Home from Texas 2013

19 04 2013
West of Denver, CO

West of Denver, CO

After over 3000 “route” miles, plus at least 600 or more for sightseeing, errands, etc. we’ve arrived back home.

It’s been 42 days since we arrived at Trinidad Lake State Park for our first night of the Texas Road Trip.  We’ve seen the dry plains of eastern New Mexico, desert blossoms in south west Texas, and roadrunners visiting our camp in Big Bend National Park.   We’ve ridden our bikes along the Rio Grande from near the “Big Bend” to the Gulf of Mexico.  We’ve enjoyed the hot dryness of the desert at Lajitas, beautiful beach weather on South Padre Island and a freezing blizzard in La Junta, CO.

It was a great trip – in many ways it’s hard to see it end, but in many ways it’s nice to be home.  But, many of the summer trips are already planned, it won’t be long until we’re on our way to Moab, UT.  More from there…

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La Junta in the Snow

18 04 2013
KOA La Junta, CO

KOA La Junta, CO

We’re parked at the KOA Kampground, just west of La Junta, CO.  We were hoping to miss the majority of the storm that has been lingering along the Colorado Front Range since Monday.  However, the forecast was a bit off for this area, instead of “some rain and a small chance of snow accumulations on grassy areas”, we’ve awakened to closer to 2” of wind driven show, ice and temperatures in the 20’s.

But, even with a wind chill that must have been approaching 0, we were comfortable overnight.  After reattaching the outside hose that was removed late last night as temps dipped below freezing, everything appears to be flowing normally.  The furnace ran a lot last night since we were not using the electric heater, wanting to make sure we were warming the basement and underbelly.  The only apparent problem is that the gray water release pipes or valves that are below the underbelly insulation are frozen.  As we make our way back into the Denver area we’ll hope for some warming and thawing.   We’ve cleared the slide of ice, winterized the water system and are all set for the cold drive home.  More from there…

KOA La Junta, CO

KOA La Junta, CO

KOA La Junta, CO

KOA La Junta, CO

KOA La Junta, CO

KOA La Junta, CO





Dodge City, Kansas

16 04 2013
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway No. 1139

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway No. 1139

Everything about Dodge City brings the Old West to mind.  The main street through town is Wyatt Earp Boulevard.  Along Front Street is a recreation of the original Dodge City, complete with twice a day Boot Hill Gunslinger shows.  And, we’re parked at the Gunsmoke Trav-L-Park.  In history, Dodge City had more famous (and infamous) gunfighters working at one time or another than any other town in the West. It also boasted the usual array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels established to separate a lonely cowboy from his hard-earned cash.  Perhaps most famously, Dodge City was the setting of the long-running radio and television series Gunsmoke following the adventures of fictional U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon.

Gunsmoke RV Park

Gunsmoke RV Park

The Gunsmoke RV Park is west of town at the highway 50 by-pass.  There are about 90 sites split between front and a back sections.  The front section next to the office, pool, laundry and bunk house has about 10 pull through sites and 30 back-in sites.  There is also a large tent area that can accommodate up to 50 tents.  The back section of the park has longer pull-through spaces, more grassy areas and probably a bit quieter since it’s further from the highway and railroad tracks.  We’re in site #21 along Festus Parkway, nearly in the middle of both areas with the tent area beside us and the children’s playground behind us.   The trees here are just starting to show signs of blossoms and leaves.  With green grasses and shady trees, this would be a welcoming oasis.  Overall this park seems a bit tired.  There are an abundance of faded signs (“No Wet Swimsuits”, “No Pets”, “No Parking”), unpainted picnic tables, some windblown trash (this must be a constant battle) and some broken and rusty hookup facilities.  The showers, restrooms and laundry rooms are all clean and well kept, but are showing signs of age.  However, in respect to the owners, they have only been re-opened since March 31st after a winter closure, so maybe repairs, cleaning and refreshing is just not underway yet.  Each site provides water, electric, sewer, cable TV and Wifi.  The WiFi service is provided by Cox Cable, and is the best we’ve had on this entire trip.  This strong signal bursts data over 4MB and runs along on long downloads at around 1MB.  We’ve successfully watched Hulu HD programming on the service.

We’re going to stay one more night, hoping to miss the majority of the rain, snow and cold temperatures that are currently pushing through eastern Colorado.  Tomorrow we’ll follow the Arkansas River valley as far as La Junta, and then on Thursday (assuming clear roads) make the final dash for home.  More from La Junta tomorrow…

Gunsmoke RV Park

Gunsmoke RV Park

Dodge City, Kansas

Dodge City, Kansas

Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, Kansas

Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, Kansas





Sightseeing in the Arbuckles

13 04 2013
Turner Falls

Turner Falls

Today we did a bit of sightseeing around the Arbuckle Lake area.  Perhaps one of the most famous sites is Turner Falls.  Just across I-35 at exit #51, the 77 foot falls are at the top of a recreation area with relaxing swimming holes, slides, hiking trails, souvenir shops and other tourist attractions.  Another “landmark” is the Original Fried Pie Shop, making fruit, cream, breakfast and savory fried pies for over 100 years.  We bought a dozen (“cheaper by the dozen, but no limit”) and tried the Tex-Mex and Chicken-Veggie pies onsite.  Both were excellent,  we can’t wait to try the Sausage, Egg and Potato pies for breakfast in the morning!

