Sunday, October 31, 2010
Guest Blogger: Rick
Tomorrow we leave Bastrop, our “home” for the past 10 days. We have really enjoyed staying put and not traveling. Bastrop is a really beautiful park with its own lake, a golf course and many wonderful hiking trails. Many of the pictures are from our hikes. See Photos Here
During the week we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which really spoiled us. It was great just to hang out and enjoy our woodsy back yard - we hated to see the park start to fill up on Friday for the weekend.
The weather has been pretty close to perfect. It has been mid 80’s during the day and high 40’s to low 50’s at night.
Ok, we didn’t see much wildlife here but the amazing and unique pine forest made up for that.
Tonight we are going into the town of Bastrop for Halloween – If anything exciting happens we will be sure and share it tomorrow.
Tomorrow the plan is to head for Stephen F. Austin State Park which is about an hour West of Houston. Later Y’all! - RM
Monday, October 25, 2010
The Prairies and Lakes Region in Texas…is well…not so the rest of Texas. It has picturesque rolling hills, many natural lakes, rivers and this State Park has a unique forest.
Arriving at Bastrop State Park late Friday, the 22nd we have spent this time getting the lay of the land and settling in for the next nine days.
It took us awhile to find the “perfect site” but I think we did it! What a beautiful State Park – filled with what they refer to as the “Lost Pines.” These are loblolly pines; which is significant since they are the western-most stand of loblolly pines in the US.
This morning we decided to take a long walk through the forests – how glad we were we did it early in the morning. Not only was it just breathtaking, it air was cool!
See Photos Here
Many of the structures here were designed and built by the NPS, Texas State Parks, and the CCC. It has been awarded National Historic Landmark status – only one of five in the US. This photo shoot will have to wait for another day.
The weather has been exceptionally hot and…oh boy…we forgot about how oppressing humidity can be to us Coloradans.
The town of Bastrop is charming and has tons of history - lots of Texas tradition and architecture.
Rick is off to Brand Camp tomorrow for three days and Sandy and I are going to hold down the fort!
Friday, October 22, 2010
On our way to Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City, TX – which by the way is another pretty park with some interesting terrain – we decided to stop at the Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historic Park.
Well…we have to admit…we were not fans however he...as well as “those times” were part of our history.
It was as if we were stepping back to another time and brought back memories of the Texas White House, the old cars and the "Cowboy President!" See Photos Here
We were here…so we went!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
We headed out to tour the San Antonio Missions that are part of the National Park Service Historical Park. We didn’t make it to the Alamo – we had been there many times before.
How fabulous they are! The San Jose Mission is going to be next of the list of restorations and will be closed for some time – we were glad we went today for a number of reasons!! See Photos Here
While we were there, so was the local ABC affiliate KSAT Chanel 12 television station in San Antonio. They were doing a special report on this particular mission – and – they photographed ME while I was taking photos and consequently I was on the local evening news! What fun!!!
Here is the link – 1st a commercial, then the piece. I am in a pink shirt wearing a tan baseball cap. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I’m sure I have said this a million times and unfortunately, sadly, have to say it once more.
We had planned on staying at the Guadalupe River State Park - - but there was a problem with the RV.
The hot water hadn’t been working, cold was okay and the campgrounds have showers, however Rick felt it best to have it repaired now.
The closest Camping World was in New Braunfels, TX, about an hour away, so we headed there.
Of course they had to order a part, and the part won’t arrive until Thursday, so we are “camped” at the River Ranch RV Resort….Seriously…a resort????? Yes, we are under a highway, and yes - those are pigeons flying!!!
Good news – it’s along the Guadalupe River and tomorrow we will explore some of the missions outside of San Antonio.
We arrived here today and oh boy…Guadalupe River State Park is awesome!
Beautiful State Park, wonderful, quiet camp site, stunning river, just the absolute perfect place to be! See Photos Here
Not many campers…NICE!!!!
We plan on being here through Friday.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Staying at the South Lake Llano River State Park in Junction, TX is refreshing!
