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Laura’s Notes from Texas

| Updated Mar 17, 2016

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”?



Mike Wendland

Published on 2016-03-17

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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