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2010-11 Winter trip to Southwestern United States (Part 2)

For the continuation of the trip, please click HERE!

Wednesday January 26, 2011

Heading for warmer weather tomorrow!

We had a look at temperatures in the area and we decided to quickly head west to get into some warmer temperatures. We will still spend a couple of days in Deming but after that we will head to western Arizona where the daytime temperatures look warmer. We are running through a 30 lb. propane cylinder in about 5 days or so keeping warm and running internal tank water overnight because the water hose keeps freezing, we prefer the natural sun to to keeps us warm instead of propane.

Today we did some shopping in Carlsbad.

A couple of pictures of the view from the rear of the RV looking at Brantley Lake:

Please excuse the dirty window!

Tuesday January 25, 2011

Brantley Lake State Park

We gained another hour (we are now on Mountain time) and we got here around 1:00 pm. We were one of three campers in Monahans last night.

This morning Suzette took this picture at the dump station this morning on the way out, who says it's cold?? That's a long icicle!

We are here at Brantley Lake for a couple of days.

Monday January 24, 1011

Monahans Sandhills State Park, Monahans Texas

We arrived here just before 1:00 pm today and settled in. It's a park we've been at before, there are 2 other campers here, one is even from Newcastle Ontario!

We haven't taken any pictures as we are in the same site as previous years (if you want to see some pictures, check previous years blog entries). The wind is howling but it's warmer than at Davis Mountains. Tomorrow we head for Carlsbad NM.

Sunday January 23, 2011

Last day at Davis Mountains

Yesterday was a warm day with virtually no wind, we spent most of it outside the RV.

We did some shopping in Fort Davis and then took the road up the hill in the state park to check the view:

The view from the top, the Indian Lodge is the white building complex in the distance:

A view looking at the town of Fort Davis:

A closer look at the fort itself from the hill:

A better view of the Indian Lodge, we are going there for lunch today. It was built in the 1930's possibly as part of the depression make work initiatives of the federal government. See this link for more details.

While barbecuing supper last evening we had some visitors. In spite of the ban on feeding, these ladies had obviously been fed by humans before, they were quite tame. We won't say if we fed them or not, but they stood by and watched while we ate supper!

It's off to Monahans Sandhills tomorrow.

Friday January 21, 2011

Snow Flurries in Texas!

Yesterday morning we awoke to what appeared to be fog in the hill area, nope, it was a few flurries in the air! It was also cool and breezy most of the day so we toured Fort Davis and looked around the park and had dinner at the Indian lodge. This morning it was still cool (the water hose to the camper froze) but with the sun it warmed up fairly quickly.

We had another few visitors to the campsite this morning. The park warns about these javelinas (wild pigs), they walked around and appeared to be quite tame but they would probably give Kasey a run for his money so he was relegated to the camper while they had free reign of the area:

We did an afternoon hike that was cut short by some more javelinas on the trail. The picture below shows the switchback road cut into the hill. We were up there yesterday and we will go back tomorrow to take some pictures of the great view from the top:

The campground is a lot more full over the weekend:

We renewed for another two days so we will be here until Monday morning!

January 19, 2011

Davis Mountains State Park near Fort Davis Texas

We made the short run from Marathon Texas and got here around noon today. On the way we saw a great RV park in the north of Alpine called the Lost Alaskan, we probably should have stayed at it instead of in Marathon.

We LIKE this State Park!

We are camped between two hills providing shelter from the wind and we have a full service campsite, 3 nights for $50 with the park pass and the coupons that they give out (haven't quite figured out how that works!). We may even stay longer to check out the park and the area.

A few initial pictures:

Nice scenery on the way to the park!:

This is our campsite with the hill in the background:

Suzette took this shot of the campsite across the road with a few visitors!

They have a bird feeding area where you can sit and watch the birds feed:

On our walk the deer posed for us!

The deer aren't in a fog, just the tall grass!

