The Montana Loop – Headed Home

28 06 2021

From Sheridan it’s a rather long day (for us) to Cheyenne.  We’re parked at a familiar park, AB Camping on College Drive on the south side of town.  This is where we hang out each July for Frontier Days.  We’re here only 1 night, and enjoy the great BBQ café in the park.  Thanks Marc & Jane – we’ll see you in a few weeks.

Colorado Rockies Openind Day 2.0

From Cheyenne we’re headed to Denver to catch the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.  Today, July 28th is designated “Opening Day 2.0” as Coors field eliminated Covid restrictions and for the first time in over a year, allow 100% capacity at the ball park.  While it’s busy, all seats are not full – and we enjoy a perfect weather afternoon with the Rockies winning over the Pirates.  (We later learned that 32,000 fans enjoyed this game, so the stadium was 64% full)

In Denver we’re parked in site 9 at Chatfield State Park.  Again, it’s just a quick overnight and tomorrow we’ll be home.  It’s been a great trip.  We’ve covered nearly 2000 miles over 20 nights in 11 parks.  We’re home for 3 weeks before heading north again to Cheyenne Frontier days.  More from Cheyenne!





The Montana Loop – 2 KOA’s

25 06 2021

Livingston KOA Site Map

We’re parked at site #39 at the Livingston (Montana) KOA.  We’re here for an impromptu family reunion, with other family members in site #38, Cabins K13 & K21.  We also have other family members at two private AirBnB type residences.  Our sites are part of brand new upgraded deluxe patio sites.  #38, 39 & 41 will provide 3 sites, each with a large patio, a firepit and very nice patio furniture.  These 3 sites share a common area between them, thus making them perfect for groups traveling together.  The “outside” sites, #37, 40 & 41 would make great overflow sites for a larger group.  Or, since configured back-to-back, allow plenty of privacy if not part of the group.  The only down side to these new sites is a lack of shade.  All of the large trees were removed to make room for these 6 sites.  Other very nice sites are along the river, #58-#61 and these offer better shade.  Overall the park is in great shape, the staff is friendly and attentive.  We’d come back!

The 5 days in southern Montana are busy and a bit of a blur.  Some of the group spends time touring Yellowstone.  Others hit the golf links, some go horse back riding and some of us tour around Gardiner, the northern entrance to Yellowstone.  Needless to say, at the end of June, the area is very busy with RV and other Yellowstone visitors. We also spend an afternoon at the OTO Dude Ranch near Gardiner.

Sheridan KOA Site Map

After our stay in Livingston, we’re headed to Sheridan, WY and yet another KOA.  We’re parked in site #A25, on the far south side of the park.  Sites A21-A26 are tight, both in terms of nearby trees and actual site width.  Even though this is pull through site, trees at both ends make entry difficult.  We’re advised we should probably plan to back-in.  And, these sites are the closest to I-90, a very busy trucking corridor running from Seattle on the west to Boston on the east.

However, we’re happy to have this site.  Due to a big veterans rally in Sheridan, everything is sold out.  We initially were reserved for a dry-camping, “overflow” site in the tent section.  Fortunately with a cancellation we ended up grabbing this full hookup site.  With temps pushing triple digits, it’s great to have both AC’s running which helps drown out the traffic noise.

After a quick overnight in Livingston, we’re headed to Cheyenne, WY.  More from there…





The Montana Loop – Across Wyoming

18 06 2021

After departing Yampa River SP, we head almost directly north to our first stop for 1 night at Western Hills RV in Rawlins, WY.  The park is well laid out, mostly gravel, with nice facilities and a pleasant and accommodating staff.  They moved my reservation when I apparently selected the wrong day on their reservation system with no “change” fees.  However, we ended up in an “electric only” site.  Water is $3 and dump is $3 for these sites. WiFi (from site #60) runs along at nearly 30Mb down and 6Mb up.

While in Rawlins we selected the #1 Mexican Food restaurant according to Yelp, Rose’s Lariat.  A true diner, Rose’s offers great food at reasonable prices.

