In 11 years, we haven’t managed to take a trip for our anniversary. We decided this was the year that we were doing it. We tossed around a few ideas of where we would go. My husband recommended Big Bend. I stared at him like he had a horn growing out of his forehead. My soul was yearning for an island. I needed the sound of the waves, the salt water spray in the air, and the warmth of the sun on my skin. But, he was right. We had the motorhome and the jeep and there were still places in our home state that we hadn’t yet visited. Plus, I had earned a trip from my company to San Francisco & Napa the following month. So, I would give him Big Bend. It was something he had been talking about for a while. I couldn’t for the life of me see why this would be on his list, but okay.
I did my typical research, looking it up on of travel review sites as well as the Facebook motor home groups that we belong to. Everyone raved about the terrain, stars, sky, and landscape. As great as this sounded, I was still skeptical. If I was going to Big Bend for my anniversary, I had better make sure there were things to do there that I would enjoy. So, I found Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa with Maverick Ranch RV park. This would work just fine. They had a spa so I could get a massage and a restaurant so that I wouldn’t have to cook my entire anniversary. The website mentioned world class golf, but neither of us are golfers, so this didn’t excite me.
I knew it was near the Rio Grande, so I thought that wold be cool since I’ve never actually been to the Texas border. Although, I'll admit, with all of the media coverage of what was going on at the border at that time, I was incredibly hesitant...
After six hours of delays and a less than smooth morning, we set out two days before our anniversary to make the 617 mile trek. We decided we would stay the night in San Angelo since we were so far behind. Neither of us like arriving to a campground late or driving in the dark on unknown roads. Plus, the Cowboys were playing at 7:25 so we needed to be set up and have the game on by then. We chose a KOA Holiday by the lake that a friend recommended and it was a fine campground. We’ve had less than pleasant experiences with “kōas” as our 9 year old calls them. We grabbed a bite at Twisted Root for dinner and watched some of the game before hitting up HEB and going back to the campground to finish the game and get some rest.
The next morning, we packed up and headed out. Next stop: Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa. The trip took far longer than what we had anticipated. Apparently if there is no cell service or GPS signal, Apple maps doesn’t account for the last 2 hours of the trip. We drove through the most sparsely populated parts of Texas I had ever seen where the land was dotted with pipeline, pumpjacks, and questionably livable “houses”. We finally turned south at Alpine to complete the last leg of the trip after what seemed like an absurd amount of hours driving. The terrain immediately changed. We started seeing mountains poking above the cloud line and red rock sculptures lining the road. We wound our way up higher and higher around the mountains until I couldn’t believe that such elevations existed in Texas. The Texas I know is flat and occasionally has a rolling hill. This was crazy! I had never seen anything like it. Once we descended into the ghost town of Terlingua, we decided to stop for gas before heading to the campground. A rugged looking character with a bushy grey mustache covering his mouth, unruly hair, and leathery skin leaned against a porch post staring us down while Darren fueled up. As he walked out of the store from paying, the character looked him up & down. “Can I ask you a question? Whatcha got going on in that trailer?” He said as he took a long drag on his cigarette through a nicotine stained white mustache. Darren, never one to meet a stranger happily replied. “Oh, my wife’s jeep is in there.” “Hmm..." he grunted. "I thought you might have some high powered surveillance equipment in there.” Darren laughed, “Surveillance equipment? Why?” he asked. He squinted his eyes as he looked Darren up and down with a scowl...“Well... look atcha”. Darren, baffled, hopped back in the truck and asked me what the old man meant. I looked at his outfit comprised of khaki Duluth utility pants, long sleeve green shirt, and grey cap and burst into laughter. “Babe, you came to the US/Mexico border dressed like a TX border patrol agent.” We were later informed that they had actually thought he was DEA. And thus we continue the tradition of people mistaking my husband for a cop on vacation.
