Upstairs, both ways

As the sun was slowly rising, Al steps out of the RV to start the generator for the drip coffee maker.  The two other RV’s that were camped across from us in the Cabela’s parking lot have already moved on.  And we thought we were early risers.

Cabela'sWith coffee mugs filled and a couple of scones pulled from the freezer, we hop in the truck and start rolling east on Interstate 80.  Five minutes later, we cross into Iowa from Nebraska.

It’s a Sunday morning with slightly overcast skies and almost no  traffic.  A perfect travel day.  By early afternoon, we cross the Mississippi River and enter the state of Illinois.

RVing in Illinois
Looks like Illinois to me! Filling up with gas.

Al and I both grew up in Illinois and when we moved away in the early nineties, we never looked back.  If it weren’t for family, we probably would not return.  During our long drive yesterday, we both decided to embrace this trip to Illinois with an open mind …. as newbies to the state, you might say.  Let’s play tourist!  Having said that, we still chuckle each time we see a little blue sign saying “tourist info”.  Although Illinois does have some unique and interesting sights, I still wouldn’t put it on a tourist destination list.

Illinois River
Crossing the Illinois River

Last night while we were camped in the Cabela’s parking lot in Omaha, Nebraska, Al and I each got out our laptops and started doing a little Googling.  Family wasn’t expecting our arrival for a few days which allowed us a chance to slow down and explore a little.

Hmm!  We came across these words;  Voted # 1 attraction in the State of Illinois …. a world apart from anything else in Illinois ….. towering trees, amazing waterfalls.  Al says, “I went there once on an elementary school field trip”.  We quickly decide to veer 50 miles out of our way to visit Starved Rock State Park.

We arrived late on a Sunday afternoon and drove around the campground a couple of times looking for a suitable campsite.  It’s obvious the area experienced a good dowsing of rain the day before.  With the exception of the handicap sites which are concrete, all the other sites are grassy.  The grassy ground appeared soft and many sites featured tire ruts.  We had concerns of sinking in the soft ground and possibly getting stuck.

camping in Illinois
Typical campsite at Starved Rock State Park

After serious consideration, we pulled into one of the six available concrete handicap sites and paid for one night.  When the host/ranger came around checking sites, Al was quick to tell him we can be moved within 15 minutes if the site was needed.  We were assured since we weren’t staying on a busy Friday or Saturday night, that it wasn’t a problem considering there were plenty of other handicap sites available.

Illinois State Parks
Starved Rock State Park

We ended up booking another night so we could spend a day hiking and exploring the area.  First up;  we hit the trails in search of waterfalls.

LaSalle Canyon Waterfall
LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park

We visited Starved Rock State Park at the end of July and even though the area had experienced plenty of rain, so much rain that the road to the visit center was blocked off, it was still mid summer meaning the waterfalls would be few and far between…. snow melt had long been melted.

hiking in Illinois
Hiking at Starved Rock State Park amongst lush vegetation. We haven’t been around this much dense greenery in years.

The most popular trail and waterfall is French Canyon.  There was no waterfall and only a trickling stream.  We ventured on taking in the lush, green vegetation.

poison ivyThere’s definitely a beauty to this landscape.  It was a rather warm and humid morning and while other hikers were sporting shorts and tank tops, Al and I stayed in our western hiking attire of being covered up.  We actually managed to avoid using bug spray and didn’t think the mosquitos were terribly bad.  We were also concerned about poison ivy and were vigilant about staying in the center of the trail, that is when we weren’t going up or down stairs.hiking in Illinois

What’s so unique about the trail system at Starved Rock is the series of planked trail and stairs.  You’ll find stairs AND more stairs.  So many stairs, we climbed up stairs both ways.

state parks in Illinois
Note the little plaque on the right post saying “RETURN”. That means the trail leads toward the Visitor Center

Al and I counted 227 steps on one stairway alone.  During our two-hour hike, we have no idea how many stairs we climbed or descended overall.hiking in IllinoisEven with all the stairs, we found the hiking to be very easy.  It was also extremely easy to navigate.  I love maps and rarely hit the trails without one, but here a map is not necessary.  They’ve dumbie proofed the trail system by using little color coded plagues.hikingYellow “AWAY” means you are hiking away from the Visitor Center.Illinois State ParksWhite “RETURN” means you are returning to the Visitor Center.  Pretty easy peezie.  Now if only we could dumbie proof some of the visitors to this lovely Illinois State Park.  We hiked on an early Monday morning after a very busy and crowded weekend.  Al and I were disappointed and disgusted with the amount of trash left behind on the trails.  We’re talking piles of plastic water bottles and empty snack and condiment packaging.  Gross!

