First you have to know that Marathon is pronounced “Mara-thin”. If you say it like the race, you’re obviously not a local. But since there are only 450 or so locals, it’s probably obvious. If you’re on a bike with an orange triangle dangling from your backside, it’s a certainty.
The night there, our first camping, was a signal that this was not going to be an ordinary trip. The Union Pacific goes through at night. LOUDLY. SIX TIMES. And it got really cold – colder than I expected. I had on my wool shirt, jacket, tights, and fleece pants and was still cold in my sleeping bag.
In the gift shop at the Gage hotel I chatted with the young clerk who was born and raised until age 7 in Burke, Virginia! She had recently been back to visit there. Her parents are up in DC again now so I wrote down the info for her to invite her mom to come bike with Women & Bicycles. 🙂
Although it was tempting to stick around to explore more, we needed to get moving so we headed towards our next destination.
The ride towards Stillwell RV Park was uneventful. The sky was overcast and there was just enough of a cool breeze that it was pleasant. The scenery took some getting used to — lots of desert plants, chip-seal roads, and mountains in the near distance. There was very little traffic.
If it sounds strange to say our destination was an RV Park — there is literally nothing else out there. Our guides told us this would be our least attractive overnight destination, so I didn’t expect much. I was actually surprised by what they did have available – a decent shower, little store, and supposedly a geocache although it was DNF by others so I didn’t waste much time trying to find it.
There’s a museum dedicated to the life of Hallie Stillwell, a true Texas pioneer. You can read more about her here. I bought a book she co-authored which talks about how the various places in the Big Bend got their sometimes unusual names.
When we arrived at the store they were having a special on ice cream. Seems the college students during spring break would open the freezer and stand around looking at what was in there. Some of the ice cream cups were partially melted and then refroze. For .50 I got confetti ice cream, perfect after a 46 mile ride!
The grounds we set up on were pretty rough. Luckily, Tony had loaned me a pad to go under my air mattress. I hesitated taking it when I was packing, but am so glad I decided to hang on to it! There’s not a lot of grassy area anywhere in the Big Bend region, and if there is, they sure don’t want you camping on it! We were camped right under a light, but my eye mask solved that problem. And there were no trains! I fell asleep knowing that I’d be actually entering Big Bend National Park the next day.