Texas

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Corpus Christi Bay in background

We left New Orleans on February 13th, stayed one night in Kinder, LA and then drove on to Corpus Christi, TX.
We are staying at the Naval Air Station Paradise Cove RV Park in Corpus Christi. We have a great view out the back window of Corpus Christi Bay. The  is calm and peaceful…..except when the wind blows and stirs up the white caps.We watch the pelicans diving for fish every morning and fishing people coming and going all day long. On the weekends there is windsurfing and kite boarding going on in the bays.

When the north wind blows, it causes large waves on the shoreline .. splashing up over the dockP1020819 P1020820 P1020821 P1020822 P1020818

From where we are staying, we can see the north end of Padre Island.

“Padre Island National Seashore P1020817protects the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world.  The national seashore embraces 70 miles of sand and shell beaches, picturesque windswept dunes, seemingly endless grasslands, tidal flats teeming with life, and warm nearshore water.”

Look at http://www.nps.gov/pais/index.htm

King Ranch which is designated as a National Historic Landmark and is historically recognized as the birthplace of the American ranching industry.  The four south Texas divisions sprawl across 825,000 acres of Gulf of Mexico coastal plains.  Santa Gertrudis and King Ranch Santa Cruz breed cattle, quarter horses, majestic Texas Longhorn cattle and has a rich diversity of natural wildlife.  Kingsville is located on part of a mexican land grant purchased by Captain Richard King in 1853.  It was the beginning of a dream to tame the Wild Horse Desert.  His widow continued that pursuit for 40 years following his death.                                 Go to http://www.king-ranch.com/index.html to read more about the history.                We drove through an intense wind storm that blew up dust from all the near by  fields.P1020854

3/4/2013   We spent an afternoon going through the

Art Museum of South Texas.              P1020871

3/4/2013    Texas State Aquarium.  We spent an enjoyable day looking at the exhibits and watching a small dolphin show…..Sea World it isn’t !

We met David and Karen Feeder while in Corpus Christi.  They have become really good friends.  We will miss playing cards and going out to eat with them.  We will meet up with them again in about a week when we go to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, TX.  Then they will head to their home in Loveland, CO and we will continue our adventures heading back to Salt Lake.

We left March 5th and headed to Brownsville, TX.  This is the very south tip of Texas.

It borders Mexico.  P1020928

Today we drove over to South Padre Island.  This 34 mile long sub-tropical Island located on the Gulf Coast of Texas, 25 miles north of the Mexican border.  The island is a half-mile wide at its widest point and only the island’s southernmost five miles are developed.  More than 5,000 residents call south Padre Island home, with approximately one million overnight visitors each year.  The Island is on the same latitude as Fort Lauderdale.  The white sandy beaches of South Padre are known throughout the United States (ranked one of america’s top 10 beaches).

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We ate lunch at Dirty Al’s

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South Padre Island ahead

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The beaches are beautiful and seem to go on forever.  The temperature today was 72 degrees and very little wind…..what a change !!  We were told during Spring Break you didn’t want to be within 25 miles of this place because it is so crowded.

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On the way home we stopped off at the Palo Alto Battleield visitor center.

P1020938“In the early morning of May 8, 1846, 2,300 U.S. troops escorting 300 wagons full of supplies, marched out of thickets of thorny brush and onto the broad prairie known as Palo Alto.  Across the field, where the road toward Matamoros once again entered the chaparral, some 3,200 Mexican soldiers lined up to block the way.  Within minutes, the peaceful coastal prairie, named for the “tall trees” that ring the field – erupted with the rumble of artillery fire.  For five hours the two armies engaged in a fierce battle, the first of a 2-year long war.”  It was very interesting.  Go to the website http://www.nps.gov/paal/index.htm to learn more about the battle and Texas becoming a part of theUited States.

Adventures and Misadventures

Last July when we first officially turned into “full-time RVers” we met a couple at Hillfield that have been RVing for 19 years.  They love it and plan to continue.  He called their life full of adventures and misadventures.  He said hopefully, when it’s all over with, there would be more adventures than misadventures.  We are learning what he meant by that.