Just down the road from our RV park is the Point area of Lake of the Arbuckles, a National Recreation Area.  To our surprise, there’s no entrance fee to this area that has picnic, camping and boat launch facilities.  The Point Campground is organized around 2 loops, currently the lower loop is on a first-come, first serve basis, the upper loop is reservable.  Set on a bluff above the lake in large, private, wooded sites, these would have far surpassed our “park” environment.  However, it’s likely that cellular service is limited down next to the lake.  Outer sites seem more preferable, with #49-#51 appearing to be the best.   The sites are reservable on recreation.gov.

After a quick stop at the ONE liquor store in town, and the convenient Walmart we’re restocked and ready to head to Kansas tomorrow.  More from there…

Turner Falls

Turner Falls

Arbuckle Mountains Original Fried Pie Shop

Arbuckle Mountains Original Fried Pie Shop

Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles

Point Campground Upper Loop

Point Campground Upper Loop

Point Campground Lower Loop

Point Campground Lower Loop





Leaving Texas

12 04 2013
Arbuckle RV Resort

Arbuckle RV Resort

After nearly 30 days and 1500 road miles, we’ve left Texas, crossing into Oklahoma today.  Leaving Stephenville we skirted west of Ft. Worth to miss the NASCAR traffic that was building for the Texas Speedway races this weekend and entered Oklahoma on Interstate 35.

Trees here are just starting to move into spring, many are blooming and only a few have leaves.  We’re parked at Arbuckle RV Resort, on the northern edge of the Lake of the Arbuckles in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.  More from here later…

Welcome to Oklahoma

Welcome to Oklahoma

Arbuckle RV Resort

Arbuckle RV Resort





Through the Texas Hill Country

11 04 2013

We’ve left San Antonio and are headed directly north on highway 281 toward Johnson City and on to Stephenville, TX.  As we’ve traveled through west Texas and along the Rio Grande River valley we’ve noticed the very dry conditions – the Texas drought has by no means subsided.  However, if any region looks “normal” it’s this area of the Hill Country.  The grasses are tall, the rivers flowing, many trees in full blossom or fully covered in leaves and the wild flowers are beautiful.  The Bluebonnets are the stars in this area – supported by red Texas Paintbrush, the yellow Greenthread and the purple Winecup.  The plan is to make a quick overnight stop around Stephenville, TX and then continue north into the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma.  More from there later…

Hoof Prints Ranch, RV Park and Horse Motel, Stephenville, TX

Hoof Prints Ranch, RV Park and Horse Motel, Stephenville, TX

Hill Country Wildflowers

Hill Country Wildflowers





Waiting out the storm in San Antonio

10 04 2013
Mission Concepcion, San Antonio

Mission Concepcion, San Antonio

With the threat of thunderstorms and hail across our homeward path, we’ve opted to spend another day in San Antonio. We arrived here on Monday from Harlingen.  We’re parked at Travelers World just south of downtown San Antonio.  We opted to check out this park because of the location along the San Antonio bike/hike trail system.  Via the trail, we’re only about 4 miles from downtown. The trail continues about 6 miles south just beyond the I-410 loop and incorporates 4 of the Spanish Colonial missions built along the San Antonio River starting in the 1720s.

Travelers World has 165 full hookup sites, beautiful trees, lawns, individual concrete patios with picnic tables and is impeccably clean.  Besides the office, library and game room there is a small pool area, a dance hall, a shower house and a few maintenance buildings scattered around.  One side of the park backs up to Riverside Golf Course with amazing views across the course and along the San Antonio river.  For river views the best sites are along Allegro Circle, sites K-U.  For privacy overlooking the golf course, sites 10-15H are best.  The largest sites seem to designated for large trailers and coaches, run right down the middle of the park in sites 83-105.  We’re in a smaller back-in site #125, along the golf course, but very tight when you have neighbors in the sites immediately adjacent. (you can touch your neighbors slide-out while sitting at your picnic table) (SITE MAP) The WiFi service is provided by Tengo and is adequate for most uses.   We did have a few short term outages each day and found that it wasn’t fast enough for Hulu broadcasts.  This is our 3rd stay at a park with Tengo Internet, and all have been less than impressive.  However, there is good Verizon 3G and somewhat flakey T-Mobile 3G and 4G coverage available as alternatives.

Travelers World, San Antonio

Travelers World, San Antonio

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Mission Reach Bike Trail

Mission Reach Bike Trail

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World

Travelers World, Game Room

Travelers World, Game Room

Travelers World, Laundry

Travelers World, Laundry

Travelers World, Dance Hall

Travelers World, Dance Hall