We’ve never seen anything like it and I can only assume these are the same ignorant people who approach wild animals for photo ops.  Who do they think is going pick up THEIR trash?  Fortunately, there are volunteers willing to step up and tackle the task.  On July 30th just 3 days after our hike, the Walkers Club and Lodge Staff picked up over 5 huge bags of garbage.

Starved Rock State Park
Volunteers gather trash. On the day we hiked, we had the trail and waterfall to ourselves…. with the exception of that pile of plastic water bottles that greeted us.

The above photo is from the Starved Rock State Park Facebook page.  I did my best not to show any trash in my photos, wanting to share only the beauty of this park.

Illinois State Parks
LaSalle Falls – Starved Rock State Park. If you look real close, you’ll find trash.

Rant over!  No wait.  Did you know the Illinois State Parks are FREE to use?  Yep, that’s right, no day use fee….  nada, no dinero.   So the Bozo’s that left their trash behind, got to hike here totally free of charge.  And by the way, the trails may have been littered with trash, but the campground was spotless and well maintained.

waterfalls in Illinois
a ten second timer was not long enough for me to scurry behind the falls to join Al, without falling on my a*s!

How did the park get its name?  You can click here by learning more about the local Indians and the history surrounding Starved Rock State Park.  We enjoyed our 2 night, 3 day stay very much and would return in a heartbeat to tackle more stairs.Illinois State Parks

Dual Hydration Waist Pack Moss By Everest
Manfrotto MKCOMPACTLT-BK Compact Tripod (Black)

 

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Quacking Carolers

I think its obvious based on my last few posts that hubby and I enjoyed our month on Galveston Island immensely.  Hopefully I’ve done the island justice by sharing our discoveries and adventures.seagull

photographing birdsThe one thing left for me to share is where we stayed.  Galveston Island offers everything from high end accommodations like the San Luis Resort, to vacation home rentals, to a State Park, and everything in between.

Al and I knew we wanted to spend a month on the island therefore a RV Park would be our best option.  After a bit of research, we booked a reservation at the Jamaica Beach RV Resort located 10 miles south of the town of Galveston and only 3 miles from the state park.

Texas RV Parks
checking in at the Jamaica Beach RV Resort, Galveston Island, Texas

Jamaica Beach RV Resort

Once we arrived and were all hooked-up, I realized this was the first time in 6 months that we had full hook-ups.  Talk about luxury!  However, there are always tradeoffs.   I may not have had the need to worry about water usage, but I no longer had any fabulous views out my RV windows.  I will say the RV Park was lovely and the sites were nicely spaced in comparison to other RV parks.RV Parks in Texas

TurtlesThe Jamaica Beach RV Resort had plenty of amenities as well as an onsite Pirate themed mini golf course complete with Dora, the turtle.

Just across the road was the beach access. With its close proximity to the state park and the beach, this turned out to be a great place to call home for the month.  However, the wildlife was a problem…. wink, wink.

A problem instigated by moi, I might add.  It all started accidentally.  Al and I were reorganizing the basement and the corner of a small bag of bird seed tore spilling some seed onto the pavement.  Not interested in continuing to store this bag, I spread the rest of the bird seed into the grassy area.  Huey, Dewey, and Louie loved it and thought this would become a regular event.Serenade

From that day on, every morning I could hear them singing (in a rather quacky way) as they waddled down the street.  The serenade would continue at our door.  “Oh, how cute… Quacking Carolers”.

Donald Ducks nephewsHowever, I don’t think they were quacking “Deck the halls” as much as they were saying “Feed us more, Miss Ingrid“.

They looked under fed, don’t they?  Gosh, I could practically see their ribs.  That’s exactly what these three little beggars would have us think.

They do know how to endear themselves and made their rounds throughout the RV Park regularly.

Since we no longer have a dog, I found myself quickly bonding with Huey, Dewey, and Louie… they’re rather cute, I’d say.quacking ducks

I’ll admit, it was kind of nice being greeted by these three entertaining chaps upon our return from a day of explorations.  Numerous times, we found the green headed characters napping under our RV.  A regular washing down of the RV site quickly became a necessity 😉

Mallard Duck
The Duck whisperer…. How to train your duck!

photography birdingThe three Amigos did add some enjoyment to our stay at the RV Park and made up for any lack of views. I guess I’m easily entertained these days.

