Sunday, February 28, 2010

Marathon to Sierra Blanca, TX and our very first dust storm! WITH ADDED INFO!

Today we traveled from Marathon to Sierra Blanca, TX. The last thing that we saw out our picture window before closing the shades to travel was the beautiful range across US-90 from us. We even saw a large white object, blimp?, that we could see across the desert for miles that looked like a whale that had been beached in the middle of the desert. The day was sunny and beautiful and, just after passing Marfa, TX, we pulled into a roadside picnic area for lunch. This was located in the center of a desert plain surrounded by mountains. A motor home pulled in behind us for their lunch, too. Soon we saw a huge brown cloud low to the ground coming from the west slowly blocking our view of the mountains. It was still bright and sunny and the wind was picking up to 30-40 MPH. We decided to wait whatever it was coming out right there, even though we were totally in the open. There was no place to go so we made ourselves comfortable. Sunny had been fed too and so she went to sleep in the rear seat of the truck. The cloud became brown and we started seeing funnel clouds forming in the midst of the brown clouds, kicking up sand before them. Then it was on us with winds that must have been over 60 MPH. This lasted for maybe five minutes and then the winds slowed back to 30-40 and the brown clouds started thinning but not disappearing. As soon as we could see a few hundred feet, we decided to wait even more because we did not wish to be caught in the center of another one of these storms and, being from Michigan, funnel clouds mean tornados to us. Maybe a half hour later, it seemed safe to travel so we left. We were buffeted by 30-40 MPH or so winds most of the way to Sierra Blanca. The dust storms were over, though, as soon as we got on I-10 at Van Horn, TX. We have been blessed to see some of the most raw, gorgeous scenery that we have ever seen. This trip was no exception to that, either! Then it was 30 miles to our present RV park. We set up and got some BBQ from Curley's BBQ, next door to the RV park. Pretty good, too! Hopefully this will be our first and LAST dust storm. Tomorrow we travel to Deming, NM for one night and then to St. David, AZ, east of Tucson, for two weeks.
On edit: We discovered from the Montana Owners Forum that the dust storm we saw was a Haboob, see , and a Dust Devil, see The storm was a Haboob and what we thought was the beginning of a tornado was a Dust Devil.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Big Bend National Park, TX

We saw one of the most awe inspiring sights today we have ever seen - Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas. A million acres of raw, brutal beauty. We left at about 10:00 this morning and returned at 7:00 tonight and only scratched the surface of this magnificent park. We first had to wake Sunny up from her favorite perch on the couch and then out to the community outhouse on wheels for the humans in the RV park and a palm tree for the dogs. They think of everything in Texas! The drive just to get to the park was 40 miles through such beautiful mountains and high desert that, by the time we reached the park, we were just about out of "Oohs" and "Aahs!" Part way into the park we saw a rock formation that sure looks like Ally Oop. The canyons, mountain ranges and dry river beds are awesome. There were former volcanos and around them were piles of volcanic ash. Santa Elena Canyon is a passage through massive walls of rock. Through this passage passes the Rio Grande River so the super high walls that we see are in Mexico and we are on the American side. We have seen what we learned to be Prickly Pears, a rounded leaf form of cactus in Texas and they have been green. Here they are also yellow and purple. Some of the mountains were almost 8,000 feet high. As we left the park, we saw many deer and several wild boars. The wildlife is all over wherever we are - wonderful! We saw a beautiful sunset and got the best shot just after sundown out the rear window of our Montana. Thank you God for this truly beautiful day!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Brackettville, TX to Marathon, TX

Today was a beautiful day to travel as we drove from Fort Clark Springs RV Park, in Brackettville, to Marathon Motel and RV Park in, Marathon, TX. The wind was quite strong against us as we drove west into it and the drive was all uphill, as we climbed into the mountains. We have only had this truck for a few weeks and I am not sure how accurate the fuel gauge is. Those are my excuses for running out of fuel for the first time in my life, about five miles from our destination. A local farmer, Pancho, stopped and asked if we needed any help. He then drove into Marathon and brought back a container with five gallons of diesel for the truck. We just keep meeting great Texans. The ride itself was beautiful in many places and quite barren in many, also. Just west of Del Rio is a large body of water and Anistad National Recreation Area. This was the most water we have seen since leaving the Gulf of Mexico. Further along in Anistad, still on US-90, is the start of a beautiful mountain range. We slowly climbed throughout the entire journey. The Pecos River is a large, flowing body of water. Many of the rivers, streams and gullies we drove over and by were dry. Judge Roy Bean, "the only law west of the Pecos," served drinks in his saloon in what he called Langtry, TX. He was named a Justice of the Peace in the 1880s and served drinks and justice both from the saloon, named after his idol, Lilly Langtry. The entrance to Langtry looks like a ghost town. Guy's Store probably was busy at one time but, as you can see, not now! The actual building of the saloon/court/billiard parlor is still here and has been kept. We saw some palm trees in Langtry that looked like they had fur coats on. The high desert is like nothing I have ever seen. Tomorrow we will take a peek at Big Bend National Park. It contains a million acres and we will only be able to see a small part of it but, if we like what we see, we will camp next time in the Park and tour it properly. Sunshine was great today with the travel. The larger back seat helps. She is sound asleep on the couch now and must be dreaming because her feet are moving.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bandera to Brackettville, TX

