Thursday, September 29, 2016

West Texas in the Rearview

Tuesday's Location: North Llano River RV Park (el 1,700 ft); Junction, Texas
Current Location: Bastrop State Park (el 500 ft); Bastrop, Texas

All Pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone

I left Balmorhea early Tuesday morning with a 260 mile tow ahead of me; mostly interstate. The morning temperature was a brisk 55 degrees and I started out with long pants but changed to shorts before hitting the road. A roadrunner bird came to see me at the dump station as I was emptying my tanks. It jumped on Freedom and gave me a look. As I was grabbing my phone to take a picture, it jumped down onto the pavement. Having just now checked the pictures, the color of the bird blended in with the pavement just as if he was wearing camouflage. 

The drive was uneventful and the scenery changed a little but not too dramatically. I stopped for gas at an Exxon station and immediately got a case of the "heebie jeebies". I checked the place out on Google Earth the night before in preparation to stop and knew there wasn't much at this exit, but when I stopped for gas, everything looked closed and grown up in weeds. Strange. I pumped the gas and kept my head on a swivel because I learned to just my instincts long, long time ago. Nothing happened and I didn't see anything unusual, but I was glad to be leaving exit #372.
Houses are separated by great distances in west Texas. This was the only one for quite a while. Too isolated a life for me.

The scenery changed a little from New Mexico.

I've noticed American flags have become more common lately than they were just a year or so ago. Every time I see one along the way, like this one in Sonora, Texas, it makes me smile and gives me a sense of "things in the country are going to be OK".

I will miss the open skies of the West. As I get farther and farther to the east, the trees along the road will close in tighter and tighter. 

Campsite at North Llano River RV Park.
I arrived at the town of Junction and checked into the campground. It is very nice and comfortable. You could tell the owners and workers took pride in their work. I didn't have a data signal in the campground or around the town. This is only the second time in my travels that I couldn't pick up a data signal. The other time was in Seminole Canyon State Park in extreme West Texas. I called Barney, a fellow RV'er/Blogger, since I knew he was camped in the area. We enjoyed some very good BBQ at a place called Lum's. I got the brisket and turkey; both were excellent. We visited for an hour or two before saying our "cya down the road's". Safe travels Barney, have fun.

I left Junction the following morning and arrived here at Bastrop around 1:00 p.m. This is a great little park from what I've seen and I'll be interested in exploring it and some of the area. I'll be here for only 3 days with some chores like laundry and shopping needing to be done.
Camped under the Loblolly Pines of Bastrop State Park.

You can tell you're really in Texas when you see the
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.   

Monday, September 26, 2016

Watching it Rain in Balmorhea

Location: Balmorhea State Park (el. 3,300 ft); Balmorhea, Texas

All pictures (except one) was taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
click pictures to enlarge

My plan was to be here in Balmorhea for only 3 days. Well today is day 5 and I'm still here. Sunday was suppose to be moving day with plans to move on to a state park in Junction, Texas about 250 miles from here. But, plans change. I checked the weather forecast on Saturday and it indicated heavy rains in Junction for Sunday and Monday. I extended my stay here at Balmorhea and have been stuck inside watching the rain since yesterday morning. Looks like I will be able to leave tomorrow morning. Since I have reservations at Bastrop State Park for Wednesday thru Friday, I'll only stay one night in Junction. I have plans to enjoy some great BBQ with another RV'er/Blogger at Junction. I've been told the state park in Junction has flooded out so I have reservations at a commercial park close to the interstate. 

Before the rains hit, I packed a lunch and drove over to Davis Mountain State Park. I stayed there for a few days back in February of last year while waiting for the weather to clear around El Paso before heading to the west coast. Davis Mountains were a real "wow" for me last year and I wanted to see if they had the same effect on me this year. The difference this year is that I will have recently come from the Rocky Mountains while last year I would have came from the dry desert of extreme southwest Texas. It wasn't as much of an impact this year, but when I got to the overlook in the park, and gazed out onto the open plain, a small, but audible "wow" came out of my mouth. As is usual, there was no one around to hear it but me. 

