Thursday, May 01, 2008

TEXAS TOURISM, Holiday Rambler style

Thank you for your continued interest. This post may explain the absence of posting for the last month. Wireless is extremely sparse in the remote areas we camp, We also enjoy the lack of never ending political promises and alarmist news being forced on humanity every morning and evening:

After a fast, fantastic and innovative repair by 'Red' at Crown Coachworks
  • in Albuquerque New Mexico, the HR was ready for the distant horizon. It seems that with the financial problems of GM, Delphi is apparently like a deer frozen in the headlights.

    They no longer seem able to manufacture an air conditioner compressor for a 2004 Workhorse truck Chassis. Red called every supplier all over the USA and not one new compressor was in existence. What was even worse, no parts reference to replace the clutch, seemed to exist as well. NAPA even shrugged their shoulders and the Workhorse dealership in Edgewood NM cancelled their franchise?

    Using the resources at hand at Crown Coachworks in Albuquerque New Mexico, namely the dozens of late model vehicles in for collision repair at this fantastic, immaculate little shop, 'Red' found a 2001 Chevy S-10 pickup that had the exact same air conditioner clutch. Using that information, he called the parts houses and found a new, locally available replacement clutch.

    Using the latest technology recovery and recycling system to withdraw the R-134 refrigerant, showed the fact that the factory had used way too much 'dye oil' to try and fix a minor seal leak, most likely the excess oil caused the clutch to endlessly slip, which could have caused the premature failure.

    Restoring the system to better than new condition within a short time, Red turned over the Motor Home to us with nice cool air conditioning. This problem originated last fall in Texas. We elected to drive home without stopping to let a dealership disassemble the unit on the trip. A great decision because of the unavailable parts that would have trapped us several hundreds of miles from home. Even the other dealers we contacted, were leery of getting parts within months. See, prayers work.


  • Taxiing out on the runway, we began our takeoff roll from our Albuquerque terminal on Thursday afternoon, the 27th of March. Our rotation achieved, lift off and climb out to cruise altitude was effortless. My navigator plotted our course steadily gaining altitude through the mountain pass East to Clines Corners NM, where we banked South across the plains to the alien space craft crash site of Roswell
  • That's why our military is able to work so much magic you know. ;>)

    200 milles to the South, our approach was VFR in clear weather from the North. Throttle back, set flaps, lower gear for a smooth descent and runway contact at Walmart International, Southeast from ABQ. The night was spent with a few shopping details for things we always miss on our checklist. Walmart
  • wins again, our dock fees are now covered. The Walmart gift Card is also reloaded for the 3 cents savings per gallon at their fuel pumps.

    Friday morning refueling followed by a smooth take off and we are on our way to Balmorea Texas, two hundred miles south of Roswell. A smooth cruise South through the famous Carlsbad New Mexico, site of the world famous Carlsbad Caverns
  • As we approach Pecos Texas
  • I noticed a 'Judge Roy Bean' tourist attraction. Now I am no expert, but 'Judge Roy Bean' had his court held in Langtry (named after the British actress, Lilly Langtry) Texas. I suspect this is a slight tourist scam by Pecos?

    The real 'Langtry', further East 50 miles from Del Rio, is the site of the Judge Roy Bean
  • state Historic site. Another Texas staffed and restored, beautifully maintained point of interest, not to be missed.

    We start descent, set flaps and lower the gear for our late afternoon landing at Balmorea State Park
  • The first on our list of Texas State Parks
  • This was constructed by about 4000 CCC
  • 'boys' back in the mid 1930's to provide work for the men to feed their families as well as learn a trade. (the trade unions had a fit) The pictures are of the tent cities set up as housing. Horses, Mules and men with shovels, reworked the entire area so that millions of tourists and families could enjoy this wonder far into the future.

    My wifes father was one of the young CCC men that learned a trade, became a crew leader, and supported his young family during those years. Oh Brother Where Art Thou
  • comically depicts those days. Many years later, Balmorea was reworked again, to also provide a natural sanctuary for wildlife. There are those that only want the resources left to nature and not to be enjoyed by society. This way both sides are fairly happy. I know that the tens of thousands of young families using this facility each year are extremely happy.