Large RV spaces, perfect weather, beautiful long walks, and what we seem to like most about this place are the Bird Blinds.
The volunteers for this park have built great “little houses” with a large picture window and comfy chairs. They supply water and food for the birds; we could just sit there for hours and wait, and watch for the birds.
We understand October is not the best birding month here; however we were able to pick up another new bird to add to our life list which is now at 482 – okay – going to Africa helped to boost those numbers!See Photos Here
The evenings are cool and breezy so we sit out and watch for whatever comes along. Sandy of course is our best spotter…tonight it was a big Armadillo.
Tomorrow we leave, for yet another unknown destination in our two-month long adventure!
South Lake Llano River State Park
Peaceful, large camping spots, water, electric, showers and extremely friendly people.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I was wondering why they have the world’s largest roadrunner at the entry to Fort Stockton…when there is so much more to this area…Hmmmm!
The fort itself was not even close to the Fort Davis site, the Calvary Cemetery was ok, however the most interesting grave in it was the controversial Sherriff A.J. Royal who was assassinated by some unknown person and remains the “big mystery of Pecos County.” The remains of the Calvary Officers have been relocated to the Fort Sam Houston Cemetery.
The Comanche Springs which was the focal point of where so much of this area’s history began has since dried up due to irrigation needs, and the “historic part of town” has a driving tour of the old buildings with signs indicating what they had been.
The most fascinating place to me was the Annie Frazier Johnson Riggs Museum and Hotel.
Annie, born in 1858, married James Johnson, who was the first sheriff in Pecos County in 1877; she had 6 children and ran the Koehler Hotel. They divorced and in 1891 she married Barney Kemp Riggs who was a gunman, and had 4 children with him. She divorced him in 1901 as he was in prison for murder, but later his sentence was pardoned.
Annie’s son-in-law Buck Chadborn shot Barney in self defense in 1902. Annie had Barney brought to the Hotel and stayed with him until he died the next day.
Barney died without a will and the estate went to Annie who purchased the Koehler Hotel in 1904 changing the name to the Riggs Hotel and operated it until her death in 1931. See Photos Here
Now I understand about the roadrunner!
After leaving Fort Stockton we are headed towards San Antonio – the variance in terrain is amazing! From flat, desert land to trees and forests and rivers, and now we are camped in the South Llano River State Park.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Last night (Tues, the 12th) we attended a Star Party at the McDonald Observatory; where they had five high-power telescopes, an excellent instructor (with the most powerful green laser), and were treated to a magnificent spectacle of stars.
If you have never been to a Star Party…I would strongly recommend it. Not only fun and educational, but seeing the stars, the moon, the “red spot” on Jupiter, constellations, the Hubble, a satellite, and another galaxy was fascinating, thrilling and breathtaking!
We got up early this morning and headed to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Gardens, which is part of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute.
You will be able to tell from some of the pictures the diversity of the cactus and plants in this arid region of Texas.
Some were beautiful, some not…but the mile walk through the Botanical Gardens enriched our knowledge of this area by bringing to life the color, shapes, and habitat. See Photos Here
Note to self: Remember to bring a hat, and wear good walking shoes.
On our way “back home” we saw a sign for a Pioneer Cemetery - Of course we had to stop at an old cemetery! It was tucked in the back of some houses, seemingly forgotten by others. Just another reminder of the hard times these courageous people endured.
Returning to our campsite - Rick went to the top of the mountain to make some business calls, and I wanted to try a new recipe, and do some knitting.
While putting some of the storage containers in the outside storage area I heard a noise right behind me. I turned, and a deer walked right up to me and had this “what are you going to do” kind of look at me.
I had left the screen door open, and not knowing what was going to happen, after a few seconds, I slid up the side of the rig, walked backwards into it, closed the door and of course…grabbed my camera.
Tomorrow we leave this cool place and head to parts unknown.
