Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fredericksburg,Texas and Big Bend National Park

This is Southwest Texas.
Of course, the name is Alpine, just southeast of El Paso.

Suddenly, after being in shortsleeves in 75 degrees
it is now 24 degrees and about 6 inches of snow on the ground.

Tonight, it is supposed to drop to about 15 degrees.
Hang in there Lady Blue!!
Say, didn't we hear about balmy temps up in New England?

So , back to our travels. 
We left Inks Lake  and head west to Llano, Texas on Route 29.
Jan and I remember visiting a Cooper's BBQ in Llano years ago with Jim and Adonia from North of Highland.
First up is the ordering pit . Lots of choices.
The BBQ tender cuts whatever you need

Once you order good things like brisket and ribs, you head indoors to the counter where they
weigh your meat order and slice it for you. It is placed on butcher paper on a tray.
We just take water for now, but local beer is quite popular.
Also available are good tasting peach and blackberry cobblers.
Jan and I head to an open spot at a long cafeteria style table.
We slide the butcher paper onto the table , grab some paper towels from the roll right on the 
table  and dig in .

From Llano we head south on Route 16 to Fredericksburg, one of our favorite towns.
We may have mentioned before, but Texas is unlike any other state we visit in that you will always find lots of ranches, private homes, and businesses flying the American flag and the Texas flag.
I can not remember seeing a Massachusetts or Rhode Island home flying the state flag.
Lots of unusual things like a wagon wheel seat.
OK, Bruce is a little unusual too.
A short walk on the way into town from Frederickburg RV Park is the home of Opa's smoked sausage.  Of course we pick up a few items
This is a one piece carving from a stump in front of the library.

Always a big attraction is the very large pyramid with life like wood carvings.  
This year it was also turning while we watched. Part of the same public area includes an ice rink that was quite popular as well.
An interesting display on our way back to the campground is this locally made 
cabin. A very efficient looking small cabin about 30 feet by 13 feet or 392 square feet.

Very comfortable. Note the natural tree slabs for the bath shelves.
Hey, Lady Blue is only 24 feet!
You buy the land , the builder will build.
Jan is thinking about it.
The sign on the way out of our campground.

From Frederickburg, Jan and I head west on Route 290 to Route 10.
Yes, and the famous 80 mile per hour speed limits.
A short stop at the Junction Cooper's BBQ and on to Fort Stockton Campground.
A very nice campground, which is not easy to find in this section of Route 10.
From Fort Stockton we head down Route 385 to Rio Grande Village Campground in Big Bend National Park. 
The tunnel before reaching the village.
The views are impressive.
Good spacing in the dry camp.  RVers should note that the 25 space private full hookup campground is just a parking lot. 
Being further south now, our solar panels are very efficient, providing all of our electric needs.
Big Bend is a huge park . One of its borders is 118 miles of the Rio Grande separating Texas and Mexico.  Getting to Big Bend was about 130 miles through mostly empty desert.
From one of our hikes we watch a Mexican horseback rider who crosses back into Mexico from the U.S. side after a friendly wave.
On the grounds of an old ranch from the 1800's to early 1900's.  The planted hickory trees still look great in their fall colors.

A view of the Rio Grande from our hike.
Along the climb , bright colors from very small plants

Heading for the Rio Grande Overlook
Yes, this is one more of Jan's favorite places.
Miles and miles of beautiful northern Chihuahuan Desert, one of four major 
North American deserts.
One of the delights of our campground was the many Roadrunners that hunt the grounds. 
Their favorites are lizards and small rattlesnakes, but most of our neighbors were very good at chasing smaller food. 
Not sure of this bright red bird. One mention was a Vermillion Flycatcher.

This looks very much like a female cardinal.
But , yet looks different with a taller crown and red tail.