    Balmorea State Park, this enchanted little area is missed by many on their mad dash East and West across Interstate Hwy 10
  • If only they knew about such wonders within a couple of miles of their cross country travels. The numerous scuba divers in attendance (200 on that day) attest to the popularity of this huge, delta shaped pool with its 75 degree F, 25 ft (7.6m) deep water and fish that are instant friends to anyone with bread or pretzels. We docked for two nights to enjoy the solitude and aquatic wildlife viewable from the RV camping park observation deck (bring bread). Rabbits were plentiful which means more coyotes next year.

    Leaving the friendly fish, birds and turtles behind, we liftoff for the Big Bend country of Texas on the Rio Grande River border with Mexico. This trip is one that we needed to do, just because it covers 1,252 square miles (2,015sqkm), yep! square miles. Many people from around the world that hike and watch birds, consider Big Bend National Park 'the destination'. The scenery is wonderful if you like mountains and deserts which we do. The desolation is not for everyone of course, but to us it's beautiful.

    As I waited patiently for the Ranger at the Panther Junction headquarters, to answer my questions, a well dressed tourist asked for the name of a nice restaurant on the river, where they could have an acceptable ambience, including a scenic view, during their dining that evening. The Ranger politely answered "Your Campsite"?

    Big Bend National Park
  • new entrance building near Panther Junction is really modern. We see many National Park improvements as we travel these past many years. Great to see after so many long years of neglect. Thousands of additional Rangers are being hired and trained. A friends son being just one of the eager thousands. One out of every three acres of land in the USA is 'Public Land'. That is a huge proportion to manage in a way that pleases everyone.

    The most noticeable backdrop to the lush Rio Grande River oasis, is the mile (1.6km)high mountain cliff wall on the Mexican side, facing the National Park. It overwhelms the South Eastern horizon. The shape of the Rio Grande River's Southern border with Mexico in Western Texas, forms a 'Big Bend', therefore the name. If a river oasis in the middle of the mountainous desert is your thing, definitely travel the 120 miles (193km)South from Alpine Texas
  • The summer temperature often reaches 120 degrees so maybe plan for the milder winter months as many people that 'winter' here do.

    Due to the magic of the low US dollar, We finally are meeting many people from other countries. Canadian camping travelers are extremely prevalent on this trip due to the parity of the Canadian Dollar with the US Dollar. Finally they get a well deserved break and are bringing their dollars to the USA. Of course seeing a fantastic part of the world in exchange. Welcome Canada, we love you Hey?.

    We drove the jeep on over to the Hot Springs
  • for a look into the past. A little motel and trading post store was set up near the old 'hot springs', back in the 1930's. People drove hundreds of miles on dirt roads to just sit in the hot mineral laden water trying to cure whatever ailed them. It is now a ghost relic of the 30's with colorful cliff paintings from the long ago past, lining the shady little hiking trails.

    Another little quick trail trip from the 'birdwatchers' park campground of Rio Grande Village
  • was to the old border crossing to Mexico. It is now closed, but a trail still exists with the warning to secure and lock your vehicles, and not trade with the Mexicans that come across to sell stuff. Heavy fines are levied for this illegal business. 9-11 affected more than NYC. The entire world changed in response.

    A mine in Mexico, at one time produced lead and zinc ore. It was transported by a six mile tramway cable system across the river and into the USA refinery with ninety large metal buckets in constant travel on the cables. It lasted from 1915 to 1919. The cables and one remaining bucket are still visible on the ground at one area. Engineering ingenuity and hard work, financially backed by private enterprise is amazing.

