Soldiers canoe, camp in Big Bend

Soldiers canoe, camp in Big Bend
Sgt. 1st Class Michael C. O’Brien, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Fort Bliss
Friday, November 1, 2013 - 9:29pm

Seven Soldiers spent Columbus Day weekend on an adventure of canoeing, camping under the stars and soaking in the natural hot springs of the Chinati Resort, all while traveling along the Texas Mountain Trail.

As part of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation trip to Big Bend State Park, Texas, the Soldiers spent four days and 25 miles along the Rio Grande in a miniature but memorable vacation.

“I had a heck of a time because I needed to get out of the office and back into the wilderness. It had been too long and this hit the spot,” said William Vallee, director of Outdoor Recreation at Holloman Air Force Base, which collaborated with Fort Bliss Outdoor Recreation for the first time during the trip.

Though the group of seven quickly bonded, they divided into three canoes and one inflatable kayak, each earning their own nickname: the “Floppy Team” wore matching boonie caps; the “Swim Team” canoe capsized four times; the “No Shirt Team” showed off their farmer tans; and the sole female on the trip paddled an inflatable kayak nicknamed Ducky.

It’s good to get off the grid and have no stress for a couple of days,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Stanley, a Blackhawk pilot with the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

The daring adventurers also enjoyed a meal at the Starlight Restaurant in Terlingua Ghost Town, where one participant finished a one-pound hamburger with two eggs, 10 pieces of bacon and all the trimmings.

“I felt bloated after eating the famous Diego Burger, but proud to prove my naysayers wrong,” said Spc. Tanner Wilde, an infantryman with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD and Thompson, N.D. Native.

After the weekend ended, the group departed friends and promised to see each other on future Outdoor Recreation adventures.

The cost of the Big Bend Adventure was $150, which included transportation, hot springs, backcountry camping, whitewater canoeing and all the equipment.

For more information on the next Fort Bliss Outdoor Recreation trip, call 744-1532 or visit For more information on Holloman AFB Outdoor Recreation trips, which Fort Bliss Soldiers are eligible, visit or call (575) 572-7329.   

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