December 26, 2018 – January Birmingham, Alabama to Spring Branch, Texas
Wow, where has this year has gone? Christmas has come and is over for another year, and it’s finally time for the Alexander’s to hit the road!!
Guy and I have been busy getting things back into our storage unit, like our yard art and patio furniture. We also needed to take things out of storage to pack up our new 5th wheel. We have been super excited about moving across the country for the first time in over a year. It felt good to get on the road and heading to Texas and beyond to see friends we haven’t seen in a long time. But, also felt like newbies just starting out as we made multiple errors driving the route we had planned. We were headed to Cori and Greg in San Antonio,Texas, we wanted to check out their new property and have Greg install our solar. I had to call Cori 3 times with route changes as we made another wrong turn. Our plan from Birmingham, Al was to head towards Shreveport, LA on Hwy 20, yup, the first wrong turn, made a left turn on Hwy 59 and headed towards Hwy 12 into New Orleans. We missed the turn for Hwy 12 and ended up going around New Orleans on Hwy 10 instead. At that time it was getting late and were trying to make the decision if we should stop for the day. We decided lets just keep driving and head to Lake Charles.
Actually, it all turned out great, as we called our friends that live in Lake Charles, James and Cindy. They were home and available to go to dinner with us. They were very gracious and invited us to park at their house but with all the rain and mud we decided cement was our friend that night. It was a cold night, pouring rain, but James and Cindy made the trip to the Coushatta Casino in Kinder, where we were staying. Once they arrived the plans changed and it was decided to have dinner at the casino. We had such a wonderful time catching up with them since we hadn’t seen since our trip thru on our way to Texas in November.
When leaving the next day we googled a Pilot Station for much needed diesel and headed to the station on Hwy 10. Low and Behold, there were detour signs at the bridge going to Hwy 10, yes, we followed the signs. The bad news we went about 75 miles out of our way, again another missed turn, and we missed the Pilot. Thankfully we did find one just at the border before we left Louisiana.
It was a great relief when we finally landed at Cori and Greg’s as we didn’t need think about maps for awhile. We all kept busy while we were there, our solar install was one item planned. Cori and Greg had a new Chinook class B that they will use for short trips instead of their 45’ class A and they were in the process of tearing it apart. They were redoing the inside and also adding solar, cabinets were being redone and painted, couches and front captains chairs were redone with new leather, the floors were ripped out and replaced with new wood ones. Cori and I made teal pillows and valances and covered her white shades with teal fabric. The guys would work between the rain drops going from our rig and their rig, trying to do two projects at once. Of course, time was made for other important stuff like the hot tub under the stars, massive campfires, bike rides and dinner outside under heat lamps. It certainly was a crazy and fun couple of weeks.
Since it was getting close to New Year’s it was decided that we needed to go out and celebrate New Year’s, have a great dinner and relax. The restaurant was pretty busy as all places were but for some reason our server either forgot us or was to busy to wait on us. The wait just for water was at least 15 mins, another 15 before we got menus and so on. When our dinner came it was really good, even tho they forgot a few things. Lets just say we were not worried about anything after a few adult beverages. It did feel good to finally sit down and enjoy some time together to just talk and enjoy the company.
Before we could get back on the road, we needed to head to the rv repair shop to have our slides looked at, as water was getting in under the slide when it’s raining as we are driving. It was an easy fix, the rubber seal under the slide was not long enough and to flexible which allowed the water to get in. We had 2 slides fixed just in case. They were fast as we were in and out in about an hour. By the time we left to head out it was noon and we had a 6 hour drive ahead of us.
Due to the government shut down our plans changed. We wanted to head to Big Bend National Park, Tx and Carlsbad Caverns, NM, they both were closed. So we headed to Fort Davis National Park. Due to the late start from the repair shop it was dark by the time we made it to the campground. That’s one thing we try very hard not to do. Trying to park and set up in the dark is just to risky as to many mistakes happen. But remember we are feeling like newbies, and yes, we missed the turn to our spot!!! By this time it was dark and very little signage. We were headed to a very steep and windy road with no turn around at the top. Luckily we stopped to check the campground map, some campers came out to explain and helped us turn around. We felt very lucky and relieved when we pulled up to our site and it was a pull thru and pretty flat.
While our stay was short, our days were filled with bike riding, hiking and taking a ride to the top of the mountain for the view of the campground and a 360 degree view of the whole valley (pictures are in the blog). The campground has no internet or phone service unless you drive up the to the top of the hill, where the view is outstanding.
While bike riding one day we saw something moving in the field ahead of us, not sure what it was we slowed down and very carefully snuck up on it. To our surprise, up popped a big buck. We were surprised that he just stood there looking at us and allowed me to get pretty close to him so I could take a picture, then he casually turned and walked away.
One night as I was talking LaciLou out, I opened the door while holding her and I’m so glad I was, as there were about 20 Javalins standing around our door and picnic area. I actually had not seen one before and thought they were some kind of pigs. I sent a picture to a friend, Jo and she repeatedly told me to stay away from them as they are very dangerous. I did listen but still needed to take pictures, so stood on our steps and tried to snap them but they were moving away. I was scared to get off the steps and they never even looked up or seemed to notice me.
The McDonald Observatory was about 22 miles away, so off we went to check it out to see what was there. When we walked in, they were just getting ready to sell tickets for a talk on the sun and stars, as well as a tour of two of the telescopes on the property. One of the telescopes is 82” and called The Otto Struve Telescope, it was built in 1939. At the time it was the second largest in the world and is still in use today. The next one we toured was the 390” Hobby-Eberly telescope.
The Davis mountains is an excellent location for the astronomical research because of the clear dry air and moderately high elevation. The Davis mountain range is at an elevation of 8,383, which is the highest peak in Texas. The Observatory is part of the University of Texas, Austin. Research today encompasses a wide variety of topics and projects, including planetary systems and stars. The observatory hosts live solar viewing, daily tours, as well as star parties 3 nights a week. The star party allows visitors to look through numerous telescopes. Because it was cloudy and rainy while we were there, they did not open up the telescopes for the star party that night.
We had a wonderful and knowledgeable tour guide but she gave us so much information that we could hardly retain it. I highly recommend going to Davis State Campground and the McDonald Observatory.
We are headed out to “Q” (Quartzite, AZ) come on back and see what we find there and the experiences we have.