    Daniels Ranch, nearby was run with the purpose of growing produce for market. The land was leveled precisely and irrigated with a big river water pump station, into ditches. All of the manual labor for this small agriculturally intense area was obviously from Mexico. Bird calls are everywhere along the many shaded trails. Dozens of Wild pigs
  • are seen in the evening, grazing with deer, while the Black Vultures
  • are flying in to roost in the highest trees enjoying group security and comfort for the night. I watched as one last Vulture circled in after dark, flicked on it's landing lights and found the tree for a perfect landing, pretty good eyes, Hey?

    The Rio Grande Village
  • is now privately managed for the purpose of camping at a variety of well maintained sites including some of which have full hookups for RV's. Most are primitive for $7.00 under the big trees, like a rendezvous site from the past.

    Countless trails including a deck walkway through the swampy wetland, go in every direction. The friendly little park store has emergency items including fuel, to sustain the impulse oriented, ill equipped camper. The National Park Service, as we have experienced it, has done a great job in keeping the wild and unpredictable areas for our enjoyment.

    Leaving by the Eastern entrance toward Marathon and Del Rio
  • we headed for the large Amistad National Wildlife Recreation Area
  • . It was our next nights stay for $4.00, no hookups but lakeside with a nice view. Summertime is very hot, many come and stay in winter for good fishing. Locals love it year around for the boating and fishing. Del Rio Texas
  • is a good sized town with everything you might need in traveling, even a Walmart for a quick overnight stay in the RV if you need it. A border crossing to Mexico is convenient. The Republic of Texas is the most RV friendly State we have ever traveled through.

    The Southern interstate highway 37 from Pleasanton, leads on to Corpus Christi
  • A quick stop in the Sam's Club gas station for fill up then on to the Beach.

    North Padre Island National Seashore
  • . Arrival was late and a space was found behind the dunes
  • Pics are from Supposedly 'live cams' several miles North at Bob Hall Pier
  • . The weather was exiting with blowing wind and heavy salt mist off the gulf. By morning we were soaking wet and decided to backtrack up Northwest to the San Antonio
  • KOA
  • for a few days until this weather front passed.

    The Final Four Basketball Playoffs were in progress for the weekend. Over 60,000 fans were expected. Lots of people downtown at The Alamo
  • and on the River Walk
  • this trip. We wisely took the bus from the KOA on Gembler Rd. After three nights stay, with feeding countless tame ducks birds, squirrels, and touring, we packed up for takeoff toward the Gulf Coast once more. Weather looks clear for VFR all of the way back down to North Padre Island.

    Corpus Christi looks familiar from a few days ago. Gaining altitude on the high bridge after crossing the JF kennedy Causeway
  • where we lost a roof mounted solar collector last fall, we cruised south on down PR 22 to the Malaqite beach
  • Choice of spaces, we picked another excellent one facing the Gulf surf.

    As we see everywhere these last many years, the National Park service is improving each area we visit, thank Mr. Dirk Kempthorne (see comment #2). The newest buildings constructed last year and the years before, are being augmented by a new 'mobility accessable' ramp and observation deck to go over the dunes to the beach.

    No longer are the physically impaired, denied access to this natural wonder of evening Ghost Crabs
  • and Shore Birds
  • of every description, with the constantly growing flocks of Brown Pelicans diving for their now plentiful feast. Great Blue Herons love this National treasure as well as a fisherman discarding an unwanted catch. This entire gulf seashore is a Birder's
  • haven.

    A short 10 mile (16km) drive south along the 68 mile (109km) wave swept beach, interspersed with walking, looking for at least one more unique shell to add to our collection, accompanied by three nights of wind rocking us to sleep, and we were ready to head on to a less windy and less humid area.

    As mentioned in last fall's blog about North Padre Island
  • the interesting huge navigation bouys continue to be blown ashore during the storms. The old coastal shrimp boat, trapped in the surf, is apparently now rusted away beneath the waves. The engine block of the big early 1900's frieghter Nicaragua
  • is not easily visible. The tides (two highs per day here) were running high this trip so maybe they will reappear at low tides.