We would stay at the Jamaica Beach RV Resort again and feel comfortable recommending it.

With the state park just 5 minutes away, I did spend a fair amount of time strolling around that park.  I think if we were to camp at the Galveston Island State Park, we would stay at the campground on the bay side.  It seems a little more protected from the winds than the ocean side plus the birding is better.

bird photography
Will sing AND dance for food …. coochie, coochie!

We also checked out Dellanera RV Park and Tiki Tom’s.  Tiki Tom’s seems to be geared more towards anglers and kayakers while Dellanera RV Park is geared towards beach goers.

All and all, our month on Galveston Island was a great experience. We’d return 🙂

Jamaica Beach RV Resort
I’m outta here ….. That lady scares the crap out of me!

 

 

 

A little something for everyone!

Texas Gulf CoastOur month in Galveston has come to an end and we’ve moved four hours down the Texas Gulf Coast to Mustang Island.

Normally by week four in one location I’m more than ready to move on.  Such was not the case regarding Galveston Island.

I was actually a little sad to say good-bye.  There really is a lot to see and do on the Island ….. a little something for everyone you could say.

I think it’s safe to say, most folks come to Galveston for the Beach.  There are miles and miles of beach with public access for all to enjoy.  I assure you, Al and I took full advantage of that beach access with regular walks.

But there’s so much more to Galveston Island than the beach.  From that first day as we crossed the bridge onto the island, I knew I had to explore and discover all that she had to offer starting with the three pyramids that I couldn’t help but notice glistening across the bay.  Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to figure out what exactly were those pyramids.things to do in Galveston

things to do in GalvestonMoody Gardens is an educational tourist destination featuring three main pyramid attractions: an Aquarium, a Rainforest, and a Discovery pyramid.  Also onsite: Zip Line and Ropes Course, Water Park, Golf Course, IMAX Theater, Paddlewheel Boat.

Although I didn’t indulge personally in taking in these attractions, I did stroll around Moody Gardens out of curiosity. There is a separate fee for each attraction.

Each year for the holiday season they feature a Festival of Lights.  This mile long trail boasts over one million lights themed to holiday music.

Festival of Lights
It was a cool misty late afternoon, thus I didn’t stay for dark to see all the lights in their glory

Moody Gardens huge event this year was being held in a large commercial tent; Ice Land.  Thirty-one internationally-acclaimed professional ice carvers from China transformed 900 tons of ice into a holiday wonderland with a Sponge Bob Square Pants theme.  To maintain this work of art, the tent is kept at a balmy 9 degrees Fahrenheit.  For obvious reasons, I took a pass on the experience.Sponge Bob Square Pants

Besides I got to see Sponge Bob Square Pants at the Dickens on the Strand parade.Bikini Bottom and Sponge Bob

Pleasure PierAnd then there’s Galveston’s Pleasure Pier.  This amusement park is relatively new having opened in 2012.  However, this isn’t Galveston’s first Pleasure Pier.  Ah, more hurricanes and history.  If interested, you can read about it here.

The Lone Star Flight Museum was on our radar but we never did make it there.  Although hubby doesn’t miss his aviation career, he still drools over the possibility of going up in a by-plane.  His face lights up whenever there’s talk about open cockpits or acrobatic flying.

Hurricane Ike damageOn one of our last days in the area, we took a quick drive over to Pelican Island to visit Seawolf Park.  Before Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, this was known as a premier park to visit complete with restaurant.

The building was destroyed by the hurricane and remains in a state of disrepair.  For an additional fee, there’s a WWII submarine and destroyer that can be toured. These days the park is pretty much frequented by fishermen and pelicans, but there are plans for renovation and even putting in a RV park.

Not only is fishing popular around Galveston Island, but so is kayaking.  The state park even has paddling trails outlined in their trail guide; land and water trails.

Great Blue HeronThe weather wasn’t always agreeable during our thirty day stay.  We did get our fare share of rain, cold, and wind but I won’t complain because during those most inclement weather day’s places to the north were getting buried in snow. So on the bad weather days we would run errands, go Christmas shopping, or do daily chores.

