Saturday, January 14, 2017

From Texas Hill Country to Kartchner Caverns, Arizona

From San Antonio, we head north on Route 10(west)to Route 87 and Fredericksburg.  Always a nice stop with a fairly short walk from Fredericksburg RV Park to the Main Street. For those who are used to traffic jams around Boston and other large cities, San Antonio was an easy exit on Route 10. Sometimes up to 6 lanes heading north. The picture above is from inside the Fredericksburg Brewing Company.
 Kinda like the name of "Not So Dumb Blonde Ale", but I decided to try the "Enchanted Rock Red Ale"
The centerpiece was their Reuben sandwich with home made fries.
Fresh bread, perfect sauerkraut. They use corned beef which is super tender and delicious. Try the link Brewery menu 
  The brewing takes place right in the restaurant and on the floor above.  The oldest brewpub in Texas.
From Fredericksburg we headed west on route 290 through the Hill Country to Route 10 and South Llano State Park. South Llano is one of our favorites with lots of hiking trails, well separated sites, and wildlife. Once you reach West Texas, the towns become few and far between.  Beyond there we have found Fort Stockton RV Park to be a very nice, well maintained park right off Route 10.  If it was a long day on the road, they also have a small dining room that serves dinner as well as breakfast the next morning.  The item above is a Texas mailbox.

 The next stop was at
Davis Mountains State park which we had to miss last year.  We followed Route 10 to Balmorhea and then south on Route 17.
This is another park that was built by the CCC in the 1930's
 This link is for the park homepage Davis Mountains State Park
On site, within walking distance from the campground is the Indian Lodge. A beautiful adobe lodge, also built by the CCC and refurbished recently , including a full restaurant. Nearby is a scenic loop road that will also take you to the McDonald Observatory, a part of the University of Texas at Austin, which offers many programs for stargazing and more.

 The Black Bear Restaurant  is open 5 days per week. The following link will give you some pictures of the rooms and restaurant  Indian Lodge pictures
 From Davis Mountains we took a different route, heading south on Route 17 to Marfa and the west on Route 90 back to Route 10. There is no easy way around El Paso, so we take a deep breath and hold tight to the wheel(narrow lanes in spots). But, sure enough, we come out on the west side, into Las Cruces , New Mexico to Hacienda RV  Park , from which we love to walk into the old town of Mesilla.

There is an arts collaborative that we like to visit right off the main square.  Some beautiful original cards from paintings that fit perfectly in Lady Blue.  This time we saw these works done by 
Richard Spellenburg who happened to be tending the store that day.
He is a retired Botany professor who enjoys working with special found wood pieces like these. They are from a gambel oak that had fallen nearby. The finish is Formsby's Tung Oil Finish.  Thought that Gary, Dave, and others might enjoy that information.
Mr. Spellenburg and his wife will be traveling to Maine this summer to research a botany book he will publish soon.
On the walk back to our campground, we stop at Andele's Dog House. A comfy small restaurant with a fireplace and a great Mexican menu.  We skipped the hot dog varieties and had Flautas and Pork Tacos. Wonderful!!
 Grandpa was joining in with the local metal Mariachi band.
They did agree he had the required tin ear.
From Mesilla, it is a short drive on Route 10 to Deming, New Mexico. But, you always want to watch the weather.  The dust storms can pop up quickly, especially in the afternoons. We were lucky and the winds were quiet.  We first check Rockhound State Park, another one of our favorites.  Even though it is a weekend, we find a dry camping spot. Perfect!
The views go on forever.
Is that why Jan is smiling?
Taking a closer look at thorns , like those on a Mesquite tree.
Well---if you brush up against these, you will know!
And this is a "fish hook" barrel cactus.
Lot and lots of fish hooks!
One of the most common cactus is Prickly Pear.
Still, they can be fussy about where they will grow. Some places have tons of Prickly Pear and then around the corner---none.
Again--do not want to mess with those spines.
Happy Valentines Day???
Actually, the Prickly Pear doesn't usually grow this way.
Rabbits, can you imagine, and other animals like Javelina like to eat the Prickly Pear.  Not sure how they avoid the thorns.
This one looks pretty quiet.
They may be short, but they will dig in like crazy.
 They do add color to a photo!
Just above the Prickly Pear, you can see Lady Blue! 
Even Lady Blue loves a sunset at Rockhound State Park!
From Rockhound, we head west again on Route 10 to Route 70 in Lordsburg. From there it moves to Duncan in Arizona and then  Safford, where we head down Route 191to Roper State Park.

