South Padre Island

1 05 2021

SpaceX Starship SN15

We’ve just departed South Padre Island after spending nearly a month on the island. We were originally scheduled to depart around the 28th, but SpaceX has continued to “tease” us with the possibility of a launch of Starship prototype 15. After two static fires last week to test the Raptor ignition system, we were hoping that the launch was imminent. But, sadly, as we cross the Isabela Memorial Causeway bridge, SN15 is still standing at-the-ready on the launch pad at Boca Chica.

We were parked in sites C405 and C363. C405 is a back-in site that overlooks the new Cameron County Event Center and C363 is a convenient pull-thru end site with plenty of space. We’ve been in these sites before. And, while they don’t provide ground-level views of the SpaceX launch pad, any launch would quickly be viewable above the event center.

Isla Blanca Site C405 with USS Nassau being towed to Brrow

After last year’s Covid shutdown, we were anxious to enjoy the restaurants and beach-front grills of the island. Upon arrival we’re still almost 2 weeks until our 2nd vax appointment – so, we’re focused on outdoor dining venues. The good news is that this presents a whole new list of possibilities. Our first “discovery”, actually a recommendation from a friend, is Pelican Station in Port Isabel. This upscale restaurant has a nice patio overlooking the laguna & bridge and features wonderful fresh seafood, steaks and burgers. We also found Mahi Nic’s – a small outdoor dining venue between Dirty Al’s and Sea Ranch very near the campground. Nic’s features burgers and fish tacos all serviced with a massive amount of delicious fries. Their beer & wine license reduces the drink options, but what more do you need with fish tacos than a cold Dos XX?

South Padre Island Sand Sculpture Trail

And, speaking of Dirty Al’s. We also enjoyed an evening on their marina-side patio. Great food, good service and even live music! For beach “dives”, we checked out Boomerang Billy’s at the Surf Motel and Seaside Bar & Grill at the Holiday Inn Beach Resort. While we can’t recommend the food at Billy’s, we did enjoy the Gulf view and the cold margaritas. The Seaside Bar & Grill was a total “do-not-return” experience. While the drinks weren’t bad, the environment is completely gross. The ever present gulls and grackles are allowed to steal anything they can find from behind the bar – sugar packets, jelly containers and left-over food – then scatter the remains around the restaurant. And, with combo locks inoperative, the restrooms have been turned into public facilities and that are some of the dirtiest we’ve ever seen. This place needs to be visited by the local health inspectors – they’d probably get shut down!

South Padre Island Sand Sculpture Trail

Following our typical tradition of Sunday Pizza Night, we enjoyed great pizza from both Russo’s and Meatball Café. And, in a return to an old favorite, we enjoyed the open air dining at Painted Marlin – twice!. We still think this is perhaps the best restaurant on the island!

From the island, we’ll spend 1 night in Tropic Winds in Harlingen and then start our trip home. Currently we’re planning to visit By the River in Kerrville, San Angelo State Park near San Angelo, the new Retreat RV Resort in Lubbock and Clayton Lake State Park outside of Clayton, NM. More from the road home…

AFTERWORD: On May 5th, 4 days after we left South Padre, SpaceX launched SN15 and had the first successful flight and landing of a Starship!  Maybe next year!





Hanging out in San Antonio

28 03 2021

Good morning from site G2 at the KOA in San Antonio!

 

San Antonio KOA – Site G2

We like this campground – nestled in a gentle bend in Salado Creek, this KOA offers around 300 sites in a nicely wooded location just east of downtown San Antonio.  This “KOA Holiday”, with swimming pool, fishing pond, onsite Hunt’s Brothers Pizza, Fred’s Fixin’s Café serving breakfast and lunch, plenty of hiking along Salado Creek and great sites, cabins and other facilities.  The fancy KOA Patio sites go for upwards of $80/night, full hookup pull-throughs are $60/night and more basic, but with prime locations, are back-in water/electric for $50/night.

San Antonio KOA, Patio Site

San Antonio KOA, end sites (a bit tight)

Since departing Arizona, we’ve been on the lookout for possible Covid vaccination locations as we travel across Texas.  Prior to arriving in San Antonio, we’ve secure our first vaccination in Alice, TX.  Alice constantly comes up as an available Texas location, and it’s just about 2 hours south of San Antonio.  So, on Thursday we make the drive to Alice to receive our first jabs.  We’re scheduled for #2 back at Alice, but hopeful that we can move to a CVS on South Padre or closer in Brownsville or Harlingen.  We’ll see how things progress.