    One fantastic 'once in a lifetime' sight was the rare Biolumenescent
  • surf from the countless trillions of 'Phytoplankton' in each row of endless wave crest's, for hundreds of yards (m) offshore, stretching for miles (km's) to each horizon. We stayed up for hours, sitting in the captains chairs, looking out the windshield, just watching the endless rows of wave crests all aglow with the brilliant greenish blue micro-organisms. This amazing, rare display went on for five nights, lighting the entire shoreline like bright moonlight, then turned off, as if by a light switch.

    After washing the salt from our rig, at our favorite truck wash near Flour Bluff
  • we turned back North, up Mustang Island to Port Aransas. After shopping for a few trinkets for the Grand kids, we had lunch of fish and chips at a little pink trimmed restaurant we like, near the big pink octopus.

    The free, no waiting lines, Texas State Ferry
  • was not crowded and we boarded easily. Another passenger looked over at us with a suspicious glance and walked over to see if our rig was tilting the ferry? We do weigh about 26,000 pounds (11,793kg), guess that made him nervous. He climbed back into his car and we crossed to the other dock at Aransas Pass. A quick stop at Wallmart Rockport for supplies and then north to our next campground.

    We returned to Rockport
  • the next day and stopped in at the little Texas Maritime Museum
  • Models of the offshore drilling operations are set up. Very interesting how this remarkable, taken for granted, miracle of enginering is done. It is one of several museums along the Gulf Coast that have history about the French and Spanish exploration. Robert LaSalle's
  • French sailing ship, The LaBelle, was salvaged nearby. It's story is told in part at each museum. The ship itself is being restored at another museum near Houston along the Coast. Parts of the story are told all along the chain of museums. Houston Maritime Museum
  • being the mother lode of modeling and shipbuilding history.

    Goose Island State Park offered shoreline sites, but we opted for a nice night, tucked into the trees with the squirrels and birds, where the absence of wind let us sleep without rocking. This park, like most Texas State Parks, is really great for fisherman. No charge for a state fishing license if you stay on the shore or docks.

    Goose Island State Park
  • has a variety of camping spaces, including a 'tree rich' zone. The famous 'Big Tree' is over 1000 years old, 32 feet in circumference, and has weathered countless hurricanes in it's lifetime. It is far more resilient than most people.

    Upon the arrival of a fisherman's boat, Pelicans line up for the fish guts near the ramp cleaning table area. Two nights, with a day trip back into Rockport, a fish lunch at the famous 'Big Fisherman' restaurant back South of town toward Aransas Pass, and we returned for another nights sleep in peace.

    During this trip, my NetJet
  • pilot friend, Bluegoose23, was to meet us in 'Blessing', up the road a bit. A great lunch in the old Blessing Hotel with it's home cooked, ranch style feast set out on a classic porcelain iron stove, and a great conversation with our friend about Texas history, and we left for the Galveston area.

    Bluegoose23 has famous Kin from the days of Texas forming a Republic under Stephen Austin
  • The battle of San Jacinto
  • had four of his ancestors in attendance. I also found an area named Rusk
  • after his historic family. He also hunts and supplements his diet with the Wild Pigs
  • roaming the nearby area.

    Fuel in the Walmart at Port Lavaca
  • was 3.09 a gallon, most likely will never see that again. Microwave dinners about the same price. According to our last trip records, fuel is usually better priced there, than other coastal areas.

    Galveston Island State Park
  • was full, except for one site on the back bay side, I grabbed it just as the office phone rang with someone wanting it. Yay!, nice quiet, big grassy circle with RV and tent camping families playing frisbee on the grass facing the inland bay, away from the wind. Many Canadians are enjoying the sun, away from Ontario's long winter.

    I talked with one of two Ontario
  • couples parked near us, into the evening as the sun set over the bay. They speak English as well as French. Nice that they enjoy the USA enough to travel here, enjoy the ambience and leave some Canadian money here in the process. As the worlds currencys do their endless 'dance' the dollar parity is still great for them to spend time with us.

    For many years it was not that way. During the previous years, we took advantage of the low Canadian dollar, touring the Puget Sound islands as well as Vancouver Island
  • British Columbia
  • (our favorite), now it's their turn. Enjoy our great nation, you are very welcome, we love you.