Starting on Route 10. the road is very desolate, no houses or businesses for miles. But , once in Safford, there are towns, trees, and beautiful mountain views. From our dry camping site, we see Mt. Graham , about 10, 730 feet----with snow!!
 Our campsite area is across Roper Lake, which is quite small by normal standards.  The park, campground, and area are quite relaxing. We could have stayed here longer.
The park even has a natural thermal hot tub.  
The 1,100 gallon tub was constructed in the 1970's. 
It is a natural water source, and the temperature stays at 97 degrees always. A number of campers were using this while we were here,even though the air was somewhat cool.
 Views are great in every direction.
This link will have a number of pictures from Roper Lake.
Yes, the cabins are there and quite popular too! 
 Could you spend some time here?
 But, we move on.  Following Route 191 south to Route 10 in Willcox and then west to Benson, Arizona. Some quick resupplying and we head south on Route 90 for 8 miles to Kartchner Caverns State Park.
 Such a nice campground. Lot of space between sites, great views, good hiking, and a USA TODAY readers choice number one cavern to visit.
A link to cavern pictures Kartchner Caverns pictures
  A view from our hike below the Whetstone Mountains.
 here is some information on the park Kartchner info.
 Looking northeast from the high point of our hike. 
Benson is down there.
 So many ancient sites in Arizona.  This is a bedrock mortar. It was probably used for grinding mesquite bean or other plant foods with another smaller rock.  The sites were inhabited from 4800B.C. to 1300A.D.
  There were beautiful sunsets at Katchner.
But, this picture is from Roper Lake.
So many choices!!!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A visit to San Antonio, Texas

Jan and I had visited San Antonio with friends Jimmy and Adonia about ten years ago when we had the truck and a fifth wheel trailer.  We had stayed at a campground outside San Antonio and rode in with our friends.  Wanting to return, we checked online reviews of campgrounds and found good reviews for Travelers World, which was located right on Roosevelt Ave, just a few miles from the Riverwalk.  Even better, there was a bus stop right outside the campground that dropped us right at the Riverwalk after about a 20 minute ride.  An important note. If you are going with an RV, be sure to follow the campground directions--some low bridges in the area.
One of the first sights along the Riverwalk was this sculpture outside the Briscoe Western Art Museum.  A very impressive sculpture as you can see from the visitors walking past.  This link will take you to the museum site. Briscoe Museum.
We did not go in on this trip, but note that the museum is free on Tuesdays from 4 to 9 pm. Also, on the site, you will find many interesting collections. 
By the way, there are many museums nearby, including a childrens museum.  You could spend days exploring this section of San Antonio!!!

The basic walk around the popular section of the Riverwalk is about 1.5 miles.  But you can extend that in many areas right off the Riverwalk.
The river boats offer a guided tour around the Riverwalk. We were here during the Christmas week when it was quite busy.  Walking was quite reasonable. But we noticed there were long lines for the river boats in the afternoon. This link will give you a lot of information about the Riverwalk. 
 Riverwalk Information
This link will give you other information about San Antonio.  
Click on the different sections for all kinds of info.
The Visit San Antonio website 
One of the features of the Riverwalk is the long list of restaurants on the Riverwalk and also nearby.
One that was recommended to us by the campground host was Iron Cactus.  We like to do appetizers and drinks, so this worked perfectly. A link to the restaurant
The Iron Cactus website 
I am the kind of person who thought that there were only one or two kinds of tequila. Boy, was I wrong. Jan enjoys a margarita now and then, but I stayed with local craft beer. The following is a link to the list of tequila drinks at Iron Cactus. Iron Cactus Tequila Drinks
There are a number of restaurants, from casual to upscale along the river.  This bridge was used for a romantic scene with Jennifer Lopez in the movie "Selena" This link is a Youtube clip of that scene The Scene from Selena on the Bridge
We  had pictures of the wonderful Chihuly glass exhibit at Las Vegas two years ago. This link is for Chihuly Chihuly web page
The above is in the window at the Hyatt Regency at the Garcia Art Glass. This a different artist Gini Garcia and this link will show you that web page. Garcia Art Glass.  The window piece above is about four feet tall.
A large scale mosaic tile along the Riverwalk
Just a hint of the Christmas lights along the Riverwalk.
The full lights were very decorative.
A smaller tile indicating an entrance to The Little Village of San Antonio. Right off the Riverwalk, this is one of the first villages from the 1800's, restored in the 1930's
Just one of the shops in the village

Perhaps the most iconic picture from the Riverwalk includes the 
Casa Rio Restaurant with its multicolored umbrellas

Not so iconic.
But, we were there!!

Visible from the Riverwalk is the Freedom Torch.

At a number of places , like the Rivercenter, with over 100 shops, there were large Chirstmas trees.
Right off the Riverwalk is access to Alamo Plaza.
Behind the tree is the Emily Morgan Hotel.
The Alamo is one of the most visited spots in San Antonio.  It is a short walk from Riverwalk near the Hyatt Hotel.
Ten Facts about The Alamo 
This was the last destination for David Crockett that we mentioned back in Tennessee.
Also near the Alamo, is the Buckhorn Saloon which also houses the Texas Ranger Museum and a ton of antlers and stuffed wildlife.
The link will give the history The Buckhorn
Another Margarita and local brew at the Paesanos Riverwalk Restaurant. This link is for the Riverwalk Paesanos
 Paesano Riverwalk
The beer is a Saint Arnold , Elissa IPA
Saint Arnold Beer 

A signature dish. The Shrimp Paesano. Tastes even better than it looks!!

Another mosaic along the Riverwalk, indicating an old horse crossing and watering stop.
A little iffy looking from outside, but close to the Riverwalk is the Esquire

Its fame comes from the longest wooden bar in Texas. 
Also, the oldest bar on the Riverwalk(close, but not on).
Link The Esquire Tavern