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Laura’s Notes from Texas

FINALLY- it’s been waaaaay too long since I’ve been on a road trip.

This winter, I decided to head to the southwest, an area I have not been in my RS Adventurous. Good choice! The general route is to Dallas to see a friend, Big Bend National Park (it’s National Park Year after all) and up to Guadaloupe NP, Carlsbad NP, over to Tucson/ Sedona/Saguaro NP to visit more friends, on to Phoenix then meander back home to Kansas City.

I’m going with some observations here- about Texas.

  • There are lots of cool dust devils in Texas. Very fun to watch, but to not be in. Many times I have to close my windows or I will spend a couple hours cleaning. This is a vast landscape of dirt and wind, but beautiful.IMG_5241
  • Sheep and cows appear in the most desolate areas. I don’t know how they live out here. I expected more Brahma and Longhorns. I also saw a lot of big game ranches which is a big deal out here. I saw Zebra, African Antelope, etc.
  • Sunrises and sunsets are incredible.
  • How about the millions of miles of really nice and well kept fencing? I read that it costs $20,000.00 per mile. And a small ranch is 2000 acres. That’s a lot of beef and big game hunting. There are a ton of “South Fork” style, zillion dollar ranches in the hill country. Whoa, everything really is bigger here.
  • The hill country has several cool little towns with lots of museums, shops and picturesque courthouses.
  • Texas has some very bumpy roads. Also, like in Mexico, people (me) pull over into the wide shoulders to let faster vehicles pass. This is a good system.
  • Don’t come here during the Primaries. When I did watch tv, it was scary.
  • A lot of gas stations have up to 20% Ethanol in their Diesel. My Sprinter can only take 5% so I have to go to the big box gas stations and keep alert. The last thing I want to do is have a problem when I am a million miles from nowhere, which is everywhere.
  • All Texans have white vehicles.
  • The roads seem fairly free of trash, and there are litter barrels along some of the highways. Good for them! Plenty of recycling.
  • Water is scarce out west. Parks may limit you to 5 gallons a day. And 3 minute showers that cost quarters, which I don’t mind- I keep plenty in my shower bag. In Marfa, (altitude @ 5,000) the coolest temperature town in the southwest part of the state, it quit raining regularly in the 70’s.
  • Marfa is where they filmed “Giant”, “Lonesome Dove” (my favorite all time movie and book), “No Country for Old Men”, “There Will Be Blood” and many other movies. There is a wonderful historic landmark hotel “The Presidio”. And another cool old courthouse.
  • The campers have been so friendly- I have been invited to at least 4 dinners, listened to a bluegrass picker and made a lot of new friends.
  • I hate to admit it, but Texas BBQ really is good. And that is saying something as I am from Kansas City and we are huuuuuuuge rivals.
  • Big Bend National Park is so big, (how big is it?) the temperatures vary 20 degrees, depending upon where you are. They also can vary a lot in one day- hot in the day and cold at night. You need both sunscreen and jacket. Bring a 4WD with high clearance, to take any of the side roads. Or prepare to hike.
  • If you want to stay in the parks, make reservations a year ahead. Especially in March which is spring break and busy.
  • If you come early enough in the season, there are hardly any bugs, probably, because there is no water, either. Rainy season is June- Sept. and then, only a few inches.
  • Go out at dawn. I saw a zillion rabbits, animals and birds. And NO PEOPLE! Everyone goes out at dusk, so you will have the whole place to yourself. I felt like I was the last person on earth. I loved it.
  • Actually, get up before dawn; the stars are incredible. It is one of the darkest places in the country. Plus, there was just a sliver of the waning moon, so it was magical and timeless. Especially when the coyotes yipped.
  • There are a lot of Border Patrols here. I have been through 2 inspection stops.
  • I have seen only one tumble weed the whole time, no rattlesnakes and a lot of cowboy hats and an amazing amount of differing landscapes. After BB- I hit Ft. Davis Mountains, which is a wonderful state park and boasts the elusive Montezuma Quail, which I never got to see- DRAT! Then to Guadaloupe NP, which has very good hiking. Did I mention it’s National Park Year? The 100th anniversary? Are you going?
  • This is a major flyway. Big Bend has more bird species than any other park. I got at least 12 new ones, so I get to have ice cream cones. It is a tradition with birders.
  • Wow, it can be extremely windy here. Gusts up to 70 MPH. Hold on to your hats and grab that steering wheel with both hands.
  • I am now recuperating after a dastardly hike down 80 stories, and back – into Carlsbad Caverns. The elevator hasn’t worked in 7 months, I heard.   But it was worth it.

Ciao for now. Or should I say, “Catch up to ya’ll later”?



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