Terlingua Ranch, Big Bend Texas

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Promark News | Comments Off on Terlingua Ranch, Big Bend Texas

 Terlingua 1 The wind funnels off Taurus Mesa and sweeps through the canyons of Terlingua Creek, stirring up some low level turbulence as we make the descent into the gravel strip at Terlingua Ranch. For the last hour we have flown over the convoluted landscape west of the Pecos, viewing the terrain carved by wind and water over eons of time. This is a harsh country with almost no surface water, little rain and sparse vegetation that consists mainly of cacti and creosote brush. But it has a desolate beauty reminiscent of southern Utah’s Monument Valley with fantastic carved outcroppings, dry washes and rocky ridges colored in rusty shades and tones of brown and orange.

Upon landing and climbing out of the airplane, you can’t help but notice the quiet. Other than the sighing of the warm southwesterly breeze, there are no other sounds. No traffic noise, no voices, human or animal, disturb the afternoon silence. At first it seems odd, almost unsettling, but then we faintly hear the drone of the other incoming aircraft as they make their approach. Soon all 10 of our travelling companions are parked and we shuttle to the cabins where we’ll spend the next couple of days. Our Adventure Flying Group, consisting of a cross-section of General Aviation pilots who share an interest in exploration, has selected Terlingua Ranch for our first foray.

TTerlingua 2he timing is coincidental but significant as Sunday is March 2nd, Texas Independence Day. Back in 1836 a group of settlers, feeling abused and neglected by the Mexican government, decided to revolt and take responsibility for their own circumstances. Today, some of their descendants are still searching for freedom from too much government and are turning away from the trappings of modern society to live a simpler, more independent life here in Big Bend. In a way, these people remind me of Alaskans we encountered last summer who are willing and able to take responsibility for their own welfare, who seek the solitude and who share the simple pleasures offered here. Many choose to live “off the grid”, collecting power from the sun and wind, water from the seasonal rains and consuming little of either along the way. Most don’t have television, air conditioning or much else that most of us consider essential. Many do have access to the internet, using the power of social media to connect to friends and family far away. Things the rest of us would never stop to think about often require a great deal of planning. When it is 80 miles to the hospital and hardware store, you get in the habit of making lists and checking them twice. Neighborliness becomes an essential skill as folks share labor, talent and equipment to perform basic tasks. And like any group, there are squabbles, outliers and oddballs but on the main, everyone makes the best of it. Visitors are made welcome, stories are shared and bonds are quickly formed. However, they don’t suffer fools well and you hear stories of the few who simply weren’t cut out for life out on the edge and who soon departed for something more suited to their liking.Terlingua 3

Our small group of aviators shares some of the same attributes of independence. A sense of adventure, along with an acceptance of the challenges of flying small airplanes in remote regions is essential. These pilots and passengers enjoy and embrace the freedom of travelling with minimal oversight and maximum flexibility. Plans change based on weather and whims. Some leave early, some remain an extra day as their circumstances and desires dictate. As Jimmy Buffett sang, these folks choose not to “swim in a roped off sea”. But when they are gathered up, stories are shared, some even true. Laughter fills the air as friendships are formed or renewed and new adventures are planned. The party ebbs and flows from the porches to the airport and back to the Bad Rabbit Restaurant where adult beverages, Mexican food and live music help us get in sync with the Terlingua timeline. As we retire to the cabins, wading again through the silence, along gravel paths where shadows from the nearby peaks are cast from the undiluted starlight above, I can feel why we are drawn to this wild place.

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