And, on to Colorado

27 04 2018

Ft. Stockton RV Park

From Del Rio, our travels are a bit more quick paced as we settle into single nights across west Texas and eastern New Mexico.  Our first night is at Ft. Stockton RV park where we spent a night on the way south.  Then we’re off to Artesia RV park, located about half-way between Carlsbad and Roswell, NM.

With first hand knowledge of the terrible section of highway 285 between Pecos and Carlsbad, we reroute north to Hobbs, over to Lovington and across to Artesia.  This route is better, but there are still plenty of oil or natural gas rigs running around. In fact, we’re amazed with the number of pumping rigs along highway 82 east of Artesia.  This must be one of the highest concentrations of rigs in the Permian Basin.  You can literally see hundreds of rigs and 4 or 5 burning flares from anywhere you look along the highway.

Hundreds of Drilling Operations east of Artesia

Arriving in Artesia, we find a pleasant oasis of green grass and tall trees surrounding the “overnight” section of the park.  More long-term RV’s are relegated to what looks more like a gravel parking lot.

Artesia RV Park, Artesia, NM

From Artesia we spend one night at the Las Vegas, NM KOA and then make the relatively quick transit over Raton Pass into Colorado.  Our last night of the 2018 Spring Road Trip is spent at Lathrup State Park outside of Walsenburg, one of our favorite parks in the Colorado system.  We’ve spent 71 nights at 25 resorts and parks, and traveled about 4000 miles.  Once again a great time, of course spent with great friends and family along the way. Happy Spring!

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Back to the Rio Grande River!

22 04 2018

Utopia, TX

Instead of the “GPS route” south from Bandera to Hondo, which we’ve already traveled 3 times this spring, we opt to check out Ranch Road 470 from Bandera to Utopia. Route 470 is a beautiful scenic drive through this quiet section of the Texas Hill country.  While it might not be optimal for longer towing combinations, we found the route was fine.  With some great vistas out across the Hill Country, this sometimes narrow, winding road runs from just west of Bandera, out to Tarpley, home of the famous Mac & Ernie’s Roadside Eatery.  This unique diner was been featured in the Premier episode of Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives, Food Network’s On the Road and Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel.  Next time we MUST stop!

Mac & Ernie’s Roadside Eatery

From Tarplay we continued west to Utopia then turned south on highway 187 for a relatively quick trip south to Sabinal to join  highway 90.  Just as the hills begin outside of San Antonio, they end abruptly just north of Sabinal when you drive out on to the wide horizons of the south Texas plains.  Overall, we think this is a better drive, the roads are just as good and more scenic than highway 173 south from Bandera.

Our annual South Texas travels have yet to take us through Uvalde, TX – but we found the town very pleasant.  It’s clean, there’s appears to be a nice RV park right in the middle of town (Quail Springs RV Park) and a new Walmart and a very impressive HEB on the east side of town. Continuing west on I-90, it’s about another hour over to Del Rio where we’ll be spending the next two nights at the familiar Broke Mill RV park just north of town.  We’ve been here numerous times – their good WiFi, clean laundry facilities (still at $1.25/wash) and spacious sites keep bringing us back.  But, the road noise seems worse this year as Del Rio continues to expand the use of the 277/377 bypass roads.

Broke Mill RV Park, Del Rio, TX

From Del Rio we’re going to continue mostly parallel to the Rio Grande as far as Sanderson where we’ll turn north on 285 toward I-10 and Ft. Stockton.  More from there…





Welcome to the Cowboy Capital of the World

20 04 2018

Frederic Remington’s Bronco Buster statue

We’re parked alongside friends in sites #111 and #113 at the Pioneer RV Park, next to the Medina River as it flows through Bandera, TX.  We’ve often driven through Bandera, but have never actually stayed here.  But, we’re here for 3 nights on our way north so we’ll have an opportunity to check out the antique stores, honky-tonk bars and cafes.

Sites in the upper section (1-70) are pull through, back-to-back shared utility sites which means you end up sharing your “patio” and front door area with another RV.  These upper terrace sites are the only ones with cable TV, and there’s nearly nothing OTA here in Bandera. On the lower terrace all sites are back-in; sites 75-88 are very near the highway and bridge but have the most back-in maneuvering space.  Sites 89-118 provide river viewing to the front and sites 121-154 provide river viewing to the rear.  End site #121 would be very private and quiet with a great rear window view toward the river.  Sites 105, 107 and 109 have good late afternoon shade.  Any sites between 103 and 138 are furthest from the highway and probably most quiet.

