Monday, February 25, 2008

Leaving Hondo and Texas (on-the-road notes)

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Well, we finally did it! We got out of Texas! Both of us really wondered if we would ever make it – Texas goes on and on and on.

It's been so long since we have really been on the road; I forget how Fred gets behind the wheel and goes and goes and goes. Ten hours we drove and we were still in Texas when we finally packed it in for the night!

While he drives – I watched and wrote and occasionally managed to convince him to stop so I could take a picture. Here are some of my “on-the-road” notes:


  • It was very early in the morning; the sun coming up lit the rows of RVs, each with its own distinct character.
  • The odd dog walker meandered down the road as their four-legged love objects wander from side to side sniffing to find out what had gone on since their last visit and leaving their marks for the next caller that came along.
  • With arms flaying, the exercise walkers strutted forward relentlessly to fulfil the purpose of their missions.
  • It was quiet and calm.
  • Heading out on the road was exciting. We were flanked on both sides by the same flatness – fields on either side – some ploughed but more covered with dry brown grass and leafless bushes – few building, little traffic.
  • A bit of a giggle – a semi trailer truck hauling a huge tanker with MAALOX written across the side of the tank. We need to make sure we don’t eat at the same place he does!!
  • The further west we go: the more cactus invaded the fields – prickly pear mostly.
  • We still saw some live oak but more mesquite showed up along the way. I felt like I was watching an old Halloween movie with its gnarly, twisted, eerie, branches.
  • The road turned north; waves of hills emerged against the horizon. The road ripped through each hill exposing layers of limestone and history built up over eons of wind, water and time.

  • Now the land is peppered with Yucca plants rather than mesquite. Creosote bushes take over and we have desert.

Once we reached the Texas border, it was like putting your foot into an old shoe – not exciting but familiar and comfortable. Same road; same RV Park (Sunny Acres, Las Cruces) in New Mexico; and the opportunity to visit old friends and revisit treasured places.

Paul and Lynne have done wonders with Sunny Acres. The first time we were there it was an old worn-out mobile home park. They’ve managed to transform it into a welcoming spot for RV’er to come, visit and even stay on for an extended period of time and Las Cruces still is one of our favourite cities.

Onto Casa Grande, with a couple nights stop in Benson, and the opportunity to visit with more friends – Ed and Mary, who we met earlier this year in Tennessee, and Arnie, who is from our Condo in Lethbridge.

Well, now we’re in Yuma. This part of the trip is definitely the visiting friends piece. Sallee and John are just next door here in the Foothills, we’re visited with friends who are down here from Pincher Creek, and we are meeting other friends from BC in Quartzsite next week.

We’ve been down to Algadones, Mexico for Fred to get new glasses. I got my teeth cleaned for $20.00 and bought a new purse and vanilla and ate great fish and shrimp tacos. And some great shots of some of the of kids!

We went back out the Felicity, California (population maximum 5 people) to the “Center of the World”. It’s just as weird now as it was three years ago!! But I did get a few pictures – the stairs from the Eiffel Tower sitting in the middle of the field and their infamous pyramid .

Next week, we’ll be off to Quartzsite for a week or so. After that we will probably stop in Laughlin, then Las Vegas and (depending on the weather) work our way north.

What a trip and adventure this has been.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Here We Go!

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We left Rockport and the ‘Big D’ on Friday (Feb.1) and to our amazement there were people at our place at 7 in the morning to say good-bye! It reminded me so much of leaving camp on the last day – maybe things don’t change that much? Close relationships happen quickly - some last and some don’t.

I’ve decided that I am “a friend collector” – once I find a friend, I have a hard time letting go. I so value the friends I have made along the way – even as far back as elementary school.
I had mixed feelings about leaving - on one hand I was looking so forward to being on the road again but on the other hand, it was so tough to leave all the fine friends we made over the past 6 weeks.

Oh, we stopped for gas before we left Rockport and found out all the rear lights on the right side aren't working. No, it's not the bulbs - tried that!! There's always something, isn't there?

