Monday, March 30, 2009

Borrego Springs, California

We were not sure which town we were going to visit/stay except we knew we were heading west. There are several choices but Borrego Springs sounded the most intriguing and it was a short distance to Indio which is our next destination.
Borrego Springs is a small town with a Circle Drive at the centre/entrance of town that has a busy park in that centre. On our first drive by, there were 16 motor cycles plus cars parked beside the park. Later that day there was a string of bright yellow cars ranging from a 32 Ford Roadster, a Fiat Spider to a 2007 Prowler.
The Springs RV Resort & Golf Course at Borrego
This is the most scenic small park that we have stayed at so far plus the most expensive. It was delightful to spend Friday and Saturday here. Our site overlooked one of the fairways in this Championships 9 Hole Golf Course which adds a dramatic green to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Saturday we took the scenic drive ( yes yet another scenic drive!) and we were impressed with the steepness of the mountain jutting right out of the flat desert! The drive up was very steep and as you would expect the serpentine road afforded us some great views.

We also visited the Anna-Borrego Desert State Park visitor centre and it was crowded with people who came to see the desert while it was still in bloom. Everyone wanted to find out where and what flowers were in bloom. The Ocotillo were in bloom everywhere and the desert looked tinged with a red/orange colour. This tall, spindly plant gets transformed and looks like a candle with spikes of red flowers flaming at its tips.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Las Cruces, NM to Casa Grande then to Yuma, Az

We spent two nights at Sunny Acres, RV Park in Las Cruces and just had quiet down time. No tours, no museums, no monuments, no historical buildings or parks......just a Saturday Night.BBQ and a game of cards outside our motor home. Dorothy and I let Lyle and John win a game of Rookie! There are some interesting places to visit near by and the city itself begs to be explored and we quite like this small, quiet park in the centre of town so we plan to "be back". Sunday was a quiet, hot and sunny day that included audio/video chats with family followed by the enjoyable movie "Knowing" with Nicholas Cage.
Monday we are on the road from Las Cruces to Casa Grande. John and I booked into
Rovers Roost on Montgomery Road, on the south/west side of Casa Grande. Talk about a Small, Quiet RV Park....this is it! it is "Social Hour" at 4:00 pm and the community room is a buzz with chatter. The hosts insist that we join them and so we did. What a fun friendly busy group of older seniors at this RV Park. We are only here for overnight and the low, low price of $15 for full hook ups is what attracted us. The reason we would stop by again is for the friendliness! Lyle and Dorothy are at Fiesta Grande in town for a few days to visit friends while we are heading on to Yuma to visit Friends.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Enroute to Roswell and Las Cruces, Nm

Roswell is about 70 miles from Carlsbad KOA so that means it is on our route. Build it and they will come! And they were right! At least Ithink that is what they thought when the put the framed photograghs, clippings from newspapers, typed first person accounts of UFO's (with typos) together in a building on main street. The most interesting things in the Museum are from the Movie: Roswell, UFO Coverup starring Martin Sheen. They show the movie there and if you have missed it and are in the area you can see it with the price of admission. It is poor example of a Museum and research centre but lots of people stop by. The town is not inviting enough for us to stay there but I am sure that some do. It is an effective tourist attraction.
The Drive from Roswell west to Las Cruces was very interesting. We went from flat arid desert to grasslands, to hills then a mountain area with pine trees, a ski resort, Ski Apache the back to desert and sand hiils when we drove into White Sands which is near Las Cruces. We are at Sunny Acres RV

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sitting Bull Falls

It is a beautiful, warm, sunny Friday and that makes it a great day for a country drive and a Picnic! The drive is to Sitting Bull falls which is 35 miles from Carlsbad KOA along a relatively little-traveled, road through the Guadalupe Mountains. This is sheep grazing country interspersed with gas plants. Our KOA brochure reads that if we catch a whiff of an unpleasant (sulphurous) smell that it is the smell of money. There is lots of money on this route until we get to the canyons and the State park. The falls is a veil of water and if we want to experience the roar of the falls that would be in July after the rains although there is water all year coming off the canyon wall in the middle of an arid desert. This is a wonderful serene, beautiful, rugged and enchanted place to visit and so unlike other places that we have encountered that we are thrilled to be here. We have packed a Picnic Lunch as we have had enjoyed some great lunch spots and this would be one of the best.

