So we went to Big Bend National Park in December, 2003. We went for two nights, hiking from the Chisos basin out to the south rim and back. It was hard going at first, but we all got the hang of it and had a blast. The only bad thing about the trip was that we didn't have Patricia with us, but maybe she'll come next time.

Anyway, here's the proof.

Are we there yet?

"This sure is a mighty fine lookin' fence."

"Sure is."

Ants were envious of Lorin's ability to carry a huge pack.

Another source of jealousy for the ants...

Big Bend has quite a bit of nature.

In addition to nature, Big Bend features geology too.

Smile of joy? Wince of pain? You decide.

Pipi and some rocks.

This is where the trip got interesting. On the left there is Randall, our fearless leader for this trip. Most of this was his idea. So we hiked our asses off to get up to the top of the south rim and there was NO VIEW. In this photo we're sitting on the edge of the south rim eating breakfast. We're above the clouds! The whole time, Randall is saying things like, "Boy this is too bad, this is normally a fantastic sight!" You see, the south rim is a big cliff, a thousand feet high or so, I don't know. We're at around six or seven thousand feet here. We should be able to see forever! And then stretching off in the distance are mountains, Mexico, all that good stuff. But instead, it's like the view out of an airliner.

We debated bailing out and hiking back down.

Here we are, totally captivated by...the tops of clouds.

They snugged right up against the south rim. Note that earlier in the morning we couldn't see that stuff over there.

It seemed that the clouds were receding. We decided to hold out.

Ooh! A glimpse through the cloud. Is that mother Earth down there?

[Gasp!] It is!

Getting restless waiting for more to see...

The clouds rolled away revealing the land below. It was like a big fluffy blanket being pulled away. This took two hours or so, which seemed to go by quickly when it was happening. It also helps that when you're up there, you really aren't being an idiot an worrying about what time it is, or talking on your cell phone, or wondering what you need from the store. You're thinking only a few things:
Boy, I need to go to the bathroom.
Boy, I'd like something to eat.
Boy, this sure is a nice place to sit and eat and have to go to the bathroom.
Boy, my life is really good.

And still further the clouds receded.

Randall takes my picture...

Now that he can see, John picks out suitable real estate. He found the perfect place to relocate a house he bought here in Austin, which will allow him to divide that lot and really clean up. He was very excited about it, and we didn't have the heart to tell him that this was a national park, and he can't buy it, fix it up, and sell it to make a ton of money from it. So we took his $100 earnest money and told him he'd hear from the listing agent "soon."

Some mountain off in the distance. Whatever, it's all pretty scenery and bathroom trips from here on out.

We spotted an eagle or falcon or something. I think it's more interesting to photograph us pointing at it than it is to show you a photo with a small white speck in it and assure you that we really did see some sort of bird.

Tallman, Antgirl, Paddington and Grizzly survey the view.

Then humor me by turning around for a group shot that we can all put in our scrapbooks.

So remember that shot before of the fog at the edge of the rim? Here's what it looks like all naked.

Tall man. Tall century plant.

Art Shot: The small red worm stoically crosses the seemingly endless expanse of rough-hewn pebbles. Symbolizing our embryonic knowledge of Big Bend and the park, it parodies us as it focuses on finding food and going to the bathroom. With no arms or legs, it is as our minds are here in this world - stumbling along, distracted by the rough edges of the obstacles it can see and touch, vaguely heading toward but unaware of the beauty over the horizon.

See? *Anyone* can be a bullsh!tting art person, even me.;-)

Two more worms a blue and a yellow one, one of which thinks he knows something.

Contemplating eternity or waiting to go to the bathroom?

Errr, sunset of course.

One of the nice things about national parks is that they bring in evening entertainment. It's kind of like how they bring in celebrities for the troops when they're off imposing Compassionate Imperialism, like we're doing in Iraq right now. Ok, it's a little different...

Here you see John captivated by the evening's talent.

Son of Sunset.

And our closing shot - these are my boots back at the car. I hiked the last mile or so with them like that. It wasn't very nice. But I was grateful that they failed on the way back and so close to the car. As usual, something annoying happened to me, but it wasn't that big a deal. I've got a great life, and I'm lucky.