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Big Bend And The Hammer Of My Ethnocentrism

Bug Bend National Park is a long way from most places. If you approach from the north on US 83, you start seeing signs for the distance to Big Bend at least 140 miles away. The last gas station I passed was in Marathon, Texas which is 70 miles from the Big Bend park headquarters.

I knew in general I was headed to a remote spot although I did not know the specifics I just cited. I have made very few reservations ahead of time and learned I didn’t need to. All places I have been have welcomed me as a paying customer.

Bing Bend would, of course, be the same, right?. Not only is it quite remote, but I am arriving on Christmas Eve. EVERYONE ELSE would be leaving work early (if they went to work today at all) and they would be home with their families. And most all of them would watch “A Christmas Story” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” tonight.

I could not have been more naive and wrong. All campgrounds in the park (which is the size of Rhode Island) - including those that require a four- hour round trip drive in a 4 wheel drive - are full. No room at the inn.

When I heard the news, my mind went blank. What am I going to do? I must be 90 miles from someplace to camp. And who are these people that have filled up MY campgrounds?

Things worked out. I found a great RV/camping site three miles outside of the park. There were a lot of people checking in at the same time I did. Which, again, shocked me. Why aren't these people at home decorating their trees and drinking bad egg nog?

Yet another example of me having blinders on and using "me" as the basis for understanding others. Of course there are a lot of people here. Kids are out of school. The weather here is awesome. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Of course businesses that cater to tourists are going to be open on Christmas Eve - and Christmas Day.

That hammer has hit me. I understand again. It will make me a better person.

Today was another day of awesome photo opportunities. From a sunrise that would not stop throwing the Pantone color palette at me to town names like "Royalty" (I assume as in you pay me a royalty for having your oil well on my land) to "Reservoir" (actually, this one got me - I assume it was as in "oil reservoir" but instead it really was a reservoir). You'll see I was infatuated with the very old telephone poles (sticks), I saw a area of ground hogs (and man were they pissed with me standing there as they made their high-pitched warning sound). I did not see as many oil derricks as I thought I would - I need to research where the derricks are in Texas. I thought the area would look like the area around Bakersfield, CA.

At some point, I'll write about the areas around the oil fields. I know people get rich from oil but it doesn't seem to flow down to the working man or the towns they live in.

The last 100 miles into Big Bend were jaw dropping. Everywhere I looked I felt overwhelmed by the beauty. If my photos capture 10 percent of my awe, then I've done well. I expected this kind of beauty in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

I hope you enjoy the eight-minute slide show.

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