The Spring Fire

12 07 2018

Spring Creek Fire, June 27th

On Wednesday June 27th, in what probably seemed like an innocuous  event, reports say that a man started a campfire in the forest outside of the town of Ft. Garland, Colorado.  Over 15 weeks without rain, strong SW winds, and other “ripe” conditions, that campfire blew up into what would become the 3rd largest wildfire in Colorado history torching over 108,000 acres of forest.

Spring Creek Fire, June 28th

We were staying in La Veta at Circle the Wagons RV Park and after a short walk to town noticed the small plume of smoke on Wednesday afternoon.  The fire exploded the following day and by 10PM the entire Cuchara Valley had been evacuated, and La Veta was on pre-evacuation status.  By Friday morning the fire had consumed over 40,000 acres and was under the control of Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black.  With the unknown evacuation status of La Veta, we decided to move the trailer further north, out of the evacuation zone so that we don’t get “locked out” if the fire should move east.

Sunset from Circle the Wagons , La Veta


By Saturday, as the fire continued to grow and began moving north of the assumed containment of Highway 160, a second command team was added, Team Blue.  By July 3rd,  being called the “two headed monster”, the fire is well established north of Highway 160 and had consumed upwards of 80,000 acres.  Weather continued to play a factor but Team Black was finally making some headway on south-eastern containment lines.  However, the fire has already destroyed over 100 homes in Forbes Park, a forested subdivision on the south west side of La Veta Pass.  With weather finally improving, the fire’s last major push occurred on July 5th when it expanded to over 100,000 acres.  In the north, Team Blue is finally able to place containment lines that keeps the fire from spreading east of country road 520 and north of highway 69 protecting the Navajo Ranch and Major’s Ranch subdivisions.  By July 10th, with containment at nearly 100% for the south section, the Village of Cuchara is safe and Team Black is on their way home.  By July 16th Team Blue is on their way home with 91% containment and total acres at 108,405.  All evacuations are lifted.  In all, 140 homes were destroyed and 120 damaged.

We still haven’t been back to Circle the Wagons.  But, we’re sure the scars on Mt. Mestas and Mt Silver are severe, but we still have the gorgeous Spanish Peaks, the fun town of La Veta and our new favorite hang-out, the Dog Bar in Cuchara.  And, we’re hopeful that there’s no place much safer from Colorado wildfires than on the back side of a burn scar.

Silver Mountain Burns


Happy Summer Solstice!

21 06 2018

Winter’s Last Blast, May 2nd, 2018

Here we are more than half way through June – and not an entry in the blog since the end of April upon our return to Colorado! Well, things have gotten a bit crazy. Some background…

Over the past few years we had decided we were ready to relocate to an area with more summer and less winter than afforded by our location at 9000 feet outside of Denver. We’d looked at homes and land options in several locations west of San Antonio in the Texas hill country. We’d also investigated options near cities around New Mexico and Arizona. After returning from the Spring Road Trip last year, we decided to investigate land in the Lathrup State Park / Spanish Peaks area. In July of 2017 we purchased a 6+ acre building site between Walsenburg and La Veta and started interviewing home builders. We selected a company in Pueblo to work with us on a custom home design and build. Expecting this design work to be completed and ground breaking to be in early May, we turned to the sale of the current home in the foothills outside of Denver. After selecting a realtor to assist…we begin planning the Spring Road Trip leaving the sale of the house until after our return…

However, just before our departure we had agreed to place the house on the market in early April with a move-out no earlier than the end of May. Then, somewhere along the way we agreed to list the property even earlier, in late March. So by the time we arrived back in late April, the sales process was well underway with a signed contract, completed inspections and the new buyers had their financing arranged. After more than 2 months away, the daunting reality of moving set in. And, as the design process on the custom home elongated, it began to look like the reality of ground breaking in May, or even June was doubtful.

An Early Rendition of the New House

So, here we are well into summer and we are “homeless”, living in the RV. All of our stuff is in a storage unit in Pueblo and we’ve only gotten as far as a driveway, the “guest” RV pad, 50/30/20 amp RV power and a septic system on the new southern Colorado property. We have a finalized the floor plan, are close on a budget and hope to have permitting and HOA approval completed by the end of June. Whew…it takes a long time to design a custom home!

Circle The Wagons – Snow on West Peak, May, 2018

As for the “homeless” living. We’ve spent a few nights on the new property. But, with the cellular signal just a bit better than non-existent, we can only slowly limp along on interest access. So, our new home-away-from-home has become Circle the Wagons RV Park in La Veta. We had a great stay at Circle the Wagons last October and decided to return for longer-term this year. In addition we’ve spent time at Lathrup State Park near Walsenburg, Chatfield State Park outside of Denver, the Glenwood Springs KOA (actually located in Silt) and at Peak One on Lake Dillon for the annual Frisco BBQ challenge.

Silt KOA – New Riverside Patio/Gazebo sites

Peak One Campground Site #15

Frisco BBQ Cookoff, 2018

In 2 weeks we’ll return to Northern Colorado to Boyd Lake, Riverside RV Park in Loveland and the Ft. Collins KOA before Cheyenne Frontier Days kicks off on July 20th. After CFD we’ll be back in Southern Colorado except for a quick trip to one of our favorite fall campgrounds, Hecla Junction on the Arkansas River north of Salida. Hopefully by then we’ll have some good news on the groundbreaking and house building progress!

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!

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…