Carlsbad Caverns Thursday Mar 19

The Carlsbad Caverns were amazing! We spent 2 hours on the 1st Self Guided Tour starting at the Natural Entrance. This hike is similar to walking into a steep canyon, a descent of about 800 feet in one mile. Some of the highlights the Devil's Spring, Whale's Mouth and Iceberg Rock. The 2nd two hour Tour was in the "Big Room" and some of the amazing sights were: the Lion's Tail, Hall of Giants, Bottomless Pit and Rock of Ages. When we were done we took a 750 ft Elevator to the top. We enjoyed out late Picnic Lunch overlooking the valley below.
This is a wonderful place to visit. Out pictures do NOT do justice to the beauty of the these rock formations. There are other guided tours and trails that we would take if we are in the area another time. We stayed at the Carlsbad KOA for 3 nights to enjoy this area..

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a United States National Park located in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park for most visitors is the show cave, Carlsbad Caverns.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Heading West via of San Angelo on Tuesday Mar 17

San Angelo, Texas is is located north west of San Antonio on the banks of the Concho River between US Highway 87 North and South. There are always cities or towns or historic points of interest on our route. We chose to take US highway 87 north to San Angelo just to vary our return route. The city is similar in size as Red Deer but does not have the extent of recent business development that Red Deer enjoyed on the south side of town. What is also similar is the river that flows through San Angelo and the path along the river that is similar to the section along Bower Ponds. This area is inviting and very scenic. This is also the location of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts which is 30,000 square foot structure is built of native Texas limestone and has beautiful mesquite wood floors, galleries with soaring 40-foot ceilings and 4,000 square foot upper level deck with a view of the Concho River and downtown. This is a major attraction in San Angelo We took a stroll along the river and then toured parts of the Historic Down Town which was disappointing. We sometimes find the “Historic Old Town” district to be less than expected as it usually consists of old run- down buildings with possibly one or maybe two that have been refurbished. San Angelo was not an exception. Luckily we continued on and finally found the newer section and chose the “Outback Steakhouse” for supper. It was an excellent choice!

Monday Mar 16 on River Walk

Monday Mar 16th is a beautiful warm sunny day and it is back to the River Walk for a Canal ride for Dorothy and Lyle if you look closely at the river boat you will see L and D. Meanwhile John and I idly people watch and wait for the Kilpatricks at an Irish Pub where we have a great lunch. Life is tough.

The Mercado is a great place to browse through and since we are just about shopped out that is all we did here!

Sunday Drive to Fredericksburg and Luckenbach, Texas

We took a Sunday drive (Mar 15)to Fredericksburg which is in the heart of hill country and it was a beautiful country drive. It is hilly but also very treed. Lots of peach trees. The town was teeming with tourists on the sidewalks and browsing the eclectic shops..... this is a favorite place to visit for Texans and it is easy to see why! We love this area and could live here it is so lovely and the climate is great. We took this drive on our way out of town on Tuesday morning just so we could capture the essence of rolling treed hills one more time. There still was lots of people strolling the streets but this is Spring Break for Texas.

We also went to Luckenbach, Tx.....Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song mentioned "Luckenbach, Texas" and maybe you know it too. Like a lot of songs we know 2 or 3 lines but there are good ones and this the place to sing them!
"Luckenbach is not so much a place but a state of mind." is a Steinbeck quote and it fits. There was a western group on stage a'singin and a"twangin and people a'hangin and too!