On Friday afternoon we head for the River Walk in search of a quiet outside table for a late lunch and a few beers.  However, things are a bit too busy and way too many maskless faces make our time on the River Walk short.  After a quick beer at the Little Rhein Prost Haus we head back to the KOA.

Little Rhein Prost Haus, San Antonio Riverwalk

After exploring possibilities off the busy River Walk, we discovered Black Laboratory Brewing just 3 miles from the KOA in the unique Dignowity Hill neighborhood. This area is one of the up and coming neighborhoods of inner San Antonio and boasts some beautiful old homes.  Black Laboratory Brewing has been in their east side location for about a year, opening just prior to the Covid shutdowns last March.  Fortunately with lots of creativity (and no doubt, lots of capital) the owners managed to stay in business and are today creating some very unique brews.  We enjoyed Mox’s IPA (named after the breweries dog mascot) and Grizzly Greg’s Mountain Ale, a great tasting amber brewed with Texas honey and juniper barriers.

Black Laboratory Brewery, San Antonio

Black Laboratory Brewing

With winds forecast to 45 MPH on Saturday, we opt to spend one more night at the San Antonio KOA.  On Sunday we made the transit to Rivera, TX – and another favorite park, SeaWind RV Park.  We’re in site 143, an interior back-in site that provides nice space and privacy. From Rivera we’ll continue into the Rio Grande Valley, and to Tropic Winds RV Resort in Harlingen before moving out to South Padre Island.  More from SPI…





Across New Mexico and West Texas

24 03 2021

From Sierra Vista, AZ we’re parked in site #19 at the KOA in Las Cruces. This is a favorite KOA for us, and we enjoy these premium back-in sites with views across Las Cruces and to the Organ Mountains beyond.

Las Cruces KOA

Organ Mountains Sunrise

From Las Cruces, we spent 1 night in Van Horn, TX and then on to Alpine, TX at the Lost Alaskan RV Park.  The continuing West Texas drought, probably coupled with the unprecedented cold weather this year has left this area dry, brown and dusty.  The only green are the pine trees in the Lost Alaskan park, and many of those are looking stressed.  Saturday evening we treated ourselves to dinner at Reata.  A favorite from living in the DFW Metroplex, the Reata Alpine is a little more casual, but with same delicious menus. On Monday we sequestered inside, with wind gusts to over 40 MPH, the dust turned the skies brown and left a fine covering everywhere.

Reata Alpine

From Alpine we’ll spend 1 night in Del Rio at the Broke Mill RV Park, and then move to the KOA in San Antonio.  More from SAT…





Leaving Arizona

11 03 2021

After departing Apache Junction on March 8th, we’ve met friends for 3 nights at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  Organ Pipe has become a favorite for us and, while we won’t be able to enjoy crossing over into Mexico this year, it’s still a great place to stay.  A beautiful campground, dark skies, quiet nights and some great hiking trails!

Organ Pipe Cactus Desert View Trail HIke

Organ Pipe Cactus Alamo Canyon Trail HIke

From Organ Pipe Cactus we’re bound for Sierra Vista RV Park for 4 nights.  This is a well maintained park on the outskirts of town.  However, probably the tightest site we’ve ever maneuvered into! Services are good, and the town of Sierra Vista provides unique dining opportunities including German, Mexican and Korean  – said to be enhanced by the local military presence at Ft. Huachuca.

Sierra Vista RV Park, site #17

Sierra Vista is convenient to Bisbee and Tombstone, and we plan to visit both.  In Bisbee we enjoyed a few beers on the patio of the Old Bisbee Brewing Company before taking a 30 minute town tour.  The tour was on a gas powered golf cart, and, while interesting – it was very tough to hear over the roar of the small engine as it struggled up the steep hills of Bisbee.  As an alternative, next time we’d check out Lavender Jeep Tours located in the Cooper Queen Hotel.

Overlooking Bisbee, AZ

As you’d expect in Tombstone, the on-street gunfights are the most common attraction.  And, we purchased a ticket for the shootout at the OK Corral.  The Corral shootout was nothing spectacular and as expected Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed, but at least we can say we did it!  More satisfying after all the street killings were the cold beers on the patio of the Tombstone Brewing Company. Even the surly bartender couldn’t depreciate the nice Stouts, Ales and IPA’s.

After departing Sierra Vista, we’re headed to Las Cruces, NM.  More from there…





Spring Baseball!

28 02 2021

Many Cactus League teams opened their spring season on February 28th.  Weeks before, we’ve tried for stadium tickets without any luck.  Finally on February 20th the Rockies opened ticket sales, and almost immediately all tickets for opening day and many other games sold out.  Luckily, friends were able to pick up 4 tickets for the Rangers/Royals open day at Surprise Stadium.  Tickets were sold in “pods” of 2, 4 or 6 with plenty of space between everyone, masks were still required except when enjoying a cold beer or a hot dog.

