Posts Tagged ‘national parks’

Blogger in Marathon, Texas.

By John Ruberry

“There’s no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos.”
James Pepper (Ben Johnson) in Chisum.

“The devil in hell, we’re told was chained
A thousand years he there remained
He neither complain nor did he groan
But was determined to start a hell of his own

Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained in a prison pen
So he asked the Lord if he had on hand
Anything left when he made this land

The Lord said yes, there’s a plenty on hand
But I left it down by the Rio Grande
The fact is ol’ boy, the stuff is so poor I don’t think you could use it as the hell anymore

But the devil went down to look at the truck
For after lookin’ that over carefully and well
He said this place is too dry for hell
But in order to get it off his hands

The Lord promised the devil to water the land
So trade was closed and deed was given
And the Lord went back to his home in heaven.”
Johnny Cash, Mean As Hell.

Earlier this month Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I spent ten days in Texas, mostly West Texas. And yes, there is law there and there is a God west of the Pecos too.

I covered my economic and political observations of our Texas trip, including what I noticed in the boom towns on the Permian Basin, Midland and Odessa, in a post at Da Tech Guy that is available here. 

Our first stop on note was on the oil producing basin, Monahans Sandhills State Park, where we found the type of dunes you’ll encounter on the Sahara. 

Our first West Texas overnight stop was west of the Pecos, in Fort Stockton, home of what was once the World’s Largest Roadrunner, Paisano Pete.

Then of course we had to visit Marathon, after all, I am the Marathon Pundit. Parts of a sadly overlooked movie, Paris, Texas, were filmed there.

Then it was on to Terlingua, a former mercury mining settlement, turned ghost town, which is now the closest thing to a tourist gateway town to our main destination, Big Bend National Park, where you will discover desert, mountains, and lots of thorns, Cash discusses “thorns” later in his spoken word Mean As Hell piece that I excerpted above.

Big Bend was our main destination for this trip, a gorgeous but little-visited national park because of its isolation. Perched on the border with Mexico on the Rio Grande, it is a seven-hour drive from Dallas and a five-hour drive from San Antonio.

To the west of the national park is Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas’ largest state park, where we kayaked and spent our last day in the Big Bend region. It’s a beautiful park too and well worth at least a day of your time.

The biggest dud of the trip was our attempt to witness the Marfa Lights. Well, we were in Marfa, where much of the George Stevens’ classic Giant was filmed, and the lights, which some people compare to the will o’ the wisp, were not to be found, as is usually the situation every night, despite a viewing stand. Marfa is a leftist outpost where we encountered a human thorn. When picking up a pizza, Mrs. Marathon Pundit was scolded by a cashier in because she was not wearing a mask. In Texas! But my wife held her sandy ground. 

On Easter Sunday it was on to pentagon-shaped Jeff Davis County; yes, it’s named for Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederacy, where we toured historic Fort Davis, a frontier fort that seems to be a time capsule from a John Ford western movie. And we drove on the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop, among the sites of worth there is the McDonald Observatory.

On our way back to Dallas-Fort Worth, we met a Facebook friend in Sweetwater. 

The next day we were back in the Chicago area, the home of grifters, high taxes, and high crime. 

And many human thorns.

Related post:

Texas is success and Illinois is failure.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Here are a few shots from the family day out.

You need food for a picnic so first stop was Mighty Subs

This is Needham

This is Needham

We came at lunch, there is always a line then:

At lunch hours the line will stretch out the door into the street

At lunch hours the line will stretch out the door into the street

Art and Karen have been doing this for 20 years. He is always a friendly face at the register:

4 a.m. every weekday Art is there

4 a.m. every weekday Art is there

You know that a marriage is strong when you can work together 20 years every day while being married:

Karen hates having her picture taken, I can't see why.

Karen hates having her picture taken, I can't see why.

It is one of the hardest working teams you will ever see:

This is a well oiled machine that handles crowds quickly and correctly

This is a well oiled machine that handles crowds quickly and correctly

Once the Subs are in hand it was off to Concord and the Old North Bridge:

This is the first info plaque you will see

This is the first info plaque you will see

Before this was any “official” place the citizens put up this monument.

This the oldest monument in the place

Here is the inscription:

Old concord monument inscription

Park Rangers give a regular talk about every half hour or so. The young lady who gave the talk was from Indiana and had previously worked in National Parks in Montana:

A very nice and knowledgeable young lady

She is a very nice young lady

She informed up that the actual grave of the British soldiers killed at the bridge in the first actual exchange of fire is unknown as people were worried about grave robbers:

I've always been struck by the inscription

I've always been struck by the inscription

The bridge and the river are things of beauty a great place to picnic

The old north bridge in concord

The old north bridge in concord

Or Canoe:

I saw more canoes on this river Friday then I ever have before

I saw more canoes on this river Friday then I ever have before

Or relax and Paint:

The shot was almost iconic

The shot was almost iconic

A thing of beauty:

You can't get more iconic that this

You can't get more iconic that this

Another thing of beauty 22″ of pure perfection!

The best sub you will ever eat 22 inches of perfection!

The Monument on the “American” side of the bridge went up at the 100th anniversary of the battle:

The most iconic monument

The most iconic monument

Several views and the inscription:

From our picnic area

From our picnic area

The most famous inscription of the concord minuteman statue

The most famous inscription of the concord minuteman statue

It's quite a sight

It's quite a sight

The main building is across the river and up the hill. It is where the colonial force mustered. When they thought the town was being burned they came down and attacked.

Part of the diorama at the visitors center

One of the primary targets of the British expedition were 4 brass cannon that the colonists managed to snatch from the British Army. They were hidden at Barrett farm one mile from the bridge. They were not found by the British but two of them were later captured during the Canada campaign. One was located at the Boston navy yard in storage when it was being torn down:

This is one of the actual cannons the British were trying to seize

This is one of the actual cannons the British were trying to seize

The barrel was inscribed in the late 18th century:

This inscription was the first "monument" to the battle

These are some of the weapons. Even though a total of 500 men were engaged at the bridge only 5 men were killed 2 colonists and 3 British regulars. The volunteer described firing smoothbore muskets as throwing knuckleballs and just as reliable.

Brown bess

It was as always a very pleasant day. Strangely enough I’ve never visited the primary visitor center about 5 miles to the east along the battle road. I’ll hit it in the next few weeks. I’ve also never been here on Patriots day when they have the reenactments. The place is really packed then.

It proved that you can have a very nice day without a PC anywhere near you. Minute Man park and Concord Bridge are a wonderful place to visit. Consider making it part of your Massachusetts Vacation.