There only is a General Store that has a bar, washrooms and a hall for western music and dances but it is an interesting place to visit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

San Antonio Days

We are in San Antonio on Wednesday afternoon and the weather has been Cold with Heavy Rains! It was a high of 9C Thursday which is balmy in Alberta but here this is parka and hat weather after the 29C temperatures previously ! It feels cold to us too as the wind is cold and wet! (So there!) We had an appointment at Freightliner to get the computer codes on the exhaust brake checked to see why they are not working properly. It is a huge shop and they are 30 plus repair bays both for large and some small diesel engines....apparently RV's are quite small and not a priority. They have hook ups for RV's in for repair. Thursday was quite wet and a good time for a haircut and shopping. In the afternoon we and Lyle and Dorothy toured the outlining area. They have beautiful acreage subdivisions, huge houses and lots and an abundance of trees. This is the start of hill country. We also went to SAS Shoes Country Store which is an experience as it is set up as an old fashioned country with Coffee, Coke, Popcorn for 5cents and a bag of assorted penny candy is 2 bucks! Dorothy bought shoes. I bought the candy. We spent a pleasant evening dining at the Kilpatrick's and playing a game of cards.
it is interesting the things that we find to do when it is raining and in limbo without our motor home, which they promise to get at by Friday....we've been here since Wednesday afternoon!

Have you ever been to a Container Store? We saw our first container store in Washington, D.C. and this store is even bigger. AND.....if we had a bigger motor home I would be able to organize the house and the cabin at the lake. This store has containers and storage or shelving ideas for EVERYTHING!
More importantly, it is across the street from North Star Mall with numerous stores including Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. If you are in San Antonio and have spare time this is for you!
By the way, it is mid afternoon Friday when we were able to retrieve our RV with a $$$bill but no solution but we are able to get to our RV Park, Stone Creek, and now feel settled.
Saturday the weather is improving so it is time for the Alamo and the RiverWalk. Our arrival coincides with the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the River Center Mall is streaming with pedestrians. This is a festive day!
The River Walk was quiet as we started on the paths but before we picked our lunch stop we were jostling with the locals and tourists. Like us they were rubber necking at the fun green outfits. The waiters in The Crab Shack entertained us with rap misic and dancing. It was fun!

Of course, no trip to Sab Antonio is complete without a visit to the Alamo!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Corpus Christi

Monday was another great day for drive and except for some BIG wind gusts it was an easy drive. This is fertile land and the ranches are big.....everything in Texas is big....honest. The largest US ranch is at Kingsville just south of Corpus Christi. It is aptly named: "King Ranch".
We are teasing Lyle and Dorothy, former flat-landers from Saskatchewan, that they must feel at home here as the description "table flat" does not totally capture this landscape. It is all dressed in fresh spring green on green and I am going to miss that when we return to Alberta in April.
We basked in the late day sunshine and warm breezes (hold on to your hat) at Hatch RV which feels and looks like we are in the country but is 5 minutes from downtown. The brochure described the longevity of the RV Park but also stated that it had been modernized. I'm thinking that would have been before MY kids were born! Yup....a long time ago right Duane and Pat?
Tuesday is tour day so we are on the harbour early and noticing the size of this prosperous city although it is quiet at the harbour. This is a city that has a long economic history in agricultural, tourism, military (naval base), mining and as a major port.

The harbour is much larger than at Padre Island and the boats in the "Private" section are bigger and grander. Shoreline Drive takes you past some very well appointed palatial size homes. There are excellent museums, cultural centres and art galleries. We were impressed with Asian Culture Centre on the harbour near the visitor centre.
The Main Attraction though is the USS Lexington which is an air craft carrier form WW Two.
Take a look if you too are interested.