There are plenty of places to shop within 25 miles of Galveston…. from an outlet mall to regular malls and everything in between.  I found myself visiting Best Buy and Kohl’s a couple of times.

We also discovered a great RV Center called Ron Hoover RV.  It’s a small place with a parts department, service department, and onsite RV Park.   We thought the parts prices were very reasonable and before heading out of town, we picked up a few additional items.

Makers Mark Bourbon
Steve, Ingrid, Mona Liza, Al

I think it’s obvious, we loved our time on Galveston Island and were never at a loss of things to see or do but our favorite pastime was running into fellow bloggers.  We had a blast sharing a special bottle of bourbon with Mona Liza and Steve in addition to a couple of other get togethers with these two energetic RVer’s.

RV get together
I’m sampling the Makers Mark Bourbon as Mona Liza gets ready to slice into their homemade bread!

blogging buddiesI also had the pleasure of meeting Russ from Russ on the Road.  Russ is a solo RVer who shares my interest in photography.  He and I met for lunch and the conversation flowed freely for nearly three hours.

I’d love to run into him again somewhere along our travels.  He’s a very accomplished photographer that I’m sure I could learn a thing or two from.

Hmm, have I told you yet where we stayed?  Let’s save that for the next post.Beach sunsets

Texas journey continues…

It’s the 3rd of November we hit the road about 9 in the morning.  We only had about 3 hours to drive to our next destination and we didn’t want to get there too soon.   Al and I are both morning people and during our working days when we would go on vacation it wasn’t uncommon for us to hit the road between 5 and 6 a.m. especially if we had a long travel day in front of us.South Llano State Park Ah, the days of hurry up and get there are thankfully behind us.  But habits don’t break easily.  Now a days, we have to remind each other that we don’t need to get rolling so early.  We try to keep our travel days anywhere from an hour to four hours and keeping check-in times in mind we don’t necessarily want to arrive to our next destination too soon.Cardinal Deer hunting in TexasSo we meandered down the road taking in the countryside and it isn’t long before the land started to roll …… the Texas hill country near Junction, Texas.

We arrived at South Llano River State Park just in time for lunch.  Fortunately the park was only a quarter occupied and we were checked into a lovely site. This is a beautiful Texas State Park with an abundance of wildlife.  While driving into the park we passed turkey and deer. Texas State ParksThe most significant Rio Grande turkey roosts in Central Texas can be found here. There’s over 240 bird species that have been documented in the area.Texas State Park

Texas State Parks
our RV and campsite can be seen in the background

This 507 acre Texas State Park offers water, woods, and wildlife.  There’s 18 miles of hiking/biking trails, 58 campsites with electric and water, and 11 walk-in tent sites.  There are several blinds for birding, and access to the river for summer swimming, tubing, and canoeing.Texas State ParkTexas State ParksI was really excited and looked forward to spending a couple of nights at this state park, but without cell phone service we opted to spend just one night.  Yep, no cell phone service, no internet, no TV.  Sometimes it’s fun being without connection, but we needed that cell connection for a family member.Texas State ParksSo the next day we pulled out of South Llano River State Park…. reluctantly, I might add and drove to San Antonio. In San Antonio we stayed at an Elks Lodge and had hoped to see a few sights we missed during our stay last February.

Road runner
Beep Beep!

Such was not the case as the torrential rains did not let up for 2 whole days and we had a reservation for the weekend at Goliad State Park.  So onto Goliad, Texas….

Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from the Pit Bosses

Texas here we come!

RVingOne of just many pluses to living in a home on wheels is the way at which we are able to travel.  Traveling can be done as quickly or leisurely as we desire.

That said, when it came time for us to depart Phoenix, we allowed ourselves 2 weeks to travel 1,300 miles; destination Galveston, Texas.

Long gone are the days of Al and me pushing a drive like that in a day and a half.  Actually, more than once we’ve done 1,200 miles in one day… a very long day.  This slow meandering style of travel is the only way to fly drive.Heron

So let’s see …. In previous posts I’ve already talked about our stops in Apache Junction in Arizona, and Rockhound State Park and Alamogordo in New Mexico which leaves us with the Texas journey yet to talk about.

