When I was a kid, one of the things my parents did was take my brother and I down to Big Bend National Park. I was too young to have very many memories of the place now but I do remember standing inside Santa Elena canyon and thinking how narrow and deep it was and that it was too bad the trail stopped at the water's edge. I wanted to go exploring something Keith Bowden wanted to do when as a young runaway he first saw the river at age sixteen.
I've spent the weekend sitting outside on my porch above the small creek that cuts through the property and reading a fascinating book titled "The Tecate Journals" written by Keith Bowden. Mr. Bowden traveled the Rio Grande from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico, a stretch of over 1300 miles primarily by canoe. In his book, which I will be reviewing in detail for an upcoming issue of Senior News, he describes life and culture on both sides of the river as well as the history and modern day problems such as the fear of terrorism, the real issue of smuggling, and the seen and unseen environmental damage.
The book chronicles every step of the way with a small part of the nearly 300 page book covering his journey through Big Bend National Park and of course, Santa Elena canyon. Despite the obstacles, during his journey which took nearly three months, this man found the people on both sides of the river had much more in common than many outsiders would admit or consider.
I had to get this book via interlibrary loan and as a result had to stop everything else to read this. It was well worth it and provides a fascinating look at life and history on both sides of the border. This read truly made the weekend one well spent.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2008
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