After a delicious lunch at Landry's Seafood House we did a circle tour from the harbour along the shoreline and over to Padre Island, Mustang Island and took the Port Aransas Ferry back to Corpus Christi. The Mustang Island State Park has over 5 miles of Gulf of Mexico beaches and and the view is unimpeded by the trees. :-) Fishing is a primary attraction as it was around Brownsville. Fishermen are everywhere. This is an interesting barrier island and is one of the best places to see coastal marine life, from stingrays to blue herons. There are many choices of places to stay, either in motels, condos or rental apartments, or you can camp. Primitive beach camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. There are rinse showers, bulk water and portable toilets in convenience stations along the beach. Today there were LOTS of College kids parked on the beach and Dorothy and I were wondering: "Where are all the Port A Pottys?" We are surprised by the large section of beach that you can drive on, park at edge of the water and set up camp!

This has been a great day and there is lots more to explore but we are moving on to San Antonio! There is SO much to see and do and so little time! Alas, we may be home in a month or so.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A 3 day weekend in a the Rio Grande Valley

This has been a great three days in a semi-tropical paradise with lots of large palm trees, trees in bloom, plus the ever-blooming bougainvilleas and warm Gulf breezes! Well the warm gulf breezes gusted up to 30 mph winds but it was great anyway. the temperatures rose to the mid 80s F (29C) during the day and maintained a temperature of 70F(21) overnight. This is quite different that the high desert that ranged from 9C to 35C ! We get to use our A/C here more and it is working well.
We are well situated here in Brownsville with a half hour drive to Beaches, neighboring towns or Mexico. The Rio Grande Valley is 75 miles long and consists of 12 different communities varying in age and size.
The most famous location is South Padre island that is a 34 mile long stretch of sandy beach bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Bay. There is an abundance of condominiums and of course an ample supply of shops, bars and restaurants!

This is a major fishing area and there are Shrimp Boats in Laguna Bay and other nearby ports.

There is an abundance of touring in this area and we just scratched the surface so there is lots more if we ever back in this interesting area.

Saturday morning we set out early to Flea Market 77 in Brownsville, TX and did a walk through a Hispanic Flea Market that was a combination of fruits and vegetables and tables of stuff that had been someones well used treasures and essentials.

From there we continued on to Harlingen to the Street Market that was in full swing by the time that we got there. Here I found a great collection of Milk Glass and other antique glass ware that I should have bargained on except for my other voice that says: "What are you going to do with that...aren't you going to downsize?" It was fun to explore this market and lunch was around the corner at a New York Deli that looked like a favorite of "Winter Texans".

From 2009-03-08 harlingen in Rio Grande Valley

Our "fun" trip of the day was to Progreso, Mexico where we walked across the border (cost was .25) and was able to get one of John's prescriptions that he forgot (NOT Viagra but it too is cheap!) at less than his portion on Blue Cross. It was a hot sunny Saturday and there were lots of pedestrians, hawkers, sidewalk and alley shops and mariachi bands. Fantastic atmoshpere!!

Sunday was a fantastic day for weather so back to the beach! This is the start of March Break for the College students in Texas and this beach should have 10,000 college kids partying here next week. We are moving on to Corpus Christi tomorrow and we will see how crowded the beach is there!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

To Laredo, Zapata and on to Brownsville.

What a great way to start a day......homemade biscuits, gravy, eggs, sausage, french toast, coffee and local colour! You can't beat that. We are off for a Wal Mart stop for a few groceries then heading east! Now that always takes longer than normal.....for groceries and fuel.The scenery enroute to Zapata was un-inspiring! But the country side today is changing as we get closer to Laredo. We decided to go further east to get close to Thursday's designation and ended up at Zapata, TX near Falcon Lake and Reservoir. We are spending the night at Stinson RV Park and Storage and we can tell that we are near a lake because of the serious fishing boats that are parked beside the 5th wheels or trailers.

The drive on Thursday was very interesting as there are lots of cities along the Rio Grande Valley and the traffic was very busy.

Brownsville is bustling and is a resort town. We lucked into our RV Park which is Rio RV Park Resort and is located east of Brownsville on the Boca Chico Road. A few miles down the road from our park is the Boca Chica Beach which is an undeveloped beach with miles of sand.

