Chillin’ on South Padre Island

13 04 2017

After arriving on South Padre last Sunday the 2nd, we’ve checked out all of our favorite places by the following weekend. The beer and burgers are still great at the Padre Island Brewing Company.  Palm Street Pier, with our favorite entertainers – Chuck and Earl – keep the place dancing on Friday and Sunday nights. Saturday morning finds us having delicious Bloody Mary’s and breakfast at the Palms Resort Cafe.  And yesterday we enjoyed dinner at Tom and Jerry’s.  We’ve picked out a few new places we want to check out before departing the island.

The Palm Street Pier Bar & Grill

Sunset from “the Pier”

Palm Sunday the 9th of April, marked the official start of Semana Santa, the most important Mexican holiday season after Christmas.  All week we’ve watched as additional visitors set-up RVs here at Isla Blanca Park.  No doubt the parking lots and beaches will be overflowing by Friday afternoon.  Once the Easter festivities have quieted, we’ll make our way back to Harlingen for a few days before starting the trip back north.

More from South Padre as Semana Santa gets rolling…

Casa Blanca SP, Larado

1 04 2017

Casa Blanca International State Park #119

We’re parked in site #119 at Casa Blanca International State Park.  This former city park is located within the city limits of Laredo and with a clear view of the control tower and jets parked at Laredo International Airport.  Originally assigned site #112, we arrive to find it occupied.  Moving to the pull-through #119, we’re not too picky about where we end up for this quick overnight stop.  The sites on the “M” loop also look promising.  Water and Electric sites are $18/night, limited availability Water, Electric and Sewer are $21/night (plus Texas State Parks entrance fee of $4/person)

The ongoing construction of Loop 20 or Bob Bullock Blvd is making access to Casa Blanca difficult at best.  Approaching from the North, the exit from I-35 is nearly a parking lot with big semi rigs detouring around the city on 69W.   From the loop, the left turn into the park can be a bit frustrating with northbound traffic.  Upon departure, lefts turns are not allowed forcing you to head north, then make a U-turn as soon as possible.  Hopefully the new construction will eliminate some of these frustrations.  Of course for northbound travelers, easy right turns into and out of the park make things much less frustrating.

Next stop Harlingen for a day or two to resupply and then out to South Padre Island.  More from SPI…

Casa Blanca International State Park #119

Broke Mill RV Park, Del Rio

31 03 2017

Broke Mill RV, Site #10

We’ve just departed Del Rio after spending 3 nights at Broke Mill RV park.  A favorite of ours, this is a perfect place to land after several days off-the-grid in Big Bend.  The internet is some of the best we’ve found and the 50+ channels of cable TV will allow everyone to catch up on world events.   Plus the other facilities are top-notch where you can do laundry for $1.25/load, workout in the well-appointed gym or enjoy luxuriously long showers in the bath house.  But, with chilly nights, the very inviting pool is still a bit cool.

As we noted last year, the sites are lush grass, some nearly completely private with tall foliage.  We’re in an end site #10, which has an extended lawn area and nice shrubs all around.  The only downside to this park is the traffic noise from highway 90.  Fairly easy to drown out with A/C or a fan, it may unfortunately get worse as the loop road around Del Rio becomes more heavily trafficked.   Sites that might offer a bit of noise protection are #35 & #36.  But, for value, quality and location, you can’t beat Broke Mill.

We’re off to Laredo, to another favorite campground, Casa Blanca International State Park.  More from there…

Off-the-Grid Weekend in Big Bend NP

24 03 2017

Rio Grande Village Site #52

Departing Lajitas at about 9:30 Friday morning, we topped off fuel tanks at Study Butte and are soon in a line about 10 cars and 5 motorcycles deep at the entrance to Big Bend National Park.  After a brief stop at the Panther Junction Visitor Center to confirm space in Rio Grande Village campground we proceed to find two sites next to each other.  About 40 of the 100 sites are reservable online, the remainder being available on a walk-up basis.  About half of the campsites allow generator use, which we assume we’ll need with a 3 night stay.

The first 3 rows of sites provide the best options for longer/taller RV’s.  PARK MAP There are other walk-up sites closer to the river, but many are very tight with lots of brush and trees around.  We opt for sites #52 and #54 – both with a southern exposure.  A site on the other side of the row would be more desirable with a northern aspect, providing afternoon awning-side shade.   However, there is adequate shade throughout the campground with large cottonwoods, mesquite and plenty of green, lush grass. Right next to the river wetlands, this space lies within the mile-wide oasis that follows the river as it meanders through this otherwise dry desert.  Sites #88, 89, 91 & 93 are some of the best reservable.

