Texas travel RV
Navigator was dismayed to not have the vintage 'Gypsy' lady to advise us on routing, even though she is programmed with some obsolete data irrelevant to the 'new' sweeping skyways over the sprawling cities. Destination Roswell NM 200 miles southeast, for the evening in Sam's Club parking lot. Nice quiet after the store closes at 8:30 pm. Sweeper ran around the lot about 5am. Morning left for Texas, crossing state line (Bronco Texas) less than 60 miles away. Tatum NM and Plains Texas seem to make iron silhouettes in big numbers. Stop in and check out the fab shops.
'Big Spring' area of Texas, where we sometimes stay overnight in the Walmart lot, is the home (several vast west Texas sites) to hundreds of massive, interesting wind turbines..... built in the Netherlands (and China), all generating electricity..... when the wind blows. Long trailer-ed Trucks (escorted) are delivering the pieces along our routes. The Turbine blades are over 100 feet long, the generators are huge by comparison to anything seen supported high in the air. The spinning turbine blade tips are limited to below the speed of sound... for obvious reasons.
San Angelo Texas, south of Big Spring, closed our 2nd day and first fuel stop over 530 miles (853km) after leaving ABQ. Sam's club fuel was $3.39 US, per US gallon (3.8 ltr), while the Walmart fuel was even cheaper by using the various Walmart cards. HEB stores (big TEXAS chain) have fuel even cheaper on this trip. Texas is good for RV travel and we have never encountered the restrictions present in other states from overnight stays in the store lots except Cabela's near Buda, What's up with that?. Arizona is the worst for restricted over night stops. Casinos are OK with it everywhere, they like RVers money.
San Angelo City Park is in 'after season' mode and we found out from the Spring Creek store clerk, that after kids are back in school, no one checks the overnight camping....after we paid for two nights stay of $24. Oh well, paying to help maintain this nice city park with interesting animals across the channel from where we camp, is worthwhile. The rate was $4 a night for many years until the city attorneys got involved in all aspects of city amenities. Observing Alpacas and horses with one Donkey tagging along with a reluctant horse friend, were our entertainment.
The wooly Alpacas (numerous, as cash 'producers' around Texas) wade out into the channel but become concerned when the water gets deep. No Turkeys or Feral Hogs this trip. Lots of large Turkey Vultures (with red faces) Black Vultures and Squirrels. No Black ground Squirrels this trip, like the one we saved from a valve pipe on first visit. Far fewer big flocks of birds seen throughout this entire trip .....due to West Nile Virus? Mosquitoes bite me at every opportunity, so I don't hike after dusk during this (their) time of year. The beautiful big white Peacock from previous trips, was nowhere to be seen this night's stay.
This park had boats and such, for rent by families in better economic times. Lawyers for the city, of course insisted that the risk for disastrous lawsuits, was too great in these strange 'legalistic LOTTO' times. No more fun toys for the families visiting Spring Creek Marina. Increased 'Fees' for visiting. Thank you legalistic and Lawsuit obsessed USA of today.
After browsing the thrift stores for treasures for copilot to sell in her mall space, we decided to continue south from San Angelo. Usually fascinating little German ambiance Fredricksburg, is our next stop with Kerville a visit. This trip we changed toward one of our favorite State Parks, Ink's Lake. This extremely popular park is always on reserved scheduling, so we gamble to stay a night without reservations.
Fortunately we did get one night by arriving at 2pm, with the chance for a couple of more. Getting to the office early in the morning, sequestered us for two more nights. Cooler wet weather scared away the reserved people. Burnet is a little town nearby and 'Thomas' the train engine was on the siding for a few hours while we browsed around. We heard about it from a whispering local businessman, who was prevented from advertising it's presence...licensing restrictions.
This park is also cabin oriented for families. Reserve them for a year in advance and keep confirming. Seems that if you do not, someone else more persistent will get it away from you. Deer and wildlife are some of our reasons for staying, as is the free fishing from shore or the fishing dock. Wifi is weak, but sometimes available if you park near the antennas on the restrooms. This lake, among others in the controlled chain of flood control engineering, is kept filled by the reservoir of Buchanon Dam which fluctuates wildly in the process.