The adventures have been great: Banff, Canada; Yellowstone; Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, NM; Carlsbad Caverns, NM; Mardi Gras in New Orleans, watching the ocean in Corpus Christi, TX from our back window and everything in between.

Until lately we have not had any disastrous misadventures, but have been uncomfortable a few times.  One of our biggest misadventure was on our very first trip out, we skimmed the roof of the trailer on a tree and scrapped the topside of the roof, which is vinyl.  John patched it up and we have had no residual affect from it, but it’s not smooth like it was when we bought it.  It’s kinda like the first scratch you get on your new car.

Corpus Christi was a great place and we enjoyed having a view of thP1020928e ocean from our back window.  However, it was windy every day….too windy to enjoy being outside.  We left Corpus Christi on March 5th and headed for Brownsville where we stayed in a very old trailer park.  Won’t be going to that park again.

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Falcon Ridge

On March 9th we headed to Del Rio, TX.  Since it was going to be about an eight hour drive, we decided to stay at a place called Falcon State Park.

Well, here is what I’ll call a mini misadventure…..  We get to the Falcon Ridge State Park, which is in Texas mind you, around four o’clock.  It’s by Falcon Reservoir which is a really large reservoir….half in Texas.. half in Mexico.  We had to drive to the end of the park to see it since it wasn’t visible from the campsite.  I start dinner around six and John turns on the TV.  There were no English speaking local broadcast channels to be found !!  We were looking forward to watching American Idol which is on FOX (channel 13).  We could have hooked up the satellite to watch the stations that broadcast on satellite, but it wasn’t worth it for just one night….we needed the local channels…which are not on satellite since our DVR is based out the Utah area.  Amazing…here we are in Texas…USA…and don’t have English speaking channels, not even FOX, ABC, NBC or CBS.  We didn’t think to ask before we made the reservation or had set up camp.

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Laughlin Air Force Base

We are now staying at the Laughlin AFB in Del Rio and enjoying the lack of humidity.  We were feeling like everything was damp and the outside of the trailer (and truck) had a salty film.  We are staying here for a week to dry out and clean things up.  The temperature has been a very pleasant average of 80 degrees. The base was established in 1942.  We can see the airfield from our trailer.  The planes and jets fly around like buzzing bees….only louder !

“The 47th Flying Training Wing, located at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, conducts specialized undergraduate pilot training for the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and allied nation air forces utilizing the T-6, T-38 and T-1A aircraft while deploying mission-ready Airmen as well as develop professional, disciplined leaders.  Laughlin AFB, the largest pilot training base in the USAF.On weekdays, the airfield sees more takeoffs and landings than any other airport in the country.”

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Amistad Lake — View from bridge

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The town has quite a few historical markers and examples of original brick and adobe construction and a lot of the businesses are third generation owners.   The only attraction is the Amistad Lake.  “Amistad Dam was constructed in 1965-69 jointly by the United States and Mexico to impound the waters of the Rio Grande, Pecos and Devils Rivers.  It created one of the largest artificial lakes in the United States with 800 miles of rugged shoreline.”  Rugged is a good word to describe the lake.  The shoreline is rocky, not sandy, but the water is a beautiful blue.  There are a lot of boats in town, boat storage lots and sales.  We only saw one boat on the lake, but in the Summer we think it is probably quite busy.  In looking at the map, it looks like a really large body of water.

3/14/13  Dave and Karen (our new friends we met in Corpus Christi) have arrived.  We will all go to Marathon. TX RV Park and stay for one night.

We stopped off at the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, TX

 

Roy Bean holding court in 1900, trying a horse thief. Bean is in the center of the photograph, sitting on a barrel and holding open his law book. The thief is sitting on a horse underneath the “Ice Beer” sign, with his hands behind his back.