November 2nd we bid farewell to New Mexico and skirted around El Paso, Texas as quickly as possible on an early Sunday morning.  We were grateful traffic was light in what normally is a very congested city.   Knowing this, the early Sunday morning drive was planned well in advance.  The 4 ½ hour drive to Balmorhea State Park was uneventful and whizzed by.  Well, ‘whiz’ is probably an exaggeration because anyone who’s driven west Texas knows it goes on forever.  Texas is one BIG state…. bigger than a lot of country’s.

How big is Texas
Hey look – Balmorhea State Park is located in the same spot as Paris. Our destination is by the S in Austria

We first heard about Balmorhea State Park about 3 years ago from fellow full-time RVer’s.  What makes this place so unique and a destination for families is the large swimming pool.  But this isn’t just any swimming pool, this is the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool.

spring-fed swimming pool
world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool

The Civilian Conservation Corps built Balmorhea State Park and the swimming pool in the 1930’s and nearly 80 years later folks are still cooling off at the park.  Although this particular fall day the air was cool enough and thus no swimmers – including us. largest swimming pool in the worldSan Solomon Springs; water comes from a large underground aquifer flowing through porous limestone and fault lines.  Worker’s hand dug and constructed the pool using local materials. world's largest swimming pool

The water temperature averages 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit (22-24º C) year round.  The depth of the pool goes from a shallow 2 feet to as much as 30 feet (9.1m) deep allowing swimmers and scuba divers alike to enjoy this spring-fed pool.

Swimmers can expect to share the water with plenty of fish.  We saw lots of minnows and some large catfish swimming around.Texas State Park

As we strolled around the park we noticed a series of waterways and wetlands. The fresh clear water quickly moves throughout the park.cienga wetlands

San Solomon Cienga; a wetlands habitat for endangered fish and other aquatic life was near our campsite.Texas State Parks

I found myself strolling over there several times to observe the turtles.Texas State ParksAnd speaking of campsite, Balmorhea State Park offers 34 campsites.  Some of the sites even have cable hook-up which is something we’ve never seen before in any state park.  We didn’t opt for a ‘cable’ site but next time through I think we will because you won’t find any TV reception with the RV antenna…. ‘we be in the boonies, honey!’

Texas State Parks
our campsite at Balmorhea State Park

We enjoyed our one night stay at this state park. We did purchase the seasonal Texas State Park pass for $70 since we planned to stay at more state parks this season.

limestone
I loved the use of the local limestone used throughout the state park

Next stop South Llano River State Park.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 12.1 MP Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 24x Optical Zoom – Black

Just for Fun

Our second day in Alamogordo, New Mexico, consisted of plenty of wind. Wind around here is normal and expected.  After all, it is the wind that helps form the sand dunes at White Sands National Monument.   That’s why I scheduled a minimum of a three-day stay in the area.  Weather is not always accommodating.Cloudcroft New Mexico

So just for fun, we headed off to the small mountain town of Cloudcroft.  Not only did we want to explore this little mountain town, Al and I wanted to check out the road to see if we would be comfortable pulling the RV via this route.  Several folks highly recommended against taking this road with the RV but we’re from Colorado and seem to be a little more comfortable with elevation changes and mountain passes so we wanted to lay our own eyes on the route.Lincoln National Forest

Our starting point was Alamogordo, New Mexico, at an elevation of 4,335 feet and our destination was 19 miles to the east.  Cloudcroft sits at 8,650 feet in elevation.  Thus there’s a 4,315 foot elevation increase in less than 20 miles.  Yep, that’s quite the pull and although there was nothing scary or intense about the road, we would probably avoid driving it with the RV just to refrain from straining the truck.

Ranger Station Lincoln National Forest
Can you guess what day we visited the Lincoln National Forest?

Once in Cloudcroft, we stopped in at the Lincoln National Forest Ranger headquarters (on Halloween I might add) to pick up maps and info on the area.  The campgrounds were already closed for the season and it was definitely colder than we anticipated.  As a matter of fact, colder than our hoodies would accommodate.  A quick drive around town and we were on our way back to warmer temps LOL.Old Apple BarnOn our return trip, we stopped at the Old Apple Barn.  It’s fall and anything ‘apple’ gets my attention.Cloudcroft High Rolls New Mexico

Old Apple Barn
The Old Apple Barn was a fun stop. Hmm, pie and coffee???

Back in Alamogordo our next stop was a pistachio farm. McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch was recommended to us by friends and this too turned out to be a fun stop.  There was plenty of sampling to hold our attention.

pistachios
This is one large pistachio!

McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

First we started with the sampling of pistachios followed by wine tasting.  And of course, there were a few purchases made.New Mexico wineries

Our friends particularly enjoy the Chocolate infused Cabernet by Arena Blanca Winery and although good, we opted for a bottle of their red wine called “Outlaw Red”.  It’s a fruity red that is actually served chilled.

Back at camp, we made short order of the bottle of wine and bag of nuts.  The pistachios turned out to be some of the best we’ve ever eaten and we regret not having bought a larger bag…….  yet another reason we’ll be returning to Alamogordo, New Mexico.New Mexico wine tasting

Precision Kitchenware – Luxury Corkscrew and Wine Stopper Set – PK002
Keurig K130/B130 Brewing System

Exploring Southern Arizona

To say weather is fickle is probably an understatement considering the unusual and extreme weather the United States has experienced this winter.  Last winter Arizona encountered some record low temperatures.  Tucson even endured a rare February snowstorm which Al and I were fortunate to have experienced in 2013.  Yes, fortunate because it was extremely beautiful, but we were also very happy when 24 hours later there were no signs left of the unique storm.

snow in Tucson
Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, Arizona – February 2013

Last year’s Arizona record low temps had us rearranging our plans numerous times.  The plan to explore southern Arizona was scrapped due to the inclement weather.  Benson, Tombstone, and Bisbee will just have to wait.

This winter found us experiencing record low temperatures in southern Texas while Arizona was enjoying unusual warmth.  Hum…..my only response to that is, ‘Don’t follow us as those record-breaking lows seem to tag along with Al and Ingrid”.  That said the original plan to drift around Texas for the month of February was quickly changed when the use of the term “Polar Vortex” kept making its way into the Texas weather report.

After a quick weather Google, we were off for a week to Benson, Arizona, to explore parts of southern Arizona that we bypassed last year.  Southern Arizona is somewhat mountainous and elevations can range from 2,000 feet to over 7,000 feet.  We know it’s all about elevation when it comes to weather and temperatures and this season appears to be very agreeable around these here parts.

We settle into a really nice RV site at the Escapees SKP Saguaro RV Co-op in Benson and set about making plans for our explorations around southern Arizona.Holy Trinity MonasteryOur first stop is just 4 miles down the road in the town of St. David.  This quaint little desert town of less than 2,000 residents is rich in Mormon history as Mormon settlers founded this community in the 1800’s.  During the 1900’s non-Mormon’s from Oklahoma and Texas moved to the area along with the discovery of gas production.Holy Trinity MonasteryIn the 1970’s the Holy Trinity Monastery was established.  Al and I were quick to tour the grounds and even checked out the on-site RV Park.  We felt the sites were extremely close together, but for those seeking spiritual enlightenment it might be interesting to spend a night or two.

St. David
Meditation Garden at Holy Trinity Monastery in St, David, Arizona

The meditation garden was pretty and peaceful.  The church architecture was beautiful as is the humongous cross.  We noticed a couple of gorgeous free roaming peacocks.Holy Trinity Monastery

Holy Trinity Monastery

Peacock

Strolling the grounds was a very peaceful experience and I’m glad we stopped.  For more information you can visit the monastery website.

Continuing down the road, we stop in Tombstone……..

Arizona sunset
Another beautiful Arizona sunset viewed from our campsite


The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life

Arizona Road and Recreation Atlas

No Room at the Inn

The Hilltop RV Park in Stockton, Texas proved to be a great spot to overnight.  We could’ve saved ten bucks by staying at a Passport America park but that place was literally next to the interstate.  The Hilltop RV Park, aptly named since it sits high above the interstate on a hill, was convenient and quiet and even offered a view of a lovely Texas sunset.

speed limit in Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas and faster – speed limit 80 mph

Texas is a BIG state…..How big is Texas

It’s December 29th and we’re anxious to get to our next location to stay long enough to ring in the New Year.  We hit the road shortly after sunrise knowing we have about a 5 hour drive in front of us.  Our destination is a Corps of Engineers campground at Canyon Lake just northeast of San Antonio, Texas.  We first heard about this place from fellow blogger Donna and a nice comment from her had us calling the COE to double check for vacancy.  There were three sites still available at the Cranes Mill Campground.  Potters Creek was full.

