On to Cibolo Creek Ranch

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Lajitas Resort is located on a little strip of private land between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. Today we leave the resort and head through Big Bend State Park. This ride is a lot of fun with big hill climbs, twisty turns and funny road signs. We climbed a very long steep hill only to reach a sign ” Hill Ahead”. Well, what have we been on? We stop at “Balance Rock” to snap a picture. Lots of high views of the Rio Grande as it snakes along near the highway.Right across the road it is still desert with sparse struggling vegetation and few animals and birds. An hour later we exit the park and shortly enter the town of Presidio, a Mexican border town. As we come in we can see the farms making good use of the Rio Grande on both sides of the border. The green fields contrast sharply with the brown of the desert. The Rio Grande is still very low here. We head north toward Marfa. We are looking for our oasis in this dry brown expanse of desert. It is called the Cibolo Creek Ranch. We were told the resort is just south of Marfa. Along the way we begin to climb up high desert mountains while the temperature drops to the low 60′s. I am not dressed for this!!What happened to the high 90′s of the desert floor? We pass a silver mining ghost town population 30 souls. We see antelope on both sides of the highway, but no Cibolo Creek Ranch. Coming into Marfa we are stopped at another border patrol station. We come to a stop and open our helmets. We do not look like what they are looking for. We are being waved on through the check point. I hastily ask the Border Patrol Officer for directions to Cibolo Creek Ranch. He smiles and says you past it 33 miles back. I said ” are you kidding”. No, lady we don’t kid he says. As we speak, the Belgian Malinois is lunging aggressively on his leash for the motorcycle. We decide to proceed on into Marfa for a little lunch and a gas stop. We decide to look for a little lunch. Marfa is a bizarre place. It had an airport during WWII with hangers. Internationally acclaimed artist, Donald Judd found this place and moved here from New York City. He purchased the hangers to house his minimalist scuplter art. His followers came as well. Think of it as Kevin Costner’s ballfield only in art terms. We have a decaying city a new artist presence. Studios replaced army posts and closed gas stations and store fronts. One of the better restaurants is a food truck called the Food Shark. A motel called the Thunderbird has a small billboard painted to look as though it was erected in the 60′s in keeping with the motel’s decorating theme. If you do not like motels, try staying the night in a teepee on the edge of town or an Airstream motor home. In 1956 the movie Giant was filmed here. The movie set still remains. One building on the outskirts of town is painted to resemble a Prada shoe store. It is alone beside the highway with nothing else around it. Prada went to court to have it changed but, art prevailed. Then there are the Marfa mystery lights which are visible about 20% of the time. Some say it’s just highway lights reflecting in the desert from miles away. What seems strange is the Apaches made note of it long before there were any cars around. We find a gas station closed in the middle of the afternoon but with the gas pumps left on. It’s starting to seem normal. We get gas and then look for a place to have lunch. We find a DQ but it has no water. It’s getting a little spooky. We head back south, blow our horn at our “friends” at the border patrol check point and mark 33 miles on the odometer so as not to miss the entrance again. The vast desert starkness offers up one possibility, a ranch gate with an American flag. Maybe this is it. Nothing else around for miles. We slow way down to make the turn into the gate and hit a 8 inch pile of gravel which grabs Nell’s front wheel and she promptly dumps us on the ground. Well, what else can go wrong. As we get up we notice a small plaque identifying this as the entrance to Cibolo Creek Fort Historic Site. Nell is not coming up off the ground until we unload all of our luggage bags. So off they come ( its starting to look like a yard sale). We are attempting to get Nell back up on her tires, when a motorist leaving the ranch passes by without even a wave. We repack and set off to tackle the 4 miles from the edge of the highway on a dirt and gravel road. We slowly ease down the road through the 36,000 acre ranch passing buffalo, cattle, and a type of antelope from Africa. We make it to the old fort which is now a resort. We will call this home for three nights. The renovated 1850′s fort is owned by a Houston businessman, John D. Poindexter. The resort is used by John and his business and political assosicates as a hunting lodge during the season. When hunting is done, the resort is opened to paying customers from the general public. They don’t get many guests on a motorcycle. Many come by private plane or jet and land on the ranch’s airstrip. It is an impressive place with lots of preserved history going back before this area belonged to the United States. Western art abounds including beautiful bronze sculptures. Acccomodations are first class and the food and drinks are outstanding. Everything is very neat and tidy. On the negative side, we were unable to schedule a horseback ride or spa treatments. You can see we have become a little spoiled. I am particularly put off by the description of the pheasant hunts where the staff hurls the birds off a cliff for the guests standing below to blast away at. Sorry, I do not see this as sport. We did take long walks in the desert and saw lots of animals including a runaway sheep being chased all through the resort grounds by ranch hands with lariats made of garden hose. We seldom see something so funny. We met some fellow guests from Dallas who we had previously seen at the Gage Hotel and at Lajitas Resort. The group included the leading attorney in Texas, and a noted transplant surgeon. The other couple were a retired business consultant and a labor attorney. We had spirited discussions about the issues of the day. We also met the mother of the bronze sculpture artist who was quite proud of her son and his sculptures which Cibolo own several around the grounds. The day before we are to leave, we notice that everything is being spit shined. I tell James that I believe the owner is coming for a visit. Sure enough we learn he is coming to host a lunch for 25 people. They arrive by jet, not by motorcycle. We read how several years ago he tried to double the size of his ranch by acquiring 50,000 acres from the Big Bend State Park for $500 per acre. He almost got it done, but at the last minute citizens intervened and the deal was scrapped.