Monthly Archives: April 2015

Texas, Day 3 – Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park
We planned on visiting Carlsbad Caverns, so headed into New Mexico via Seminole, Tx and Hobbs, NM. Lots of wildflowers and oil/gas wells and processing. There isn’t any vehicle based camping allowed in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, so we headed back into Texas to the Guadalupe National Park which has a camping area at Pine Springs. It isn’t much of a camping area for RVs. It is basically a parking lot. We arrived mid-afternoon, so there were several spots to choose from. We picked an edge spot near the trails. 
  
After setting up, we were finally able to get in a short hike. We didn’t get many chances to hike on our way here, so we were ready to stretch our legs. We followed the start of the El Capitán trail for about 1.5 miles and then turned around to head back to the campground. 
On April 23, we hiked the Frijole Trail to the Smith Stream Trail then on to the Frijole Ranch (which was closed). We took the Foothills Trail to get back to the campground. We had planned on taking the trail to the Guadalupe Peak, but it was so overcast, we decided that the trail wasn’t worth the effort due to the lack of view. The Frijole Trail was a great up and down trail around the side of Frijole Ridge. 
   

 

Smith Spring was really beautiful and tranquil. 
   

 

Frijole Ranch was unexciting, but it may have been more interesting had it been open. We couldn’t find the start of the Foothills Trail, so we walked down to the Corral and picked the trail up there. The Foothills trail was not terribly exciting, but it was relatively flat which was a good thing at this point. 
   

 

All together, the trails were about 8 miles of rolling hills. 
We rested for a bit and took showers before feeling ready to head out again. We hadn’t seen the tent camping area yet, so we checked it out. It is really wonderful if you are willing to haul your tent and stuff from your car to the camping spots. It isn’t so great if you plan on sleeping in your car or plan on doing anything in it like cooking. The tent sites are located in a natural area surrounding by flora. 
We continued on from there to the Visitor’s Center. We followed by taking the Nature Trail to the Pinery, the Butterfield Stage Station Ruins (an early postal delivery route). So I figure we put in another two miles. Not a bad day’s outing.
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Texas, Day 2 – April 21 Lake Colorado City State Park

Today was mostly a travel and resupply day. We were beginning to run low on groceries. 

We drove through quite a bit of Texas on April 21. 
We drove in a Northeasterly direction which took us through a lot of very lightly populated areas. We started out at Pedernales Falls State Park which is near Johnson City and drove up through Llano and Brady.
  
We stopped at a great little shady, tree covered rest stop between Brady and Eden. There were a couple of picnic tables under great oak trees. It was a god thing we pulled in when we did, because another family pulled in while we were setting up lunch.  About five minutes after they set up, another person stopped for lunch, too. She sat in the grass on a yoga mat and ate her lunch. There aren’t a lot of places to buy lunch in this area, so the rest stop was perfect.
We did a little shopping in San Angelo. It is a reasonable sized town with a Wal-Mart and decent prices for diesel. We stopped for the night at the campground in Lake Colorado City State Park. It was pretty vacant which is a good thing. 
   

 

I’m glad it wasn’t too hot, because there is very little cover overall. It was just a bit buggy, sticky and warm. We took a walk around the campground, but it started to sprinkle, so we headed back to the  RV. There were bunnies everywhere. 
We had kind of a damp dinner and an early bedtime.
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Texas, Day 1 – April 20 Pedernales Falls

LA to Pedernales Falls State Park

We had a nice drive from Cameron, LA to Texas. We had to take a very brief ferry to get across the nearby river.  We passed by guys on horseback herding Longhorn cattle. It was very exciting. You just don’t see that very often. 
Once we reached the Texas line, it felt a lot like we were driving through the back lot of a huge petroleum supply company. We eventually traveled out of that region and though Houston. 
At least we weren’t going through it during rush hour. It seemed like it was endless miles of strip malls and cookie cutter subdivisions in shades of brown. Once we reached the downtown, the view was of a very impressive skyline. As expected, it was followed by the same sprawling housing and shopping centers. We were glad to get past it.
For a long time after that we drove through mostly fields and pastures and small petroleum structures. We went south of Austin and made a detour to Lockhart for the BB. We visited Kreuz’s and picked up Smoked Beef Brisket and Pork Chops for dinner.
We decided to camp at Pedernales Falls State Park which meant we were driving through parts of Austin in rush hour traffic. It took a long time to get through it all. 

