We took our time heading out on Wednesday, pulling out around 8-ish. MW (Mr. Wonderful) had a rough morning at the dump station. If you have an RV, you understand how critical it is to keep your black water stuff separated from your potable water stuff. For those who don’t, black = poo and potable = drinkable, so you always keep hoses of one color for your drinking water and another color for the other, and you always store those hoses in separate bins. When you go to a dump station there are often hoses there to use for the tank rinse, which he does if available, and to flush out the drainage pipe. MW always wears gloves and uses hand sanitizer after, because only God knows what is on EVERYTHING at the dump station! Our RV has a panel system for all things related to water and the tanks. It has a place to hook the black hose to run the tank rinse on the black tank, and another place to hook up the potable hose to fill your fresh water tank (for use in the event you don’t have a water hookup at your site). Well, MW drained the black tank and then hooked up the black hose to run the tank rinse (like a little shower for the poo tank)…he thought. Unfortunately, his mind was off taking a walk at that particular moment (happens to me ALL the time!), so he hooked the black hose to the water intake port for our fresh water tank. He waited for the rush of water from the black tank through the drain pipe. It didn’t come. “Wow. Must really be a clog in there.” He waited another minute or so. “What the hell?” Then he realized the problem. “OH MY GOSH!” Not happy! Later he told me what happened. Well, we all know that in life, shit happens. (Pun intended.) Now, some people might have just put the RV on the market and taken the loss (you know who you are), but we hit the road and kept an eye out for spigots to get the sanitizing process started.
We headed basically southwest on TX-59 to Graham, then TX-67 to Breckenridge, then US-180 to Albany, where we stopped to walk around a little bit and check out the courthouse and the old jail. They also had a restored Sinclair station and a huge longhorn…well, skull anyway. It’s from the now extinct Texannosaurus Longhornus, a terrifyingly large, mean bull . Apparently the steaks were to die for: both acquiring and enjoying them! (Okay, kids. that cow stuff is not true.)
We continued south on US-283. The land flattened out quite a bit, with a few small hills and gullies thrown in here and there. Passed another, unfortunately dead, animal that I’ve never seen in the wild…a boar. He wasn’t huge, but I’m sure the person that hit him was not happy. At Coleman, which was a really cute downtown area with very wide streets, lots of parking, and country music playing outside, we stopped for lunch at the Cattle Drive Cafe. They were known for their burgers and onion rings, so that is what I tried, and was thankful I chose the kiddy burger (more than enough). True to their promo, the patty was terrific. MW had the club sandwich, which he said had a lot more meat on it than is typical. Oh, and the onion rings were big, thick rings with lighter breading. (Had to take those home with us.) All-in-all, a very good lunch experience. There were several murals in town. My favorite was the one with all of the cattle brands. I also liked the cows peaking out of the windows.
After lunch, we continued south for a few miles, then hit US-67 west. Everything was very flat for a while, then some odd hills popped up in the distance as we approached our destination for the next couple of nights, San Angelo State Park. Coming into the park, we drove over a cattle guard and passed a sign that said “Loose Livestock”. COOL! Just before the guardhouse, there were a few longhorns grazing off to the right.
SQUIRREL: Years ago when MW and I first moved from Florida to North Carolina, we hosted my tennis coach, Lori Fallick’s son when he was in town for a job interview. NC-150, which was the route into town from our house, is a two lane road that had a 55 mph speed limit at the time. Scott, being raised in Plantation, Florida, was used to 1) almost all roads being at least four lanes with island dividers, and 2) speed limits on those roads in the neighborhood of 35-40 mph (except the Turnpike and interstates, of course). When he came back from driving into Greensboro on our two-lane roads, he said that scared him to death. “What keeps the people from crossing the line?!” “Feels like they are passing 2′ from my car!” He DID NOT like it. Wonder what he would think about Texas’ two lane roads?