This was a travel day. We had a short, 115 mile, trip from Bandera to our new campground in Brackettville. We have been amazed with all of the green we see in some of the farms and ranches. Many of the trees are dormant and so is some of the grass. There were hills/bluffs/buttes similar to the ones we saw in the Nebraska Panhandle and parts of South Dakota. The CG is Fort Clark Springs. This is a former US Army Fort, starting in the 1800s as a Cavalry post. It was an Army Post until 1944 and is now a private resort. It is HUGE and has condos, homes and hotels that are all former military buildings. It is very clean and busy. The people are great and they have the 3rd largest pool in Texas here which is spring fed. The water temperature stays at 68 degrees year round. There is a ton of history here. The place is full of deer. We have heard of wild turkeys but, so far, we have not seen any. Nearby is Alamo Village, where The Alamo was filmed, as well as Lonesome Dove and many other westerns. The owner died recently and it is now closed to the public. There is really nothing much to see or do around here but one can see wildlife and fish in the stream that runs through here. Near the front is a statue called Empty Saddle. This was a cavalry fort and the empty saddle was used to signify the Trooper being killed in battle and his horse coming home with an empty saddle. The campground is a Passport America park and full of friendly Winter Texans. We are spending only one night here but, when we return, we will definitely stay longer. Tomorrow we will move on to Marathon, TX, where we will stay two nights and use it as a jump off spot for seeing Big Bend National Park. On the way to Marathon, we will make a stop at Langtry, where Judge Roy Bean presided. We gotta see this!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Added day in Bandera!

We were planning on leaving today for Brackettville, TX but a package of Diabetes test strips did not arrive here yesterday as promised. We will give it another day and, if still no package, we will have to go to Plan B. (First we will have to figure out what Plan B will be, though) Right now it is sunny and 31 degrees. Dropped to 24 last night and yesterday we had snow flurries. Snow is so unusual for this part of Texas that, when we went to a Walgreens, employees were going outside just to see the snowflakes. It is supposed to be sunny and slowly warming up for this entire region for the next few days. Brackettville is along US-90, west of San Antonio. It is the site of Fort Carson. This fort was first commissioned as a Cavalry Fort in the 1800s and was used to organize troops during our war with Mexico. During early WWII days, then Lt. George Patton was stationed there and he supervised the construction of a giagantic spring fed pool. It still is there. The fort is privately owned and is now a resort that also includes an RV park. The pool is spring fed and is the third largest pool in Texas. The water is a year round 68 degrees - great for the 100 plus degree summer days but I will have to think twice before taking a dip when we get there. Deer and wild turkeys supposedly wander the resort at will in large numbers. Across the highway from the fort/resort is the former movie set for John Wayne's movie The Alamo and many other western movies. It was open to the public until last year when the owner died. Too bad! :( The Alamo set was supposedly to scale from the real deal. Today, while awaiting the package, we will probably take care of some housekeeping chores around here and maybe grab some BBQ and go look for wildlife in the hills. Hope to move tomorrow!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

San Antonio area and Sunny at Show n Tail

We took a trip to San Antonio and went by the Alamo. This historic site is surrounded by downtown San Antonio pushing in hard on the site. It was a beautiful day but with all the people and the closely abutting buildings, we decided to skip entering the site. We will see a made to scale reproduction of The Alamo when we travel to Bracketville this week. It is the site of the movie, The Alamo, and we will be happy to see it there. Sunny really likes the room she has in the rear seat of our new truck. She sleeps on her side with her back to the front and her feet at the back of the seat, worrying us that she will be dumped onto the floor if ever we have to stop quickly. Oh well, we'll just have to be careful. Anyone know what this large black and white animal this is? A beautiful rack and he shows it to us most evenings in this field. Sunny took us to another Greyhound Show n Tell at a San Antonio Petco. Once again, she met with a half dozen other Greys and they all had a great time. It may be a while before she will be able to attend another. Maybe in a couple of weeks in Tucson. This cactus garden is in front of the Pipe Creek, TX Post Office. We have seen cacti at the entrances to many of the ranches in this area. Most of them really look nice.
On Edit: Learned that the black animal may be a Gemsbok. Googled it and the face and antlers are so close. Rack seems slightly large to be a Gazelle. We have seen Gazelles around here, though - tan and brown ones.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Llano and Luckenbach,TX

Another sunny day with temperatures around 60. Seemed like a good idea to go touring around Hill Country again, so we did! Went through historic Fredericksburg and saw some of the old buildings, some of which were constructed in the 1800s. Then on to Llana where we found what is now my favorite BBQ joint, Coopers Old Time Open Pit Bar BQ. Just outside the door are giant holding cookers. The meat had been cooked in pits over mesquite for hours and brought here. We picked out our meats, I took the pork ribs and Carol took the Big Chop. The chop looked like a small roast and he cut 4 ribs off a slab for me and, when all was said and done, I only was able to eat 3. He dipped the meat in their BBQ sauce and I took it in and got beans, more sauce and slaw. We took the food and headed east from town looking for a lunch spot. We found it about 8 miles east where there is an eagles nest not far off the road. We counted three heads sticking out over the top. Once in a while, one would flex its wings. Great spot to try our new "Q." This may be the best barbecue ribs I have had. It is now in my number 1 spot of BBQ joints. It is worth traveling to Texas just to eat their BBQ. They ship so we will definitely order from them in the future. From there we went to Luckenbach looking for Waylen, Willie and The Boys. Of course they were not there at this time so we just absorbed some of the atmosphere of the place. Luckenbach says Population 3 so there were about 10 times the population here today. There is a dance hall, a Post Office/General Store/Beer Garden combo, a house and a large picnic area on a stream. Talked to the UPS lady in Grand Blanc and she said she was there one July 4 and Willie Nelson was there and the place was mobbed. The song, Luckenbach Texas, keeps running through my head so guess I'll have to get Waylen's version to play as we travel. This made a really great ending to a fantastic day! I really don't have time to complain when I count my blessings!