Boquillas, MX

On Saturday we visited Boquillas, MX – the small tourist village just across the Rio Grande. The experience was just as much fun as our last visit.  The Park Ranger explains the options for crossing the border – walking or by boat, and the procedures for clearing Mexican immigration and then later reentry through US border control.  As before, the boat round trip is $5/per person as is the pick-up ride into town.  Arriving at the dirt street village, there hasn’t been much change since we were here 2 years ago.  Jose Falcon’s and Boquillas Bar appear to be the only businesses that are catering to tourists with $3 domestic beers and $5 margaritas.  There are also some very tasty items on the menu from the $5 chips, guacamole and salsas, to $8 chili relleno.

Boquillas Canyon

On Sunday we drive over to the Boquillas Canyon trailhead and make our way along the trail into the cool shade of the canyon.  Carved over eons of time, the canyon is an impressive reminder of the power of a river.  This is one of that last river accesses in Big Bend before the river continues its path out of the park and on toward the Gulf of Mexico.

After a pleasant Sunday afternoon relaxing in the shade of the big trees at Rio Grande Village, we’ve packed up and departed the north park entrance toward Marathon, TX on Monday morning .  It’s at Marathon that we split our paths – M&D will continue northward toward home in Montrose – we’ll continue eastward toward South Padre Island.  It’s been a grand 11 days since we met in the Davis Mountains.  It won’t be the same pulling into an RV park alone this evening.  Travel safe our friends and we’ll see you soon!



South toward Big Bend NP

20 03 2017

After departing Ft. Davis we’ve made the short (24 mile) trip to Alpine, TX and are parked in sites #C9 & #C10 at the Lost Alaskan RV park.  We’ve passed through Alpine several times on our trips to SW Texas and have always admired the Lost Alaskan.  Set on a very wooded plot of land just north of town, the park offers about 100 sites, nearly each with a nice tall pine tree.  With a fairly good sized Porters Thriftway grocery store nearby, this is a good resupply stop before heading into Big Bend National Park.  We’ll spend two nights here and then make our way further south to Maverick Ranch RV Park in the resort town of Lajitas.

We first stayed at the golf resort at Lajitas back in 2007 when we visited the Virtuoso accredited property.  We again visited in 2013 when we stayed at the RV park.  Popular with Winter Texans and during Terlingua Chili Cookoff in November each year, the Resort is also a great stop before proceeding into Big Bend National Park.  There’s adequate T-Mobile service along with good WiFi coverage at the resort.  Sites are large, with a small, sometimes sparse grass patch and concrete patio.  There’s also a nice clubhouse and pool facility, something that we made use of each afternoon as the temps pushed toward 100.

With completely off-the-grid camping in Big Bend we opt to stay a 2nd night at Lajitas, looking forward to a cool front that promises daytime temperatures in the 70’s instead of the 90’s.  More from Big Bend…

Davis Mountains State Park

19 03 2017

Davis Mountains State Park #7

The Davis Mountains of west Texas never disappoint.  Our nicely wooded sites #7 and #10 PARK MAP along the (dry) creek bed provide plenty of privacy and shade as the temps climb into the 90’s.  Unusual for this time of year, this heat wave has been with us since Phoenix and Tucson where they were breaking records and running 20+ degrees above normal.

Our weekend in Ft. Davis includes a McDonald Observatory Visitor Center tour, wandering through the old western downtown and a visit to the Ft. Davis Army Fort.  On Saturday we make the short trip to Alpine to make reservations at the Lost Alaskan RV park where we’ll spend 2 nights on our way south to Big Bend.  On Sunday we head down to famous Marfa with a good friend that has joined us from Las Cruces, NM.  A bit of a disappointment, about the only thing we could find that looked open and inviting was the Planet Marfa beer garden.  The folks were friendly, the beer was cold and the peanuts were free – what more could you ask for in a beer garden in the middle of West Texas?

After Ft. Davis we’ll make our way south toward Big Bend where we’re planning to stay next weekend.  We’ll spend 2 nights at the Lost Alaskan and then 1 or 2 nights at Maverick Ranch in Lajitas. More from Big Bend country…

Van Horn and on to Davis Mountains State Park

17 03 2017

Van Horn RV Park

After leaving Las Cruces we’ve arrived in Van Horn – a popular stop in our west Texas travels.  Last year we spent 2 nights at Mountain View RV Park and decided it was a bit too close to I-10 and the rail road tracks.  This year we’re back at the former KOA, this year a little drier and dustier with the drought that is continuing in west Texas.  We’re assigned site E7, a long back-in with full hookups.  Site E8 would be somewhat better, an end site with a small patch of almost green grass and a cactus garden.

Van Horn RV Park

After a quick overnight in Van Horn, we’re bound for Davis Mountains State Park, one of our favorite Texas State Parks.  Located just outside Ft. Davis, the park provides easy access to the historic fort and McDonald Observatory.  We’ll spend the next 3 nights at Davis Mountains where we’ll catch up with our good friends from Montrose, CO – who are on their way back to Colorado after spending about 7 weeks in Texas RV parks. More from the Davis Mountains of west Texas…