Pioneer RV Park, Bandera, TX Site #113

Pioneer RV Park, Bandera, TX, Site #121

With temps pushing into the 80’s, we enjoyed the convenience of walking down to the cool shade along the river with our lawn chairs.  We also appreciated the short walk into town from the RV park.  The well advertised OST (Old Spanish Trail) restaurant is within 3 blocks and the antique stores are even closer!  Just around the corner at the intersection of highway 16 and Main Street is the visitors center, well worth a stop for maps, live music schedules and other great information.

While in Bandera we checked out two other RV parks, Riverside RV less than a mile east of Pioneer.  And, Skyline Ranch RV, about 1 mile west of town along highway 16.  Riverside is laid out much like Pioneer, right along the river, closer to highway 16 and with fewer trees.  Some of the Riverside sites have concrete pads – we didn’t see any sites at Pioneer with anything besides grass or gravel.  Skyline Ranch is about 140 sites sprawling through nicely wooded meadows.  Right next door is the Wildhorse Saloon bar and grill, a nice walk-able destination for those not wanting to drive (and park) in Bandera.  Overall Skyline reminds a lot of On The River Campground in Kerrville.  Both would be great destinations – the slightly rowdy honky-tonks of Bandera or the more laid back and bigger town of Kerrville.

Riverside RV, Bandera, TX

Skyline Ranch RV Park, Bandera, TX

Skyline Ranch RV Park, Bandera, TX

We’re here in Bandera for 3 nights, then off to Del Rio – more from there…





Leaving the Texas Gulf Coast

18 04 2018

Lake Corpus Christi from Site #23

After leaving South Padre Island and spending 3 nights in Harlingen we’re parked on the shores of Lake Corpus Christi at the State Park.  This beautiful city park-like setting includes 3 camping areas, the Opossum Bend Camping loop with about 24 electric/water sites, Javelina Camping loop with 24 full hookups and Catfish Cove Camping area with about 30 sites with water only. We’re still close enough to the gulf coast to experience some windy conditions.  But, hopefully those will diminish as we travel inland toward San Antonio tomorrow.  We’re only planning a quick overnight at Corpus Christi.  Tomorrow we’ll continue northwest, skirting to the south of San Antonio and meeting friends at Bandera, TX – back in the scenic Texas Hill Country!





More from South Padre Island

3 04 2018

Nightly Sunset Bagpipes at Lobo del Mar

After watching the beach crowds grow over Easter weekend, today the beach and the RV park looks nearly abandon.  A cold front has slid down across far south Texas, bringing overnight temperatures into the 50’s and a refreshing north breeze and lack of humidity.  But, these northerners never last long, we’re headed back to the mid-80’s by mid week.

After the crowds left, we’ve enjoyed breakfast/brunch at the favorite Café on the Beach in the Palms Resort and a new discovery, Manuel’s in Port Isabelle.  We’ve returned to the Painted Marlin for dinner – where the food is great and the service is hit or miss.  We’ve also tried the new Meatball Restaurant for birthday dinner – the pasta was awesome, the lasagna only so-so.  But, overall, a nice restaurant with good service, we’d try it again. On Friday we’re back for the music of Chuck and Earl at Lobo del Mar.  On Sunday our pizza came from Russo New York Pizzeria, a new restaurant in South Padre. Good pizza, and a nice restaurant that would be a great dinner choice.

Sunset at the Painted Marlin, South Padre Island

Winds are always a factor in this area – but this year with gusts topping out near 50MPH, it seems more crazy than “normal”.  And, with nearly constant construction work around us – the dirt piles thick on everything outdoors.  We’ve scheduled Sierra Mobile RV Wash for Saturday while the construction project pauses for the weekend and we can hopefully depart with clean vehicles.  As usual, the guys at Sierra do an excellent job – starting with a complete roof cleaning, RV wash and hand wax and finishing with a wash and wax of the trucks.  Everything looks great – one again, great job guys, thanks!  And, their parts department even special orders parts for us during our stay – thanks!