   

  

    
  

Pedernales Falls State Park is located in the Texas Hill Country near Johnson City and West of Austin. It is rolling hills with trees and a river running through it. 
There is a nice campground with lots of trees. We easily found a nice spot with trees and a little privacy from the neighbors. As usual, there were lots of vacant campsites to choose from. Unlike most of the places we have been since we started his trip, there were actually a significant number of other people in the campground. 
We rolled in pretty late and were really hungry by the time we set up. Tonight was our first chance to eat outside. There wasn’t any rain for once.  We had the beef brisket and green beans. 

We took our usual stroll around the campground afterwards. A lot of people had brought dogs with them. In addition to typical breeds, we also saw a couple of English Setters and three Rhodesian Ridgebacks. 

 

 

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Gulf Coast of Louisiana – April 19th

Please pardon the formatting of this post. We haven’t had much Internet lately. Just enough to get some photos and paste a partial text.  

  

   

   

 

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Gulf Coast of Mississippi – April 18th

We stayed mostly on the Interstate on Saturday to get through Alabama. We stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center for recommendations of routes to take along the coast. 

  
Because of the suggestions, we took Interstate 10 to Ocean Springs, and then followed US 90 along the coastline. It was really interesting to see how different it is as compared to the NC coast. The devastation from hurricanes is very evident if you know what you are looking for (or the absence of buildings). Most of the building rubble had been cleared away since 2008. But there are still driveways to empty lots and lots of foundations. It looked like the first block of buildings were just wiped out. The only buildings along that stretch are obviously new. 
Last night we stayed at the Mississippi Buccaneer State Park on the Gulf Coast. It is West of Biloxi and Bay St Louis and very close to the Louisiana state line. The state park had been completely wiped out in 2008 and rebuilt. For us, the best part was the camping spots overlooking the Gulf. These camping spots “only” had power and water. The majority of the camping spots were among the trees away from the Gulf coast and also had sewer hookups.  As usual, there was almost no one in this area. There was one large party with about 6 cars, one very large RV and countless children. On our side, there was one older couple in a small towed camper.

   

    


We had a fabulous view. We arrived early enough to have time to walk around the park for a while. There was a nature hike, but since it had been raining off and in for the last several days, it was very waterlogged and we gave it a pass. There were a couple of water park areas, but they weren’t open yet. Besides the camping areas, that was pretty much it. A couple of the loops of camping areas were full of RVs.

Once we got back to our camper, it started to rain. It wound up raining pretty hard for a prolonged period, so it was dinner cooking inside the camper. Very spicy bison burgers and sugar snap peas.

   

   

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Tuskeegee National Forest

We camped in Tuskeegee National Forest last night. It is pretty close to Tuskeegee & Montgomery, Alabama. 

It had been raining hard for several hours before we reached the forest. Fortunately, it was just drizzling at this point. I had downloaded a map of the Forest. We headed to one of the marked campsites, but it was a day use only area. 

Tuskeegee National Forest Map

We followed a nearby road into the Forest and passed by a large encampment of Marines. We assume that it was a Marine reservist weekend for them. 

We continued on and shortly after we found a marked camping area. It was really nice. It was level with a large tree and slightly overgrown field. The ground was very stable especially considering how much rain this area had. 

 

It was a very pretty spot. I enjoyed listening to sound of tree frogs. 

 Edit  

 

We grilled cheesy Bratwursts and I prepared Shredded Brussels Sprouts (recipe in the link below). I added a pinch of ground chipotle. 

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

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Heading West

Jon and I left home in NC on April 16. The freezer is full, and we have lots of supplies. 

  

I’ve been preparing, vacuum sealing and freezing meat for the trip. I love our vacuum sealer. It makes this kind of thing easy. Thank goodness my husband, Jon, is an engineer. I gave him a bag of things for the freezer and he made it all fit. Otherwise, we would probably had about 1/2 the amount of food and most of it would have slipped out every time we opened the door. 

We will be picking up supplies along the way, but pre-seasoning and freezing the meat in two person portions makes things easier. 

We’re heading West on a southerly route this time. We’ve done a lot of trips where we’ve gone through the middle of the country, so this should be mostly new sights. 

We have to be at the Flagstaff, AZ by May 12th for pre-Overland Expo – West. We will be at Overland Expo – West from May 14-17. Afterwards, we are going to spend a little time in Southern Utah before heading back home. We are aiming to be back in NC around May 31. 

So no definitely plans for the next four weeks or so. We stayed at the Sesquicentennial State Park campground last night and are planning to camp in Alabama tonight. We love the Ultimate Campground app. It lists campgrounds in public lands including parks, municipalities, etc. There aren’t as many around here in the East, but there are a few. It is especially wonderful in the empty parts of the Mid-West and West.

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We’re Underway 

  

   We’ve left NC and are heading West following a southerly route. Hoping to camp at a SC State Park Campground tonight. 

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