Lion Touches

Big Bend National Park


November 2015

We’re in Big Bend National Park, getting away from it all, as they say.

When they say, “getting away from it all,” they usually mean getting away from it some, the stuff we don’t like or don’t want.  That’s what we want to get away from.  For so many it implies lying on the beach and tanning, it implies a trip to an all-star hotel or a visit to an “attraction,” such as a railroad museum, a quilting convention or a casino.

These days, getting away from it could simply mean that you don’t have phone coverage.  Whoa!  Too much.

So here’s Lisa and me, away from it all, whatever that means, in the southwestern part of Texas, which is pretty much away from most of it.  It took two airplane flights plus a four-hour drive to get here.  That’s away from a lot of it.

We are currently chatting with a revved-up woman at the eastern terminus of the Lost Mine Trail.  There are some views here…

…as the wind blows, cooling our sweaty bodies.  This woman is a fount, a veritable fountain, of information.  She flows and she doesn’t stop.

This boundlessly energetic person is responsible for photographs that appear in association with the Big Bend National Park government website.  At least that’s what she said.

Another interesting thing she tells us, amidst the torrent of words that issue from her mouth, is how people die in Big Bend, something that had not been on our minds.  “Y’know what the third leading cause of death is here at Big Bend?  Take a guess.  What do you think it is.”

“Well, um…”

“It’s actually two things.  People roll an ankle and fall off a cliff, or they have a tussle with a lion, but there’s not too much of that.

“Y’know what the second leading cause of death here at Big Bend is?  Dehydration.  People just don’t understand how hot that sun is and how fast they lose water.”

I’m still trying to figure out her math but we plunge on.  “What’s the most common cause of death here?” we ask.

“Take a guess,” she says.  “What do you think it is?  I mean, what could really wreck your vacation?  Think about how your trip could just get wrecked!” — I think she may be giving us a hint. — “It’s cars rolling over.  That could really wreck your trip to Big Bend.  Get it?

“It’s definitely not lions.  In the past 70 years, there have been only six lion touches.  We call them ‘lion touches.’  You see how curvy these roads are.  It’s rolling your car over, not lions.  People don’t know how to drive.”

We ask her about her origins.  “Do you live here at Big Bend?”  This is not a serious question.

“I’m from McCamey.  Our town is so small we had to borrow a horse to make it a one horse town.”

Lisa and I rented a car at the Midland/Odessa airport to get to this place away from it most, and we drove south toward McCamey but the road was closed.  Couldn’t get there.  Didn’t have a reason to go there.  Still don’t.

Because of the detour, we drove through the small town of Crane.  Their elementary school basketball team is called “The Little Dribblers.”

Anyway, we now know how to stay safe in Big Bend…

.  drink plenty of fluids

.  don’t step too close to a cliff

.  don’t wreck your car

.  don’t have a lion touch

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