruins of houses and a really beautiful cemetery to explore.
From there, we drove back down the street to have some breakfast at a small gas station in Study Butte. Make sure to fill your gas tank too!!! The Park is HUGE!!!
A while later, continuing on 118 we found ourselves entering Big Bend National Park. And later turned right onto Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
In planning our trip, we decided to take the easy hike of Homer Wilson Trail. So that was our first stop inside the park.
The hike takes you down to a ranch house that was bought by the federal government when the park was made and then it was left abandoned.
In the above photo you’ll see some damage to the structure’s header beam. At first I thought it was vandalism, but then I realized there were tooth and claw marks. In related news, Big Bend has recently seen a return of Black Bears.
The “hike” was really more of an easy walk through beautiful desert and a dry creek bed.
After exploring the ranch, we got back on the road and stopped at a few more scenic vistas including the Sotol Vista Overlook. From there you can see for miles. As a bonus, there were restrooms there, and we needed them by then.
Continuing on, we could see our destination, Santa Elena Canyon, rising in the distance.
Words can’t describe the feeling you get as you drive up to the looming Mesa de Anguila and the Sierra Ponce.
As the road gets close, you can’t see the top of this sheer wall, that in places, reaches 1500 feet because your entire windshield is filled by a giant, flat, limestone, wall.
And the site is SPECTACULAR!!!!
We had a picnic lunch here before going on down to the canyon opening where the Rio Grande, which separates the US from Mexico, exits the canyon.
Here, we were just a few feet across the low river from Mexico.
Leaving there, we stopped at the long disused La Harmonia Store.
Then, we stopped in at a comparatively small must see, Tuff Canyon. It has a couple of amazing viewpoints and even a trail that leads you down into it.
(This is a good place to tell you about why we went to the desert in July because this is where LeAnn and Dillon both got a bit overheated.)
I like Big Bend in July because the Park is deserted. Which means, there are almost no people. And that’s because it is hot. REALLY HOT. BUT, it’s not Louisiana hot. Louisiana hot is so humid that you can’t catch a breath. That’s what I’m accustomed to, so the low humidity heat isn’t that bad to me. (I do like to have an umbrella for shade…I’m a diva)
LeAnn and Dillon are a bit fairer than me, so they gave out on me about half way through the hike into the little canyon. So, we crawled back up to the Honda and cranked up the A/C.
We also stopped in to see the Mule Ears.
The beauty and grandeur of this Chihuahuan Desert is breathtaking!!!!
On the way, We decided to take an out of the way drive to see the famous Prada Marfa sculpture in Valentine.
From there, we took a drive through the beautiful Davis Mountains to the observatory. The drive up into the Davis Mountains was absolutely stunning. The road curved around, up and down steep inclines with lots of trees and rocky peaks. I only got scared most of the way. (Heights are my downfall…)
We did the Solar Viewing and the tour of the observatory that included touring the telescopes on the mountaintop at an elevation of almost 6800 ft.
The tour was amazing and our tour guide was crazy knowledgeable!!!!
Dillon got to move one of the telescopes and when no kids volunteered to move the dome, my hand shot up!!!!
After our tours were over, we went to Fort Davis and did a little exploring.
We found a really cool country store complete with soda fountain. We had burgers and I got a Malt.
I LOVE the old soda fountains!!!!
Leaving there, we found a really cool, roadside picnic area just north of Fort Davis on 17 with loads of boulders to climb, and little caves to explore.
That evening we came back to Alpine, had supper at Pizza Hut, swam, and then headed to Marfa at about 10:30 pm in search of the mysterious Marfa Lights.
There is a nice viewing center from which to see the lights…if you are fortunate enough to see them.
And we were!!!! Watching the horizon from the back porch of the Viewing Center, we saw light after light appear, disappear, reappear, one at a time, or a few at a time, sometimes melding together and sometimes coming apart. It was really cool and a great experience. Wether it’s ghosts or headlights, it’s still good fun!!!
The next day we headed out to New Mexico to see Carlsbad Caverns.
I’m about to tell you something important:
If you’ve never been to a big cave with lots of formations, stop what you’re doing and plan a trip…NOW!!! Well, right after you’re done reading this, of course.
The first cave I’d been to was at Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City. It was incredible!!! But, as amazing as it was, it’s really quite quaint compared to Carlsbad.
I couldn’t get over the huge scale of it!!! It is over 1,000 feet deep and has over 30 miles of mapped trails!!! It’s Big Room is the largest underground chamber in the US.
And there are tons of GORGEOUS formations down there.
We chose to walk down into the cave, but you can also take an elevator down. It is a LONG LONG walk downhill and steep all the way, but we HAD to go in the original opening, right?!?!
These photos won’t give you ANY idea of what it’s like down there. You really need to go to a cave with beautiful formations if you haven’t done so already. It’s a must…
We hung there for a little while and had lunch in the little nearby town.
Then we left and drove about 3 1/2 hours up to Roswell just to say we’d been there. We did see aliens…
I should stop here since I mentioned that we drove an extra 3 1/2 hours out of the way, one way, just to see Roswell. In West Texas, distance and time are meaningless. That place is huge!!! You can sometimes see your destination with your naked eye and still drive an hour to get there going 70. So, when you go, just sit back, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and drive. Because everywhere is a LONG way from there.
We tried to do a little star gazing that night, but there was too much cloud cover. We got in LATE.
The next morning, we explored Alpine and went to the Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross University. It was SO cool!!! Lots of AMAZING things to see.
Then we hit a few antique stores downtown and had a good lunch at G-Ma’s Food Truck, where the sweet lady (I think she was, G-MA…) who made our food, sat, and visited with us.
The next day we explored Marfa, Texas, an artist community with tons of art galleries.
We even found a piece of Royal Albert for $3 at a tiny thrift store!!!
That night we were able to do some 360 degree horizon star gazing out in the desert with some of the darkest skies I’ve ever seen, we found 5 planets and saw the whole Milky Way.
The museum was brimming with Dr Pepper memorabilia, history, and loads of Dublin craft sodas to buy and take home with you in Old Doc’s Soda Shop because they are still a bottling company. Unfortunately, they can just no longer make Dr Pepper or anything that even remotely tastes like Dr Pepper. It’s an interesting story.
We also took a tour of the old bottling factory there. It was really cool to see how the drinks get bottled.
Tired, and road weary, we arrived home late, but we had a great memory of an awesome road trip that took us from Fixer Upper to Dr Pepper!!!!
Thanks so much for stopping by and having a read!!!!
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever taken a trip to the desert and what was your favorite part!!!
*I was not gifted any accommodation, expense, or tour. Although our tickets to Carlsbad Cavern were free because of me being a disabled Veteran*