For our family vacation this year we went to Big Bend National Park. I was inspired to take this trip after our Moab vacation 2 years ago, where I discovered my kids love to hike and explore! The one thing they were particularly excited to do in Moab was stargaze, but the moon was so bright when we were there that it didn’t work out. I decided to look for good places to stargaze in Texas and Big Bend was highly recommended. Because our camping experience in Moab was so positive (in a little 1-room cabin), I decided to do the same again… only this time I happened upon something a little more creative than a cabin. We stayed in a bus named Franny:
The kids knew we were staying somewhere “different” and had been trying to figure it out for some time. When we pulled into the campground they were like, “What’s with all the crazy buses and stuff?” I said, “This is where we’re staying!” and they fell silent. Then I heard a bunch of, “Whatever. You’re not serious. You’re kidding, right?” When I parked and got out they were still very skeptical. After looking around a bit closer they were not entirely enthused about the idea…. I didn’t know what exactly their reaction would be but I didn’t expect that!
They really thought mom had lost it! But after some exploring, Franny definitely grew on them….
We had a lot of fun camping. We cooked out on the campfire every night. We experimented with campfire recipes, and some were better than others! I tasked the kids with building the fire on their own the last night and we used Chase’s socks as fire starters lol!
This camping experience made me “rough it” a bit more than I had done in awhile. We used an outhouse and I showered in an outdoor shower. It was a very strange experience being naked in the desert with nature but by god I did it! And I got to wake up to this every morning:
The other thing we did every night from the back of the bus was stargaze. And it was amazing….
We also made some friends! The owner of the place has cats to eat the critters that bring nasty things like snakes around. Well 3 of those cats had kittens! One litter in particular loved to hang out with us. And they were serious hunters. One even grabbed the hot dog off my stick! I mean, I love cats but that’s where I draw the line (lol)! It was hard to keep them out of our bus, especially when food was being prepared. The kids absolutely fell in love with them. They named every single cat/kitten we met.
Chloe also fell in love with the owner’s burro, Sampson.
And just look at this sweet picture:
We did do more than just hang out at the bus! We spent one day exploring Big Bend. I had no idea how huge it was, really! We all decided we have to go back because there is so much we didn’t see, and it was too hot to truly explore like we wanted to. Still, we did our best with the time we had!
We decided to start our day with a hike that took us to the Rio Grande so we could put our feet in the water and cool off. As we hiked we heard singing, and when we got to the river we realized the singing was coming from Mexico! The man on the other side of the river spoke to us, asked if we liked the singing, etc. There were items placed around for sale and he pointed them out to us but we said no thank you. Everything was going very well until Chase said, “Uhhhh… Mom? He’s walking toward the canoe.” I said, “Well surely he isn’t coming over here. That’s illegal!” The guy got into the canoe and mama bear decided it was time to go!
If you click on the top right photo below and zoom in you may be able to see him, just right of center (and you can see his canoe there on the right):
The next day we went to the Turlingua Ghost Town, which was cool. My favorite part to explore was the cemetery. Chase thinks I’m weird for that. He thought I was even weirder for taking so many pictures there.
Chloe got a souvenir Big Bend hat at the Trading Company there and I just love it on her!
After a few days of adventuring it was time to say goodbye to Franny, and leave some words of wisdom to those who follow:
For being so skeptical of her in the beginning, all of our talks of returning to Big Bend included Franny. It was definitely a fun experience and we are excited to go back one day!
For more information on Franny and the other creative camping options at Tin Valley Retro Rentals, check them out at tinvalleyretrorentals.com!