Austin Texas was our next destination, where we filled the fuel tank at Sam's Club before continuing on to Lockhart State Park for the camping. Two quiet nights spent at (CCC constructed in the 1930's) Lockhart State Park is always a pleasure. Morning trip back into Austin in CRV tow, where we found a City Surplus yard. Guess where all of the knives and sharp objects are sent.... after TSA ....'collects' them from Air travelers?
You cannot imagine what objects air travelers try to board planes with. Credit card 'knives' and lethal weapons, Buckles shaped like weapons. Kid's cap guns and toys with weapon implications, even pictures of 'weaponry' are confiscated as are toy soldiers with weapons. Pocket 'tools' of every imaginable configuration. This warehouse sells them by the bag or individual in bins. Friday, a competitive auction is held for the high value items. The warehouse also sells the state office furnishings and equipment that a city/state cycles through the 'marketing' approach.
Austin has made the national 'news' for it's unique way of disposing of the millions of TSA collected 'objects', while bringing in revenue for the city/state. Only a few states are doing this 'business'. A constant stream of customers are lined up at the tables of objects. I never had any idea much of this 'stuff' even existed. Credit card 'knives'. Many objects are collected from airport restrooms and public areas, researched online and priced accordingly, as most other 'contraband'. We bought a bag of knives, along with many various collectible 'blades' and cap guns, some to sell at copilot's mall space.
After browsing the 'earthy' south end of Austin to our satisfaction, we returned to Lockhart State Park for the 2nd night. Morning 'camp breaking' was frustrating, due to a city project of water main repair, leaving dirt to get into our water tank and black tank rinsing mechanism. It is hopelessly clogged now, possibly requiring an intensive disassembling to repair. After cleaning the holding tanks and informing the office of the problem, we left early for San Antonio Texas.
Two side stops on down and return trips, Tanger and Prime Outlet Malls, found sale items for 75% off.... end of season. Top brand Shoes for $20 that usually cost over $100? Our favorite 'Sea Island' restaurant in the mall near San Antonio, also coaxed the coach into their big lot on two occasions this trip. Great sea food, large shareable portions at great prices bring us back every year.
Our KOA campground in San Antonio, usually is a Duck haven, with past blog pictures popular. Not so much this year? Birds and Squirrels feeding on the heavy supplies of Acorns and Pecans, are Texas critters seen everywhere among the always popular international 'Exotics', Texas is well known for preserving from extinction.Texas has more animals saved from extinction, than their countries of origin. PETA and animal rights 'activists' decry that as mean, even if it means the 'total' loss of the species in their native countries. No arguing with 'activists', they are deaf to logic.
Still holding substantial water enough for fishing and Mosquitoes to thrive.
I have seldom tried the 'Free' fishing in Texas State Parks so far this trip. Forget to buy raw shrimp and beef livers from the HEB store. We stayed two nights at Lake Corpus Christi, with the one night at 1/2 rate. The Texas State Park yearly pass, includes three vouchers for 1/2 price nights.We used two and saved one for a future trip next spring?
Hiked the beach for a few miles each evening, noting after dark, many hand sized, light reflective 'Ghost Crab' scurrying sideways into their sand burrows and much larger than the daylight 'Sand Crabs'.. Wearing a light with red LED's for night hiking, the big crabs do not fear your approach as much. Details, such as 'eye stalks' are seen more closely. During one nightly hike years back, a man was standing on a beach table in the dark. He had no light and realized he was surrounded by several hundreds of Ghost Crabs. He asked for me to escort him back to the pavement..
Drove the tow 'all wheel drive' CRV ten miles south on sandy beach, toward the Mansfield 'Cut', 70 miles of beach dunes away, finding no hurricane treasures. In years past, the beach was littered with International debris from offshore gulf oil rigs, monster ocean 'Buoys' and a few rusted remains of stranded fishing boats (one big ship from the early part of the 20th century, described in previous blogs). Shore birds and Pellicans were the busy wildlife on this trip with the large Blue Herons always standing near a fishing group of campers. Large fish are caught in the surf, by wading out chest deep to cast farther.