San Angelo State Park is on the western edge of the city of San Angelo. It offers hiking, biking, and horseback on 50 miles of multiuse trails, a wildlife observation area, swimming, boating, fishing, paddle boarding, and picnicking. It is home of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd and some bison, too. Kids will enjoy the Dinosaur Trail where they can see fossilized tracks of pre-dinosaur creatures. For overnight accommodations, they have log cabins or a group bunkhouse. The facilities were pretty clean. Well, except for the little friend mentioned later. The campground has both water+electric and primitive sites (some hike in), and the North Concho area has horse-friendly campsites with pens or posts. There are several camping areas, and we stayed on site 12 of Red Arroyo, which has a pretty cool-looking playground and backs up to the water on the map. In reality the water is about 40′ low, so it’s a pretty good ways out there, and the boat ramp is nowhere near where you could put a boat in. (There must be one that makes it to the water, though, because we did see a boat.) The sites are spread out well, and despite being very close to town, we didn’t hear too much traffic noise. Of course, there are no shade trees, and it was pretty hot, so the AC was running. Our stay was mid-week, and it was not crowded at all. The site cost $20 per night (October 2020) plus a $4 per person daily park entrance fee.
Since we changed things up and traveled on Wednesday this week, Thursday became laundry day. Before heading out, though, I put some Talisa’s Crack Chicken Chili on (a modification of the recipe I made a couple of weeks ago). I doubled the recipe, and my 7-Quart Crockpot was slap full!! (Message me if you want the recipe to try that deliciousness!) Then I headed into San Angelo to find a laundromat. The first option was the Wash Pot Cleaning Center, but there was a large sign on the door saying that masks had to be worn at all times inside. Not trying to upset the mask police, but I absolutely cannot spend two hours in a hot laundromat with a mask on. Especially when there are only two other people in the place and there is plenty of room to more than socially distance. So I headed over to plan B, Cactus Laundromat. It was clean and had plenty of room to spread out and get the job done. Then it was back to Petunia to unload, pick up MW, and head to his favorite fast food place…Whataburger. Once back at the ranch, I got some work done. Later we enjoyed a little chili for dinner.
The first interesting thing from Friday morning is the little visitor that MW had in the bathhouse. During his morning constitutional, there was a 4″ long scorpion on the floor just in front of the toilet. It didn’t move, so he thought it was dead. Of course, when he told me about it, I said he HAD to go back and get a picture. We would not, but later as we were leaving, I had to pop into the ladies room, so also went into the men’s to check out the scorpion. It wasn’t there. Damn! It wasn’t dead! Knowing that would probably have made a difference in how long MW constituted! LOL. We pulled out before 7 AM in order to make a deadline later along the way. There was a skunk very close to our site as we were connecting, but we didn’t see him. We did see a raccoon and deer on the way out of the park, though. I never did see the longhorns that were near the entrance again to get a pic for you, though. MW said there was actually a Buffalo Viewing Area that I never saw, too. That’s what happens when we have a deadline to be somewhere. We headed southeast on US-87 to Eden, where we stopped at Eden Donuts for breakfast. That town spent quite a bit of money building a downtown area with lots of hand rails and sidewalks, but sadly, it doesn’t look like it took off very well. We continued south on US-83 through Menard, then turned east on TX-29 to Mason. What a pretty little town to drive through! They had a nice courthouse, western looking square, and some beautiful architecture. Continuing southeast on US-87, we made it to Fredericksburg. The weather was odd. We were in the dark when we left, and it looked like we were facing into what would be a great sunrise. Before that happened, though, we entered a thick fog bank with visibility about 1/8 mile. That went on for a good while, then we were below a big cloud bank. It was strange, but the animals sure enjoyed it. We saw a drove of wild hogs, including some little piglets, deer, a coyote, LOTS of domestic goats, and a dead porcupine (haven’t ever seen one of those in the wild, either, dead or alive). MW also noted an armadillo in the usual position…feet up. (One of these days a taxidermist really will stuff one that way.) I wasn’t fast enough with the camera for any of these at 65 mph, though. Sorry. I keep telling MW that I need him to slam on brakes when I see something to take a pic of. For some reason, he thinks that would be unsafe. Party pooper! As we approached Fredericksburg, the flat lands once again gave way to sporadic hills.