When Al took Kasey out for his final bathroom break tonight we heard some Javelinas (wild pigs) rustling around in the grass, Kasey was definitely interested!

On a sad note, we received an E-mail this evening indicating that Jim Wetli, a friend and Gaye's husband, Gaye was Al's secretary at work passed away today from cancer. To Gaye and the family our sincerest condolences, our thoughts are with you. We will all miss Jim.

Monday January 17, 2011

Back to Marathon!

We arrived back here around noon today, we plan to stay two nights and provision in Alpine Texas tomorrow. Our plans are to camp in Davis Mountains state park for a few days then head up towards Monahans Texas and Carlsbad NM.

Sunday January 16, 2011

Big Bend National Park

Today we took a day trip into Big Bend, we got a bargain, no entrance fees as it's the celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday!

This is a day where we took in excess of 50 "WOW" pictures, the scenery and vistas are spectacular, no 2D camera shot can capture the grandeur of the view that we saw, for us, looking at the pictures and remember how it looked will have to suffice.

One minor criticism (rant on!), we couldn't take Kasey on any of the trails in the park as pets are prohibited from the trails, not sure why but perhaps some politically correct reason (rant off!), so we didn't do any hiking because we didn't want to leave Kasey in the truck for an extended time.

The following are a few shots that we thought show the fantastic scenery:

A couple of shots from the Sotol Vista overlook, the road has a neat switchback with nice grades:

Some shots of the Tuff Canyon:

We got some great suggestions about things to see in the park from blog readers Ron & Maureen, we are thinking about returning here on our way back to Ontario in the spring, we may try out the Terlingua Ranch area then!

 Tomorrow we head back to Marathon for a day, then it's north west towards Davis Mountain State Park.

Saturday January 15, 2011

Stillwell Ranch & RV park Texas

We arrived at this RV park after noon today, we hit the entrance to Big Bend National Park and found out that the full service campground in the park was full, this private park is a few miles north east of the park.

It's very quiet, there is no cell service here but we like the peaceful atmosphere. We took a few initial pictures:

More pictures and description tomorrow!

Thursday January 13, 2011

Marathon Texas

We are camping in The Marathon Motel and RV Park here for a couple of nights before we head down to Big Bend. The park is a full service park with pull through sites, we plan to head west to Alpine to do some shopping tomorrow.

The road over provided a nice drive, no traffic and some good desert scenery:

Wednesday January 11, 2011

Trying to keep warm!

We are caught up in the arctic cold zone that seems to be covering most of the continent, yesterday we went out and filled a propane tank as the furnace is running regularly and we will be using lots of propane. We also decided not to take in the guided tour of the canyon this morning as it will be too cool to enjoy.

There is a great view of the canyon from the visitor center, we took a couple of pictures yesterday:

Tomorrow we will head west in preparation for hitting Big Bend.

Tuesday January 11, 2011

Seminole Canyon State Park near Comstock Texas

We arrived here just before noon yesterday after the 30 mile or so drive from Del Rio. It's a nice state park (one with wifi!), we did some hiking to the Canyon edge and took some pictures.
Overnight the temperature went down, this morning it was zero Celsius when we got up so it's an indoor day until it warms up. It's not only here that it's cold, a Mazatlan newspaper indicates that the Mexican authorities issued a weather statement about cold, rain and sleet in a number of Mexican states including the state below us.

Some pictures from yesterday:

The campsite:

We are on the top of a hill, the ramadas are adjacent campsites:

Heading towards a hiking trail:

The edge of the canyon:

Suzette took a sunset shot:

We are hanging around here for a couple more days, they have escorted tours of the canyon area and Seminole artifacts in the area:

Sunday January 9, 2011

Second Day at Broke Mill

We stayed here for a second day, to relax and get some laundry done. It's a very good park to stay at, We talked to the owner who indicated that this is his third year since he developed the park and that this winter was very slow compared to previous years.

