“It’s a grand country, boys, and it’s land worth dying for.”

Those words from my fourth book came to mind as I stood here, a long way from most anything else other than miles upon miles of a rugged, some would say inhospitable land.

They say that man is born to wander and he often wanders in search of a home, a place in this world to belong. I reckon so, as my own family wandered half way across a continent before finding soil that filled their spirit with a special sort of feeling, even reverence.

Back then it was called ‘Tejas’ and like so many others before and since, we really weren’t supposed to be there either.

Now, I’m not talking about a house in a sprawling subdivision or an apartment about the size of a postage stamp placed in a crowded city, but rather dirt and rock and mountains and desert, crowned by a crystal blue sky and framed by God Almighty Himself.

Those things are fine for other folks, because that is their inclination and where they really want to be. Or at least I hope so, because life is far too brief for it to be otherwise.

But for the ones who came before, the ones whose blood flows in my veins, the dreams of a place to belong meant an empty land, devoid of much concerning the touch of man. When they crossed the Red in the mid-1810s, that need kept them wandering through spots now known as Bonham, Nacogdoches, Atascosa County and Carrizo Springs.

Some stayed because that land suited them and some went on, still searching.

As best as anyone can tell, some of my ancestors finally wandered into what is now Alpine in the 1870s. ‘Course this was before there was any sort of town, just a basin with good water and grass up to a horse’s belly. Taking advantage of both with the herd they were pushing, they continued down the Chihuahua Trail.

But those mountains and plenty of wild country continually preyed on their minds, and by the early 1880s some of our clan had moved out to stay.

Others followed on occasion and though they may have gone on to someplace else as part of their own wanderings, the Big Bend remained the home of their collective hearts. I know this, because I have heard them say as much on what was practically their death beds.

These thoughts rushed through my mind like a flash flood filling a dry creek bed after a big rain. My eyes and more importantly my soul danced with pure joy as I stared across what you see in the photograph, hard against the park boundary at the foot of Little Christmas Mountain.

Then I saddled up my pack again and pushed on. It was a long way back to where I started on that morning, but each step taken was more than worth the effort.

After all, the hard work had already been done. Those who had come before accomplished such in finding a home for me.

What an incredible blessing, and one to always be grateful for.

God bless to all,


Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
HS Teacher: 2008-2010
Author 2017-2023
Facebook: Ben H. English
‘Graying but still game’