Noted that the EPA has newly been empowered to enforce 'Lawsuits' (what isn't new?) against the prosperity of the countless Texas refineries supplying the fuel and chemistry for prosperity of the USA. This present Liberal Leftist Federal government is looking to harass the industries that prosper, deviously 'Re-Distributing' the wealth.... through Lawsuits. The refineries are now forced to 'Comply' with financing the lawsuits 'against' them? Damages sought by 'anyone' feeling their health has been affected by the refineries. EPA phone lines are now clogged. Of course EPA in it's metastasizing, must now 'hire' even more govt employees to handle the load. Vote Nov 2012 like YOUR life depends on it, it does.
Very few major hurricanes this last several years, in spite of the excess warm and cool cycles 'they' say inspires them.
I recall the always unbiased :>) National Geographic predicting 'Endless' Hurricanes, after Bush's 'Katrina'. So much for 'expert' predictions. Hurricanes better be 'Endless' or the natural climate systems of earth would halt.
Temps warmed to over 85 degrees, with humidity in the really high 70-90%. No electric on these coastal sites, so we left after three days, including our quick trips into town.
The sloshing mild soap mix did the trick and the tank emptied well on arrival at 'Choke Canyon' State Park, with sensors working again (somewhat). The Lockhart city water system 'repairs', clogged the internal tank sprayer with dirt, so no way to rinse the tank, other than with a hose handed to copilot through the bedroom window.
I temporarily back flush the black tank with grey water holding, 'after' the black dump, by using a third valve to divert cleansing rinse. Works for a while, until I can fix the little internal tank sprayer. Always something to occupy spare time. :>)
I hiked the shoreline for a couple of miles before sundown, retreating from the Mosquitoes just barely in time. Deep Woods 'OFF' with Deet, is my Texas cologne. Absolutely No nightly 'patrols' which I endlessly enjoy in Oregon coastal parks, marinas and harbors. Texas leads the nation in 'Mosquitoe carried' and transmitted, West Nile Virus at this time. International trade does wonders for the USA, including countless diseases from afar.
Caracara's (Eagles) from Mexico, are flying and walking around this park like chickens that own the place. They are the largest raptor around at 24" tall with 5.5' wingspan. They walk and hop around on the ground catching mice, unlike Eagles. We enjoy seeing them do their 'stuff'. Numerous Ospreys circle overhead and patrol this reservoir lake, which is very substantial in size. They plunge into the water, catch a large fish and orient it nose first in their talons, to reduce drag as they fly away to devour it.
Next few days will entail some roaming (driving) around town. Copilot cannot do the walking required of Sea World and the River Walk downtown with 'The Alamo', so we will forgo that enjoyable part this time. Famous Schlitterbaun water park is always busy with families.
Ambiance reminds me of Midwest (complete with Mosquitoes) with the Osage trees and hedge apples that ooze sticky milk stuff. As darkness fell, the Fireflies did their signals along the trail that reminded me of the trees along the fence rows behind the homestead of my youth. A couple of Mosquitoes got me, in spite of the newly aquired gadget that 'OFF' sells. It has a little fan that blows out a smell that Mosquitoes are not 'supposed to' particularly enjoy during their mealtime.
In my particular case, they still found a few times to take an intravenous slurp between whiffs of 'whatever' the gadget puts out (to be returned at next HEB, in exchange for more reliable 'Deet' containing spray.). Original Windex glass cleaner (with Amonia) seems to relieve the itchy bites, if applied quickly and often. Chiggers are another little insect that find my legs tasty. They are lurking in the tall grass, waiting for legs to pounce on. They immediately dig in, insert their spawn and let them feast as they mature. The red 'itchies' last until they emerge, sometimes weeks. DEET, if applied before any treks through the weeds, hinders their taste buds. While hiking, I wear Cordex 'Gators' to protect against any critters and stickers on brush.
The Salado (salad) 'Greenway' is densely overgrown alongside the paved trail. One spooky old abandoned homestead is barely visible in the thickly overgrown trees near the creek south of the nice county park. An Owl and a Hawk kept flying from tree to tree in front of me, as I hiked along the Greenway. A young man I met this morning, caught two large Bass in the Salado Creek. Hiking out this KOA section in both directions, was my project for two days.