Hand Washed and Waxed by Sierra Mobile RV Wash

 

Next stop, back to Harlingen for a few days and we’ll start the northbound trip.  More from there…





Good Morning from South Padre Island!

2 04 2018

After spending 2 nights in Harlingen, we arrived to Isla Blanca RV Park on Sunday.  With winds continuing to be forecast in the 20-25 MPH range, a fairly early start from Harlingen insures we’ve crossed the Queen Isabelle causeway to the island before noon.  Major beach and RV park refurbishment plans announced last year make it a bit uncertain what we’ll find.  But, other than some road closures, sites are abundant and we’re parked at C406 and C405, prime sites that back-up to the south fence with great views overlooking the Brownsville Ship Channel.

Isla Blanca RV Park, C405 & C406

 

On this far south end, the former rec hall, life guard building and old beachfront bar have been demolished and are being replaced with a 4000 person amphitheater.  This location will provide prime viewing opportunities across the channel to Boca Chica where the new SpaceX facility is being built.

SpaceX Launch Facility coming to South Texas

Following a Sunday tradition, our first outing is to pick up a pizza at D’Pizza Joint.  Formerly available for delivery, apparently Isla Blanca Park no longer allows food deliveries through the gate. During the week we enjoy lunch at the Padre Island Brewing and our first Friday night dinner at our favorite waterside grill, the Palm Street Pier.  Under new ownership, the former Pier is now called Lobo del Mar Cafe – but other than a few deleted menu items, not much has changed yet.

Friday Night sunset at Lobo del Mar

Things are still quite busy on the Island.  Spring Breakers are still hanging out and the big Easter weekend has been ramping up since Good Friday.  This year we’re scheduled to be on South Padre Island for 3 weeks – so more from here as we enjoy living on Island Time.

Easter Sunday on South Padre Island

The ‘Padre” of South Padre Island – Padre Jose Nicolas Balli





Choke Canyon & SeaWind RV Resort

22 03 2018

Choke Canyon State Park

From Kerrville, the lower Rio Grande Valley is about 300 miles to the southeast and much too far (for us) to travel in a single day.  Plus, we need to circumnavigate San Antonio via a route that takes us through Bandera, Hondo, Devine and Jourdanton.  In hindsight, this was the wrong routing. Turning south at Jourdanton, both highway 16 and eastbound 72 are rough bumpy examples of what too much heavy truck traffic will do to a secondary roadway.  Next time we’ll detour over to I-37 somewhere south of San Antonio and on to Three Rivers via highway 281.

With cabinet contents slightly askew, we arrive at Choke Canyon State Park, on the shores of the first of several impounds that provide water for Corpus Christi.  In a strange twist of fate, we’re assigned site #133, the same site that we occupied 7 years ago during our last visit to the park.  The site provides water and 30/50A electric.  A dump station is near the park entrance.  OTA TV from San Antonio is good and the wildlife is abundant through out the campground.  We especially enjoyed watching the deer as they made their way down to the water and the wild turkeys as the strutted through the campsite.  While the campground offers WiFi near the entrance station, we didn’t try the booster to see if it would work – and instead used the very good 4G LTE T-Mobile service.

Choke Canyon Site #133, March, 2011

Choke Canyon State Park, Three Rivers, TX

Choke Canyon State Park, Three Rivers, TX

Choke Canyon State Park, Three Rivers, TX

Over the past years, we’re heard good reviews for an RV Resort at Riviera, TX – about 2 hours SE of Choke Canyon.  Instead of fighting the seemingly relentless south winds that are blowing out of the Valley, we opt for an overnight at the SeaWind RV Resort.  SeaWind RV is on the shores of Baffin Bay, a large bay south of Corpus Christi Bay.  Here sites are laid out along the water, in 4 spacious row and around Kaufer Lake.  Many of the sites are beautifully landscaped with shrubs, flowers, cactus and palm trees.  We select site #279, a back-in site along the bay.  The full hookup site provides electric, water, and a sewer port.  The Passport America rate here (for up to 7 days) is $20 – a great value!  OTA TV is good from Corpus Christi and the campgrounds WiFi works fine.  This park is somewhat out of the way, but offers some great privacy and quiet sites.

SeaWind RV Resort, Riviera, TX

From Riviera we’ll head to Harlingen, our home for a few nights before moving out to South Padre Island.  More from there…