Summary: Fort Davis State Park
A great place for adventure, excitement, variety, wildlife…and you can’t beat the price of camping here…full hook-ups and even cable TV for $20 a night.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
What an interesting day…and night – but first our day. We began by stopping in the town of Fort Davis which had a beautiful court house then exploring Fort Davis.
The ruins at Fort Davis are one of the best remaining examples of a frontier military post and are in astonishing condition given all the battles and history from 1854-1891. Fort Davis
The Fort did not become a national historic site until 1963 so many of the original structures were able to be restored and saved. See Photos Here
After viewing the orientation video, seeing the museum and walking the grounds you can only imagine what challenging conditions this place was to live in – and what enduring spirit these people must have had in developing the western frontier.
On the way back to camp we stopped at the Indian Lodge, a quaint adobe style lodge that was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Indian Lodge
One more stop, this time at the McDonald Observatory which is one of the major astronomical research facilities in the world. Our plan is to attend a “Star Party” there Tuesday night. McDonald Observatory
But tonight…the night belonged to the Javelinas! Everywhere, anywhere, and what a site they were!
As you can tell from the photos they have “free reign” of the campground and surrounding areas.
One of the Park Rangers told us they are blind, so their sense of smell and sound are acute. She also said if they ran into a dog, they could likely kill it so Sandy stayed in the rig where she just went ballistic trying to get a better look and scent.
They run if you make a quick, loud sound – but nonetheless they are strange creatures that make me feel uncomfortable about getting in their way! Javelinas
Monday, October 11, 2010
After a relaxing morning, we moved on to our next adventure in RVing!
Our 1st stop was the Odessa Meteor Crater – billed as “The Phenomenon From Out of This World”…well, I am sure it was 50,000 years ago but now it has filled in with sand and rock and you can “kind of” see where the rim of the crater was. Guess you don’t know until you stop to see it!
We were going to stop at the “Museum West of Pecos” however it was closed, but it did give us a chance to see the absolute desolation and bad condition of Pecos. Most everything we saw in the “downtown area” was vacant, boarded up, and nasty. Heartbreaking!!!
Moving on – we arrived at the Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, Texas. Whew! How surprisingly wonderful!!! Elevation 5,000’ - Fort Davis is the highest town in Texas.
Tomorrow we will explore the area, and the Fort…however…tonight was exciting!!!
Coming back into camp after a view filled short scenic drive, we were greeted by a deer, and then a family of Javelinas!! Sandy caught a glimpse of them 1st – and after we brought her into the rig – a family of Javelinas came through the campground, and went right behind our site. See Photos Here
What a fun and fantastic ending to our day!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Before I begin today, I want to say what an utterly incredible sky we saw last night. So many stars – crystal clear and sparking in the exceptionally dark sky!
Now today – Saturday, we were surprised with a guest! We have researched it on the net, however if anyone knows what else it might be please let us know! We think it was a Texas Spiny Lizard! See Photos Here
We also saw an Armadillo, but they are so quick it ran away before we could get a photo…darn!
After the excitement, we went for a long hike through what seemed to be an endless “forest of cactus,” shrub, mesquite trees, rocks, slopes, and weeds along the shore of Lake Colorado City. We were sure this area must have been covered with water at some point; lots of sand, ravines, and I even found shells.
After lunch we headed into the town of Colorado City. It was depressing until we talked to a couple of the shop owners who said the town is trying to make a recovery. Whew…a long way to go with that, but it did have some interesting old buildings – most of them were vacant, and many antique (read junk) stores, although there were a few nice shops trying to make a go of it.
One of the shop owners said you should have seen it before – there was tumbleweed rolling down Main Street.
We hope they make it!!!
Lake Colorado City State Park
We liked the peace and tranquility. It’s remote so it would not appeal to some – but we liked it. We added to our life bird list, saw some “creatures” – and explored the area.
Friday, October 8, 2010
After our night in Lubbock, we headed out and wanted to stop at the National Ranching Heritage Center…wow…we are so glad we did!
You are greeted with a large display of bronze sculptured steers – then on our way to the center we had a special greeter – Joe Jack-Rabbit.
