My trip to Terlingua was one of my favorite adventures last year. This post is all about the adventure of sleeping in a tipi and truly relaxing.
There we were, listening to two cowboys strumming their guitars and singing about living in harmony as we sat around a campfire, cracking open beers on an early Sunday morning. It’s one of those moments where you look around and wonder ‘how did I get here?’
I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I found Tin Valley Retro Rentals on Airbnb because I was searching for a room near Big Bend National Park. There aren’t many options for hotels in that area and I had always wanted to stay in a tipi. The chance to stay in a tipi over a lackluster hotel was a no-brainer.
We left Alpine after a quick bite to eat, realizing it was a little later than we had planned. We raced down the highway to get to our tipi before the sun set completely. Finding our way in an unfamiliar desert in the pitch dark would not be an ideal situation. Big storm clouds loomed around us with strikes of lightning in the distance.
We couldn’t miss the Airbnb. The community of tipis and trailers confirmed we had made it, with a bit of dusk light left to help us get settled in. The tipi stood tall. I couldn’t keep my cool as I snapped photo after photo and admired the homey glamping set-up inside. This was my kind of camping, with a full-size bed, air conditioning unit, and electricity!
The storm was getting closer. We nervously went to find the owner Ronda, who lives on a bus on the property, to ask about the hole in the top of our tipi. We had no clue how tipis worked. Would we be drenched? Although she assured us the rain would barely get inside the tipi, we went back uncertain but ready to brave the storm. We lay in the bed as the storm began raging with loud claps of thunder and taps of raindrops on the tipi canvas. Sure enough, the rainwater barely fell directly into the tipi. Drops followed down the poles but nothing that was drenching. No more than fifteen minutes later, the storm had passed.
It wasn’t very late so we ventured outside, dried off the chairs nearby, and admired the sky. The sky! Stars filled the sky and it was the first time I had ever experienced the night sky like that. The horizon felt low and without bright lights or tall buildings, the stars were bright. The expanse of the sky filled my body with gratitude and awe. It made me reflective and thoughtful. How long has it been since I stopped to admire the beauty of nature in the quiet and calm? How many others have gotten to see this incredible sight? How do I bottle up this feeling of expanse, wonder, and peace?
The next morning felt like Christmas, and we couldn’t sleep any longer. We hopped out to see the sunrise and admire our surroundings in the first light. The tall mountains and quiet of the desert were as magnificent, if not more, than the night before. It was a different sense of awe than the starry night sky but as peaceful and full of gratitude.
The rental park began to come to life. We heard laughing and the strumming of guitars coming from the main fire pit in the distance, so we walked over to join in. We enjoyed breakfast tacos and met visitors from around the world. (Apparently, Big Bend National Park attracts many Europeans.) One visitor offered everyone craft beer from his brewery in Florida. Mark and Jeff played funny and thoughtful original songs. Their harmonious voices put goosebumps on my arms as the bright sun overcame the morning chill. Somehow, all our life paths brought us to this place at the same time to share this care-free morning together.
We talked about how Ronda, Mark, and Jeff came to live in Terlingua. They were drawn to the beauty of the land and the community. It attracted people who wanted a slower way of life yet were filled with adventure. There is no place like Terlingua and when you arrived and stayed a while, you weren’t sure you would find anywhere quite like it again.
As the sun rose higher and the temperature warmed, we knew it was time to say goodbye before the sun made hiking Big Bend National Park unbearable. Begrudgingly, we made our way back to the tipi to pack up and head out, with a stop to say goodbye to Sampson the donkey.
I knew visiting West Texas would be a fun adventure and an interesting place to see but I didn’t realize the expanse of the land and the depth of the calm. We move so fast these days, and the cycle and demands can go non-stop. But my problems are a speck in the grand scheme of things, especially in the awe of physical grandeur. Sometimes, it takes getting away from it all, staring deeply at nature, and listening to cowboys sing to remind me that.
P.S. Looking to plan your Terlingua trip? Check out my post for tips!