Winter Vacation Part 1

9 Dec

We just returned from a 6 day road trip vacation with the dog and cat included. Before I started this posting, I had searched this blog for other posts on “vacations”. I hadn’t really given a lot of thought about our pattern of doing winter vacations. In summer we do make a trip north to visit extended family at the reunion but that has not really been a vacation. We had a defined destination and schedule. Timelines are not really that relaxing.

I was past ready for an escape. We’ve worked very hard on this house for the past three years. I needed some time to not think about the things yet to be done and only a dentist appointment for Harry defined when we needed to be home. We did postpone hitting the road until after a couple of windy days. Our Roadtrek camper van shares may traits with a turtle except a turtle sits close to the ground and isn’t bothered by wind. That is not the case with this model of Roadtrek. I can drive it in the wind but it takes a lot of work. That did not sound like a good way to start a vacation.

We headed south west toward Big Bend National Park. For the first leg of the trip we dropped straight down and picked up Interstate 20 around Dallas and Fort Worth and on towards Abilene. There are a number of state parks at or just west of Abilene but that was too early in the day for our first night camping so we pushed on towards Big Spring, TX. Winter road trips are more complex that summer because of the shortened hours of daylight. We can’t start before 8 and really need to be settled into camp by 5. I am not one who likes to pull in and hook everything up in the dark. We arrived Big Spring State Park only to discover that one is a day use only park.  We switched from the state park directory to the RV park directory. We saw a number of RV parks in the area but wanted to find a Good Sam park. They may not be the cheapest but are usually clean which was the same reason I hoped for a state park with hook ups. When we got to the park, we learned it was no longer a Good Sam and for good reason. We were too tired and hungry to look elsewhere. They had 50 sites but only 5 were for over-nighters. Some were probably snow birds although I can’t think of a reason why. The rest were pipeline or oil field workers. Although the ladies room was shabby but functional and clean, the same was not true of the men’s room. Harry thought he might end up dirtier if he took a shower. We were snug enough in our van but it was a bit nippy in the morning so I passed on the shower as well.

We got back on I 20 towards Midland and Odessa. That area may be the home of George and Laura Bush but it is not an area I’d even want to drive through again. Freeways give you a quick slice of the country without offering an in depth sampling. There may be something of value in Midland or Odessa but it is hiding beneath oil wells, refineries and heavy industry support companies so a quick slice was more than enough. Even Murphy, the cat, woke up to complain about the smell and passing trucks. We quickly decided that we would spend time with the road map to select another route for the return trip. At Monohans we bought gas before turning south towards Ft Stockton and Big Bend.

The oil wells and refineries ended with towering rock formations, buttes and mesa’s straight out of old western movies. Odessa and Midland might have been what we expected of west Texas but Big Bend blew us away.

Beg Bend National Park

Beg Bend National Park

We had sweeping scenery and the peace and quiet we had loved at the cabin. Didn’t realize that I was homesick for eastern Washington until we relaxed to spend two nights there. We had to leave the pets behind as we hiked the nature walk through a marsh area

Turtle in Marsh

Turtle in Marsh

and up to a rock outcrop with wonderful views of a small town in Mexico just beyond the Rio Grande. We watch a couple of canoes navigate a set of rapids as they made a bend in the river.

Rio Grande

Rio Grande

We were both surprised at the amount of water in the river. I remember having heard that there wasn’t any water there. That just wasn’t the case here.

We met people who had returned to the park between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year for the last 50 years. There were only a handful of campers and the temperatures were in the upper 70’s. That is just about perfect. We went for a bike ride over to the park store for that camp ground where we could take a shower when we wanted to. The full hook up section was there but the sites were dull and packed in close. We had selected a larger site without hook ups filled with trees and even a camp road runner.

Road Runner

Road Runner

The rangers advised us to keep a close eye on the pets especially Murphy because of bobcats and javelina’s in the area. Murphy, as always received lots of comment and seemed to love the area. Putting our feet up as we sat in the sunshine with the pets playing around us really meant we were on vacation.

Big Bend Campground

Big Bend Campground

We considered staying more than 2 nights but without an electrical connection, battery power drains off to concern levels. The propane stove and refrigerator won’t run if the gas leak detector is not on which requires the battery. Before another long trip, we will need to plan on a good way to add a back up battery. I can save space for it but the battery recharge connections might be an issue. Research time. We were enjoying ourselves enough that we started a discussion about a longer road – rest trip in the spring. This camper may get a good workout yet.DSC_0327

More later.

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