What an amazing place with original pictures and history of buildings in Texas spanning years 1780-1950’s along with the 48 restored buildings themselves – from dug-outs to ranch homes. It was fun, interesting and educational…we loved it!
Leaving Lubbock we drove past so many cotton fields on our way to Lake Colorado City State Park on the Lake Colorado Reservoir.
I counted three, yes 3 other rigs in the 78 available sites…yep, we have lots of space to roam and camp to ourselves.
We enjoy birding and have already found four new birds. And talk about cactus!!!! Whew...what a place we call “home” until Sunday. See Photos Here
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
We woke to the coyotes howling – they sounded like they were right next to us. It’s wonderful how the sound travels and bounces back in the canyon!
It was a clear brisk morning, so we took a hike which turned into a “marathon of hikes!” The Sunflower trail was beautiful! Walking through the mesquite, juniper and cottonwood trees along the red, red canyon walls was just incredible!
We are going to bed early tonight as we are leaving this beautiful canyon tomorrow.
Summary:Palo Duro Canyon State Park
After seeing all of the other campgrounds, we thought the Mesquite Campground was the nicest. Large spaces in-between campers, & well maintained. Each site had water and electric and also shower facilities, plus covered tables and large trash containers.
All in all – it’s an interesting place for adults and children. From the scenery to the wildlife, and the informed, helpful rangers, and camp hosts. It actually felt more like a National Park than a State Park. See Photos Here
Sunday – Oct 3 We were going to leave Palo Duro tomorrow, Monday; however we had some horrendous rains and lightening on Saturday night…so we decided to stay a few extra days to “fit in” all of the things we wanted to do. The plan is to leave Palo Duro Canyon this Wednesday.
Not having Internet access has been problematic, however if we drive 12 miles into Canyon, TX we can upload to our blog.
That along with a shopping excursion, and watching part of the Denver Broncos win was our day!
Having a road runner come up to our RV, seeing the wild turkeys, and Mule Deer turned into a relaxing evening.
Monday – Oct 4 Conference calls for Rick, cooking for me, and a hike through Paseo Del Rio Trail began our day.
Whew! This area is just awesome!!! See Photos Here
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Friday - On our way to our next adventure we had our 1st surprise – TWO, yes, TWO flat tires. What a nightmare! After 3 ½ hours in Dumas, TX getting them replaced…Ahhhhhhhhh…we were finally on our way again!
Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon, TX
Arriving here at 7:00PM, and waiting in the long check-in line, we met Vicki & Ron. Not having reservations, (our usual procedure), we asked them where we should stay. The Mesquite Campground is the best! It’s the most secluded, and you are down in the canyon, plus you are not parked on top of one another, but if it rains, you maybe have to stay a while longer since the roads flood – perfect we said!
Surprise #2 – who knew there was this absolutely 20K acre, 60 mile long, 800 ft decline into the stunning “Grand Canyon of Texas” – filled with colorful history.
Saturday - Much of today was spent recuperating from Friday, organizing, and touring the town of Canyon. Remember when we mentioned we went 25 miles on a dirt road? Part of our “excursion” today was to find a car wash…success!
On our return to camp, we toured beautiful Palo Duro Canyon and the Park. What scenery, history, and Texas Longhorn’s to boot.
Tonight we went to the Ranger Talk and really enjoyed hearing about the life of a Comanche woman in the 1860’s. See Photos Here
After our morning hike, we took a fairly short drive of about 100 miles to get to Black Mesa State Park in Kenton, OK – 25 miles of the drive was on a winding dirt road.
Along the way we went through the Comanche National Grasslands, at 3:30 we arrived at the park.
Who knew we would be staying at the highest point in Oklahoma!! Really? Yes, the books say that… and I guess we never knew Oklahoma had ANY summits. When you live in Colorado you get a bit jaded.
If you blink…you miss the entire town of Kenton however this is an Interesting area –more like desert really…lots of shrub, rocks from volcanic activity, cactus, and flat mesa’s – even a tiny lake, Lake Carl Etling.