Last time we stayed here, I only caught Turtles that I released from the barbless hooks. They were soft shelled and very skittish as one I found on the trail today. Returned it to the creek, avoiding it's snake like neck trying to bite at my fingers. One man told me that when the creek floods in the rainy seasons, Alligator GAR work their way down the flooded creeks through San Antonio. Alligator GAR reach about 7 feet long down here. They are found in the reservoirs and rivers.
Fascinated to browse Austin again. A big 'Bass' Pro shop is close, as is a Cabella's not far away near Buda. The TSA stockpile had not been replenished since last week. Only a few times a month to restock?
..........After leaving San Angelo KOA, staying another night in quiet Lockhart State Park, spending another day then traveling back through Austin, being ticketed by a Texas highway patrolman near a small community south of Burnet, for not wearing our seat belts, we quietly drove on to Ink's. No space at Inks Lake State Park... as usual (popular place demands reservations way in advance).
Even arriving at 2pm, when cancellations are normal, resulted in a 'No' nighter. Buchanon Reservoir was the only option at Blackrock RV park nearby. Water, which is fed to maintain 'Ink's, is low again at Buchanon, in spite of the above average rainfall these past months. Wifi was weak and hard to maintain at our site, so no computer while there.
Boy Scouts of America were our 'associates' for the night. Well mannered quiet boys that hit their sacks early, awoke early for breakfast and hiking. Blue Tents, orderly in formation, US Flag waving over the camp depicted disipline. We happily gave up our 1st chosen space, so they could be all grouped together.
A group of extremely caring parents had the chow camp set up, so the scouts were well fed in an orderly military fashion. Private Cabins are the coming trend at this improving, private 'Lower Colorado River' co-op park, as at many other popular campgrounds. Many new cabins and more being built, since we last stayed here.
Some jackass, 8 miles across the lake, blared a mobile boombox at 6am. It lasted for 40 minutes until 'authorities' shut 'em down. I woke up and hiked around the park in the dark, to locate the source, finding it far away from our RV park camp. Lots of beautiful stars out at 6am. Some nightgown clad cabin residents were walking to the central restrooms at that time. A Halley's Comet tail meteor show, was due one morning.
After leaving Black Rock Campground at Buchanon Lake Reservoir and driving a hundred miles or so, Arrived for a return trip night in the San Angelo City Park of Spring Creek. Watched two dozen wild Turkeys snatching up morsels, as evening approached. No attendant at gate. No Alpacas, horses or Donkeys across the channel this afternoon. Found the southern gulf breezes causing humidity rising as wind ending. Bad combination for sleeping without shore power. Pulled out of the city park entrance way and found Huling RV camp for oilfield workers (Texas has lots of them :>) Quiet night for 25 bucks, kept the coach AC units running on shore power.
Humidity now dropped to comfortable bare minimum inside the air conditioned coach, satisfactory for sleeping. According to 'Tex' Ritter, Huling RV park host, Lake Nasworthy is currently being refilled 10" within ten days, by big pumps from the flood control reservoir. 80% of Lake Nasworthy's capacity is the goal for this time of year average. The flood control reservoir is presently at 30% of capacity due to drought. It fluctuates wildly, with 7" rainfall overnight at times flooding the area (like last week). This US Army Corps of Engineers flood control dam is big and long. We drive alongside it for many miles on arrival to San Angelo from the north.
Morning on Sunday and a brief jaunt around San Angelo satisfied our curiosity about any current doings in town. Sundays in Texas are pretty void of action. Conservative Bible types are not prone to open their businesses on Sunday. Fueled up for $3.34 at San Angelo Walmart, and meal from nearby Wendy's ('Chick fil A' closed on Sundays) before departing for Roswell NM.
Traveled throughout the day, crossing West Texas. Even small Texas towns had popular pumpkin 'mazes' for kids to walk through. If the corn was not tall enough due to drought, they arranged pumpkins. We saw them alongside the highway, filled with kids and families 'walking them out'.
Farmers irrigate, to grow a coarse green crop called 'Hay Grazer' to use as cattle feed. They usually just turn the cattle loose in the tall stuff, that looks like non 'rowed' corn, but heavy grassy. Beef Cattle munch their way to increased weight for market. Seems to work well, from what we saw on several years trips to cousin's farm.
