Big Bend National Park

much like the end of two thousand twelve, the west was once again calling our names as this year came to an end. we had plans of finally visiting some of the national parks in california that we have yet to see, joshua tree, sequoia and kings canyon. but plans change; and what was supposed to be a week long trip got cut down to three days. 

we took this chance to finally start exploring the enormous national park out in west texas, big bend. one of the most remote and largest of all the national parks, big bend was always a little intimidating to us. hearing tales of its immense beauty and sheer size we always felt like we would need more than just a long weekend to fully enjoy the park. but with a thirst to explore something new we decided to make the eight hour drive.

 we have seen deserts, and we have seen mountains, but we have never seen them come together in such a perfect symbiosis. bone dry chihuahuan desert dirt roads with a view of the towering chisos mountains, all tied together with the mighty rio grande; it was awe inspiring and like nothing we had ever seen before. 

camping, early morning hikes, exploring the nearby ghost towns, tarantulas, driving the one hundred plus miles of roads running through the park, watching the sunset over the rio grande and rise again while sitting in a one hundred and five degree hot spring; we made the most of our few days in the park. 

admittedly i was a little disheartened when our original plans fell through, but now i am glad they did. much like the rest of my life, everything turns out for the best if you let it. a few days in big bend was exactly what my soul needed, and a great way to end two thousand and thirteen.  

LBJ National Historical Park

the colder months are definitely a hindrance to getting out and seeing something new when we are confined to a days drive from austin. once the waters cool our places to go are basically cut down by at least half, if not more. in the summer heat it's easy, not sure where to go, head to the nearest swimming hole and you're set for the weekend. 

we've passed the lyndon b johnson national historical park numerous times in our travels but were always on our way somewhere further west, this weekend we finally made it the focal point of our day.

the day was spent wandering around the ranch, farm and historical buildings before heading a little further west to check out old tunnel state park.

Texas National Forests

small towns and big trees lined the farm roads as we made our way through the national forests of east texas. most of our travels lead us west where the landscape goes from desert to red rocks and back again, beautiful scenery for sure, but all in different shades of brown. the green of the towering pines and the occasional yellow or orange spot of autumn foliage were a welcome change for the weekend.

we spent the day exploring davy crockett, sabine, and angelina forests before making a quick jaunt across the toledo reservoir into louisiana. even though taylor was feeling a bit under the weather, our plan was to find a spot to camp in one of the forests. but after six hours in the car we decided that sleeping in a tent in the chilly fall air would be a little too much. 

so we turned right around and headed home. twelve hours of driving for a few hours of exploring may seem like a little much to some, but we enjoyed every second of it.