Serendipity (Part 2)
Two months after our accidental stumbling into Sanderson we got the Big Bend camping itch again. This time our friends joined us for the trip. The usual form of travel to Big Bend these days has been to leave mid-day on day one and drive as far as Fort Stockton for place to stay. After one night in Fort Stockton, day two of the journey begins with us on the road before sunrise. This allows us to see the beautiful sunrise colors against the west Texas mountains as we head south. It also gets us to Panther Junction Ranger Station just before 9am to ensure we are assigned a good back country camping spot. Once camp has been set up we still have half a day for hiking.
As per the usual itinerary west, we were searching and searching for two hotel rooms in Fort Stockton but were shocked to find all hotel rooms now priced at $200+. What the heck! Apparently, the oil fracking business had made it to Stockton and was driving the lodging prices up. We would not be priced into a hotel room at that amount. ... "Hey guys, remember that town Sanderson?"
Some quick research led us to book a motel online (not the Desert Air), at 3 rooms for less than the price of one room in Fort Stockton! We booked three rooms so the kids could have their own to hang out in, they were super excited. We were a little uncertain what to expect, but we had our lodging sorted out.
The new Big Bend route would now include a place to stay in Sanderson and the beautiful drive headed SW with two hours less on the crowded IH10. (If heading west on IH10, take Exit 343 after Ozona to Hwy 290 West toward Sheffield). Embarrassingly enough, I'm not sure I had ever stayed at a roadside motel. We didn't know we would enjoy it so much! Five hours from home and checked into a motel in Sanderson, we popped the car trunks, popped some bottles and lounged around for some porch sitting. The only restaurant in town, The Ranch House, was open so we walked there for some good grub. Time seems to go a little slower in the desert and the air feels lighter. This is the feeling we crave when we are out in Big Bend and here it was in Sanderson, situated on the eastern edge of the Chihuaha Desert. We were pleasantly surprised with our overall experience that day. So surprised, in fact, that we joked that owning a hotel in our new favorite town of Sanderson would be a fun business venture.
The children in our group communicated to us adults that we are always to stay in Sanderson on the way to Big Bend. Fortunately for them, we agreed. Fortunately also, the Stripes Gas Station sells breakfast tacos. The next morning we headed to Big Bend National Park with tacos in hand, on schedule, and whimsically wondering how much a motel in Sanderson would cost.