    Two nights and an excellent trip into Galveston
  • with it's historic mansions just off 'The Strand'. Seeing The 'TallShip' Elissa
  • at her dock. Watching ships waiting offshore from the 'Sonic' drive in, near the famous Galveston open public beach, visiting The restored 1937 'Santa Maria' shrimper
  • The rising cost of diesel fuel against the oversea competition has finally docked the once prolific fleet of Coastal Shrimpers

  • and watching as they ply their now rare trade before we prepared to leave this Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte
  • Pirate? War Hero? or Businessman? you decide.

    As we crossed the park entrance highway with the sun shining, no wind, we impulsively opted to stay one more night. This time facing the Gulf waters Watching the lights of one lonesome shrimp boat weaving back and forth across the gulf waters in front of us at night.. Hiking the beach a few times, and the wind is back. Oh well, tomorrow we head inland toward San Marcos. Leaving this site of the Worst Natural Disaster in US history

  • Galveston Island state Park has wireless, this allowed me to start the post you are reading. Wireless is slowly being added to the parks we visit. Mixed emotions about that tempting amenity in the serenity of the parks. Most of these parks do not even have cell phone service, isn't that wonderful?

    Gulf Coast temperature is quite a bit cooler than past years. Low 50's this morning, must be that global warming thing. The bullfrogs are silent in their ponds. The birds are hunkering down in the rushes. We are running the heater in the morning. Yep, definitely cooler this year.

    Brazos Bend State Park
  • off hwy 59, Southwest of Houston, looked interesting in the Texas State Park guide book (available free on line). After early liftoff and setting an inland course, swinging through well maintained farmland onto the rural highways with only one 20 mile mistake down a dead end highway. Luckily with a nearby field to 180 the long rig by keeping up the momentum, we finally backtracked and entered this well hidden park and found a campsite, to our delight.

    What a shock, massive trees hanging with Spanish Moss
  • were everywhere. The guide book said "treat the wild 'Alligators' with respect, they have the right of way"...How else would you treat an alligator?, about 250 to 300 of them. The Ranger that held a little one for visitors to 'pet', said that they do not count the gators under 6 feet (1.8m) long. They most often become food for the really big ones.
    The count is stable for this reason. Population control by natural means?

    Two nights stay, were no where near enough for this big beautiful 5,000 acre park. We will definitely return for more of this interesting place with many trails and 'gator lakes' on the next trip.

    One interesting note was that picture of the 30 foot long gator on the internet? It came from this park. Bicycle paths are in all of the Texas State Parks, as well as many hiking trails. Deer should be the Texas State animal, they are plentiful and of many exotic varieties, 'White Tail', 'Red' and 'Axis' including the Asian
  • everywhere we travel in Texas.

    Fuel costs are starting to climb with the oil price. We left with costs at just over 3 dollars a gallon and it is now at 3.21. Not too bad yet. That will seem cheap in the very near future. Back in the mid 1960's, when fuel costs were at 35 cents a gallon, I earned less than a hundred dollars a week at a very high paying job, that's a little more than two dollars an hour. Sort of puts it into perspective now doesn't it.

    Lockhart State Park
  • Had an old entrance about 25 yards short of the new entrance. We turned into the old one and approached a pile of dirt blocking it. Not a happy view, from the rig pilots perspective. Luckily a path to the left gave us a field to 180 and escape near the Rodeo grounds. Using the real entrance this time, brought us to the park. It was on a little stream and boasted a nine hole golf course. It, as well as were most of the Texas State Parks built by the CCC boys during the years of 1933 to the start of the second world war in 1941-42

  • A nice cheap place to play golf. The first tee presents a 7 degree wide window with trees and a fishing stream, over a hundred yards away to shoot through. The Ranger said that thousands of balls are hidden in those trees on either side of that par three hole. The floods bring many of them down to the interesting CCC built Dam near the commons park.