The cotton in 'irrigated' Texas fields, was tall and looked really nice, ready for harvest. Those farmers waiting for rain, did not do well as they have in years past. They just tilled the entire field under and replanted again, using the 'crop insurance' to finance the failed venture. Like all farm and ranching, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In spite of the drought, they had periodic large rainfall at the wrong time, that actually gave them above average, yearly rainfall records across wide areas. Cotton only likes water at correct times.
'Fortunate' Texans (not many) have many 'Big' govt taxPayer subsidized wind turbines, scattered throughout their irrigated farms, growing cotton or irrigated pastures with beef cattle, while a 'patch' of 'pump jacks' pull up oil on each stroke. Oil that fills a maze of pipelines underground. Now 'That' is Texas productivity. :>)
Rare, but it is sometimes seen, just as described on 'The Plains' of Texas. We drove in the heat and humidity to escape Texas, for a nice cooler night in the Roswell NM parking lot, 308 miles away.... against steady head wind, pushing from left side. Finally Quiet and peaceful parking lot of Sam's Club, set up and settled in for the night as temperature fell rapidly after sunset. Night walk, scanned the nearby Walmart store for a few minor goodies, and in morning picked up the ' inside store' Mc Donald's sausage biscuits for our breakfast.
Morning browsed a 'new' Roswell Goodwill (they are improving their stores). Fuel at Sam's Club for $3.24 per gallon, before heading for ABQ, 200 miles away. Dump holding tanks at 'Giant' fuel station, where we refuel for storage. Adding a quart or so of Marvel Mystery Oil to the 75 gallon tank, seems to keep fuel from 'partying' over the winter months, allowing a fast start for both generator and engine in the springtime.
Steady wind seemed endlessly from the left, during almost this entire trip. How does that work? Constant pulling on steering wheel to hold coach from going off the road, caused Right front tire wearing on the outer edge.... hmmm.
Morning in ABQ will make appointment to balance the front wheels after rotating the tires and align the front end for easier steering on next trip. Highways are not as smooth as last trips. Maintenance is lacking and lower cost patching is underway. Texas has ingenuously figured out how to patch pavement, without creating a 'bump' on each end. Tapered patches?
Major 'new' Toll ways (massive toll ways from Mexico to Canada, tollway 130 Texas link) are being gradually constructed across Texas. Built by a Spanish coalition, they are the wave of the future. Even San Antonio with it's countless intertwined octopus overpasses three tiers high, are not immune to the oncoming Toll concept. The Spanish coalition owns almost every major toll road in the USA. We are rapidly 'Selling the Farm' as they say. Got to support the world class US welfare system some way.
The last 200 miles were uneventful and wind did it's pushy thing with the coach. Mileage averaged about 7 to 8 for trip, due primarily to wind and hill climbing. Elevation is of course sea level at gulf coast, with a climb to over a mile, as mile high ABQ NM gradually approached. Even the cap-rock ridge east of Roswell is 4,000' above sea level.
Sunny Roswell NM, popular with retirees, is itslf in a lower level rift valley with water holes (bottomless lakes) rising from the underground aquifer. Irrigation keeps it green and growing crops, while dry breezes keep it from having high humidity.
I sweat, so humidity is not my favorite ambiance. Mosquitoes love the humidity and they bite me. Prosperous Texas has endless nice attractions, but Mosquitoes and humidity sweat, are not my favorite things.
Dry New Mexico thankfully has none of those problems. Arrived back in ABQ NM on 22 Oct 2012, one month after leaving. Home is dry, cool (night 45 degrees) due to elevation and sunny just because it's New Mexico. Mountains are green and close enough to hang out, hike in, if pine tree greenery is desired. River valleys are green, if leafy trees are desired. All in all, the combination is hard to beat. "No place like home" said Dorothy, as she clicked her heels of the red shoes, while holding onto Toto...
Enjoy life traveling and seeing the USA. The greatest nation ever known in the history of the world. Today the USA is under attack from a Virus now within. Vote to keep it Free and prosperous, Your life depends on it. "One Nation, Under God".