Upon entering Texas we wanted to check out a Texas beach so we ventured down to Galveston and stayed at a State Park. The beach was nice but definately not the prettiest we’ve seen – and then there are all the oil rigs and ships along the horizon. It quenched the need to walk barefoot in the sand but not top of the list for beach vacations. We probably would have enjoyed it more in warmer weather too.
San Antonio Area
A Visit with Friends
We have some gracious friends in La Vernia who invited us to come stay with them so we had a great parking spot and electrical hookups for our stay – thank you Kat and Ernest! They were also great tour guides. They made our time in San Antonio really fun! We even had our own mini super bowl party and played a drinking gave to one of the republican debates haha. I didn’t get any pictures of our friends or our parking spot! Lame.
A must see in San Antonio is the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. I am sure when most people think of San Antonio missions they think of The Alamo, which is of course an important part of Texas history, but we found the other four missions (Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Jaun and Mission Espada) in the area as worthy of a visit. They are far more complete structures and provide an amazing glimpse into the lives of the people in the area. The visitor center at San Jose has a fantastic film on the history of the missions told from the perspective of the native people.
Western Heritage Parade
We had the great luck of being in town right before the start of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. This meant a big parade! It was far different from other parades we have been too. There were herds of Texas long horns running down the streets, sheep herds with working dogs moving them along. The parade ended right down by the Alamo where people period re-enactors were all around.
Amazingly, the Rodeo parade and Mardi Gras coincided which meant that all of downtown was alive. There were a ton of vendors along the riverwalk. In old town (La Villita) there is an amphitheater where bands were playing all day. They had a great band playing when we walked by and we stayed for a while to enjoy the show. We really lucked out in the timing of our visit.
Big Bend National Park
We hadn’t originally planned going to Big Bend but Kat and Ernest had great things to say about it so we took their advice and are glad we did! We stayed at Rio Grande Village on the East end of the park – no hookups but only $14 per night so perfect for us. On this end of the park we took a quick hike called Boquillas Canyon that wound down to the Rio Grand River. It’s interesting, they tell you not to purchase anything from Mexican nationals and we were thinking where would that even happen? Well, along this trail there were these random tables with hand made souvenirs and a jar for payment and nobody around – until you looked across the river could see people on the other side (in Mexico) waiting near a canoe! There is actually a crossing in to Mexico through the park but it closes at a certain time (which had already passed) so we didn’t entertain the idea. The next day we explored the Western side of the park and did two hikes: the first was Burro Mesa Pouroff – a hike through a dry wash, canyon and down to a dry falls. The next was another hike along the Rio Grand called Santa Elena Canyon. This is also a take out spot for people rafting the Rio Grande. The last area we explored was the Chisos Basin in the central high mountain area of the park. We both agree this is the most scenic (it’s all great if you like deserts though). We didn’t have time to do any hikes by the time we made it here but we did see a bear with THREE cubs! In addition to the bears we saw lots of roadrunners! This may not seem exciting to some but we looked for them the whole time we were in Arizona last year and never saw one – they were everywhere here! If we get to return to Big Bend again we plan to travel the 4×4 road along the Rio Grande river canyon bordering Mexico and do some hiking in the Chios Basin.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
This is another surprisingly beautiful park! Many people have never heard of it and we decided to visit just because it’s right next to Carlsbad Caverns and we ended up loving it. It is definitely a park geared towards hiking/backpacking or horse back riding, and not much else though. There aren’t really any roads going through it but that makes for amazing back country We stayed at their Pine Springs campground, which is really just a parking lot with spots for large rigs – again, fine by us. We decided upon a couple of day hikes. First was Devil’s Hall, much of it more of a scramble than hike, through a dry wash with boulder jams leading to a rock staircase and narrow canyon – a beautiful and rewarding hike although a difficult one if you’re recovering from an ankle sprain (Megann). The second was a short hike to a natural spring behind the Frijole Ranch History museum. It’s a little oasis in the dessert worth seeing! Oh, and we finally got to see javelinas at the ranch! We would love to do some backpacking in the back country here in the future. One fun part of our visit here had nothing to do with the park – we met some really great like minded people parked next to us in their RV that we had fun visiting with. In fact, they invited us over to witness one of their HAM radio sessions and that was fascinating! They were talking to people all over the country and beyond.
Texas is huge and diverse – I’m sure there are many more things for us to see in future visits. Big Bend is now on our list of potential winter workcamping location as well. From Texas we continued on in to New Mexico for more sight seeing…stay tuned.