With his earnings, Bean purchased a tent, some supplies to sell, and ten 55-gallon barrels of whiskey. By the spring of 1882, he had established a small saloon near the Pecos River in a tent city he named Vinegaroon. Within 20 miles (32 km) of the tent city were 8,000 railroad workers. The nearest court was 200 miles (320 km) away at Fort Stockton, and there was little means to stop illegal activity. A Texas Ranger requested that a local law jurisdiction be set up in Vinegaroon, and on August 2, 1882 Bean was appointed Justice of the Peace for the new Precinct 6 in Pecos County.  His first case had, however, been heard on 25 July 1882 when Texas Rangers brought him Joe Bell to be tried.

One of his first acts as a justice of the peace was to “shoot up the saloon shack of a Jewish competitor”.  Bean then turned his tent saloon into a part-time courtroom and began calling himself the “Law West of the Pecos.” As judge, Bean relied on a single law book, the 1879 edition of the Revised Statutes of Texas. If newer law books appeared, Bean used them as kindling.

Bean did not allow hung juries or appeals, and jurors, who were chosen from his best bar customers, were expected to buy a drink during every court recess.  Bean was known for his unusual rulings. In one case, an Irishman named Paddy O’Rourke shot a Chinese laborer. A mob of 200 angry Irishmen surrounded the courtroom and threatened to lynch Bean if O’Rourke was not freed. After looking through his law book, Bean ruled that “homicide was the killing of a human being; however, he could find no law against killing a Chinaman.  Bean dismissed the case.

Behind the “Jersey Lilly” is a Cactus Garden Interpretive Trail.  Amid the yucca, prickly pears, agaves, saguaro and more, you could see that is was not only attractive, but educational as the specimens are accompanied by labels and Indian and pioneer lore regarding the plants.  It was very interesting and it was nice to put a name on all the cactus we have been seeing throughout Texas.

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MISADVENTURE – but feeling lucky

We blew a tire on the trailer about 20 miles outside of Marathon, TX.  The good news is that we didn’t roll the trailer.  The bad news is the blown tire damaged the bottom of the trailer.  We are disappointed (MAD) that the tire blew with less than 10,000 miles on it.  The other thing we are mad about is the spare looks like it came from the back of the trailer yard and had been sitting in a ditch for a while.  It is NOT new.

John got the tire changed and we drove into Marathon (population 50).  Saturday morning he got up early and drove into Alpine, TX (population 250) where he purchased a new tire – feeling lucky that they had the size that we needed.  While putting the new tire on, he found a defect in the tire that was sitting right next to it.  There was a hole in the tread that went down to the steel belts….he had never seen anything like that.  We are lucky it hadn’t blown at the same time or even sooner.  So he put the spare on that wheel.

So now that things have calmed down we can move on with our adventures and hope the tires last until we get to El Paso where we will look into buying four new good-quality tires.

3/16/13  We are at Big Bend Resort & Adventures RV & Tent Camp in Terlingua, TX.  The four of us took an airplane tour over the Big Bend.  What a great adventure.  He plan was a Cessna 205.  The pilot was a retired Ranger and was very knowledgeable.  The plane looked pretty ragged, but it did the job and we have a great memory of seeing Big Bend (or a portion) from the air.  

 

 The Big Bend National Park roads end at the Rio Grande, the boundary between the United States and Mexico.  But far more than two nations meet here.  Three states abut at Big Bend: Texas in the United States and Coahuila and Chihuahua in Mexico.  Many of the park’s famous, expansive vistas mix scenes belonging to both nations.  One of the park’s best known features, Santa Elena Canyon, is only half a canyon on the United States side.  Its south canyon wall towers above Mesico.  In February 2012, Big Bend National Park was designated a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, becoming only the second U.S. national park and one of the ten parks in the world to earn the distinction. (The first U.S. national park, Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, was designated as the world’s first Dark-Sky Park in 2007.)  Big Bend is thought to have one of the darkest measured skies in the lower 48 states.”

Well our tour of Texas is almost over.  We are now heading to Ft Bliss Army Base in El Paso.  We have said our good byes to David and Karen and have both pledged to get together again in the future.

We plan to be in Las Vegas by March 28th and back in Salt Lake the first week in April.  Our cruise to Germany leaves on April 20th so we’ll have a few days to visit with everyone before we leave.  I can hardly wait……

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