Along the hiking trails are these hand made birds and insects and walking sticks.
A jar is close by for payments.  These are placed by Mexicans from across the river and are discouraged by the park. We have a feeling that they still sell quite a few.
Our stay is over much too quickly. But we need to find a phone signal for Christmas. 
From Panther Junction in the park, we take Route 118 north to Alpine, Texas. This route is about 130 miles and the car in front of Eustis is one of about 20 that we see along that entire route.  
Except for those we see in Terlingua.
A very unusual town.
If you look it up, you will see that this small town is noted for a chili cookoff.
Our hosts at Alpine indicated that hundreds of trailers show up for this event.
Ver-r-r-y unusual
I remember driving one of these to deliver mail at a paper factory for a summer job.
Note the full, elaborate mural.  Not sure of the make--a vauxhall or something like that??
By the way, a lot of people assume that Bruce is taking all the pictures. Not so!
Jan took these pictures and also almost all of the road pictures.
She has become very adept with the Canon.
Slightly used.
Okay, this was from Fredericksburg.
We had to add it in because it was part of the Christmas decorations at this real estate office.
Those are functional Chirstmas lights on the truck.
And to all----a Good Night!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Heading to Central Texas

So, Hello again.

It has been about one month since our last blog.
Jan and I have been busy updating dentist things and taking care of a number of household fixing and updating.

The picture to the right is from Lake of the Pines, Brushy Creek Corps of Engineer Campground.

A beautiful spot and another new park for us.

Actually, we have visited 26 new parks since leaving New England. 

And we still went past others that will have to wait for another time.

You might notice that we spend a lot of time by the side of different lakes.  The views are spectacular!

But we do stop as we travel through different towns and cities.  Sometimes it is a challenge to see if we find our way to a particular store or post office.

We do note that many of our fellow campers in East Texas are fishermen and their families.

From Lake of the Pines, we head south on Route 59.  That becomes Route 96 south towards Jasper, Texas.  Before Jasper, we head west on Route 83 towards the north end of Sam Rayburn Reservoir and Sam Rayburn COE Campground.

Such a wonderful campground that is grossly underused.

Lucky we are to have a clear night over Thanksgiving to see the full moon on the water. We were , at times, the only campers in the campground over Thanksgiving weekend. This is while other campgrounds are totally full.  Jan and I are happy to keep track of one of the local eagles.  He spends time near his nest, but we do see him perched on a branch in full view and once in flight.  The binoculars are great, but no chance for pictures.

From Sam Rayburn, we head down Route 96 to Jasper and then west on Route 190 to Steinhagen Lake.  This is another stop at a favorite Sandy Creek COE (which was full over Thanksgiving).

Then on to our home base in Livingston, Texas.  We arrive on the last day of November which is a good thing.  Our vehicle registration expires.  But, the new one is waiting in our mail at the Escapees mailroom at Rainbow's End Campground.    Everyone is in a good mood for the holiday season, so we take time to mail Christmas gifts, update our dentist checkups, get a pneumonia shot, update our phone and computer.  The phone was way past replacement.   The old computer was great, but would always turn  off the wifi connection at the worst possible times.  It also was taking forever to start up , which for us is every time it was used.  We needed a USB port for uploading pictures and something that worked faster.

The solution was a Windows Surface Pro i3 with 128 gigabytes of storage.  It took some time to get our  photo software on board and working, but here we are.  So far, we are quite happy. Since it is solid state, we worry less about vibrations on the road. And it starts up in a few seconds.

All of this was completed in Conroe, Texas on Route 105.  And after finding everything we needed, we continued on Route 105 to Lake Somerville.

Pulling into Rocky Creek COE was a shock, because there was a closed sign on the entrance window.  A work camper indicated that there was a lot of damage in the spring during some strong storms and flooding.

But, luckily the next door campground, Yegua COE, was open.

Yegua also has dozens of deer all around the campground.  It becomes a good spot to last out some severe rainstorms.

We had almost 4 inches of rain while other towns in the area had up to 8 inches of water.
We were happy to avoid tornadoes . Only one touched down further north and east.

Some of you who have RVed know the sound.  But we will confirm. A heavy rain like that is amazingly loud on your RV roof!!!  The deer are fairly tame , but insist on staying at a short distance.
Jan and I notice that we have entered a section of very green grass as well.

Even the herons are happy with the extra water.

Another benefit of after the rain is bright ,colorful sunsets.

From Somerville Lake, we head up Route 36 and then west on Route 79 and north on Route 95 to Granger Lake.  After a great visit , we move on past Georgetown on Route 29 to Inks Lake State Park.  Yes, we are running out of Corps of Engineer Parks.  But Inks Lake is a great new addition.

And, ------the Prickly Pear cactus and palmetto remind us that we are approaching a drier section of the country.