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Traveling Them Thar Hills


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Mustang Island State Park

After a month at Port A RV Resort packed in like sardines, we have moved on to our favorites. That beyond a shadow of a doubt are the state parks. We are spending a month at this state park just a quarter of a mile or less from the beach.  Here are just a few of the finds and how we spend our time here. 

Sea Beans from other lands. The hamburgers (Macuna) as they call them are my favorites.  It’s amazing what you find on the beach that people loose, GoPro, and also about three knives and about 4 dollars in change. It’s all good because we walk miles a day taking in the beaches. 


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Port Aransas/Mustang Island/Padre Island and Miles of Beach Walks

We have hit the extremes here and we are loving it. From very warm high humid days to high winds and cold temps. But we have loved it all.


Michelle loves walking the beaches and collecting everything that’s unique. It’s a great chance to tire Calle out also.  So we have walked miles and miles of beach.


We went to the Marine Science Education Center and found a display of all kinds of things to collect on these beaches.





Sea Beads (Mary’s Bean) and Whelks are the things we are hunting most. So far we have found two of each.


One of the other things we aren’t use to is the difference between high and low tides. We are from Oregon and use to 9 foot differences. Here the difference is a foot and a half. I will have to find out what’s the reason and why.

No matter what we are enjoying the birds and other living things.






Calle found a few friends.


I found a few of my favorites at the Crazy Cajun Restaurant.


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Goose Island State Park Rockport, Texas

Goose Island State Park Rockport, Texas


Goose Island State Park is a great base for checking out the Rockport Texas area; we stayed on the Bayfront Loop and had awesome views out the front window! The park is home to one of the largest Oak trees in Texas, and the nation for that matter! It is over 1000 years old, stands 44 feet tall and has a circumference of 35 feet; it is fittingly referred to as “The Big Tree”. Because this park is located on the inner bay, there isn’t a beach, or waves from the surf, many people were sitting right outside of their RVs with fishing poles, I plan to stay here again and try my luck at catching fish!  

The first day, after arriving, we decided to check out the antiques shops in town, one shop we visited (billed as a junk shop/museum) was the the first place I have ever been offered a beer for refreshment as I shopped for collectibles – complementary beer at that! The shop people were very interesting, as were their antiques – they too were drinking beer – eclectic place to say the least. 

 
The next day we made a trip north to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, hopefully to see some birds we’ve never seen in the wild before. We didn’t get a close look at any birds, we did see some way out in the marshes, but we left our high powered binoculars in Huey. We made the best of it, checked out the visitor center with many displays, did the car tour around the refuge, stopping at various places along the way including two ponds with alligators basking in the sun. We also walked up a high bird viewing platform that looked out into Aransas Bay, there were some official bird watchers from the Houston area, equipped with their binoculars – they pointed out a family of Whooping Cranes and offered their binoculars for a peak.  




Every place must have its freeloaders and the fish cleaning station is the gathering place for that. 


 

Because I waited too long to make reservations at Goose Island, and it was right at Christmas weekend, we were able to only stay three nights. It was a nice, peaceful place to spend Christmas with the Pelicans.  


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Goliad State Park, Goliad, Texas

Goliad State Park is a beautiful park that has so much history of Texas and the fight for independence and statehood. Almost everyone knows the history of what took place at the Alamo, in San Antonio, but an equally important battle happened in the surrounding area of Goliad.  


The town square, with the county seat and courthouse is beautiful, as are the buildings surrounding the square. The architecture and design elements of these 1880’s buildings is just incredible – It never ceases to amaze me just how nice these buildings are and how old they are and most of them are still being used. 


One of the most ghostly and Erie missions we have seen is the Presidio La Bahia, just outside Goliad, Texas; the history regarding the battle that took place, just three weeks after the Alamo, is haunting and humbling, and really makes me think about the hardships our forefathers endured to make this country great. It tells a story of the ruthless Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna, fighting for Mexico, who ordered a massacre of 400 Texans who surrendered to his forces 3 weeks after the Alamo. 


In Goliad State Park a mission called Nuestra Senora Del Espirtu Santo De Zuniga is another fantastic structure. Walking the park and the building is pretty awe inspiring. 


We took a side trip to the Town of Victoria Texas, hoping the town square and courthouse would be up to par with others we have visited. Unfortunately the downtown area was rather bleak and no fun shops to go through. The old courthouse building didn’t disappoint – they sure knew how to erect a building back in the 1880’s. In the same downtown area we walked past a lovely old Catholic Church – just love those old churches and missions – something very moving about them. On another note, we found in Victoria, the equivalent of “Taco Tuesday” that we have seen in other parts of the country (Oregon and Utah, to name two); The Texan version is called “Gizzard Tuesday” what a riot. And no we didn’t try it. 


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McKinney Falls State Park Austin, Texas

We pulled into McKinney Falls State Park (Austin, Texas) in the early afternoon; we are getting to be pros at setting up our home on wheels, then we took off on a walk to explore the beautiful park. There are 65 miles of trails and a couple of them lead to very pretty waterfalls. The terrain is pretty flat around here, so with no mountains for direction orientation, I was easily turned around and actually had a hard time finding my way back to Huey. I guess I’ve spent too many years having mountains to help navigate by. 


The next day we went into Austin to check out the town. We came to a realization that we aren’t cut out for cities over 85k people; we didn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle, strange traffic lights and one way streets, not to mention no where to park downtown. We made a very quick stop at the visitor center, drove by the capital building, then got the heck out of there; that’s the beauty of being nomadic – if you don’t like where you land, you don’t have to stay – that’s what this lifestyle is all about. 




