Jan 17, 2010

Big Zbeng and Big Bend

This weekend started with a very bad message for us, and we are trying as much as we can not to let it affect our mood – but it is tough. We loved our visit to Big Bend - Lots of pictures in this blog. We are also concluding our TX chapter of this trip tonight and moving west.

Bad Phone Call

Friday, January 15, 2010 – It was a gloomy day on Friday anyways when my phone rang. It was my boss on the other line. My boss rarely calls me as I am dealing directly with the end customers and communicating with the Project Manager. If I did not tell you yet – Patti and I are computer professionals working remotely from our rig.
laidoffSo What’s up?”, I am asking… “Well – he started mumbling, the company is not doing so well and we have to cut our expenses..” blah blah blah. Bottom line – Patti and I do not have a job anymore. That is a big “Zbeng” in the face.
We know that we are in a recession, and the business is slow, and we even took a big cut in our check 6 months ago, but this is not a good situation. I know we are not the only ones and 10% are unemployed. but now I am part of the 10% and not the 90%.
Our first reaction was a little shock. We do not have anything lined up at the moment. Then, we started to try and plan our next steps. We will get into a “Super-Saving” mode, try to promote our services online, ask our connections in the industry to help, see what we can do. We are still confused, but I hope that in the next week or two things will clear out.
In any case – we decided that we will not let it ruin our planned visit to the park this weekend, so here is the story of the Park visit:

Don’t take your dog to a National Park

Saturday, January 16, 2010 - So we get up in the morning, load the bike on the truck, get the GPS, some water and … our boxer Moe. We thought it would be a great opportunity for him to get some exercise.
Quick stop at the grocery store to get some snacks for the day and by 10:30 we were on the way. The sky were clear and bright sun was warming a perfect 65 degrees day. Just perfect for outdoors activities.
The park entrance is about 40 miles south of Marathon. We were stopped at the small booth, paid the $10 entrance fee, and the ranger look inside the truck and said: “Oh – you have a dog. Dogs are not allowed on trails, by the river or on any public place”. We did not feel like driving back to the camp, drop Moe and come back – that is 80 miles right there and the day will be shot.
So we stepped into the north visitor center and planned with the Ranger a Road Trip for today, planning to come tomorrow without Moe.
So here is the plan for the day:

View TraveLiving Journey in a larger map
We drove through the basin, stopped at overlooks, visited the Rio Grande, and ended our trip at a short visit to the Ghost town, just west of the park.
BigBend Panorama_1
I took many pictures today, and experimented a little with panning and creating panoramic views. The photo you see above for example, is actually a compilation of 9 different photos together.
So here is the rest of our day in pictures:

Sunday, January 17, 2010 – Woke up to another beautiful day, sunny and high in the 70’s. Looks like God is trying to compensate us for the bad Friday we had. We took our time to wake up and planned our visit in the park.
We chose two hikes we want to make today. A short hike to the hot spring in the East side of the park, and a longer one in the Chisos Basin mountain area.

Mexican Store on American soil

BigBend 015 We started our walk on the trail to the hot spring, a nice trail along the Rio Grande. After a short while we notices on the side of the trail some nice rocks and decorated hiking sticks. Each item has a small handwritten price tag, and there was an empty jar to put the money. We looked around and could not see anyone.
BigBend 024 We left $10 in the jar and chose two hiking sticks. We continued our walk and noticed a man popping out between the bushes on the Mexican side of the river, crossing the river with two new sticks in his hand. He replaced the sticks, took the money and ran back to the other side. Mystery solved.
The spring itself was somewhat of a disappointment. We did not even understand how is it a spring as it was on the river bank. Took couple pictures and moved on to our next hike.

Be a good lunch

The basin area is amazing in it’s beauty. To make the hike more exciting, a welcome notice is presented at the trail head:
BigBend 063Just make sure you have Ketchup in your pocket in case the lion doesn’t like your taste.

Playing with photos

The trail itself was spectacular, with breathtaking views. The intensity and size of the mountains around are hard to describe. Even a with a photo it is hard to transfer that feeling. The problem is - If you use a wide angel – the mountains look too small and you lose the detail, while a zoom lens can not deliver the whole picture.
BigBend_Composition4_stitch BigBend_Composition2_stitch The above panoramic pictures are compilation of 4-5 photos each. Looks nice, isn’t it?
I tried to use a utility that converts the photos to a 3D model, in an attempt to give a better and more accurate feeling of being there. This is my first attempt with this utility – so please be forgiving ::)

And for the rest of the photos, please take a look at this nice album
Last – here is another panoramic compilation of mountains we saw on our way back to the campground on Hwy 385:

Did you like the Recipe?

Hey – if you didn’t see the recipe blog I posted couple days ago – take a look. I am curious what you think!
That’s it. Very late anyways and long days are waiting for us. I am heading to bed.
Good night Y’all!


  1. Big Bend is an awesome place. I love it there, (when it isn't too hot).
    So sorry you got laid off.
    Maybe you can visit some more of the other great sights in TX, one day. There are so many of them, and all so different.
    Here is a free book that you can order, and it will tell you so much information about the different areas: http://traveltex.com/travelguide/Order.aspx
    Happy Trails, Penny, TX

  2. Sorry to hear the news about the layoff. Hoping something turns up soon for you guys!