We made our way down the 15 mile winding road to Maverick Ranch. There was a charming southwest cemetery at the entrance to the park and adobe pillars welcoming us. We drove past it and found our way to our spot. The park was gorgeous and had a 360 degree view of the mountains and canyons. I was warming up to this idea. We wanted to find out more information on where to go & what to do, so we immediately unloaded the jeep and hopped in to go explore. The main boardwalk up the street seemed to be where everything happened. The restaurant, bar, spa, and shops were there. I spotted the spa first, of course, and decided I would pop in to see what the weekend’s availabilities were. Gina told me that she could get me in right away. As a person that gets regular massages and has high expectations, I can tell you that Gina at Agave Spa is AMAZING! As she worked her hands deep into my angry muscles, I could feel the worries and stresses of the previous week slide away. I’m so accustomed to getting massages for maintenance and then rushing about the previously scheduled activities of the day, that I had forgotten what it was like to get a massage and not have anything else to rush off to.
I left the massage relaxed, renewed, and ready to enjoy the rest of the evening. We stepped into the Thirsty Goat Saloon to inquire about dinner and found ourselves met with a room full of all men. Not one single female in sight. After being told that “they try” to have table service, we decided to go across the hall to the Candelia for dinner and realized that we had made a fantastic decision. The seared crusted ahi was as fresh and mouthwatering as if we were having it ocean side in Hawaii. After dinner, we made our way back to The Thirsty Goat Saloon to enjoy live music and people watch. Something that neither of us took into account while planning the trip was that it was a golf resort with a predominately male clientele. The ratio of men to women was literally about 50:3. So, married ladies, if your husband is looking for a great guy’s weekend, feel completely safe about sending him to this resort. There is literally no trouble to be had. To my single girlfriends, listen up. If you find it difficult to meet single men your age, go to Lajitas on a golf charter weekend. Guaranteed there’s a single guy there that just might interest you. We topped the evening off back at camp with a nightcap under the darkest sky spattered with more stars, planets, and comets than I've ever witnessed in any other open sky location.
The following morning, we woke up bright and early, grabbed our coffee, and headed out to watch the sun rise over the canyon and the Rio Grande. We found a great overlook where we could take in the morning’s artwork. There was a river below that was very shallow and not flowing much, but Darren assured me it wasn’t the Rio Grande. While we sat, waiting for the sun rise over Lajitas, I started looking at the map to find the Rio Grande and the border. Much to both of our surprise, that small river just a few feet below us was indeed the international border between the US & Mexico. We had been looking at the fields, mountains, and plateaus of Mexico all this time! It was such a crazy realization. There was no fence or “wall” just a shallow stream of water separating the two sections of land. I could throw a rock and hit Mexico. And, the water was shallow enough that anyone could wade across from either side. And somehow, it felt like the people of this area didn’t mind who comes and goes either way. They all seemed to be co-existing just find. It was so much more tranquil than what I had imagined the scene to look like.
We left our perch along the sunrise lit stream to go explore the National park and couldn't wait to hit some jeep trails. We had been told that there were great opportunities for jeep riding, and they were right. Thanks to the advice from a helpful park ranger, we took Maverick junction to Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive which provides some of the most pristine scenic views of the park's landscape you could imagine. From this paved windy road, we turned off onto River Road for a 29 mile offload experience through the park and along the Rio Grande and up to Black Gap Road. This treacherous offload trail led us to meeting the first people we had seen in 5 hours of riding through the park. We put the Queen Beest to the first real offroad test she's seen and were rewarded with an elevated overlook of the entire park and all its rugged vast beauty.
That evening, the staff at Candelia had prepared a private dining experience for our anniversary. We dined on a private patio overlooking the golf course with a view of the sunset. The candlelit dinner was set to the tune of a private soundtrack as we dined on a 5 course chef prepared meal of fried green tomatoes, grilled beets and goat cheese, couscous salad, filet mignon with bacon wrapped shrimp, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, chocolate covered strawberries and tres leches paired with a 2006 bottle of Ricci Sangiovese. It was a picture perfect ending to an anniversary weekend filled with adventure, unrivaled views, new experiences, and lavish pampering.
Who am I?
Hi! I'm. Brandi, founder of The Power Project. There are a few things I'm passionate about in life, and one of those happens to be my LOVE of travel! We enjoy traveling the world with our kids as well as the continental United States in our motorhome. I hope you enjoy some of our most memorable adventures!