    The big swimming pool is closed until Memorial Day when kids from all around will be there to enjoy it. We watched an Osprey
  • in a tree. Lot's of Racoons and other critters at night. Tanger and Prime Outlet Malls are near San Marcos Texas
  • nearby. My wife likes to spend some time there on each trip looking for gifts for Christmas.

    Fredricksburg Texas
  • and it's old German atmosphere is one of our favorites as the 'Hill Country' of Texas starts to get more serious.
    The Walmart parking lot is our choice stopover. The next day was spent taking in the ambiance of many local shops with great food and brew pubs, including some with various trophy game and deer mounted on the high walls. An Asian
  • deer along with White Tail, Red and Axis
  • with very different antlers caught my attention. Enjoy a 'Trade Days' visit. It is sort of an open air and under roof, flea market, very commercialised with interesting products not usually seen in stores.

    The hundreds of feet thick limestone covering all of Texas from the Cretaceous period, is quarried and used to continually build new buildings to exact period specifications.

    Admiral Nimitz
  • of Battle of Midway
  • fame, was born there. An excellent Museum
  • representing the Pacific theatre of operations during WWII, is also in town. Plan to spend hours in that little museum with life size dioramas complete with planes and other equipment from WWII. A bamboo forested pacific island battle field is nearby.

    After two nights stay with Fredricksburg Walmart as our gracious host, not wanting to overstay our host's pavement, we restocked our foodstuffs. A well made 14 dollar Winchester, titanium nitride coated, lockback folding knife, caught my attention as a hiking companion.

    I ended up impulsively buying a little, wonderfully engineered, 25 dollar 'Ray O Vac' 3 watt L.E.D. two double AA, pocket flashlight with a lanyard. Also a little 12 dollar, 6 L.E.D. headstrap light. Both are the most amazing small lights I have ever owned. Considering our purchases helping to cover our stay, the next morning we lifted off for Kerville about 25 miles away.

    The Kerville-Schreiner City Park
  • (also CCC built) was our next nights stay. Kerville is a nice little city, check out the little open air sandwich shop downtown. Blessed with the multiple low profile dams on the river running right alongside it. Canoes and Kayaks are the rental entertainment along with tubes. Fishing is a major Texas sport everywhere we went. The sporting goods department in every store is always busy. I listened as a happy young man told the clerk about his tackle box, and how it was growing in lures and such. Each week he adds something as funds allow.

    Inks Lake State Park
  • near Marble Falls
  • and Johnson City, was on our 'to do' list because of it's several interesting attractions. A backtrack of distance and we arrive for two nights stay. This series of many beautifully engineered resrvoir lakes, is one of our favorites. We rent a canoe and paddle to the 'Devil's Water Hole' end. Lots of ducks, Geese, Coots (are not ducks) turtles a plenty and many different birds and always lots of squirrels and deer are hanging around. Dozens of Black Vultures are circling the opposite shoreline near dusk, roosting together in the safety of a tall tree as the sun sets.

    I met our tent camping neighbor, Sardonius. We talked extensively and the next day I talked him into sharing a two person Kayak. He and I paddled across the lake for the closest of many dams. The wind came up and with Sardonius in the front, catching the whitecaps coming in over the prow, we turned and paddling furiously through the choppy waves, just made it back to the dock in time.

    Great upper body workout he remarked. Great teamwork I thought, having never been in a Kayak before. Sardonius had rented a one person unit that morning so he was our expert. Fun to meet interesting people along the camping trail, just like in days long past.

    Lost Maples
  • State Park was new to us. The last 'Ice Age' left the Maple trees in this remote area behind as it retreated. This is actually the park you would want to see in the fall for the beautiful colored leaves.

    We slowly drove around the park after dusk. A quiet, spiritual time, parking on the shallow dams and listening to the enchanting chorus of frogs and a Whipporwill
  • accompanied by an Owl, while watching the hundreds of 'firefly's' (actually beetles) flit over the streams. My wife, a true New Mexican, commented that this was only the second time in her life she had seen 'fireflys'.

