Mackeys Meander the Magnificent, our Junior Ranger Adventures.
We didn’t take a spaceship…but we did journey across Mars and or Mercury (we felt VERY close to the sun!) to land at Big Bend National Park! Like an astronaut without human contact…I felt totally coo coo bananas with so. much. space! I can’t really explain it. I live on the swamp. Work for the parks. Spend a majority of my time outside yet I have never felt solitude this deep. (Mind you…I was in a car with my humans and these dramatics arrived in the first hours of just driving to and through the park.) Talk about the power of nature. Woah! I did not see the thorough exploration of my inner-channels arriving so early into our great adventure. The terrain bulged, the earth reddened, the sounds quieted and the thoughts deepened. When we pulled up to the gate to grab our Jr. Ranger booklets, the friendly ranger even had a glazed over stare that told us we were the first people to come ’round these parts in a while. It was magically and wildly bizarre. This midwestern mom may have had to subdue her danger-dreaming to keep her wits about her. Thankfully, we were on our way to meet family from Louisiana so knowing signs of life were somewhere in the near future kept us from curling up in the nearest cave and etching our end on it’s walls.
We made our way to the land of space COWBOYS as we met up with our family at Lajitas Golf Resort.
Sweet little old West.
Complete with antlers!
We considered staying onsite at the Chisos Mountain Lodge…but the fact that it was the dead of summer and we were traveling with kids meant we needed water fuller than the drying up rivers and cooler than the hot springs. In short, we required a swimming pool and this lovely place did the trick!
We took a dip, rested up overnight then packed up our hydration back-packs, rashies and hiking shoes for our early morning trek to the hot red planet park.
There are so many different hikes available. Our goal wasn’t cover each park from North to South. It was to take in the park, at our own speed. Learn some things. Meet some folks.
Take in the flavor of the park without exhausting ourselves. The time of the year, heat of the day naturally led us to finding water. Boquillas trail it is! A short hike up and down the mountain ending at the Rio Grande.
It didn’t take us long to decide that we had no business doing anymore hiking when we could be swimming!
We swam until shade no longer covered the river then made our way back…in 118 degree heat with warmed hydration packs and exhausted kids. Very grateful we thoroughly prepared with our long-sleeved shirts, hats, glasses, sunscreen…more water….and lots of brightly colored clothing in the event we needed rescued!
Stuck in the mud?
Traveling National Parks with kids is no joke! Mother Nature needs all of the respect before heading into the depths of her magnificence. We were cognizant of the heat and aware that one twist of an ankle or fall into a prickly pear cactus could be a game changer. We worked together. Communicated and checked in with each other every step of the hike. There’s over 801,00 acres of Chihuahuan Desert all around. Even though our cellphones were fully charged, reception is very spotty. You have to plan for you to save you. Mostly…by just not needing to be saved because you took all of the necessary precautions. Please and thanks!
Did you grub?
The Chisos Mountain Café was a welcome sight, indeed! Another drive through the wow just in time for a surprisingly quite delicious lunch with an unbeatable view!
Happy to sit. Cool off. Dig in. And, work together on the Junior Ranger booklets!
What did we dig the most?
We dug all of it! We spent the most time on the Boquillas Canyon Trail with some time in the Chisos Basin. Big Bend is the park that keeps on giving. All parks are worthy of second and third visits. This park…felt like a once in a lifetime experience that we are going to have to figure out how to redo because there is so much still to do! Also…if you haven’t caught on, this swamp crew always prefers WATER!
We believe education is a right that should be granted equally for all. The National Parks service does a spectacular job of making knowledge of the parks attainable for all learners. We are a neuro-divergent family with access to new information in a plethora of ways. The Hairy One will will work out the maps in miles and meters and use his near perfect vision to point out all the birds the rest of us squint to see. Our big buddy finishes the crossword puzzle before the rest of us start and can tell us what we are looking at somehow without ever looking up. He’s taking it in, in his own way. Our youngest buddy was the first to find the horse, the lizards and roadrunners with an eye always on the lookout for mountain lions and javelinas. I learn by frolicking and foraging for wonders that are memories in the making. I’m not going to remember it all…so I write it all down here as a reminder! We all worked on a bit of Spanish. Lastly, we all learned from the outstanding Park Ranger pictured below. She asked thoughtful, critical, open-ended questions like…why are the National Parks important? What part do we all play in protecting them? And, who are they for? (By the way, the last answer is YOU!) I can’t help but get a little leaky in the eyes every time these kiddos take their Junior Ranger pledge. A pledge taken today, for a brighter tomorrow.
Here are the up to date details. Have fun!