We discussed the reasons, the main one being the fear of the violence near the border with Mexico resulting in fewer RVers coming to the area combined with the lingering recession. He indicated that the park was set up as a rally park, the fear of violence has dramatically reduced the number of rallies.

It's unfortunate that he is suffering as a result of the mostly unfounded concerns, the border patrol has a strong presence in the area and while it's violent on the Mexican side, violence here on the US side is virtually nil.

We walked around and took some pictures:

Large Pull through sites:

The owner has installed sprinkler systems on each campsite to water the grass and bushes:

There is a trail to take for some exercise:

We are off to Seminole Canyon State Park tomorrow!

Saturday January 8, 2011

Broke Mill RV Park, Del Rio Texas

We arrived here in the mid afternoon after leaving Laredo. We wanted to stay in a park in Carrizo Springs, but the area reminded us of Lloydminster Alberta, too many oilfield workers camped in too few "not-so-great" campgrounds! The only campground listed in Woodalls (rated as 3-W's) was tightly packed with no vacancies evident (and we didn't like the look of it anyways). There are two other parks being developed in the area but they both appear to set up for oilfield workers (permanents), not tourists. This campground in Del Rio is good, nice spaces and it's modern. We may stay here for an extra day.

Friday January 7, 2011

A couple of night time shots

There is a nice view across the lake after dark, the Nikon captured the view:

Just before dark:

Just at Dusk:

After Dark:

Thursday January 6, 2011

Lake Casa Blanca State Park - Laredo Texas

We made the short run from Falcon Lake today and arrived at this city made famous by Marty Robbins singing about "this west Texas town of Laredo" (it now has a quarter million people!). The park here is interesting, it's in the city but it's quite quiet. There is an international airport nearby but we aren't on the flightpath of incoming/outgoing traffic.

It's also underutilized, less than half the sites are occupied. We don't mind at all!

We took some initial pictures:

There are some developments on the other side of the lake:

Another view across the lake:

We are here for a couple of days then we head further west!

Wednesday January 5, 2011

Falcon State Park

We drove the Rio Grande valley 60 miles or so yesterday and arrived in this state park after lunch.

As our friend Bill back at AmeriCana park indicates, this area is definitely "Mexico Lite", every third or fourth car has Mexican plates and the store signs are mostly in Spanish. Some of the driving habits also reminded us of Mexico!

What a change this area is from Mission, it's basically rural and very quiet. Here at the park the crickets serenaded us to sleep last night and the light level is very low (no street lights and traffic). We enjoyed Mission but this area is a nice change. The area is also full of wildlife, interesting birds that we haven't seen before and we were welcomed into the park by a deer!

We have a site with electric and water (no sewer), Bill's recommendation was good, the full service sites have more grass between the camper and the ramada so there would be more burrs for Kasey to get into. As well, all the full service campsites are closed, they have done some new paving and the ranger at the kiosk indicated that the work is complete but it didn't pass inspection, hence the closure. We walked through the full service sites (picture below), I think that the contractor didn't properly grade the gravel adjacent to the pavement, it's probably the reason for the failed inspection. Since we have only electric and water, we will only be here for a couple of days before we move on to Laredo.

Some pictures:

This armadillo greeted Suzette as we parked the camper in our site:

A view of the campsite, each site is basically a turn off with the shelter on the curbside

This is the full service area that is presently closed:

A view showing Falcon lake which is basically a reservoir, the other side shown in the picture is Mexico!

This is the dam at the end of the reservoir:

Some hiking!

One of the advantages of a state park is the hiking trails offered, we did half of the trail around the park today:

Kasey was interested in the numerous "scats" that were on the trail!

A view of the reservoir from the boat launch area:

These folks know how to build boat launches!

Thursday December 30, 2010

Hanging around for a while!

