Big Bend National Park is a dramatic Texas Wilderness, the beauty of which is completely lost one me.

Tonight, for lack of a better spot and disinterest in spending camp fare, we settled down in a Pilot Truck stop parking lot. We wound down the evening with the dinner of champions: cup of noodles, while watching what appears to be a van camper and a homeless man chatting.

They get in the van.
They get out of the van.
They smoke a cigarette.
The van man walks off to talk to someone else, leaving the homeless man in the van.

We ran out of DVDs to watch, in case that wasn’t obvious. Instead, we spy through cracks in our cover, concocting stories of undercover border agents or DEA agents, monitoring this transportation nexus truck stop. The van is ostensibly a work van for some charitable health organization. That’s what the logo on the van’s side describes. But the font is too script-y. And what is a work van doing, clearly camped out for the night? And both dudes have dogs. Most companies don’t bring dogs to work. And what is with that massive Bowie knife strapped to van-man’s calf?

We aren’t ones to question someone’s hair length, but the van man’s hair is also a little past “employable.” (So, several inches shorter than our hair.) Then again, he just popped back out of the van wearing a poncho and a hat, a la Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Is that a stylistic choice or cover? Is all the mumbling under his breath talking to some unseen handler or the voices in his head? He clearly smokes a lot and nicotine has been a useful tool in handling schizophrenia…

Life on the border is full of possibility.


Our questions were answered about an hour later as the homeless man sprinted for the bushes. Clint Eastwood runs after him. In the ensuing shouting and scuffling, the homeless man insists, “I don’t need your weed, I have plenty of my own!” We had definitive confirmation: the man with the van was a drug dealer and the homeless man was a desperate user.

I think back to the moment when I forgot my canteen on the truck bumper. Van man had picked it up and walked around looking for me to give it to me. I suppose he could have also been checking if there was anything I wanted to purchase from his van. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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