Western Hills RV, Rawlins, WY

From Rawlins we’re headed to Thermopolis and the Eagle RV Park.  It’s a beautiful drive through the Wind River Canyon before arriving here.  We’re parked in site #13, a very shady and large end site.  We last visited Eagle RV back in 2013 and had a wonderful stay.  We’re happy to report the staff and services are still great.  We’d come back!

Eagle RV, Cody, WY Site #13

After 2 nights in Thermopolis, we’re off to Absaroka Bay RV in Cody, WY.  We tried to get into Buffalo Bill State Park – but evidently sites here are very busy due to it’s location next to Yellowstone.  Absaroka Bay is well maintained, but wow – the sites are tight!  Not just side to side, but also front to back.  With nearly all pull-throughs, the narrow roadways mean parking tow vehicles across the front of the sites which can present an arrival or departure challenge.  During our 2 night stay in Cody, we explored Buffalo Bill SP and enjoyed fine beers and food at Pat O’Hara Brewing Company.

Absaroka Bay RV in Cody, WY

Buffalo Bill State Park Site #4

 

From here, we’re headed to Livingston, MT for 5 nights – more from Montana!





The Montana Loop – Yampa River SP

13 06 2021

From Carbondale we’re headed to Yampa River State Park near Hayden, CO.  Similar to the Carbondale KOA, this campground occupies a green cottonwood grove along the Yampa River and highway 40.  This main campground is one of 13 public access locations managed by the State Park system stretching between Hayden and the Dinosaur National Monument​ near the Utah border.

We’re parked at site #29, a long back-in site that offers no shade except for a covered picnic table.  With temperatures pushing up toward 100, we’re thankful for the 50A service on this site.  Water is available at the dump station and scattered throughout the campsite.

Few of the sites offer much in the way of shade, but all are well spaced, and large enough for even the largest rigs.  We’d return to Yampa River again.





The Montana Loop – Carbondale/Crystal River KOA

11 06 2021

We’re parked in the KOA campground near Carbondale, CO along the beautiful Crystal River.  This park occupies a green oasis between Carbondale and historic Redstone along highway 133.  Along with friends, we’re in sites #12 & 13, in an awning to awning configuration.  These premium sites offer 50A electric service, water, and cement pads along with metal tables and chairs.

This location is a bit too far out of Carbondale for much on the cellular network, and unfortunately the campground WiFi is finicky at best.  But, it’s a fun area to explore – we’d probably come back.

Carbondale KOA Patio River Front Deluxe Site

Carbondale KOA Site Map





The Montana Loop – Salida, CO

10 06 2021

We’ve combined two trips, one with friends in Carbondale, CO and a second for a family reunion in Livingston, MT.  This “loop” will take us north through western Colorado and Wyoming, followed by a return along the front range on I-25.

Our first night is in Salida, CO at Wilderness Expedition/Riverside RV Park.  We could concur that this is an “interesting” place as other reviewers have noted.  Our first encounter is:

“You’re going into site #4?…oh wow, that’s going to be tight!”

To which I respond with – “your website says that site can handle a 45 foot trailer, I’m 35 foot. “

“OK, well, you can try it – but I also have pull-throughs if you want one”

After circling the campground, the “backing assistant” takes over with his directions, the first of which puts a tree limb up against the side of the trailer.  He insists that we continue forward, pushing the limb tighter.  When I take over, and reverse course to get further away from the tree, he exclaims “OK guys…it’s all yours, Good Luck” and walks away.  Probably for the best.  We get repositioned, and make the back-in to site #4 in one attempt. Of course, all the time with an audience of 4 or 5 people standing around the check-in picnic table.

Riverside RV, Salida, CO site #4

As far as facilities – site #4 is 30Amp, without a circuit breaker.  The water pressure is adequate.  None of the sites offer sewer, longer stays allow the use of a “honey wagon”.  The park WiFi, provided by Spectrum Internet, runs along about 3Mb, but appears to have ports blocked that prohibit the most popular streaming apps.  Hulu and Netflix failed while 9News and Amazon Prime worked OK.  The site itself is adequate for a 35’ trailer, but parking the tow vehicle was a challenge.  And, we had to trim a few tree limbs before we could extend the dining room slide.  All in all, this park is OK, it provides a convenient location for services in Salida, and given a better site selection, we might stay here again.





