Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve in Benson, AZ

We had planned to stay at the Escapee's Co-op Park tonight, but when we got there, their office was already closed and we had some difficulty with the electric, so we looked for another park. We found Pato Blanco Lakes RV Resort - and we are enjoying it!

In front of us are three small lakes where we could "fish-and-release" if we wanted to.

There is also a sleigh drawn by ducks that is lit up at night
They had an "Arabian Nights" themed party for New Year's Eve. The nicest part for us was that they started with the earliest North American New Year's celebration (Newfoundland) which was at 8:30pm local time!
They provided head-dresses for those who were not prepared...

A lot of folks had really elaborate costumes! We enjoyed it, and are enjoying an early night "in"...

High winds and a high profile vehicle - Not Compatible!

I had been watching the weather - it seems it is pretty much always windy in the southern part of New Mexico and Arizona, so we went ahead and made the trip today from Deming, NM to Benson, AZ. Thankfully, the winds were behind us for much of the trip, and not as bad as they are sometimes.

It was flashing...

It may be hard to see in the picture, but there was a dust storm to the north of the highway; thankfully, it wasn't over the highway!

Dream Catcher RV Park - an Escapees Park

The last two nights (December 29-30) we stayed at Dream Catcher RV Park in Deming, NM. I like Escapees parks because they have activities - at this one, not many, but "Happy Hour" every afternoon at 4pm where you bring your own drink and goodies to share (if you want) and get to meet other folks who are also staying at the park.

I also like Escapees parks because they have an air compressor on premises so you can check the air in your tires before heading out. Unfortunately, it was about 24F this morning, so it was a cold morning to air up the tires!

While waiting for the air compressor to build up its reservoir - a "mobile home" passed by!

And then we were on our way!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Quiet day of cleaning and laundry

I wanted to get Miss Daisy well vacuumed today, as well as getting all our laundry done, so I've been able to do that - simple tasks, but it is nice to get them checked off!

An interesting rig pulled in next to us this afternoon:

That's a fishing boat on top of an ATV in the back of the pickup that is towing a travel trailer.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Now entering New Mexico

It takes a while to get out of Texas - even if you're not driving all the way across it! We've been gone from home about 10 days now, and just today entered New Mexico.

The drive from Balmorhea to New Mexico was un-eventful (I like those!). We found cheap gas in Las Cruces, NM -- along with a couple dozen other folks lined up at the Sams Club to get the cheapest gas around -- 1.80/gallon -- I'm sure we burned up a dollar or two of gasoline while we were waiting, but the folks behind us were probably more bummed because they had to wait for us to pump about 60 gallons into Miss Daisy.

We're spending a couple of nights in Deming, NM at an Escapees park - enjoying the camaraderie with the good folks here. We had good Mexican food in town with Taree and Vic whom I met at "happy hour" here at the park. Looking forward to getting laundry done and some chores around the motor home tomorrow.

Miss Daisy at Balmorhea State Park (and her cousin)

We enjoyed staying at Balmorhea State Park.

Miss Daisy at sunset at Balmorhea State Park

When we got back to the park on Sunday evening, we saw that a "cousin" of Miss Daisy's (another Trek) had come in! We went down and met Robyn and Joey and their Trek "Tiberius". It turns out that their dog, Odin, has his own blog!

Tiberius (notice the mustache on the front grill)
I got to enter my first "Trek Sighting" on Trek Tracks -- what fun!

"Loose Livestock"?

On our way back from McDonald Observatory to Balmorhea State Park, we saw several signs on the road warning us about "Loose Livestock".

Is this:
  • Livestock without strong morals?
  • Livestock that need to have their limbs more securely fastened?
  • Livestock that are not uptight or anxious?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fort Davis and McDonald Observatory

On our trip around Texas in '92 (see "Marfa Lights"), we also visited the Fort Davis National Historical Site and the McDonald Observatory.

We didn't visit the National Historical Site today, but we did visit the town of Fort Davis (and ate at the "Drug Store"), Fort Davis State Park, and McDonald Observatory.

We enjoyed seeing the State Park at Fort Davis and would like to come back and stay there. We were glad to have the Texas State Parks Pass as we were able to get in for free (all entry fees are covered). Unfortunately, they had had snow last night, so the "Skyline Drive" road was closed, and it was a bit too chilly for us to want to hike it instead.

We did get to visit the interpretive center and see some birds. I also was reminded of an earthquake that happened back in the 90s that was centered in the Davis Mountains. I was still at work even though it happened in the evening, and a co-worker was talking to me. All of a sudden, I started feeling sick to my stomach and thinking that I needed to get to a rest room. Harvey also looked startled, and pointed out that my officemate's phone cord that was hanging off the edge of his desk was swinging. Being non-earthquake thinking folks, we thought that maybe they were doing construction on our building and we walked over to the windows to look out (the very wrong thing to do in an earthquake!). It wasn't until later that we found out that we had felt an earthquake that was 500+ miles away.

Newspaper write-up about the earthquake

From Fort Davis, we drove to the McDonald Observatory. They have guided tours, but we knew we were too late to join that, so we just did the self-guided tour. We visited the Hobby-Eberly Telescope which was quite fascinating (5 universities from the US and Germany collaborated to create this telescope). We also visited outside the other two domes - when we were here in 1992, there were so many ladybugs on the domes that they looked orange instead of white!
Overlooking the visitor center

It was a beautiful clear day (albeit chilly!)

