The Vagabond Novelist

My Journey. My Dream.

Day 16: Literally Breathtaking

blue map of TexasA few days ago it was suggested I check out the Santa Elana pass in Big Bend National park. That was my plan when I got up, but not first thing.

The novelist part of being The Vagabond Novelist hasn’t been something I’ve talked a lot about. I’ve been writing a bunch. Admittedly, the first week of traveling about I didn’t do as good a job as I had hoped.

In my mind the picture was of me sitting in coffee shops, possibly in a turtleneck with the smug look of tortured artists, banging away on my iPad. I love writing in public; I’m writing this in a bar, now. The reality was that my time was mostly being spent Vagabonding.

Life on the road takes a little finesse and I’m still getting my sea legs while working on my mixed metaphors. There is a fair amount of logistics to consider. Since I’ve not, thus far, spent too much time thinking about what comes next, and haven’t done pre-planning through the first two weeks, it has meant my selection of AirBnb places is limited.


Vagabond Cow

The lesson here is that I need to adjust my vision to see a little further out and then to book my next place sooner than a day before I need it. Also, the initial plan was to spend two to four days in a room (or bus as the case may be) and then move on. The reality is that wherever I go there has been more to see than can be done in such a short time. It added an element of urgency to my days that flies in the face of this life choice. I shouldn’t be creating stress but eliminating it.

This is why I’ve extended my stay with Ronda at Tin Valley Retro Rentals and why I’ll likely look for a room (or possibly a Tee Pee) that I can have for a week on my next stop.

All of these thoughts were rattling around in my brain as I drove into town for breakfast. I needed eggs, bacon, and biscuits. Also, I needed to write.

I found both food and WiFi. A couple of hours of connectivity meant I could visit FB and work on Beautiful Gears, which is actually going to be two books.

My author buddy and I have a secretish project we’re working on and this novel is part of it. I need to manage 500 words per day on BG, and I’ve fallen behind. The writing has been coming every day but all of it has been focused on the new blog. Being a new blog, it’s what I needed to be doing. Now, I need to start the fiction wheels turning again.

I managed a thousand words and they were good ones. Now, time for some exploration.IMG951586

Santa Elana pass is, from my understanding of talking to several tourists who were standing near it, a 1500 foot rock wall that was fractured millions of years ago by the Rio Grande river. It’s possible none of that is true. I don’t care; it’s a good story and seems plausible enough for a blog that isn’t big on fact checking.IMG959002

One fact that is undeniable is that the pass is breathtakingly beautiful. It should be noted that my breath may have been taken by the stairs as I walked up the canyon wall along the path. I was both winded and afraid, as I’m not a fan of heights. There was one little point that jutted out from the wall. It was obvious that some people, crazy people, had no qualms about standing on the very edge and looking down. The point didn’t seem to have a placard naming it, so I came up with my own moniker—NO!


Jim and Jesse

Once I eased past NO!, the trail heads back down and eventually one is back at river level. I met a couple, Jim and Jess from Brooklyn, who were taking photos with a really cool, plastic medium-format viewfinder camera with a plastic lens. I took two pictures of them and we chatted a bit. Jim and Jesse

About fifty yards from the tiny little beach at the end of the trail, where I could hear children playing and splashing in the water, I paused to take it all in. Crack! Crack! Crack! rang out from down the canyon. It sounded like heavy gunfire. The splashes, about thirty yards beyond where the kids were playing, told me what had happened. Three huge rocks had, after millions of years, decided their view was okay but it was time for dip.

The Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park

The children and their parents were noticeably freaked out… for about a minute. Back into the water they went. Play trumps near-crushed death trauma when you’re eight.

The entire round trip through Rock-Death Canyon, formerly Santa Elana Pass, is about 2.2 miles. I got some exercise, mingled with some folks, and had a great time. The Vagabond Novelist gives the pass formerly known as Santa Elana, a 33 out of 37 (the Meeks scale). I’ve heard that it’s most beautiful at sunset and might be worth two more points at that time. It’s definitely worth a stop.


Day 15: Leaving Comfort Zone, Population 7 Billion


Days 17-19: A Trip to the Hospital

1 Comment

  1. Steve Hardin

    One of my favorite pictures “the Vagabond Cow”.

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