After enjoying my bologna turkey sandwich with a great view of the plains, I continued on with a long swing through the mountains to intersect I-10 west of Balmorhea. It was a nice drive.

This isolation due to the rain and no over the air TV stations has given me lots of time to think about things. 

The rest of the post will be pictures since too many thoughts are racing in my head for any reasonable blogging. 

On the way into the Davis Mountains

Remember my question about why Mesa's are flat? I wonder if these are the beginning stages of Mesa development. They have the steep sides and only need to have the material on top erode away. In a few hundred years, well, maybe.

A nice bench to enjoy the view

This was my view while enjoying my lunch

This structure was built by the CCC in the 30's. 

An overall view of the structure

The view through the large "picture like window" from inside the structure. I took a picture from the same spot last year.

American and Texas Pride. Flags proudly flying in the middle of nowhere. It was great to see!!

Clinging to life.
Never give up. 

For my Louisiana friends,,,,the junction of I-10 and I-20.
I-20 begins here.

The swimming hole at Balmorhea. It was built by the CCC when they enlarged a natural spring. Today, that spring produces 15 million gallons of water every day.

A view of the CCC's handiwork.
Well done. 

A cloud coming up over the activity center.

A nice picture of the campground with the dark clouds.

One decent sunset while I've been here.

This is the first in a series of 3 pictures. I was barreling along the highway doing about 70 mph when I noticed an isolated tree on the top of the mountain. I stopped quickly and took out the fancy camera. 

I'm still not familiar with all the settings on the fancy camera because I don't use it very often.

Now that is a nice shade tree growing all by itself. It would take a pretty good hike to get to it. I wonder how many people have sat under that tree and enjoyed its shade. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Carlsbad Caverns and Moving Day to Texas

Location: Balmorhea State Park (el 3,300 ft); Balmorhea, Texas

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

On my last day at Brantley State Park, I visited Carlsbad Caverns. I've heard about them all my life but really never had a big hankering to see them. I'm not sure why that is, so it will stay a mystery, I guess. The drive to the Caverns took about 45 minutes since they are 30 miles south of Carlsbad.
Once you arrive at the main visitors center, the view is just spectacular as you gaze our onto the open plains. They say it was all under water a few million years ago. Maybe, maybe not. 
This is still at Brantely. The two cars belong to two women traveling by themselves and sleeping in tents. They are not traveling together, they just happen to be in the same campground. I only briefly talked to one of them. They are rightly "stand-offish" of strangers, especially men. Safe travels, ladies.

This carpet that is chewed up is from a visitor I had the first night.

This is the carpet after the third night. I left it in the garbage. Luckily, that is all they did. I checked my engine compartment and saw no evidence of their handiwork.

This is the view looking out over the open plains from the hilltop where the caverns are located.

I was given two choices to enter the caverns: 1) walk down a switchback path through the open entrance. This entry would be about a 1 mile walk, OR 2) ride an elevator down 750 feet right into the caverns. Hmmmm, after a split-second decision, I headed towards the elevators. As you leave the elevators, your 750 underground in the caverns. My mind had a hard time adjusting to it since everything seemed fake in the dim lights. If "It's a Small World" had been playing, you would swear you were in DisneyLand. To screw with your mind even more, there is a snack bar and T-shirt vendor within sight after leaving the elevator. I didn't feel like a snack so I hit the pathway. You follow the path for 1.3 miles and see different formations along the way. It was interesting in places, but mostly, it was repetitive. I'm glad I went, but I'm pretty sure I won't go back.
This is the dining area where you can enjoy a snack or drink while being 750 feet underground.

The walkway had handrails on each side.

Large formations. I think they were the Land of Giants.

I liked this location because it had a lot of fragile looking formations.

This old ladder represented how the founders got around the caverns

I don't remember the name of this spot. 

I think this was called the The Drapes (curtains)

I did find a bench where you can sit and look at the formations.

I pulled out of Brantley State Park this morning with only 150 miles of towing to get to my next stop which is Balmorhea State Park. I didn't take any travel pictures since it was similar to most of the flat land of central New Mexico. The difference today was the high number of oil field traffic on the road and well sites adjacent to the road. Except for the barren land, it looks like any other oil field I've seen. 

I'll be here at Balmorhea for 3 days before moving on. I'm not sure what I'll be doing yet, but will most surely will be enjoying the 50 amp service at my campsite. The temperature in bumping 90 degrees with direct sunshine on the side of Liberty. The 50 amp service allows me to use both A/C units at the same time. 
Campsite at Balmorhea State Park

The three New Mexico State Campgrounds I've stayed at only had 30 amp service. I've been disappointed in New Mexico State Parks. Granted I've only stayed at 3 of them, but the odds of being disappointed in all 3 is pretty high. The Corps of Engineer campground was great, which helped balance out the state somewhat.

It feels good to be back in Texas.  

This was a quick post. I'll go back and proofread it later. Maybe.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sitting Bull Falls

 Location: Brantley State Park (el. 3,300 ft); Carlsbad, New Mexico

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone

I arrived at Brantley State Park on Monday, the 19th after a short tow of only 100 miles. With such a short haul, I stopped on the way to do some grocery shopping at Walmart in the town of Artesia. As I was approaching Artesia, it seemed as though I crossed an imaginary line in the oil/gas fields as there were oil service industries everywhere. Quite a change from the last several weeks. 

Brantley State Park is located several miles off the main road and is on a small oasis. This is my third New Mexico State Park and none of the offices/visitors centers have been opened. The volunteer camp hosts seem to be running the camp grounds. Routine maintenance is being ignored in 2 of the 3 parks. I can only assume there must be a budget crisis in the state.
The campground is somewhere down this road

At least the clouds were putting on a show

Brantley Lake. I only saw one boat on the lake.

Liberty's campsite

View from my window

One of the reasons I came here is to visit Sitting Bull Falls. I had heard of this place as I passed through the southern part of the state during the early spring of last year but didn't stop. This time, I paid it a visit. It is located 31 miles off of the U.S. Highway. The road is in very good condition but has few travelers. During the 31 miles, I saw only 2 other passenger vehicles and a couple of tanker trucks. It is a nice drive through some pretty country. Although it is pretty country, it is not pristine. There are many signs of oil and gas exploration with a few visible pipeline locations. To me, it was not a problem.
Lonely road, but a nice drive.

I can imagine that cone shaped hill being used as a guidpost/landmark in the past.

You cross this valley and the falls are in those mountains in the distance.

The road surface changes for the last few miles, but still in very good condition

The road begins to follow the dry streambed. This is definitely a flash flood location during heavy rains upstream.

 Other than a volunteer host, I was the only one at the falls. It was very peaceful and quiet. The water fall is 150 feet high and flows year round. Within about 300 yards of the base of the falls, most of the water goes underground with very little of it flowing on the surface. Most of the rockwork was constructed by the CCC from the 1930's. I've seen their work in many locations throughout the country and it is always top-notch. It was a successful program in the 30's and it should be modernized and re-vamped for use today.

That is the camp host's RV on the right. He just started a 6 month stint and will be here through the winter. Very isolated duty. 

The rock shelters are picnic locations.
I found a bench too. :)

Nice view over the whole picnic area.

A bench at the falls

The camp host was told this place is packed in the summertime.
I took this picture mainly because of the strange looking cloud. 

I'll be seeing the famous caverns today. I'm preparing myself for a let-down because of the hype surrounding the caverns. I hope I'm not disappointed.
Mediocre sunset last night. Hopefully a better one tonight

Tomorrow is moving day. I'll be headed to Balmorhea State Park in Balmorhea, Texas. I'll be moving every 3 days for the next couple weeks as I head back towards Louisiana.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.