Having commitment issues lately, Al and I decide to roll the dice and not make a reservation.  By the time we arrive at the Cranes Mill Campground around 3:00 in the afternoon, we are politely turned away….no room at the Inn.  What? And no overflow lot for boondocking?  Really?  You snooze, you lose!  Plan B.

Five minutes away is a private RV Park called Rio Raft or Rio Guadalupe Resort.  They accept our Passport America discount card and we pull into a very nice pull-thru site for $17 a night with full hook-ups.  The park sits along the Guadalupe River.  We pay for one night and the next day pay for another.  Gosh, we’re indecisive.  I love it!

Guadalupe River
Guadalupe River

I had all these grand plans to explore around the Texas hill country and visit the San Antonio River walk.  Susan’s blog has been providing me with oodles of information on the area.  The cold humid air chills Al and me to the bones.  We’re just not used to this kind of weather anymore.

So these two wusses wimp out and travel on the very day they vowed not to travel….Dec. 31st.  We arrive at our Rockport, Texas destination 5 days early in some attempt to circumvent the inclement weather.  BUT just because we made it to south Texas does not mean we averted the “polar vortex” that has engulfed most of this country.  Nope, we’ve been graced with freezing rain and 25 degree F overnight temperatures.  Oh, joy!  The adventure never ends.  Thankfully, fairer weather is on the horizon.

how big is Texas
no end in sight!

Random Texas facts…

  • The bowie knife is named after the Alamo hero Jim Bowie (1796-1836).  His brother designed the hefty weapon.
  • It is still a hanging offense in Texas to steal cattle or to put graffiti on someone else’s cow.
  • It is illegal to indecently expose or swear in front of a corpse.
  • In Galveston, Texas, it is illegal to have a camel run loose on the beach.  Camels were imported into Texas in the 1850’s by the U.S. War Department in the belief that they would be handy animals to use during the Indian Wars.
  • Oscar, the Academy Award statuette, was named for Texan Oscar Pierce, whose niece worked in Hollywood for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  When she saw the gold statuette, she reportedly said, “Why, that looks just like my Uncle Oscar.”
  • At 268,601 square miles, Texas is the second largest U.S. state.  Alaska being number one.
  • Texas is the second most populous state.  California is number one.
  • Charles Alderton (1857-1941) a Waco, Texas, pharmacist, first created Dr Pepper in 1885.  The oldest working Dr Pepper plant is located 94 miles west of Waco.  Oh and there is no period after the “Dr” in Dr Pepper.
  • Each year Amarillo, Texas, hosts the World’s largest Calf Fry Cook-off.  “Calf fries” are bull testicles.
  • John Wayne and Chuck Norris are honorary Texas Rangers.  The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in North America with statewide jurisdiction.
  • The world’s largest and oldest rattlesnake roundup is held every March in Sweetwater, Texas.

AND on a final note……….here’s a photo of my friend snorkeling in Minnesota

snorkeling
snorkeling anyone?

First Day as Full-Timers

Jefferson CountyAfter a pleasant two-hour drive north on Friday, we arrive at our destination; the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.  This was not my first or even second choice of campgrounds in the Denver area, but since we’ll be staying over the 4th of July holiday, it was the only place with a last-minute opening.

The location is very convenient for the activities we plan to do.  The amenities and RV sites?  Well, let’s just say it’s an ok place to crash in a pinch.

Jefferson County

We squeeze into one of the tight pull-thru sites and proceed to set up home.  I think the back-in sites are preferable (pictured above), but again due to the up coming holiday, we didn’t have too many choices.  Our pull-thru site shown below.Jefferson County

Our daughter swings by after work and we enjoy dinner together.  We discuss tomorrows plans which were scheduled before our house sold.  Yep, I’d say good timing on the closing.  Daughter had bought Colorado Rockies tickets as a Father’s Day gift for Al.  However….. surprise, surprise, surprise….she bought three tickets.  As I’m briefed on the third ticket, I tilt my head quizzically.  “YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?  WHY?”Coors Field

I’m not much of a sports fan.  I usually understand enough to get by.  Al and Ashton think it would be fun for the three of us to go to a professional baseball game together.  Really?  Hum, Saturday was my first day as a full-time RVer.  I figured as part of the adventure, I should try new things, even if I’m not exactly interested.  The word boring was probably the first thought that came to mind, “Maybe I’ll take a note pad and pen to write a blog post”.