We stayed at the Lone Start Corral in Hondo (about 30 miles west of San Antonio) It's an interesting park - an Escapees Co-op park - which means that most of the sites are owned by members of the Co-op. Other RV’ers, like us are called Visitors. If an owner is not going to be there, their sites can be rented to “visitors” or “temporaries” like us.

The site we had was at least twice the width of the one in Rockport and half the length again. BUT - there's something to be said about being closer together - the people seem to be more connected! But then each park has its own unique character. They don't seem to sit out and visit - maybe it was just too cold.

That first day Fred tried to find out what was going on with the lights (and I judged a chili cook-off I got volunteered for). No matter who we talked to, we were pointed in umpteen different directions to see and explore - our decision - San Antonio and the Hill Country.

First Stop – San Antonio

Sunday - San Antonio! For a city San Antonio is not bad (if you can tolerate cities). The biggest attraction for us was the River Walk that everybody talks about.
Apparently it was always a waterway used by the Spanish to supply water to the various missions in the area. But occasionally it flooded and in the '20's after a particularly devastating flood, they decided to do something about it. It wasn't until the late 60's that it really came into its own. It's not unlike the canals in
Venice, Italy. It runs for about 2 1/2 miles and all sorts of fancy restaurants, shops, hotel, churches, vendors, etc line both sides of the water. We took a gondola-like boat ride with a great guide - told us all sorts of stories - and got a great view of the whole place. Of course, we stopped and ate at one of the outside cafes!!

Then we went out to the Market Square that is definitely a Mexican Market - some inside - but the best was outside. It extends about 2 good sized blocks with all types of vendors, restaurants and musicians.

Touring the Texas Hill Country
Monday, we decided to head up into the Hill Country - up towards Bandera and Fredericksburg. What different terrain. As soon as you start heading north you start heading into hills. They're not mountains, but rolling hills covered with some trees but mostly bushes. The fields are scrubby and winter dry and brown. It reminds you that even if it is in the '70's - it is winter!

The area is one huge ranch after another and Bandera is called the Cowboy Capital of Texas.

Unique and creative entrances decorate almost every driveway leading up to the ranches. Stone walls often extend on an upward slope from the highway to powerful Gate posts. Most often the gates are elaborately designed rot-iron with intricate overhead arches depicting the ranch’s name, brand and animals. There must be some kind of competition amongst the ranchers as to who can build the biggest and fanciest entrance-way to their ranches.

We went up as far as Fredericksburg which is a very old German community. It's become fairly touristy with unique little gift shops all up and down the main street. Some of the buildings date back to the mid 1800’s and reflect the surrounding rock and stone as well as the Bavarian heritage.

Our major stops were at the Pioneer Museum - talking with a 90 year old tour guide - fifth generation Fredericksburg’er - and incredible German meals of Weiner Schnitzel and 'Knockers' with sauerkraut.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Exploring Around Rockport - Out and About

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Rockport is fairly central and we did a number of day trips out and about. Heading north, we visited some of the smaller historic sites like Beesville, Goliad and a small place like Skidmore.

Skidmore had a great little Mexican Cafe where they fed us authentic food we had never heard of before - then onto Beesville with it's historic buildings and my farourite fence and Goliad that has become quite an artists' centre and is surounded by a number of Mission sites,

Beesville Fence - Sundial - Mission Complex - Church Alter

Monday, February 4, 2008

Exploring Around Rockport- Aransas Wildlife Refuge

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We didn’t choose the greatest times to see all the wildlife but here a snapshot of a few things we did see. The marshes are fascinating! The armadillos, javelins, whoopers, nesting turkey vultures .

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Exploring around Rockport - Mustang Island – Port Aransas

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Aransas Pass is just a few mile south of Rockport where bridges, causeways and finally a ferry take you over to Mustang Island and Port Aransas. The gal at the Gift Shop in Goliad told us that since Port Aransas started developing as a winter tourist destination the prices have escalated and many of the artists have moved out and gone to Goliad and Rockport. The beaches were the greatest attraction for us.