We initially booked two days here but yesterday we reserved for two more (making it four) and we may stay for a week. Yesterday the truck got serviced (first oil change!) at a Ford dealer and we also took Kasey to the Vet. He has been having diarrhea for the last few days, the vet didn't find anything with the blood and stool tests but he is on medication to stop the problem. At the end of today it looks like the meds are kicking in, we will see tomorrow morning if a return visit to the vet is required. The vets at Petsmart are quite proactive, they gave us a follow up call today to check on Kasey.

We have settled in, the park is quite comfortable and Suzette tried out the pool and hot tub today.

A few initial pictures:

We are in a "super premium" site, it has been created by taking out a site between each site, in effect the spacing is doubled, for $30 a night it isn't bad

A couple of sites away there is a nice Newall Class A RV:

Today was the warmest day we've had on the trip, it was 90F inside the trailer most of the day and it's still mid 70's around 10:30 tonight with all the fans running (no complaints!).

Tuesday December 28, 2010

AmeriCana RV Park, Mission Texas

We took a short hour and a half run from South Padre Island today and are set up in the RV park here for a few days.

We wanted to stop and renew acquaintances with our friend Bill who we've met in Mexico and up north in Canada as well.

Bill has some excellent commentary on the area and on this park on his blog http://wanderingwillystravels.blogspot.com/ 
and you can click on the URL to link to his blog.

We haven't got around to taking pictures as yet, but it's a good stop, we got a wide site with all services for $30 per night.

We plan to do some shopping and get the truck serviced then head further up the Rio Grande valley. Al picked Bill's brain this afternoon for some park and road information, we will probably head to Big Bend National Park before pointing the RV north to get into New Mexico.

More pictures and details to follow!

Christmas Day 2010

A Trailer Day!

The weather changed overnight, the wind came in gusts from the north and it was quite breezy, this morning the chairs were overturned and moved around the campsite. The change also brought much cooler weather, requiring the furnace. Tonight it's going down to near freezing.

As seen in the picture below the palm fronds are being pushed around:

We are stocked up with books to read and lots of food, life remains good!

Christmas Eve 2010

Maintenance day (Personal and other!)

Once a week or so it's always good to dedicate a day to doing some maintenance, something always needs some tweaking in an RV. So yesterday was the designated day!

But first Al decided to go to a barber to get a haircut. It's always a bit traumatic to have someone else other than your own barber or hairdresser do your hair, you don't know what the result will be. This time everything turned out OK, but the barber put some hair gel on that gave Al a spiked look (and Suzette commented that it  exposed more forehead revealing  an ever receding hair line!) This morning the gel is out and things are back to normal.

A new Cisco wireless router was purchased to replace the Linksys in the RV that has seen better days, it probably took a voltage hit from the days spent in Mexico in the past years, it was working intermittently. The install went well. It even has a "guest" function allowing you to set a password for people using the internet connection but still protecting your computer files from sharing with the guest.

Another item to look at was the washer/dryer, it threw a fault code and the dry cycle wasn't working well. An E-mail to the US distributor resulted in a procedure to run a combo cycle with the addition of some vinegar, it looks like the hard water in some RV parks was plugging the innards. A small test wash yesterday worked well and a second larger wash is being done today to confirm that all is well. In the meantime the coin wash in the KOA got good use yesterday.

Today we are preparing for a quiet Christmas here on the island and we continue to enjoy the great weather. We even had a one minute sun shower this morning!

Since we didn't send out Christmas cards this year because it was so busy at home before we left, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all

Al & Suzette

Tuesday December 21, 2010

Moved to the KOA!

We made a long trip this morning, almost a half mile! The KOA here is located next to Isla Blanca park on the bay side of the island near the causeway.

We decided to spend a week here and get away from the stickers (all the sites here are on gravel), they also have an on-site restaurant out on a pier and a pool (Suzette hopes it's heated!).