The "boys" checked the area and decided to race on the beach. Take a LOOK!! :-)

On The Road to Del Rio

March 3, Tuesday morning is another great blue sky sunny day and we are on the road! Nothing beats the feeling of heading out to the next place and the anticipation of yet another great place to experience. We love it! Once we are out of the park we are taking highway 90 east to Del Rio and will continue east until Brownsville on the Gulf of Mexico. The wonderful thing about a Motor Home is the Imax/Panorama View that is unfolding before you mile after mile. We are deliberately staying off the Interstates and enjoying very quiet roads and easy access to stop at the small towns along the way.

Today that small Hamlet is Langtry, Texas the home of Judge Roy Bean! It is also described as the Ghost Town with a Visitor Centre. It is interesting how many of the Western icons were as lawless and ruthless as the people to whom they were doling out their version of justice.

We have been following the Rio Grande river in south texas and today we drove over the Pecos River outside of Del Rio. We arrive at our RV Park, Broke Mill, around 4:00 pm and received a warm cowboy welcome. This is a new RV park on the west of Del Rio and the owner is excited to welcome his new customers. He is a real down home rancher, who does have a ranch in the area but is looking after his new project. He informed us that one of the RV'ers is a cook and tomorrow morning they are serving breakfast with Buiscuits aand Gravy. We are not going to miss a free texas breakfast!

From 2009-03-06 Broke Mill

Grapevine Hills Trail and Lost Mines

Monday March 2nd John and Lyle left in the morning for scenic hikes in the Park. You need to get there in the morning as the sun will be hot today (29C) and there is limited shade in the desert.

Dorothy and I have a day do Laundry....hum?

Their first hike was Grapevine Hills Trail a 2.2 miles roundtrip An easy hike up a sandy wash surrounded by massive boulders. After 1 mile the trail ascends to a low saddle at the end of the drainage. The exposed granite has weathered into wonderful rock formations, pinnacles, granite boulders, and a natural stone arch. You will see the giant "window" of boulders that was on their trail. John captured some great pictures on these two hikes. Look closely at the pictures and maybe you too will wonder: what is Lyle doing?

Their second hike at The Lost Mine Trail is 4.8 miles roundtrip This moderately difficult trail begins at mile marker 5 along the Basin Road. With it's accompanying trail guide (available at the trailhead), this is an excellent introduction to the plants and animals of the Chisos Mountains. The trail starts at an elevation of 5,600' and steadily climbs to the top of a 6,850' promontory overlooking Pine and Juniper Canyons.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lajitas to Presidio, Tx

There is no "Town of Lajitas' as this is the name of a Resort than had a great start and the multi-million dollar golf course was washed out by the river flood caused by the opening of dams on the Mexican side of the river. This would have been a 5 star resort but now is poorly managed/maintained version of the original park. The resort hotel owns and operates the RV park but has little interest in it. This is the quietest park we have been in and has no street lights and very little park lights. It is dark here! This is a BONUS for night time star gazing! You should see the millions of stars that you can see here! The park is 25 miles outside of Big Bend Park entrance and the closest town is also a ghost town, Terlinqua but with a couple of active businesses. We went to a restaurant: the Starlight Theatre which still had the original stage as part of the restaurant. Lyle had "antelope" and said it was great!

The lots are big and since there are only a few RV's here we have most of the amenities to our selves. The people who are here are very friendly and welcoming.

From 2009-03-03 Maverick RV

Take a look a Lajitas and you will see that the other businesses were quite eclectic

It is March 1st and Sunday morning and a Sunday drive east to Presidio is in order. It was a steep, winding mountain road, now one of many that we have been on but still unique. The town of Presidio was very quiet but the street was lined with cars and the churches were full. Obviously this is a family town.

We explored the remains of a Movie Set that was on the banks of the Rio Grande River. The mountain views, the canyons and the river views were awesome but so were the abundance of Spring Blooms! For a closer look click on the slide show.