The Road Home

2 05 2021

Our first stop is a favorite, By the River RV in Kerrville.  The Texas Hill country is green and lush this time of year, and even a few bluebonnets linger in the wetter areas.  On Monday, May 3rd, Kerrville posts a record high temperature of 96 degrees.  Whew, we’re glad we picked a 50Amp site!

Guadalupe River at By the River RV Park

By the River, site #54

While in Kerrville, we take a drive out to Kerrville-Schreiner Park, a city-owned park with RV facilities on the southeast side of the city.  The park offers lots of shady sites, and both partial and full hookup 30 & 50 amp sites.  However, many of the sites are very near the Bandera Highway (173) and overall are in need of some TLC.  Cracked pavement, low tree limbs and rusted electrical boxes indicate this park has long deferred maintenance that needs to be accomplished.  Overall, By the River is a much nicer setting.

Kerrville-Schreiner Park

From Kerrville we’re 1 night at San Angelo State Park.  As in past visits, we’re parked in site #19, a very large back-in with good views of the lake and a couple nice big shade trees.  Services here include 30/50A, water, a covered picnic table, fire ring and grill. This spot overlooks what used to be a fairly busy boat ramp.  However, with Fisher Reservoir levels dropping below 10% full – there is no boating traffic present during our stay.

San Angelo State Park, site #19

In Lubbock, we’re in a new park, the Retreat RV Resort, located at the SW corner of I-27 and the 289 loop.  This former mobile home park has been completely refurbished, new concrete roadways, parking pads and patios at each site.  All sites are back-in (except 2 pull-throughs) and provide 30/50A service, water and a sewer port.  We’re parked in Spruce #6, the last row furthest from I-27.  The former mobile home park had beautiful, mature trees that have been kept in the new park with some careful and creative placement of sites, a pool area and a playground.  These trees and grassy areas are best to the front of the property and by the time you get back to Spruce, the trees are small and sparce.  If you are looking for shade, sites along Cedar, Fig and Hickory would be best.  If you like full sun – Pecan, Redwood and Spruce are best.  Most sites are East/West orientation.  If you prefer a North or South site, you’ll need to move to the perimeter sites along Ash (back-in to North) or Walnut (back-in to South).  Overall, this is a good value for $42 (plus $6.00 in mysterious fees).  A bit tricky to find, the entrance is on the I-27 south-bound frontage road.  Approaching from the south, take 84th Street, over to Avenue P, then onto the loop 289 frontage road.

Retreat RV Resort, Lubbock, TX

From Lubbock, we’re headed to Clayton Lake State Park. The State Park is about 12 miles off of the main highway in Clayton.  Upon arrival, our campsite is plenty long enough,  but access is via a very short culvert.  Without much maneuvering room, we find the only way to access the site is to back-in to this pull-through site.  However, checking our cell phones, we find virtually no network access.  This won’t do.  With site access issues and no cellular coverage (and no park WiFi) we abandon our site and head back into town.  The best option appears to be the Clayton RV Park, a former KOA with plenty of sites available tonight.  So, for a total of $29 here and $18 at the state park, we’ll pay $47 for our last night on the road.

Clayton RV Park

On Friday, May 7th we cross over Raton Pass and into southern Colorado.  We’ve been on the road a total of 112 nights and covered almost 4000 miles from southern Colorado to south Arizona and far south Texas.  We’ve visited 22 different RV parks, managed to get our Covid vaccines at CVS Pharmacies in Alice, TX and Brownsville, TX and had a wonderful time with friends and family.

Next up is a “first of summer” trip to Lake Pueblo State Park followed by a 20 night trip starting in Carbondale, CO and including Livingston, MT and Sheridan, WY.  More from there…

 

 





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…