The weather today is hot and humid (reminds us of Mexico!), it's 82 inside the trailer with all the windows open and the roof vent fans running. While I was setting up Suzette took some pictures:

Our site (there is no one beside us yet):

Lots of palm trees:

You can just see the island side of the causeway in the background:

Another shot of the bay-side sites:

Friday December 19, 2010

More Exploring

Today we toured South Padre Island and went into Port Isabel. We also decided to move to the KOA here on the island on Tuesday when our week here at Isla Blanca comes to an end. We like the park here but it's a little old, that combined with the stickers bothering Kasey (and us!) sealed the decision. We toured the KOA today, instead of grass (and stickers) at each site they have gravel. The park is also on the bay side which means that it may be a little less windy, In addition they offer a turkey dinner on Christmas day if we bring along some sides, we look forward to celebrating Christmas there. We are kind of treating ourselves, the daily rate is about $45 which is high by US standards (and a third more than here at Isla Blanca) but it's comparable with Ontario provincial park rates.

We also toured the island and went as far north on the island as the road went. It's an interesting island, the southern part is heavily developed with stores, restaurants and hotels, as you go north the development ends and the sand starts to cover the road (even the hydro wires end!).

Some pictures:

The developed area:

Further up the beach:

Some nice condos:

As you go north the sand dunes get bigger!:

The sand starts to encroach the road:

And more!

A look at the gulf side:

Yes, it's the end of the road!!

Wednesday December 15, 2010

Warm & Windy!

We have settled in and are enjoying the park and the area. It's a bit warmer than what we were experiencing on Mustang Island, no heat required overnight and you can get out of the shower in the morning without feeling cold. Still, the Texans are walking around in hoodies and long pants whereas we are in shorts, you can tell who the Canadians are!!

We walked the beach a bit today to find out how the place looks and see the extent of the park. It's located on the southern tip of South Padre Island and takes up the entire tip.

A view of some of the campsites near us:

A view of some of the facilities with some condos in the background:

It's breezy, as shown by Suzette's hair and Kasey's ears being almost horizontal!

The gulf is quite rough!

They have built lots of facilities, this is a covered pavillion where you can picnic out of the sun:

This is the inlet from the gulf into the inland bay:

A view looking to the RV park from the south tip and showing the statue that blesses sailors who ply the waters:

Tuesday December 14, 2010

Isla Blanca County Park, South Padre Island Texas

We arrived here just before 2:00 pm today. We have been spoiled for the last two weeks at a 5 star campground, this park is a little underwhelming, it has all services but it doesn't compare to what we had in Port Aransas. We still plan to spend a week here and take in the sights, we may check out another park in the area to see if there is somewhere better to spend the Christmas period.

Suzette took a few pictures on the way over. It's a fairly heavily developed area

These pictures were taken from the causeway that connects the island to the mainland:

Friday December 10, 2010

Some good weather!

The last couple of days have been cool, we spent most of the time in the trailer. Today the temperature was better (in the low 70's F) so we spent most of the day outside and Kasey had some beach time. He had some hot spots from the last beach visit so he hasn't been in the water for a few days, some medication has returned him to normal. Today he really enjoyed the time in the water.

The beach was more active today, folks were fishing on the shore:

This is picture of the RV park from the dunes near the gulf:

We are hanging around over the weekend and we move to South Padre Island on Tuesday!

Monday December 6, 2010

Touring around!

It's been a little cool and breezy for the past two days, breezy enough that the company that was scheduled to wash and wax the RV have  cancelled, they don't want to go up on the roof with the high winds.

This morning we did some more touring, this time we didn't forget the camera! The temperature on the gulf shore was only 13C so long pants, sweaters and jackets were appropriate dress.

A few pictures from the tour:

Who says you can't drive an 8,000 lb. Duallie on the beach!

Today must have been beach maintenance day! A grader:

And servicing the porta potties:

There were still a number of RVs camping on the beach:

There is a jetty that apparently provides a good fishing location:

This is the free ferry that connects the mainland to the northern part of the island:

Lots of pelicans around:

This appears to be an oil tanker heading out into the gulf accompanied by a harbour pilot vessel:

To view our previous posts on this trip click HERE