#7: Big Bend road trip. Starting off 2016 playing EVERYWHERE

First of all, please excuse the tardiness of this post. I have been out of cell reception (and/or out of battery and too lazy to find somewhere to recharge) since this past Saturday evening and just returned Tuesday night. Why you may ask? Well, I was taking my first big road trip of 2016 to Big Bend National Park in west Texas. I have wanted to get some national parks under my belt for a while now and even more so since hiking the W trail in Torres del Paine (Patagonia, Chile) over Thanksgiving. But I was mostly just daydreaming/talking about going to Big Bend with no actual plans.

A huge inspiration came from Anna K. Morris's We Play Everywhere (WPE) with the theme of the month (for January) as FUTURE. This month's exercise was actually planning a road trip. How perfect?!

*If you have any fantasies of taking a road trip or going somewhere super awesome in your vehicle (or otherwise), then I definitely suggest trying this exercise. It is EASY, FUN, and a HIGHLY MOTIVATING way to get you started on getting out that door and into your car.

Here's how I did it (thanks Anna!) 

Step 1: Clean out your Car

Check out the WPE video to get started on cleaning out your car! 


Alright, car is clean! Look at her shine!

Note: This vehicle will be referred to as Subie (pronounced soo-bee) from here on out.

Step 2: Where are you going?

As you read before, BIG BEND!

If you already know where you want to go, COOL, check out this video! If not, no worries, check out this video!


I hope you watched this video, because it is a FANTASTIC way to help you get those juices flowing on where you might want to go and how this trip can help you reach your WIGs (Wildly Important Goals, as referred to in Anna's video). In order to keep this post not too long, I will have my WIGs here. Check 'em out.

Step 3: Who is coming with you?


Well, I had one person, as we had been talking about this for a handful of months now. But we both wanted to spread the wealth! I have lots of outdoorsie, let's-go-camping friends so we extended the invitation and wound up with a dynamic quartet including...

Casey, Cassie, Catie, and Stephen.

Say that 10 times fast.

Not pictured, and dearly missed, were Ruth Black and Connor Knickel, two campers who had work obligations come up but will be joining us on future escapades FOR SURE.

Step 4: How are you going to get there?

Good ole Subie!

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We also had an impeccable Google Sheet going where we had our list of what to pack and who was bringing what. *Note: this list is also a conversation and may not appear super organized. 

I hope that you enjoyed reading about the planning phase and I hope that you use WPE's step-by-step process for planning your next trip. I found that using this method of planning not only pushed me to really think about and carve out some much appreciated recharge time, but was also sending me in the right direction towards accomplishing my WIGs and building an exciting FUTURE.


Big Bend Itinerary

Day 1: Drive baby, drive.

Left the house at approximately 7am.... Actually got on the road to our destination at 8am. We had to get breakfast, pick up some apple cider for hot, jet boil apple cider (no wood or ground fires at big bend, only charcoal), and stop at Walmart to get some things that we wound up returning after because we did not use them at all during the trip. #classic.

After about 10 hours of podcasting, Queen Greatest Hits singing, and some questionable hummus snacking, we arrived at our campground around 6pm. Just enough time to set up camp, hike a bit of the Window Trail before dark, and cook some portobello burgers on the grill. YUM!


*Unfortunately, no other photos were taken on this day and if you are wondering what questionable hummus snacking is, it is when one eats hummus from a store that probably shouldn't carry hummus. Every outward sign is telling you not to eat it, but every alternative is telling you the same thing, except louder. So the hummus wins, we eat, and shockingly, we survive to tell the tale. 

Day 2: Chisos Hiking

Fueled by jet boil made oatmeal, we set out on an 11.6 mile hike (I thought it was more like 15... whatever).


Laguna Meadow (4.1 miles)  >

Colima Trail (1.0 miles) >

Boot Canyon (1.0 miles) >... 













Emory Peak (2.0 miles roundtrip)












Pinnacle Trail (3.5 miles)



Day 3: Ferocious wind, Santa Elena, and off-roadin'

After waking up and roughly 45 minutes of fearful cowering in our tent, we braved the wind, packed up camp, and set off to Santa Elena Canyon (where the wind was way less ferocious).


Quick pitstop at Tuff Canyon!




Santa Elena Canyon







Time for the backcountry...









Our own private oasis...


This photo was taken at Black Dike backcountry campsite. Due to the possibility of not having enough gas to get out of the backcountry (where we drove on 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle only roads for >1 hr) we decided to omit the hike which would have been at least another 1.5 hrs of driving in favor of relaxing with this view and making a dent on the Costco quantity of beer that we brought. Great success.

Day 4: On the road again

After an evening of sleeping in a tent without the rain hood (for ideal star gazing) and freezing temperatures (a condition nearly ideal for the rain hood) we set off back to Houston.

Still lots of podcasts, less Queen (okay, no Queen), more naps, and no questionable hummus (we could find ZERO hummus, thus is was out of the question), we made it back to Houston at 8pm-ish.


To sum it up, it was an absolutely amazing trip. Big Bend looks almost like it is part of another planet, don't you think? The views are spectacular and when you go with the right people, even the coldest of nights doesn't seem to be that big of a deal.

Next time, I will have to take more pictures of what we ate, because hot dayum, we did a great job. Here is our menu for the trip.

Ready to plan the next camping trip! Anyone else?