Surprise Stadium

On our way to Surprise, we stopped at White Tank Mountain Region Park.  We originally were going to spend 2 or 3 nights at White Tank on our way to Yuma.  However, with changed plans, we cancelled those reservations.  The park is similar to Lost Dutchman, except all the way to the west of the Phoenix metro area.  Set on nearly 30,000 acres, this is the largest park in the Maricopa Country system.   40 campsites all with water and power provide very scenic views of the White Tank Mountains and city lights to the east.  Most of the back-in sites are 45’ or more.  The only bad sites are the pull-throughs, many barely off the main roads.  We’d like to try White Tank Mountain next time in the Phoenix area. CampSitePhotos.com

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

White Tank Mountain Site #32





Back to Apache Junction

21 02 2021

Sunrise RV Resort, Apache Junction, AZ

After spending nearly 3 weeks in the Phoenix area last year, we opted for a full month at Sunrise RV Resort in Apache Junction this year. At $1000/month, plus electricity, this park isn’t inexpensive, but certainly better than $1700/month at Canyon Vistas in Gold Canyon.  And, Sunrise is very convenient to all the amenities in Apache Junction, and offers free cable modems that provide about 20Mb WiFi signal.  On Monday and Wednesday evenings, the park invites local food trucks providing some some unique, and inexpensive dinner options.  We’re parked in site #254 that has RV sites all round, versus being surrounded with park models.

Sunrise RV Resort, Site #254

We’re only about 10 minutes from the home of friends that we originally met at AB Camping in Cheyenne during Frontier Days.  On Sunday we’re invited to their beautiful home on the outskirts of Apache Junction.  We saw gorgeous views of the sunset across the Superstitions, and then as darkness fell the lights of Apache Junction and on toward Phoenix.  D&J, your place is awesome – thanks for a great time!

Superstition Sunset – Apache Junction, AZ

In our seemingly constant quest for new and more “RV park” like properties in the Phoenix area, on Saturday we took a drive north toward Cave Creek and Fountain Hills.  We visited both Cave Creek Regional Park and Eagle View RV Resort in Fountain Hills.  Eagle View Park Map  Both properties offer more of a “campground” feeling, and are both are exclusively for RV’s   We’d consider returning to either or both parks next year.

Cave Creek Regional Park

Cave Creek Regional Park

Cave Creek Regional Park

Eagle View RV Resort

Eagle View RV Resort

Eagle View RV Resort

Eagle View RV Resort





A Week in Tucson

1 02 2021

It’s been 4 years since we last stayed at Western Way RV park on the outskirts of Tucson.  This time we’re in site #19, very near the main gate and directly across from the office.  Friends are in site #43.  These first two rows are still exclusively RVs (#12-32)  In the next two rows only sites 39-44 will have RVs beside, all other sites will be between park models on one or both sides.  Beyond, park models are pretty much the rule with only a few in-between spots for RVs.  The facilities are very well maintained.  And, the WiFi system has been upgraded since our last visit.  There’s free service available, or higher speed service for $20/week or $40/month.  We opted for the higher speed option and were pleased with good performance including Roku streaming.

Western Way is along Kinney Road, where you’ll also find Tucson Mountain Park with over 65 miles of desert trails, the Old Tucson movie set, Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park.  We also enjoyed walking The Presidio Trail, a self-guided discovery of the historic sites of modern downtown.  And we visited the San Xavier Mission about 20 minutes south of the park. This is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona.

San Xavier Mission

After a week in Tucson, we’re headed back north to Apache Junction, in the east Phoenix area.  More from the Valley of the Sun.





Changing Plans

29 01 2021

Lost Dutchman State Park

On January 14th, we departed on the 2021 Spring Road Trip.  The original plan was to make our way to Yuma, AZ as quickly as possible to enjoy 2 weeks in the (hopefully) warmest spot in the state.  However by early January, Yuma and the surrounding area of southern California began making headlines as the “worldwide hotspot of Covid”.  With nearly no available hospital beds and business once again shutting down, we decided that Yuma probably wasn’t the best choice.

Our first night out was in Durango, at the Oasis RV Park.  This former KOA is now related to the Oasis in Amarillo – and we found the park and sites very enjoyable.  We’d stay here again.

Our next night was at Goulding’s Lodge and RV Park in Monument Valley, Utah.  This is a favorite park, and we always enjoy our stays here.

