We at TheMountCo are sometimes reluctant to share our Bearded Man conversations with the public at large. He is opinionated and at times rather crass. But we love him and after all, he is our logo. So for better or worse, onward and upward we go.
"It's very difficult to leave a park," says The Bearded Man. "Each one has been unique and I'm trying to figure out how many years it's going to take for me to return and spend more time. You boys better sell more of those God-awful T-shirts with my face on it so my royalty checks keep growing. This old van eats gas like a chubby kid eats hot dogs." Like we said. "I meant to ask you guys, why are there trees coming out of my head? You couldn't just give me a hat or a woman in a bikini up there?" Ah, we do love the man whose face represents our company. Such a card.
The drive north from Big Bend NP to Guadalupe Mountains NP is relatively short - about 4 hours. With one stop in Valentine, Texas to visit with the survivors of the 1932 earthquake. Actually they are all gone, but one of the kids of a survivor - Taurino meaning 'bull like' in Spanish and not to be confused with the car - promised to make The Bearded Man chicken, beans and rice chalupas if he stopped. He should arrive at Guadalupe Mountains by early afternoon on Sunday and stay thru the Fourth of July. He will regret eating 12 chalupas.
The Bearded Man will be camping at the Dog Canyon campsite and has hired 9 locals to surround his tent at night to prevent any black-tailed rattlesnakes from entering his tent. These locals will also be hiking the Smith Spring Loop Trail with The Bearded Man to further protect against snake attack.
Evidence of inhabitants in The Guadalupe Mountains dates back over 10,000 years, including Spanish and Apache settlements. Until the late 1800's, the mountains were a sanctuary for the Mescalero Apaches. However, after the end of the Civil War they were displaced by the Buffalo Soldiers to make way for the ever westward expanding transportation routes and the accompanying pioneers and their temporary settlements. The Butterfield stage route was thought to be a precursor to a rail line, but the territory proved to inhospitable and the railroad and permanent settlements never materialized. One of the first settlers that did stay was Felix McKittrick and McKittrick Canyon is thought to be named after him.
The establishment of a National Park was discussed as early as 1923, but it wasn't until oil man Wallace Pratt came along and began to buy land in and around McKittrick Canyon that the idea began to gain traction. Pratt built two separate homes in the canyon, the Pratt Cabin (clever name) and the Ship-On-The-Desert located at the mouth of the canyon. Both were used by the Pratt family until 1960, when nearly 6,000 acres of the canyon were donated and became the genesis of Guadalupe National Park.
The Fourth of July is a big day in the world of The Bearded Man. If he was at home he would proudly hang the American flag from his front porch, grill some salmon, fry a little okra and maybe whip up some banana pudding. When the sun goes down he would have run around in circles with a handful of sparklers (fireworks are banned at The Bearded Man's home ever since Peanut blew off his left ear listening to "see what a bottle rocket sounds like"). This year, instead of sparklers, he will happily watch a magnificent north Texas sunset and spend a few hours satellite hunting and gazing at the vast array of stars - surrounded by his rattlesnake posse - before settling in for the night.
Editors Note: They are still looking for Peanut's ear and there is a $20 Walmart gift card being offered as a reward. Do not call with tips - he can't hear the phone.
Tuesday morning, July 3rd, The Bearded Man heads to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. A mere 40 minutes to the northeast, the drive has no planned stops. This is subject to change should a quality roadside food stand pop up.