This was one of the domes that was orange with ladybugs when we were here in May, 1992

Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Marfa Lights

Back in the early 90s (we were trying to think exactly what date, we think May 1992), Dwayne and I took a driving trip around Texas with both of our dads and his stepmom, Peggy. We had a really great time - 2800 miles over 10 days and only about 2 hours spent on an interstate.

On that trip, we drove from DFW east, visiting a few home sites where Pop Cartwright had lived growing up - then to Jefferson, TX, from there down through the middle part of the state visiting Independence and Brenham, west to Fredericksburg, back east to San Antonio and then to Port Aransas, King Ranch, down to the Rio Grande Valley, up the Rio Grande Valley to Big Bend and Presidio, and up to Marfa, TX.

One of the claims-to-fame for Marfa is the appearance of unexplained lights across the desert east of town.  Here is information I copied from wikipedia:
Marfa may be most famous for the Marfa lights, visible on clear nights between Marfa and the Paisano Pass when one is facing southwest (toward the Chinati Mountains). According to the Handbook of Texas Online, "... at times they appear colored as they twinkle in the distance. They move about, split apart, melt together, disappear, and reappear. Presidio County residents have watched the lights for over a hundred years. The first historical record of them dates to 1883. Presidio County has built a viewing station nine miles east of town on US 67 near the site of the old air base.

When we were here back in the early 90s, we drove out to the viewing point and tried to see the lights... but we weren't ever sure we really saw them... we didn't make it to Marfa this time, but are thinking that we need to try going out there again - maybe with Miss Daisy, we could stay throughout the night!

One additional note on the Marfa lights:  Dwayne thinks they must be related to Israelites and Canaanites and Amorites... but I'm not sure!

Repairs on the road

As I think I have mentioned before, every day we can usually count on "something" going wrong, and we're just happy when the "something" is minor.

When we were driving from Livingston to San Antonio a few days ago, a truck kicked up a stone and we got a chip on the windshield. Dwayne looked into getting a repair kit and found an instructional video on YouTube (what did we do before YouTube?). We picked up the repair kit when we were in San Antonio, but picked today to do the repair as it needed to sit in the sun for a bit to "cure". It looks good at this point; we're hoping it will keep the chip from sending star-like cracks across the windshield.

Pre-fix - there is a green clipboard behind the pit in the window

The fixing mechanism

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Balmorhea State Park

We're staying at Balmorhea State Park this evening. It is quite chilly here -- predicted to be in the 20s tonight. There is a spring-fed pool here that stays in the 70s year round. We walked over to look at it this evening.

San Solomon Springs - The body of water before you is frequently called a swimming pool, but in reality it is an impoundment of natural spring water that has traveled a great distance to arrive here.

Dwayne walking toward the pool

At the pool

The pool is a good deal warmer than the outside air

There were ducks on the pool

There were also a couple of diving boards at the pool

It is quite a large pool

A view down the length of the pool

There is an owl in this tree - and two crows that were harassing him/her

Driving across west Texas

When we got onto I-10, just west of Houston, the mile posts were just below 750. I knew we were planning to take I-10 all the way to mile post 1 in Texas, and we're doing that now!

Pictures from yesterday:
It may be hard to read, but the speed limit is 80mph
Even with that speed limit, we saw some folks pulled over by the police or sheriff department. 80 mph was definitely more than Miss Daisy or we wanted to go!

Friday, December 26, 2014

I told you that we shouldn't park so close to the lake!

Oh dear, Deer!

There are so many deer at Thousand Trails at Lake Medina - they are all over the place, and barely fearful of humans (or vehicles, or dogs) at all.

A buck that I took in the evening (so a little blurry)

Late afternoon walk

These looked like 4 juveniles with a female

They look plenty "healthy"

There were more deer without antlers than with - maybe 1 buck with antlers per 10-15 non-antlered deer

It appears that there is sufficient grass for them too

On Christmas morning we moved to a site right at the "lake" - the deer came up right next to our motor home and Miss Kitty got to observe them...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Where Lake Medina used to be...

We are staying at Thousand Trails at Lake Medina, or where Lake Medina used to be. The lake is only 3.3% full at this time. We saw a photo book at the Activity Center that told about a flood that affected this campground in 2002. I saw a video of a longtime resident who said that they saw the lake rise 27 feet in one day some years ago when 18" of rain fell in Bandera, up-river from here. But, right now, there has been a severe drought for several years, and the lake bed is really low. It seems, though, that the lake was severely low like this in the 50s or 60s, and then it was flooding in 2002, so maybe it will be a lake with water in it again. However, it seems that there are areas downriver in San Antonio that are taking water from the reservoir even when it really doesn't have any to "give" - so maybe it will never be able to be a lake again.

Docks along the sides of the lake bed near the dam

What exists of the lake currently (near the dam)

Dwayne and I went walking down where the lake used to be at the campground - Dwayne is standing on a boat ramp

This is/used to be the fishing dock

Just below the fishing dock is a sign that cautions boaters to avoid making a wake... I don't think that would be a problem at this point though there do seem to be 4WD roads/paths through the lake bottom area

Fishing dock at the campground

Boat docks at the campground

Sun setting over the "lake"

Dwayne taking a picture of the sunset

"Fishing Dock Only - No Boats, No Loading"

An interesting document on the web:

On Christmas Day, we drove a little ways down a road that left the campground near our campsite and headed off down through the lake area in the direction where the dam is. We probably only went a couple of miles before deciding to turn around and head back.

"Lake Medina Single-Track Road"

The Jeep hiding behind a tall grassy bush

Can you see Miss Daisy up there? Nope, I can't either (I think she is just to the right of the bright white triangle in the middle of the picture)