nuevo big bend birthday

well, it’s that time of year again…

my wife’s birthday week(s) started at the beginning of november with our annual big bend birthday trip.

but this year was different.  we invited friends!

we had a little fun with long exposures…

erik waded over in to mexico.  illegal alien!!!!

  

my wife likes to make me nervous.

i thought i’d take the group out to cattail falls, one of my favorite places in the park.

i could have never imagined what we all were soon to experience.

we hiked our way through the desert.  soon the trail funnels it’s way into a small, dark canyon.

carol was ahead of all of us.  erik and i were hiking together, and the other girls were brining up the rear.

as we entered the lush oasis lining the small stream that carved this canyon, carol came running up to erik, terrified.

“something just growled at me,” she said.  “the most guttural sound i’ve ever heard!”

so erik and i went ahead.  nothing.

but as we walked around, i started to notice scat everywhere and mangled small trees.

then i heard my wife, who was up on a huge rock, say, “i see a bear,” in a whisper-scream.

we all jumped up on the rock, and sure enough, there was a big, beautiful black bear downstream where we just were…

i didn’t have the right lens on my camera, so you can barely see him (pardon the unintentional pun).

then i made everyone do a bear-spotting portrait.  yeah, i’m like a cheesy dad on vacation…

self explanatory.  but really, it is VERY rare to see a bear in texas.

i’ve been to big bend dozens of times, and never seen any solid evidence of a bear, much less a bear in the flesh.

it was a real treat.

carol chasing deer.  not sure what she would’ve done had she caught them…

happy birthday morning!

birthday cupcake eating, coffee drinking, and dancing!

so someone (carol & elle) had the bright idea to hike the entire south rim in a day.

that’s 16-18 miles round trip with 2000+ ft elevation gain.

so, off we went…

it was definitely worth it.  the views are amazing, but the hike is tough, for sure.

we really enjoyed our trip this year.  getting to know new friends better, and gasp, sharing a place we love with others!

what is it about this whole “sharing” concept that keeps coming up??  first family, then marriage, now friends?

next it would seem children are on the horizon….

…..hmm……

nah.  let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011