We had just one day to explore Big Bend National Park. Our original plan of a 2-day stay was foiled by leaking water lines and not one, but two visits from a mobile RV repairman. Them’s the breaks…but we arrived to our rescheduled campsite just outside the park and pulled in between a couple whose father/father-in-law lives just down the road from our old Mariposa, California home, and a young couple who are living and traveling (since 2020) in their giant 5th wheel…along with their 5 children.
This has been our favorite hike of the trip…so far. Just under 5 miles with enough elevation gain to test us. Watching the massive rock formations catch the morning sun as it rose was spectacular. I’m afraid the photos don’t do it justice.
With the afternoon ahead of us, we drove the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive stopping along the way at points of interest. Our goal was to reach the Rio Grande River, signaling the end of the road and the border between the United States and Mexico.
And now it’s time to leave Texas behind. We’ll be hitching up Minnie and heading west tomorrow. See you in a few days.
We arrived in San Antonio, Texas on February 23, the first day of the historic Battle of the Alamo that took place in 1836. It was also the first day of the annual commemoration honoring the battle. A sea of chairs were set up on the front plaza, filled with history buffs who listened to speakers commemorate the famous battle. I’ll leave you to do your own research regarding the winners and losers of the battle.
The following day we left the city behind and found a place to stretch our legs and enjoy a quiet picnic lunch. The 12,000-acre Government Canyon State Natural Area fit the bill. With 40 miles of trails, we chose a combination that took up and around on a loop through changing vegetation. We even found a bench with a bit of a view for our lunch.
What a surprise today’s outing was. Our effort to outrun the high winds across New Mexico allowed us an extra day in the Texas Panhandle. The state park at Palo Duro Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, awaited. At roughly 120 miles long and with an average width of 6 miles, it is the second-largest canyon in the United States. Reg had researched and read good reviews for The Lighthouse Trail, so we packed a lunch and off we went. We were a little skeptical of finding gorgeous scenery as we drove south from outside Amarillo, where the views go on for miles.
The day was expected to reach into the mid-80s although we expected it to get a little warmer along the trail. There were plenty of warnings to carry lots of water and reminders to reapply sunscreen. There was even a sunscreen dispenser at the trailhead for unprepared hikers. It was all just a little intimidating. Probably not a good choice for a summer hike.
Our information assured us there would be quite a few benches placed along the trail…and there were, but most were in the full sun. A nice spot to rest weary feet, but not much help hiding from the heat of the day. I paused for a quick photo, then we pushed on.
As we reached the base of The Lighthouse, we saw folks scrambling up the hillside ( left photo), obviously off the main trail. Choosing to remain on the trail, and thinking we’d have an easier climb because of it, we were faced with this mini-canyon of rocks (right photo) to hoist ourselves up and over.
Reg stands below the 300-foot-high Lighthouse formation, marking the end of the 3-mile trail. We climbed a little higher, but were stopped by the ridge of rock shoulder-high that would have required some pushing and shoving to get ourselves any higher.
We found Palo Duro Canyon State Park to be a hidden gem. Miles of hiking trails cross the park, numerous picnic areas and camping sites are available throughout. We were glad to see the park in spring. I would think summer would be dangerously hot.
Oh, and those high winds we hoped to escape…they arrived out of nowhere tonight, blowing through our campground with gusts of 40-50 mph. Batten down the hatches, its going to be a wild night.
It was never our intention to follow Route 66, but as we’ve traveled east we’ve woven our way on and off the historic route, enjoying little bits and pieces of Americana.
As we left New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment, we crossed into Texas…the land of tornadoes.
Reg poo-poos my fear of entering tornado country. However, I feel justified since we awoke to a “take cover now” warning five years ago while in the Texas Hill Country. The rain came pouring down while the nonstop thunder and lightening surrounded us…and we had nowhere to go. There was a bit of damage in the RV park we were camped in, but thankfully we escaped without any physical damage. For me, maybe just a little emotional scarring.
Needless to say, I’m happy to see that tonight we have a place to go should the weather turn foul. That little white sign on the end of the building above will act as our safe room. I’ve memorized the code and the shoes are by the door.
The editor of the community newspaper I worked for used to say, “Everyone has a story to tell.”
Meet Australians Rachel and Skip, two fellow travelers who will have quite a story to tell when they return home. Our paths crossed today at the Onalaska KOA campground along the shores of Lake Livingston in eastern Texas. As we head east, they are heading west on the home stretch of a year-long motorcycle odyssey that has taken them on a crisscrossing journey, tent camping their way through the U.S., Canada and into Mexico.
Positioned just below their motorcycle windshield is the above reminder that life is short. Rachel and Skip claim to be “not escaping life, but just stopping life from escaping us!” We couldn’t help but admire their spirit of adventure.
So, as the sun sets in Onalaska, Texas we wish Rachel and Skip safe travels and many new adventures to come! Tomorrow we will cross into Louisiana, headed toward new adventures of our own.
Small-town Texas was on display today as we drove southeast to the Hill Country, where we are staying for a few days at the By the River RV park in Kerrville. Our site is on the Guadalupe River and spring green is the color of the month. What a view for happy hour! It is quite a change from the stark desert scenery of western Texas and much of our journey through Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.
Brady, the geographical center of the Lone Star state, and Mason were welcome chances to walk and soak up the atmosphere.