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Wildflowers to the West: A Springtime Trip to Big Bend

Andria
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Randy Hulet, Lourdes Hernandez

Randy Hulet and Lourdes Hernandez ventured far outside Loop 610 when they drove to Big Bend over spring break.

For lots of Houstonians, the next couple of weekends will be filled with road trips and wildflowers. But last week, during spring break, Lourdes Hernandez and her husband Randy Hulet took their trip a little farther when they traveled west to Big Bend and Marfa, catching sight of some truly breathtaking vistas.

After 31 years living in Houston – Lourdes is a retired attorney, and Randy is the Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University – it was the first time the couple had visited either spot. Happily, they lucked into one of the most prolific wildflower blooming seasons in a decade. 


Lourdes and Randy say the wildflowers were “so spectacular, photos cannot do them justice.” (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

“We love, love the outdoors but are not long-distance driving people,” Lourdes says. “We’d never gone farther than Kerrville or San Antonio. We always joke that if I have to go to a meeting outside the Loop I have to think about it for a week, so this was a big step for us.”

Ocotillo blossoms

Lourdes believes these are ocotillo blossoms, which proliferate in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

Along with multiple hikes and an all-day canoe trip on the Rio Grande in the Santa Elena Canyon, Lourdes and Randy took plenty of photos documenting their adventure – and the blooming flora they saw along the way. They stayed in Terlingua, an old mining town, in the Big Bend Casitas at the Far Flung Outdoor Center. “They book a year in advance, but I kept at it, and when they had a cancellation, I was ready to book.” The Casitas call their location “the last frontier…the nearest Walmart is two and a half hours away!”

Lourdes and Randy spent all of their time on the western side of Big Bend. “We’ll definitely go back to explore the eastern side,” she says.


Even cacti were in bloom at Big Bend. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

“I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, including spending time with my beau of 38 ½ years,” Lourdes says. “Who knew we still had so much to talk about!”

For a report on wildflowers blooming in Big Bend, Brenham, Ennis, the Hill Country and South Texas, check out the 2019 Spring Wildflower Season Outlook from WildflowerHaven.com.  

For more on bluebonnet season, read Smiling in the bluebonnets by Annie Blaylock McQueen, Bluebonnet Sightings in Buzz Neighborhoods by Karen Vine Fuller and Bluebonnet Sighting in Houston: Terry Hershey Park by Annie Blaylock McQueen.

  • Canoe

    Lourdes and Randy stayed at Big Bend Casitas at the Far Flung Outdoor Center. “The casitas are part of the outdoor center,” Lourdes says, “so we rolled out of bed, and they were getting the canoes ready.” (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez) 

  • Chinati Foundation

    In Marfa, they stayed at the historic Hotel Paisano and explored the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum, where this photo was taken. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

  • Terlingua Cemetery

    Lourdes says the Terlingua Cemetery in the Terlingua Ghost Town, a former mining town, was “heartbreaking. You realized this was a real mining town, with real people who lived and had lives here.” Many died from mining accidents, and many more during the flu epidemic. Graves are marked with makeshift markers and folk art. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

  • Wildflowers

    More wildflowers at Big Bend. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

  • Turtle

    “He was maybe a softshell box turtle,” Lourdes says. “We pulled our canoes over for lunch on the Mexican side [of the Rio Grande]. Literally the left side is Mexico and the right side is the U.S. We were laughing because the little turtle had come over from the Mexican side.” (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

  • Canoe
  • Chinati Foundation
  • Terlingua Cemetery
  • Wildflowers
  • Turtle

More photos

Canoe

Lourdes and Randy stayed at Big Bend Casitas at the Far Flung Outdoor Center. “The casitas are part of the outdoor center,” Lourdes says, “so we rolled out of bed, and they were getting the canoes ready.” (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez) 

Chinati Foundation

In Marfa, they stayed at the historic Hotel Paisano and explored the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum, where this photo was taken. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

Terlingua Cemetery

Lourdes says the Terlingua Cemetery in the Terlingua Ghost Town, a former mining town, was “heartbreaking. You realized this was a real mining town, with real people who lived and had lives here.” Many died from mining accidents, and many more during the flu epidemic. Graves are marked with makeshift markers and folk art. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

Wildflowers

More wildflowers at Big Bend. (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

Turtle

“He was maybe a softshell box turtle,” Lourdes says. “We pulled our canoes over for lunch on the Mexican side [of the Rio Grande]. Literally the left side is Mexico and the right side is the U.S. We were laughing because the little turtle had come over from the Mexican side.” (Photo: Lourdes Hernandez)

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