Rockies Game
Ashton and Ingrid enjoying mimosas before the game

Daughter picks us up Saturday around 11:00 for a 2:00 game and we head into Denver.  We park across the street from Coors Field and next to Jackson’s Bar and Grille.  It’s time for a little lunch and a few drinks before the game.

mimosa
Jackson’s Bar and Grille
Rockies Game
Ingrid & Al at Coors Field for a Rockies game

Well, low and behold – there’s that Gomer Pyle voice again…..surprise, surprise, surprise.  I had a great time and actually look forward to attending another Rockies Game.  I was not bored and did not use that note pad.  Also turns out, I was a cause of entertainment for my husband and daughter as my knowledge of the game was a little questionable.Rockies

As I was rooting for our team and yelling (in a reserved, lady like manner of course), “He’s out”….my hands were making the motion indicating he’s safe. 

The game entered the ninth inning tied.  I say to Al and Ashton, “If we go into overtime, I’ll buy ice cream served in one of those little baseball helmet cups”.  For those of you unfamiliar with the rules of baseball…..there is no overtime…..it’s extra innings until someone wins.  “Yeah, yeah….whatever….do you want ice cream or not?”  As we debate my lack of game knowledge, a young Rockies batter, in his second month as a pro, drove in the game winning run……the place goes wild……Rockies WIN !!!  Let’s celebrate with ice cream 🙂

Coors FieldIt was a great game;  Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants and Rockies win.  The weather was perfect with overcast skies and a light breeze.  We shared laughs, yelling, singing, and perhaps even a little dancing.  After the game, we walked around the area and Ashton pointed out some of her favorite establishments for hanging with friends.

Thanks Ashton for a great day!

FYI….in the post above; click on any words in blue and it’ll link to additional information.

Let the Adventure Begin

Well, it’s official.  The house is sold and we have moved….. happy

When Al and I returned home from our four-month winter excursion in the RV, we did so reluctantly.  During that trip, we had a ton of fun and met some amazing folks.  We were surprised with the number of people we met along the journey living in their RV’s full-time….by choice. 

Pueblo West ColoradoWhen Al and I purchased our 5th wheel a couple of years ago, we never dreamt of living in it full-time.  However it was sometime early on during this winter excursion that we started talking more and more about the full-time RV lifestyle.  We had a lot of things to think about and figure out.  Was this something we really wanted to do?  

After spending the month of March back in our sticks n bricks home in Pueblo West, Colorado, it became clear….Al and I knew….. the road was calling.  Our interests were changing.  There was an absence of any passion for gardening or any interest in a home improvement project.  Life in general, just didn’t seem right.  We were unhappy and restless. 

Thus, it was time to formulate a plan and start implementing said plan.  Before putting the house on the market, we needed to do some purging.  I’m not a garage sale kind of person, but in the end I do like counting the money.  So we started the whole process off with a huge sale.  We turned our unwanted treasures into cash.   After that, it was a total white glove cleaning of the home which wasn’t difficult since we had been away traveling.

 

We then contacted a Realtor (someone we’ve done business with in the past) and let him know we were interested in selling our home but were not quite ready to list.  Well, to make a long story short, we were under contract within 48 hours.  Yikes!  We weren’t ready to move and still had a lot of decisions to make. The deal had some variables and most likely wouldn’t close without a glitch or delay.  So we figured there would be a little extra time in there somewhere….. NOT.  The closing went off without a hitch…..smiles and handshakes all around. 

Mind you – I am in no way complaining but the quick sale and closing left Al and me running around like a couple of chicken’s with our heads cut off….. leaving us in a comatose state of exhaustion and denial.  There isn’t a muscle in our bodies that doesn’t hurt from the packing and lifting.  I’ll admit, we did hire the help of a couple of young, strong guys for some of our larger, heavier items but Al and I moved the majority.  In retrospect, we should have purged a heck of a lot more than what we did.  As it was, it was extremely difficult whittling down 32 years of accumulation to fit into a 250 square foot RV and a storage unit…..oops two storage units.  Whatever was I thinking?Prickly Pear

Friday we put Pueblo West / Colorado Springs, our home for eighteen years, in the rearview mirror.  We took the drive north to the town of Golden (west of Denver) and will call Golden home for the next ten days.  After that, we’ll head west.

For now, allow me to say; It’s official…..we are full-timers….living in our RV full-time.  We’re taking it one day at a time and getting used to a lack of responsibilities.  Let the adventure begin! 😮

Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs