Friday, January 31, 2020

Goliad, Texas is an Anagram

Location: Goliad State Park; Goliad, Texas

Stop #6
This is going to be a short post since it's a moving day. Today is the second day to be in Goliad. I've been here twice before back in late 2014 and again in early 2015. I stopped here to break up the trip to Corpus Christi and to do some chores. Those chores were laundry and a new tire to replace Liberty's spare. The replacement is needed simply due to the existing tire being almost eight years old. I called around and one was available in Victoria which is about 30 minutes away. This would work out great since I was thinking about staying in a city RV park in Victoria so I would be able to check it out after getting the tire mounted. I'm glad I did because I didn't care for the looks of the RV park. Pictures can be deceiving, especially pictures online. I also got a "bad vib" about Victoria, in general, as I was driving around downtown. I've learned to trust my vibs so I'll pass on staying at the city RV park or any other RV campground in the town. 

I will probably stay here in Goliad on my way back to Louisiana after leaving Corpus. That will make the fourth time I've camped here and I've yet to tour the church-house located right in the State Park. Maybe I'll get to it on my way back through.
My campsite here at Goliad. I'll have trouble with that green tree in front of Liberty. It will either require some fancy jockeying to miss the overhanging branches or I may just back out of the campsite. I noticed them before I set up camp and probably could have changed sites, but it isn't that big of a deal to avoid them.

This is my view out Liberty's door. I really liked the cloud formation after a small dry line passed through.
Goliad is rumored to be an anagram of the name, Hildago, which the "H" removed since it is silent. Hildago is the last name of the patriot priest, Miquel Hildago, who came to fame in the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. The people renamed the existing town of La Bahia in his honor but were afraid of pay-back from the Spanish if they came back into power. So to hide the name they removed the H and scrambled the remaining letters to form "Goliad". 

Goliad also became famous during the Texas War of Independence with the Goliad Massacre. I wrote about it during my previous stay and it is easier (on me), to just put a link to that post.

This picture is in tribute to Francisca Alavez, The Angel of Goliad. She helped many, many Texans who had been captured by the Mexicans during the Texas War of Independence. In the background is the Fanin Memorial dedicated to the 300+ prisoners that were massacred at the order of General Santa Anna. See, the Alamo is not the only thing to remember.
Today's tow will only be about 100 miles so I can leave around 11:00 and still make it to Mustang Island by 1:00 or so. I'll be there for seven days. The weather is a little chilly but clear after a small front passed through. 

Well, I need to finish getting ready.

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Time to Head Towards the Gulf

Location: Potter's Creek Campground (Corps of Engineers); Canyon Lake, Texas

Still at stop #5
This will be the last COE campground for a while. Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be headed towards the Gulf of Mexico. After a two day stop in Goliad State Park, I'll be spending a week on Mustang Island just outside of Corpus Christi.

These four days on Canyon Lake have been pretty good. Yesterday I took another drive to see something that has been on my to-see list for a little while. It is Jacob's Well. It is basically an artesian well in the middle of a creek. It is an entrance to some underground caves filled with water. The well has been in use for a long time with times of slow and fast flow. It is definitely not a destination point but if you're in the area, it is worth a look-see.
Don't think of Hansel and Gretel when walking the path to Jacob's Well

Maybe, it would be better if there were some people around.

The darker blue hole on the right side of the creek is Jacob's Well.

A little bit better view. I got down on the concrete weir but the sun was reflecting off the water too bright for a good up close picture.
On the way back to the campground, I stopped at the dam to see what it looked like from the top. It is a pretty dam and lake. I really liked the benches under the sprawling tree with the view out to the lake.
Nice view from the top of the dam. You can walk the entire width of the dam if want,,,, I didn't want.

A great view from some "thinking benches". I sat and thought for a little while but nothing major was decided. Maybe the Gulf coast will answer all of my questions.
 Oh well, time to move on tomorrow, so I need to get a few things taken care of before going to bed.

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

Monday, January 27, 2020

Another COE Campground and River Road

Location: Potter's Creek Campground (Corps of Engineers); Canyon Lake, Texas
click pictures to enlarge

This is Stop #5
This is the fifth Corps of Engineers campground in a row on this trip. If you don't know where Canyon Lake, Texas is located, it is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country and about 45 minutes north of San Antonio. Obviously it is on Canyon Lake which was created by damning up the Guadalupe River. The lake was created for flood control and recreation with construction being completed in 1964. The purpose of flood control failed in 2002 when 34 inches of rain fell within a one week period of time. The Corps was unprepared for this unusually high rainfall event and the excess water started passing over the spillway. The purpose of the spillway is to protect the dam from failing due to high water. When the lake gets too high, water is bypassed over the spillway. Well, back in 2002, the flood waters over the spillway were seven feet deep and continued flowing for six weeks. This water carved a gorge downstream of the spillway that exposed dinosaur tracks and fossils. If this story sounds familiar, it may be because the same thing happened at a Corps dam in Iowa City, Iowa. I learned of it when I was camped there a few years ago. You can read about it here:

This is the spillway where the water was seven feet thick. You can only see it at a couple of places where the trees/shrubs have been removed from the observation point.

This is part of the Observation Hill near the dam. At one time I bet it was great. However, the scrub trees/shrubs have grown up along the fence to where you have to back off up the hill just to see the lake. 
Today, just about every inch of the shoreline of Canyon Lake is taken up with residential or commercial property. At least there are several public parks and access points. A battle for water is brewing between the Lake Authority and the cities of San Antonio and Austin. Each city is trying to get water from the lake because their populations are growing. We will see how that goes in the future. 

This is the first time I've ever been turned away from checking into a Corps of Engineers campground before 3:00 pm. I arrived, as usual, around 2:00 and was told I had to wait until 3:00. I asked if there was a place I could park while waiting the hour and was told "not around here". At first I thought the attendant wanted me to back out of the gate area, but then he raised the gate and told me I could turn around just past the gate, but that I better not go any farther into the campground. I turned around and went to a gas station a few miles away to fuel up and wait the hour. While waiting, I got online to look at the campground reviews and found several reviewers complaining about the 3:00 time limit. The change occurred about a year or so ago. I'm pretty sure this "policy enforcement" is coming from higher-ups in the Corps chain of command and not just the volunteer working at the entrance, but I can't understand the reason. With a 100+ campsite campground turning over a third of more of their campsites per day means 30+ RV's are showing up at about the same time. You would think they would appreciate some showing up early just to ease the rush. Oh well, it wasn't too bad, just frustrating.
This was a Walmart Rest Stop on the way to the campground. I'm posting it here to show the price of gas.

The campsite is great. That is the Guadalupe River in the background which is the backwaters of Canyon Lake.
The Guadalupe River runs downstream of the dam and of course it has a road right alongside called The River Road. That was one of the reasons for me stopping here was to ride that road. I was surprised at the amount of commercialization along the road. Any available land was taken up by businesses. It is not an undisturbed nature area, but there were stretches where you could see the way it was originally. I was only mildly disappointed, but it's OK since it ended well.
There is just something about a drive along a river that makes it fun.

I picked a good time for the drive. I bet it is bumper to bumper in the warmer months.

One of the views from the bridge crossings

The reason it's called the hill country. The river is just to the right of me when taking this picture.

One of the surprises along the road. Whoever hung it there did a great job. About a half mile before this was a Texas state flag hung in the same way.

After finishing the drive on the River Road I found myself at an HEB grocery. Well, I had to stop in to get some freshly made tortillas, which I've become addicted. I'm just glad they keep assuring me there isn't any calories or cholesterol in the tortillas when I ask if they have been removed. I'm beginning to think I may be missing something though, because all of the ladies doing the cooking just sort of laugh a little and say "Si, loco Senor". I'm interpreting that to mean "yes, senior person". I'm not sure what a train has to do with it though,,,, loco? locomotion? locomotive?. Oh well, I'll keep enjoying them as long as I'm in Texas.
Looking out the upper window in Liberty while the sun goes down. 
 Maybe just one more warm tortilla with honey. 

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

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Nice Campground; No Major Exploration

Location: Cedar Ridge Corps of Engineers Campground; Temple, Texas

click pictures to enlarge
This is stop #4

Today is day three and it's moving day. I seem to be saying that a lot lately, but I'm liking these quick stops and short tows. It's like it was when I first hit the road with Freedom and Liberty. We were averaging moves every three days with the distance between campgrounds being about 150 to 175 miles. This trip I'm averaging less than 100 miles between campgrounds. 

You can see a lot of new things when traveling quickly and that is the main purpose of my travels; to see new things. They don't have to be giant, spectacular things. Sometimes they are just a small flag on a fence post in the middle of nowhere. Or a long abandoned homestead along a deserted highway on the prairie. When lucky, nature will throw in a great sunrise or sunset just to keep me saying "wow". New things are everywhere, RV traveling just allows me to see more in a short period of time. 

There wasn't anything special that brought me to this campground, but it is a another really nice COE campground. I had thoughts of visiting Fort Hood and its museum but I was afraid I would catch more "museum disappointment", so I just drove around the area to see what I could see. 

This is Freedom and Liberty hitched up as I was leaving Airport Park. It rained most of the night with spotty showers the morning I was leaving. The rain was escorted by a cold front so it was "wet and cold". I'm including this picture so I'll remember the feeling. Even uncomfortable things like this is still a "wow". I've hitched up in rain before but it had been a while. 

This is the campsite here at Cedar Ridge Campground. The days have been great with clear skies, highs in the 60's with lows in the 30's. I rarely use the awning on Liberty but I have it extended here so it can dry from previous rain. 

The view looking out Liberty's door. That is Cedar Creek which feeds into the larger Belton Lake. Notice the line of clouds as a small "trough" blows through. 

Looking downstream with a nice aura from the sun at the top left. 

Looking upstream 

I drove around looking for things to see. This is the typical landscape of the area. It was a pretty day for a drive.

I saw a side road with the name "Bald Knob Road" so I had to check it out. The road was in pretty good condition with only one house in the first few miles. 

The road eventually turned to dirt with muddy spots caused by the last rain. With no one around and the road getting narrower, I decided to turn around while the turning was good. The last thing on the road was this tree that has survived a lot. Nice tree.

Along with "everything is bigger and better in Texas", how about a giant Texas State Flag. Of all my travels, Texans fly their state flag more than any other state. Notice the name of the building on the left. I think it was a bank. Texas First.
Ok, time to get a shower and hitch up. Today's tow will be about 150 miles. I'm making a long loop around Austin on some rural roads. Usually, I just blow right on through big cities and have rarely had a problem. This time, my vibs are telling me to avoid the downtown Austin interstates. 150 miles isn't bad at all and I plan to get to the new campground around 2 pm or so. Looks like another pretty day for a drive.  

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Two So-So Museums & Campground Pics

Location: Airport Park Campground (Corps of Enigineers); Waco, Texas

I'm not sure what I used to take the pictures but if you click them, you can enlarge them.

This is stop #3 on the map
I've been in Waco for four days with the weather being great. But today is moving day and of course it's raining. We have avoided most of the heavy rain but it was a steady and light most of the night. It is suppose to pass on through today but new rain seems to be forming to the west of here as quickly as the rain leaves the area. It won't be the first time I've hitched up during rain but I sure don't want to do that again. Luckily, the next campground is only a little over an hour away so I can wait a while and hope for a break in the rain.

I visited two museums here in Waco. One was the Dr. Pepper museum which was above average and worth the stop. The other was the Waco Mammoth National Monument. The mammoth site was less interesting to me mainly because I have stop at a couple of sites such as this one before. I think this will be my last "bones site". I'll let the pictures and captions tell the rest of the story about the two museums.

The old Dr. Pepper bottling plant

This is inside the old plant. The round thing the guy is looking in is the old artesian well that was used to provide the water to make the first Dr. Peppers. After they quit using it, it was filled with old broken bottles. It was recovered later and now is an interesting part of the museum. 

The site was accidentally found by a couple of guys looking for arrowheads. It is "supposedly" a nursery of Mammoths that were trapped by a flood and buried in mud. There was also a camel found with them. They aren't sure if he traveled with them or he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is worth a visit if you've never been to a site like this. 
This campground has been great and is in my top five COE campgrounds. If I pass through the area again, I will stop. There isn't anything special about the campground except for my campsite #11. Any on this little loop are good with a couple of the pull thrus being the best.

Since I'm writing this post while waiting for a break in the rain, I'll just post so campground pictures and call it quits for now.

The view out Liberty's door. That pull-thru would be the site to have if it is crowded.

This is a lot of flood debris around the campground. It must have been a bad flood.

Walking around I saw this shot with the dead tree, roots and all, in the foreground with the live one in the background on a little spit of land. 

A different dead tree but the same live one in the background.

One of the two nice sunsets. This is from my campsite. It was nice.
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Waco Bridge From the Old West

Location: Airport Park Campground (Corps of Engineers); Waco, Texas

all pictures taken with Google Pixel 2XL cell phone
click picture to enlarge

First: So far, no Argentine Ants hitched a ride with me to this campground. 
This is Stop #3

The tow here was another short trip of about an hour with nothing special happening along the way. The location of this campground is near the airport and that may scare people away from staying here. That's fine with me since the assumption of loud planes doesn't exist. Today is day 3 of a 4 day stay and I've only heard one plane during that time and it was a small private plane. I have a great campsite with full hook-ups near Lake Waco which I can see out my door and windows. My campsite is one of about 6 or so other campsites located on a little loop within the campground. There is a large multi-unit shower house located behind me that some of the campers are using. In the 6+ years I've lived in Liberty, I've only used the campground showers once. That was in a county park near Chattanooga, TN. But, I'm being tempted by this one so close to me. Maybe a long shower of hot water would be a nice change of pace from the Navy showers I take. Maybe. The weather has been great so far with lows in the mid 30's but warming up nicely to the low 60's with clear skies.

My Campsite overlooking Waco Lake

I couldn't decide which campsite picture to use, so I put both of them in.

One of the views out my windows

A look out the door of Liberty towards the setting sun. 
One of the reasons for my stop here was to see an old bridge that used to be the longest single span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi River. The bridge is in downtown Waco and crosses the Brazos River. Waco was formed in 1850 and located where the Huaco Indians used to live. Huaco became Waco by the non-Indian settlers. Fifteen years later in 1865, the American Civil War had ended. During the war years, the longhorn cattle that the soldiers had left to fend for themselves while they went off to war had been breeding. They were everywhere in central and south Texas and generally available to anyone who wanted to rope and brand them. But due to their overpopulation, the price per head was only about $4.00 and not worth bothering. But the opposite was true up in the northern and eastern states. Due to the war, many cattle had been killed and were in short supply. A cow up there may be worth $40.00 a head. But how to get them from Texas to the high dollar markets? Well, one way was by railroad. Coincidentally, the Transcontinental Railroad was under construction and crossing Kansas. It would not be completed until 1869, but there were enough tracks from the east to make it available for hauling cows back east. So began the cattle drive years. Rounding up longhorns from central and south Texas and driving them north along the Chisholm Trail to the rail heads in Kansas.

So, where does the bridge come into all of this? Well, some of the business people in the newly formed city of Waco got together around 1865 and decided to build a toll bridge across the Brazos River. They figured it would be beneficial to the city since the river cut the town in two. After 5 years of construction and $140,000 they opened the longest single span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi River on January 7, 1870. By comparison, the Brooklyn Bridge was still 13 years from opening. It was the only bridge crossing the Brazos River and the owners were granted a 25 year guarantee, from the State, that no other bridge or ferry would be located within 5 miles of the bridge. All of this came together at the right time for the cattle drives. The cattle drives were given the choice to swim the herd of cattle across the river or pay the 5 cent per cow toll to use the bridge. It was cheaper and safer to use the bridge. There is no telling how many 10's of thousand or 100's of thousand head of cattle crossed the bridge. Remember, there were more than 5 million cows that traveled on the heart of the Chisholm Trail.
Looking down the centerline of the bridge. 

Statues of cowboys and cattle on both sides as they simulate the old cattle drives across the bridge.

Pedestrian walkways are on each side of the bridge. That is one of the two main cables on the left. Most later suspension bridges around the country would not have the cables so close to traffic and people.

Standing in the center of the bridge looking upstream. That again is one of the two main cables.

Looking towards the bridge with the cables leaving their saddles and coming into their anchorages on the left and right.

From the bank looking towards the bridge. I don't know the history of the old piers in the foreground.

Farther along the Riverwalk and looking back towards the bridge. The memorial in the foreground is to the fallen law enforcement officers in the area.
The trail drives ended when the railroad started building spur lines across Texas that connected to the main lines. It was then that the public started complaining about the toll on the bridge. So, in 1885, fifteen years after it opened, the private owners sold the bridge to the county for $75,000.00. The county, in turn, sold it to the Town of Waco for $1.00. After several rehabilitation projects over the years, it remained open to public vehicular traffic until 1971. Since then, it has served as a pedestrian bridge to connect both sides of the Brazos River. Waco has done an excellent job of creating a nice Riverwalk of parks on both sides of the river. 

I have two more days of exploring this area and have a couple of other things to see and do. At first, I thought four days would be enough time, but now I'm not too sure. But since reservations have been made through February 5th, moving day will have to be the 22nd.
Sunrise over the lake as seen from Liberty's small upstairs window.
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.