At Fredericksburg, the plan was for us to go to a museum, which we bought tickets for online. My back, however, was not going to cooperate with spending a couple of hours walking around on hard floors. I had MW get a refund on my ticket. While he spent a couple of hours checking that out, I sat at a picnic table by the Visitor’s Center parking lot and got a bit of work done. It was still in the low 80s, and breezy, so it was pretty nice. When we pulled in, the parking lot was mostly empty, but during the time I sat there, it slowly filled up and lots of folks enjoyed the picnic tables. Not long after I arrived, I kept hearing this buzzing noise like a bee. I kept looking around and finally found it…a drone above the parking lot. I didn’t see anyone operating it, and eventually it flew off down the road. I guess someone just wanted to get a birds-eye view. There was also a table in front of me at the end that was under a giant tree. I kept getting movement in my peripheral, and finally figured it out. There were hundreds of little moths/butterflies flying in and around the leaf clusters. Sometimes you could barely see them, and other times they would flutter up. Unfortunately, they didn’t show up in the pics.
Fredericksburg, Texas, is the boyhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. It is also home of the National Museum of the Pacific War. MW enjoyed his time there, and since I didn’t go, I’ll give you his highlights. First, it is well worth the $18 entrance fee, but plan for at least half a day, if not more to see it all, at least if you are a military/war buff. It is a large facility with multiple locations nearby, including the Admiral Nimitz Museum housed in the old Nimitz Hotel, built by the Admiral’s great-grandfather in 1852. Unlike most war museums, this one invests a lot of time detailing the relationships between China, Japan, the United States, and Russian for decades prior to the start of the war, so the viewer has a thorough understanding of why it happened before taking you through what happened. MW was smiling when he showed back up at the parking lot, but he got through a lot faster than I expected. He said he rushed since we needed to get on down the road. Before leaving, though, we both decided that Fredericksburg is a town to come back to and stay for several days. There is a lot to do and see, for sure.
Next we decided to “go to Luckenbach, Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys”. Luckenbach, Texas was established as Grape Creek in the 1850s by the Luckenbach family and some other German immigrants coming from Fredericksburg. It kind of fizzled, but was reestablished as a trading post in 1886 as Luckenbach. It’s population peak came in 1904 at just under 500, but 50 years later it was a virtual ghost town. The whole kit and caboodle was sold in the 1970s to actor Guich Koock and rancher Hondo Crouch, who with the help of their wives hosted many festivals. One, the 1st Luckenbach World’s Fair had a surprise visitor…Willie Nelson. It’s first brush with country music, however, was when Jerry Jeff Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band recorded a live album at the dance hall. It vaulted to national general knowledge, however, with the release of the Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song. For several years Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic was hosted there, and Luckenbach is now inextricably linked to Texas-style country music. It hosts live events most weekends and is open 7 days a week with a general store/gift shop, food, and drinks. We didn’t see Willie or Waylon, but there were lots of biker girls and boys. We did get quite a few stares as we pulled Petunia right through the middle of it, too.
By then it was time to get on down the road. We made our way southeast through Texas Hill Country to Blanco (another pretty town), then zig-zagged down to Schertz, Texas, just east of San Antonio and our home for the next couple of nights, the Stone Creek RV Park.
