Texas Gulf Coast Holiday

We started the year off right with a Christmas and New Year’s trip to the Texas Gulf Coast. First we spent several days in Port Aransas with my parents. We stayed in a RV park that was…well…what can I say, we were packed in there like sardines! To be fair, the park was very nice, we just haven’t stayed in that many RV parks and never in one where you don’t have room to put your awning up! Having full hookups is always nice, but next time we will find a place to dry camp where we have a little room around us. Most of our time in Port Aransas was spent either walking on the beach or cruising around town in a rented golf cart. It is legal in Port Aransas to drive golf carts on the city streets as long as you stay off the main highway. It was such a fun way to see the city, souvenir shop, stop for lunch, drive on the beach and park and watch the ships come in. It was money well spent. My parents loved it! We enjoyed beautiful clean beaches, fabulous sunrises and shrimp every day! (The Castaway was excellent!) It was a wonderful Christmas to remember.

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A few days after Christmas we headed up to Matagorda Bay Nature and RV park. Wow…what a wonderful surprise this place was! The park is located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico so you have river on one side and the beach a short walk away. I must say, we are in love with this place! Our site was so spacious and beautiful. We didn’t really know what to expect so we didn’t take our kayaks.  Big mistake! Fortunately the park offers kayak rentals so we rented a tandem kayak…twice!  New Year’s Day we walked down the beach (way, way, way down the beach!) and found the most beautiful seashells I have ever seen.  It was another day to remember! Our cat Mister was happy not to be left at home, Dan baked bread in our 51 year old oven and I….walked, and walked, and walked. Everyone was happy! We will go back…for sure!

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Caddo Lake State Park

Located in far East Texas near the Louisiana border, you will find beautiful Caddo Lake, a sprawling maze of bayous and sloughs. Depending on rainfall, this maze of slow-moving bayous, wetlands and backwaters covers about 26,810 acres of cypress swamp.  To really experience the beautiful forests of cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, you need to get out on the water. Canoe rentals are available or you can take a guided pontoon boat ride.

We camped at  Caddo Lake State Park with the Heart of Texas Camping Unit. Several other club members brought their kayaks and canoes so we all got together and explored a paddling trail. The trail is clearly marked but I was glad I took along the GPS…just in case! It would be very easy to get disoriented and loose your way in the maze of cypress trees. We paddled 9 miles that day. It was a great day and another fun camp out!

 

Big Bend National Park

When Dan and I started planning our trip to Big Bend National Park, we began asking everyone we came in contact with, “Have you been to Big Bend?”.  We were surprised at the number of Texans who had not visited the park but…hey…neither had we!  On the other hand, when we asked someone who had been to the park, most could barely contain their excitement and began telling us everything we needed to see while we were there.  We learned that hiking the many trails was the best way to see the park so we ordered the book “Hiking Big Bend National Park” from Amazon. This is an excellent guide to the many trails, their level of difficulty, distance, etc.  This book, along with all the maps and information they gave us when we entered the park, enabled us to plan our days activities the most efficiently.  You should plan on doing a lot of driving when you visit the park.  It’s big.  Really BIG. TEXAS BIG! It covers 801,163 acres and is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States.  I have heard people complain about this but, we enjoyed every minute of every drive. The landscape looked different in every light and from every angle. With a park speed limit of 45 MPH, we found this to be the most relaxing part of our trip. It was wonderful to just slow down and do some rubber neckin’!

We dry camped at Rio Grande Village Campground for 4 nights and 5 days. We were in the generator area and plugged in once to charge the camera batteries and once to turn on the A/C for a quick cool down.  Other than that, our solar panels kept our batteries charged just fine and we still had room in our wast tanks and 12% of fresh water remaining when we pulled out! Our little Safari was very comfortable and did great on her first trip to a National Park!

I can’t tell you how beautiful Big Bend is….you have to see it for yourself.  It’s vast, remote, rugged and one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. We Texans, should be very proud to have Big Bend National Park as part of our incredible state. If you haven’t been….GO!

A Texas Hill Country New Year!

A four day weekend over New Year’s was a great time to visit the Texas Hill Country. We chose to camp at Inks Lake State Park due to it’s close proximity to Longhorn Cavern’s State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, two places we wanted to visit.

Inks Lake State Park was amazing!  We were surprised to see the park was full on New Year’s Eve but soon figured out why.  It’s beautiful! The first evening we hiked the trail to Devil’s Watering Hole. The entire trail looked as though it was professionally landscaped with every rock and plant placed precisely.  I didn’t have my good camera on this hike but took a few photos with the phone.  We intended to go back and hike this trail again, but it seems there’s never enough time. If you’re ever near Inks Lake, stop and hike this short trail.  It’s amazing!

 

The next morning (New Year’s Day!) we drove the short distance to Longhorn Cavern State Park and took the 1.25 mile long tour through the cavern that took about an hour and a half to complete. It was well worth the $13.00/person price of admission. The tour guide was very informative and the cavern was BEAUTIFUL! It was a great start to the New Year!