    Two varieties of bass are living here and are protected along with the catfish, forget your fishing gear here. One night was fine, seeing as my wife is not able to hike extensively, which, along with the Lost Maples, is this mountainous, pretty little parks main theme.

    When you see a route on the map that looks short, ask the locals about it. The drive over the mountains from Kerville was a little hairy in the rig, with mostly first gear and multiple, extremely tight switchbacks on a narrow two lane paved road, our rear wheels in the ditch and the fronts just barely in the lane. We gradually rose upward into the 20 foot (6m) visibility, cloud mist hiding the road ahead and hiding the scenic valleys below.

    Motorcycle campers love this scenic drive loop through 'The Hill Country'. The endless waves of touring bicycle groups, attests to this areas scenic desirability. Their little trailers and pack tents cover weeks of travel. Special low recumbants are unique with their windscreens and large rear wheels. Their little camps all go to bed early after supper.

    Garner State Park
  • near Concan Texas, is the most popular Texas State Park as well as one of the best State Parks in the US. It was built by the CCC and included an open air dance floor so that the CCC 'boys' could attract local girls to dance with. 'The Pavilion' is remarkable with the 'NPS Rustic' Architecture used to it's finest. The music and dancing are seasonal at the Pavilion. A sign says "What happens at Garner, stays at Garner". The dances sound interesting.

    Definitely make reservations in the peak season for this big park and its many amenities for families and everyone else you can imagine. Numerous Cabins as well as full RV hookups or tent sites are filling this massive, bird and squirrel rich, recreational area. The river and it's dams are just one great attraction for fishing and tubing, kayaking, pedal boats and canoes are provided for rental. Hiking is supreme. As the T shirt motto says, "Bring a compass, it's awkward when You Have to eat your friends".

    Abilene State Park
  • with it's big swimming pool and hiking trails, is family oriented as well. Bring your fishing gear. Texas State Parks offer free fishing without a state license, few restrictions apply. Lake Abilene is nearby and offers boating as well. Buffalo Wallow in the park, is set up and well stocked for kids that like to really catch fish. The easily accessible pond is stocked with Crappies and such. My wife saw a boy excited with his catch, she said it looked like it belonged in an aquarium it was so pretty.

    After dark, I shined the brilliant little 3 watt Ray O Vac L.E.D. pocket flashlight, at a tall water tower where we had at dusk, watched black vultures roosting in safety for the night. Though over a hundred yards away it showed them sitting on the highest rails. Amazing little product from Walmart.

    South Llano River State Park
  • near Junction Texas hwy 89 and I-10 is unique. Watch for the 10 foot (3.4m) clearance bridge crossing the Llano River. Do not ignore the detour signs. Also do not follow the directions on your GPS system, it is an old blocked entrance, you may have grief turning around in.

    Birds, wildlife, bicycling and hiking are the main features. Bird blinds are strategically placed throughout this large park, donated in gratitude to his beloved State of Texas by a man who loved the land. If you have always wanted to see a few dozen Painted Buntings
  • fly into camera range, this is the place.

    Of course along with dozens of it's other colorfully feathered friends including the Indigo Bunting
  • Countless Turkeys that actually roost nearby. As usual, squirrels (no shortage of squirrels in Texas). Deer that walk among the campsites grazing in small herds at dusk, are always fascinating. The little, single L.E.D. pocket flashlight lit up their eyes and silouettes in the distance.

    As in all federal and state parks, signs are everywhere cautioning about feeding the wildlife. "It encourages DEPENDANCY and attracts undesired visitors, overloading the environment". Now that is a concept!

    In this park, little waterfalls and bird feeders are placed in front of the 'bird blinds' to attract them within camera and viewing range. The painted Buntings end up raising the Cowbirds young, laid in their nests. Seems like 'dependancy' is a learned habit?

    As we lifted off from this fascinating little bird watchers park, to cruise Northwest towards home, the now familiar sight of the horizons covered in thousands of 'Wind Turbines' situated among the Oil Pump Jacks and cotton Fields, we are reminded of how progressive this massive state is.