After setting up, we relaxed for a little bit, then headed over to see our nephew, Alex Jones, and check out his new place. He is a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force stationed at Randolph AFB where he is adding to his flight knowledge. MW is pretty envious! Oh to be young and doing the cool stuff again! Alex made a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives pick for dinner…the Smoke Shack in San Antonio. It was deeeeeelishious! I went with a brisket slider, green beans, and okra. MW had brisket and pulled pork, and Alex added sausage. Wow! The brisket was great, and I didn’t see either one of them complaining about the other stuff either. Since there was nothing left, I’m guessing it gets two sticky, barbecue-sauce-covered thumbs up all the way around. If you’ve never used the Triple D site to help find a winner, you should give it a try.
Our original plan for Saturday was to check out the Natural Bridge Caverns near our campground, but MW went online and could not get tickets for a time, and we didn’t want to take a chance on walk-up. The punt was to head to a museum in downtown San Antonio. First, however, there was the little issue of passing by a Whataburger at lunchtime to deal with. We made it downtown without much trouble thanks to our chauffeur and were able to enjoy 1,000 degree temps while walking around on all that pavement. (Okay, it was just 97, but I swear it felt like more!) The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum was pretty darned cool. In 1881, seventeen-year-old Albert Friedrich left his job as the bartender and bellhop at the Southern Hotel to open his own saloon. Realizing that many people did not have much money in their pockets, he began accepting horns and antlers as payment, which was the beginning of a huge collection. Later his wife started accepting jars of rattlesnake rattles, too, which she used to create art that is still on display. Word is that Teddy Roosevelt recruited for the Rough Riders at that very bar. Now the saloon serves drinks and snacks, and the other 33,000 square feet houses The Texas Ranger Museum, the Carnival of Curiosities, and animal exhibits from around the world. We spent a good hour and a half checking it all out. The entrance fee was $22 per person/$16 for kids (October 2020), and they offered senior, AAA, and military discounts. We definitely thought it was worth the price. Next we walked around downtown a little bit, checking out store windows and the chocolate shop, before heading to our next destination.
Next we got a nice tour of Randolph Air Force Base, which was absolutely beautiful with all of the Spanish architecture. We saw the T-6 Texan, which is what Alex will be flying in a couple of months, and the T-38 Talon, which he may or may not train in depending on his track selected later. As we drove over to the golf course, we passed something that I’ve never seen on an air field: the road crossed the taxiway and had a sign to stop and give way to aircraft. Wow! I don’t think I would have been comfortable in my ‘troller days having cars just crossing active parts of the field willy nilly, but then, I did have control issues! LOL. After checking it all out, Alex took us back to pick up our truck, then we went to his place for dinner…delicious chicken tacos! MW also got to check out the tools of the modern aviator…tablets and VR training materials, a big difference from the reams of paper previously required in the cockpit.
Stone Creek RV Park is one of the few private parks we have used. Located in Schertz, Texas, it is off of the access road to I-35, which makes it easy to get to San Antonio or anywhere else in the area. Amenities include an adult pool and hot tub, a family pool, recreation hall, both large and small parks, country store, laundry room, wifi, and a playground. Like a lot of private parks, they offer RV and boat storage and have a few mobile home sites in the back. The sites are a mix of pull through and back-in, all with 30- or 50-amp full hookups and cable TV. The facilities were very clean, as were the grounds. We were impressed with how little of the highway noise we heard, too. At the time of our stay (October 2020), we paid $46.80 per night for a 50-amp pull-through. I’m sorry to say, I had a complete brain fart where pics were concerned. Sorry.
On Sunday we attempted to catch up with Sneedville First Baptist Church, but the live stream stopped in the middle. I spent a couple of hours on paperwork, before Alex came over for lunch…left over Talisa’s Crack Chicken Chili (even better after a couple of days). Later I ran to town to take care of a couple of errands and give MW and Alex some boy time. They used it, shockingly, to go to Lowe’s. We visited for a little bit more after I got back, then said our goodbyes so he could get to a thing. Before he left, Alex gave me permission to write anything about stupid stuff he said or did and post his picture. Couldn’t remember any stupid stuff, so here are pics.
Next up…Longhorns, Fighting Egrets, and a Niece. See you on the path.
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