From Wikepedia…

“The park is named for Longhorn Cavern, a limestone cave formed by the cutting action of an underground river that receded thousands of years ago. Before the cave became a tourist attraction, it was used over the years by Indians, Confederate soldiers and outlaws, including outlaw Sam Bass. In the 1920s, during the prohibition period, the cavern was used by Burnet County residents as a speakeasy. Performing musicians would entertain through the night. The popular spot was known as Sherrard’s Cave before it was dedicated as Longhorn Cavern State Park in November 1933. From 1934 to 1942, Company 854 of the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed Texas Park Road 4, residences, pavilions and an observation tower in the National Park Service Rustic architectural style. They also explored the cavern and made it accessible by removing some 2.5 tons of silt, debris, and guano and building stairs and walkways both into and inside the cavern.”

No tripod so photos aren’t that great. It really was beautiful!

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Next stop was Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. We had been there once before but didn’t get to take the short .6 mile hike up to the top. My Dad was with us at the time, it was 105 degrees out, and we didn’t want to leave him out in the heat while we hiked. 😉  On this visit is was cold and windy but that didn’t stop anybody! It was packed! Even though there were people everywhere, and I mean everywhere, it was a great hike up. Everyone was happy and festive on their first hike of the new year! It was another great way to spend New Year’s Day!
Wikipedia information about Enchanted Rock:
“Enchanted Rock  is an enormous pink granite pluton batholith located in the Llano Uplift approximately 17 miles north of Fredericksburg, Texas and 24 miles  south of Llano, Texas. The prominent granite dome is visible for many miles in the surrounding basin of the Llano Uplift. The weathered dome, standing above the surrounding plain is known to geologists as a monadnock. The rock is actually the visible above-ground part of a segmented ridge, the surface expression of a large igneous batholith, called the Town Mountain Granite of middle Precambrian (1,082 ± 6 million years ago) material that intruded into earlier metamorphic schist, called the Packsaddle Schist. The intrusive granite of the rock mass, or pluton, was exposed by extensive erosion of the surrounding sedimentary rock, primarily the Cretaceous Edwards limestone, which is exposed a few miles to the south of Enchanted Rock.”

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On our last day in the Texas Hill Country we visited The LBJ National Historic Site and The LBJ State Park and Historic Site.  We were not able to take pictures inside what is known as “The Texas White House” and it rained all day this day so…pictures were few. We learned a lot about President Johnson, Lady Bird, and their strong ties to the Texas Hill Country. The tour of the house was great and was $3.00 /person but there is no charge to drive through the ranch, see his airplane and tour the hanger. Their beautiful ranch sits right on the Pedernales River.
Our next stop was to visit Pedernales Falls State Park and see Pedernales Falls. It was another beautiful surprise!

Hope everyone had a very Happy New Year.

Remember…….”See more, Do more, Live More”!

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Palo Duro Canyon

We recently took a few days off and headed to Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo. It is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Texas” and is the second largest canyon in the country. During the summer months, performances of the musical “Texas” are held in the outdoor amphitheater, and there are an abundance of hiking and biking trails throughout the canyon.  The campgrounds and facilities were extremely clean and well maintained and when we arrived, we were surprised to find only one other camper in our campground. We were even more surprised to see it was another vintage Airstream! Unfortunately, they left out early the next morning so we didn’t get to meet them.

“Christmas in The Canyon” was being held that weekend and the first nights event was hot air balloons in the canyon. It was beautiful!

The rest of our time was spent hiking. The first day we hiked 6.73 miles round trip to the iconic Lighthouse rock. It was a beautiful hike and the views did not disappoint! The next day we hiked another 7 miles though the canyon floor and decided next time we will take our bikes. We had a fantastic time and are looking forward to our next visit. It’s a beautiful park…go see it! Happy New Year!

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1948 – A Very Good Year!

Believe it or not, there are TWO vintage 1948 Airstream trailers in the Heart of Texas Camping Unit and they are both restored to absolute perfection.  One is a spectacular 1948 Liner. This is the trailer in the iconic photo of a man on a bicycle pulling an Airstream. The trailer in the photo is actually a 1947 though. The second one is a 1948 Wee Wind.  Very few Wee Winds are still around but,  there are two in the club! The other one is currently undergoing a restoration. Both trailers are  incredible pieces of Airstream history! Enjoy the photos!

1948  Airstream Liner

1948 Airstream Wee Wind

Urban Camping in Dublin, Texas!

We may have been camping on a vacant lot but, to us, it was another little piece of  Airstream Heaven! The campout with The Lone Star Vintage Airstream Club and The Heart of Texas Camping Unit in Dublin, Texas was a blast. Between visiting with friends, meeting new people, the St. Paddy’s Day parade, the Carnival, and all the great food at the potlucks; we came home stuffed and exhausted but very Happy Campers!

There were so many beautiful trailers I couldn’t put my camera down! Hope you enjoy the photos!