I found these cowboy boots in an antique shop but couldn’t bring myself to buying them because of the toes were turned up to hard.  Don’t think I could wear them for more than 5 minutes!

Another breakfast visitor this time a Texas whitetail. 

The park was really nice, especially the falls and the trails and even though the park is very close to the airport, it was serene and peaceful.  


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Blanco State Park in Blanco, Texas

We enjoyed our three day stay at San Angelo State Park, and our several forays into the town of San Angelo to check out antiques malls and old town. Our drive to Blanco State Park down Hwy 290 was really picturesque, and we enjoyed it so much; had no idea that there were so many wineries in this part of Texas, or any part of Texas for that matter! We left San Angelo to stay ahead of a rapid advancing arctic cold front heading from the northwest part of the country to down here in the south, right where we are. The day we left set a new high temperature record of 76 degrees, and by the next morning a new low temperature of 19 degrees was recorded – BRRR, way too cold for us. That was all in a time span of 12 hours and with it came the high winds, which we stayed ahead of so we didn’t have to drive Huey in those conditions – going down the road with a 60 plus foot long rig that stands over 13 feet high is no fun at all in high winds!

 

The drive down Hwy 290 was amazing in the fact I haven’t seen as many wineries since Napa Vally in the 70’s; we didn’t stop at any, usually parking for something as big as we are is challenging at best. Also the whole route had fruit stands with pictures of peaches; they must give Georgia a run for their money! We would have loved some fresh peaches, but we are about five months late for that. As we drove through The really quaint old town of Fredricksburg the streets were line with shops and elbow to elbow people on the sidewalks for a mile. We decided we would drive back in the “toad” the next day to check it out; little did we know just how cold it was going to be, literally almost got frost bite walking around town! 

We arrived at Blanco State Park and found our spot for Huey, set up and went in to the small town of Blanco to check out the town square and then drove 12 miles further down the road to Johnson City (the birthplace of LBJ) to see what has happening there. We browsed through several antiques/art shops and stopped at a small local brewery (Pecan Street Brewery) to sample their brews.  
In the morning it was 19 degrees and we went for a walk along the Blanco River that runs through the park. We saw strange plants next to the river and it looked like the base of the plants were sprayed with insulation. The plants are called frost weeds, and they are amazing because they protect themselves by secreting something that protects them from the extreme cold, I have never heard of a plant doing this and makes me think that plants must have nerves and feelings. 

After our brisk walk we left for Fredericksburg, using a “back road”; very beautiful country side. Michelle saw a sign to the “town” of Luckenbach, a sign posted there says population 3, and I believe that – VERY tiny. We turned off the main road to see this historic little town, made famous by a popular song by the great Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson called “Back to the Basics” originally penned by Booby Emmons and Chips Moman.  


The history of Luckenbach, Texas is written in the pictures below along with a link to a you tube video of the song performed. 


The next morning, while eating breakfast before we left we were greeted by a magnificent vivid red Cardinal outside the window enjoying a breakfast of red berries. Very peaceful and serene at this lovely park. 


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Historic Railway Trail/Grand Canyon Pictures

This Historic Railway Trail is a great hike or bike ride 10 miles round trip from the visitor center to the dam. It takes you through 5 very large tunnels they used to take the huge equipment and concrete mix to the dam from Boulder City.  Other pictures are from the visit to the Grand Canyon and the 1 1/2 mile hike we took into the canyon. On the way back up it reminded me of the pain in the legs I experienced in 1978 when we hiked to the bottom at Phantom Ranch and the Colorado River.





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Biosphere 2 Oracle/Tucson

We decided to tour Biosphere 2, since we love Biosphere 1 where we have been living our whole life!
This was a pretty amazing place with a very interesting story that out guide presented. We got our tickets off of Groupon and saved a bunch. Here are a few pictures from our tour. It’s now owned by the University of Arizona and used to advance the understanding of natural and man made environments. It consists of 7 model Eco systems that you walk through under one large experimental apparatus. There’s a rainforest, with 90 tropical trees handpicked to not exceed 90 feet in growth, so as not to outgrow their environment; a forested swamp dominated by mangroves, a tropical savanna, coastal fog desert, and an ocean. All these are under one building plus the equipment and housing for the inhabitants.
Just looking at it from the outside is interesting, but what’s inside and how all of this works together is the amazing part.


  






The desert below 



Interesting facts


The last few pictures of the air bladder, which is one of the two there, referred to as ” the lungs” is what totally blew me away! We walked in the long tunnel or airway from the main complex than into the lung. It was very windy at the entrances and exits. The roof of the bladder or lung expands and contracts with the changing pressure brought on by the changing temperatures through out a 24 hour period. The rubber and concrete roof weights 13 tons and in one day it raises and lowers 6 to 8 feet from the changing pressure inside the biosphere. The legs and feet as seen in the picture land on the floor in the totally relaxed pressure. If not for these two lungs the structure and glass would either blow out or caved in. Pretty ingenious stuff!

The outside of the lung


The throat or air tunnel


Inside the lung



Today, most of the facility is opened to the public for tours, but the original purpose was to house people to see if they could survive in a totally contained world. The first group of 8 people to inhabit Biosphere 2 stayed inside for two years (1991 to 1993) – I would love to hear some of their stories around a campfire!