Goulding’s Lodge and RV Park, Monument Valley, UT

Finally arriving in Arizona, we once again selected the Verde Ranch RV Resort for a 7 night stay.  Last time in Camp Verde we visited the Verde Brewing Company.  Unfortunately the brewery is still temporary closed due to the affects of Covid.  We enjoyed an afternoon in Sedona where we sampled beers at Oak Creek Brewery before a great lunch at Creekside American Bistro.

Sedona, AZ

In Camp Verde we visited Sedona View RV Resort, just 7 miles from Verde Ranch RV (and the noise of I-17) with great views of the Verde River Valley.  This might be a good option on the next trip to Camp Verde.

Sedona View RV Resort, Camp Verde, AZ

Just as winter makes a come back to Camp Verde, we’ve moved south to the Phoenix area.  Somehow, we managed to find 4 nights of no-services dry camping at Lost Dutchman, one of our favorite State Parks.  And, as rain and even some freezing temperatures mange to follow us to Phoenix, we’re able to upgrade all 4 nights to electric/water sites.  Unheard of – it must be due to either covid or weather related cancellations.

Snowy Superstitions, Lost Dutchman SP

From Lost Dutchman we’ll spend 3 nights at the Rancho Sonora Inn and RV Park in Florence, AZ. We’re in site #36, and friends in #17.  Both are very tight back-in sites.  PARK MAP Better options would be pull-throughs 8 or 9 or back-in sites 42-47.

Site #36, Rancho Sonora Inn and RV Park, Florence, AZ

While in Florence we visited several RV parks in the Casa Grande area – our favorite was Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort. PARK MAP

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, Casa Grande

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, Casa Grande

After Florence we’re headed to Tucson for a week before returning to Apache Junction.  More from Tucson…

 





The End of the Season

30 10 2020

On the 24th of October we enjoyed a balmy 71 degrees in Southern Colorado  .  However, nights have been chilly (mid 20’s) and the forecast is for lows in the single digits over the next few nights.  Unfortunately that means it’s time to get the winterization tasks complete.

First Snow on the Spanish Peaks

To say the least, it’s been an interesting year!  Starting out in early February we enjoyed what appeared to a “normal” Spring Road Trip.  Little did we know that Covid was on it’s way to the US.  By the time we departed Arizona in mid-March everything had changed.  We were figuring out how to fold no-sew masks, mix sanitizing solutions and make due without products from bare grocery store shelves.  We feel very fortunate to have the ability to travel and spend time in the RV.  With the exception of the year we were living in the RV full time, we set a record number of nights: 181!

Again this year we visited favorite places across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.  In Southern Colorado we found new favorites in Alamosa, along the Rio Grande in Creed and Del Norte, near Blue Mesa reservoir and all the way over to the Four Corners area in Dolores.

Apishapa Arch, Cordova Pass, Spanish Peaks

Current plans include a mid-January departure for Arizona, this time starting out in Yuma before moving back to the Phoenix area.  More from Arizona…





A Southern Colorado Loop

27 09 2020

Gunnison Pioneer Museum

We’re off to some of our favorite campgrounds in southern Colorado, starting with the Gunnison KOA.  This KOA is participating in the VKR Appreciation Weekend allowing Value Kard Members to book Friday, September 18th at regular rate and get Saturday, September 19th for free.

We’ve visited this KOA before: Gunnison KOA, August, 2019  This trip we’re parked in site #16 which is a standard back-in site on the western edge of the park.  During this visit we learned that odd numbered sites are pull-in, or what they call nose-in sites.  In some cases these odd/even sites share hookups, making them fairly close to each other.  We prefer the even numbers sites on the outer loop, #20-#40.  While in town, we enjoyed time at the Gunnison Pioneer Museum.

Gunnison KOA Park Map

From Gunnison we’re returning to Dolores River Campground.  We’re parked with friends in sites 39, 55 and 56.  These central sites are not nearly as roomy as site #14 back along the pond and river.  We visited Canyon of the Ancients National Monument on this visit.  Unfortunately the visitor center was closed due to Covid-19, however we enjoyed exploring the ruins at Lowry Pueblo.

Dolores River Campground

After our stay in the Four Corners area at Dolores, we’re headed to Alamosa where we’re back to Cool Sunshine RV Park.  Conveniently located in downtown Alamosa, the park provides an easy walk to places like the San Luis Valley Brewing Company.  We’re parked with friends in C6 & C8 and D3.  Either D3 or A9 provide nice private corner locations. From Alamosa we enjoyed an afternoon trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Cool Sunshine RV Park