    Crossing the New Mexico-Texas State Line and continuing to climb in altitude over the limestone caprock toward home, Roswell NM came into view in the late afternoon. Walmart is our old friend here. Fuel costs are now at 3.45 average. After casually strolling the store looking for other little gems, like the little 'pin on' 3 dollar ball compass and the .94 cent stainless steel lockback folding knife (doesn't rust at the Gulf) in the sporting goods department, and always the auto and RV section, the evening was about to get a little hairy weather wise.

    The temperature dropped 40 degrees within 10 minutes as the wind shifted 180 degrees, now coming from the North. The Motor home was rocking furiously in the 57 mph breeze. Lowering the 'landing gear' to just contact the pavement helped. A 24 foot camp trailer, seeking protection from the wind, parked in our 'lee'. Many other rigs formed a tight group with us, to weather the night in the friendly Walmarts lot.

    Morning brought calm of sorts. After a trip into the Walmart store for a breakfast of McDonalds and great hot coffee, we hightailed it for home, 200 miles to the Northwest away. Climbing over the canyon pass into ABQ, then we throttle back, set flaps and lower gear for a smooth landing at our home field, then clean out and wash the rig, crawl into bed for a nice home sleep, five weeks from our departure date. Foot tall lawn gets mowed in the morning. Now the plan is to set up our next trip, usually a couple of trips with our young granddaughters when school lets out.

    They enjoy getting away from parental controls for a week. Too bad we can't take them to see more of this great nation more often. "One Nation Under God". In spite of it's imperfections, I would not have it any other way 'AMEN'.

    Blogger Blogengeezer said...

    These are only a few of the many fine Texas State Parks and National Parks we visit. There are many more. The 60 dollar annual Texas pass saves the entrance fee for each day, good if used often.

    This lifestyle We live, has been attacked as 'Totally Unsustainable' in comparison to the rest of the world. Right they are.

    I will spend my own earned assets this way, rather than the huge entertainment centers, cable and dish systems, new cars, new homes and gadgetry to impress people that I do not care for, all other expenses to impress those same folks, and when I am finally depleted, the rest of the people can build off my remaining energy, that is, if there still exists an amazing system like ours to support others.

    Waves build in volume and intensity until they wash ashore completely spent, only to be replaced by another possibly far more magnificent wave feeding off of the water from that previous wave. That is the cycle that keeps the oceans alive. No wave is 'Sustainable'. Our system the rest of the world envies, the USA's, Free Market system, is like the magnificent waves of a great ocean.

    The history of World Communism, the Siren Song of which, is so alluring to some, is in reality, like a stagnant, oxygen depleted pond with little hope for vibrant, living species to even barely survive as minimalists. John Parker's videos extolling his Heros, promise that type of world. I will accept my own unsustainability thank you Mr Parker.

    The USA has one out of every three acres, set aside for Public use. Didn't know that did you? Please step away from the latest electronic 'mesmerizers', get away from the Perpetually Outraged, 'Alarmist' News Media. Get out and enjoy this great nation and world. May God Bless You.

    9:36 AM  
    Blogger Blogengeezer said...

    Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
    has changed the way the National Park Service has traditionally done business.

    Dirk Kempthorne actually approaches and offers 'Private Enterprise' (Businesses) special recognition on the projects, if they will contribute even more, and match federal funds during National Park improvements and construction.

    This explains the new construction we have seen everywhere and the increase of money directed to the National Parks.

    Texas has used this method for years. Note the Toyota advertisement on the back of the State Park maps if you have any doubts.

    Sure beats the old way of just raising everyones taxes. Check out the latest issue of Motorhome Magazine for the details.

    Dirk Kempthorne actually uses the National Parks for Motor home camping with his family.

    Dirk Kempthorne, a Bush appointee, is creative. He knows what actually works. Really beats the idea of trying to 'Tax the nation into prosperity' as some political factions that are ignorant about history, loudly demand.

    5:40 AM  

    Post a Comment

    << Home