When one opens the pages to this book they step into another world and place, and even on occasions, another time. No matter what you may know about the lower Big Bend or think you know about the lower Big Bend, here are thoughts, maps and photographs that bring together a heretofore unachieved mosaic of this rugged, lonesome land. In effect, 'Out There' is a work that others simply cannot compare to. Whether you might be a first-time visitor or have made many a journey into its more remote environs, there is so much contained within to both see as well as savor. It is a book meant not for sitting on a shelf and gathering dust, but one to be read and re-read time and again. If home is where the heart is, even the first few paragraphs leave no doubt as to where the author's resides. And that is only the beginning?
The lower Big Bend area of Texas is rife with surprises, both big and small. That most are hidden in some way is the very nature of this land, like any living creature she conceals her greatest treasures with the greatest zealotry. One can take a certain creek, or nearly vanished trail or wagon track, numerous times but then wander a certain number of feet to either side and a different world opens to you. Such was the case with this photo, taken during the latter part of one of my prowls between Burro Mesa and Tule Mountain. I had started near the pour off and worked my way through Burro Spring and across to Tule Spring, both being well worth the effort in their own right. The day was crisp and traces of green were sprouting along the lower elevations, and the springs were flowing with more water than the uninitiated would think possible.
After circling through the ruins at Tule Spring and walking along the old earthen dam, I pointed my nose along a nigh forgotten trail that once ran northwest to the high side of Tule Mountain, where another such dam and sources of water are situated. My plan was to move into the very head of Javelina Wash as part of some 'boots on the ground' research concerning my third novel. About a quarter mile up from Tule Spring, I noticed an unusual splash of white along the northern side of a low, dark volcanic hill that sits just northeast of Javelina Wash. Sufficiently intrigued, I glassed the area with my Leupolds and made a mental note to swing further west on the way back to investigate. I could discern craggy, chocolate colored boulders and what appeared to be low ground at the base of that hill, and just the general feeling that I needed to go and see. After nooning at a half way point in the pass between Tule Mountain and Burro Mesa, I reversed direction and drifted down a northern branch for Javelina Wash. The day had turned glorious with a crystal-clear sky above a rainbow of colored rock and ground, mixed among the earth shades splashed about for good measure. Most folks don't know it, but there are parts of the Big Bend that will give the so-called 'Painted Desert' a run for its money any day of the week. This area is one of them. Near where the low hill abruptly ended in white, I crossed the dry creek bed and walked into an almost surreal atmosphere. Large boulders of that dark volcanic tone were perched in every position imaginable, many sitting upon unlikely foundations of small spires formed from the whitish soil. It was almost like you had strolled into nature's own trophy room. The area was only a couple of acres or so in size at best, but oh what a sight to behold while being hidden in plain view. And then I passed on through, heading upon another course through that same zealous desert.
I would like to think that I will go there again someday, but there is still so much that I know I'll never see in this country.
And I was burning daylight.