TEXAS TO THE MEXICAN BORDER FEB to 14th APRIL 2016
Life has been really busy since our last update; you would be forgiven thinking we had stopped the Blog! It’s a job that is always at the back of our minds, and once started a not a chore at all. It’s just finding the time! Hard to believe, but every day we travel is so full on we neglect certain aspects until we can stop somewhere with good wi fi.
This is being written on the ferry from Liverpool UK to Belfast, Northern Ireland, 8 hours across the Irish Sea, with plenty of time to bring you up to date! It’s July 12th. So here we go.
We left you last in Texas, at one of the State parks.
Our next stop was Austin, Texas. Blaxford Museum of History on Uni of Texas campus. Great stop to learn more about Mexico and the long and violent history of border disputes. The Blanton Museum of Art on the Texas University campus was fabulous. LBJ Library, was a revelation to us! Apparently past presidents have a library named after them which contains lots of information of them during there term as President, such a shame we didn’t know about them during our journey around the USofA! LBJ’s Library “Museum” was fascinating, contained many audio/videos of his one term as President.
Just had to have a visit to Dallas and the Book Repository Museum, where the shots were fired that killed Kennedy way back in 1963 but it’s one of those moments in life that anyone who was alive knew exactly where they were when they heard the news President Kennedys assassination. Conspiracy theories still abound despite about this huge part of modern history despite all of the evidence pointing to a lone gunman.
After 3 days we moved onto San Antonio via Fredericksburg.
San Antonio 4 days. A lovely Caravan Park, with the benefit of a bus service just outside the park gates to drop us off into the centre of SA, a town full of Spanish influence, and the remains of the Alamo. SA has a beautiful river walk in the cities heart lined with coffee houses, cafes and restaurants. A short stroll from the River walk to the site of the famed “Battle of Alamo”, that took the lives of such legendary people including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. The information we learned at the Blaxford Texas History Museum earlier gave us an immediate appreciation of those events of the Texas/Spanish war.
We went to the last day of San Antonios famed Annual Rodeo, and had an invite from the International Committee to join them for lunch. Great hospitality, I’m sure they struggled to understand our accents as we did theirs. A volunteer worker here gave us her tickets so that we could watch the Ticket only semi finals of the “World Rodeo Championship”, lots of ooh’s and argh’s as the bucking bull’s threw most of the riders and stomped and butted many more!
On to Corpus Cristi and Padre Island one of the many sand spits running along the coast in this part of the world. We drove along the beach and free camped with 4 Airsteams ( very cool retro buses) and a couple of young families. Ian was thrilled to actually catch 7, yes 7, beach whiting. Delicious! This coastal part of Texas often feels the full brunt of Hurricanes bruising its way inland after picking up all of its strength out in the Gulf Of Mexico.
After a few days here we drove to Del Rio and then into the “Big Bend National Park” on the Rio Grande, which forms the border with Mexico. Mexicans on the other side of this river called out to us as we walked the American side , pointing out the village where they lived. Two Mexicans on horses crossed the river back to Mexico after having set up little ‘shops’ on the bank of the river for tourists like us to buy their hand carved walking sticks and animals made from beads. A ‘shop’ is a circle of stones with the goods in the middle and an honour box for you to leave your payment in. Beautifully made objects. Taking the track called the River Road (4 wheel drives with special permits only) This was the most challenging road we had travelled so far, but it was fabulous driving through the desert on a primitive road. We camped at Loop Camp 2, and a place called Cottonwood, under the amazing night sky.
Leaving Big Bend, we took highway 42, a secondary road winding through marginal scrub country along the river. Border protection guys everywhere driving along a track on the southern side of the road with 2 big tractor tyres behind pick up trucks, smoothing the track so that if anyone tried to cross from the Mexican side they would see the footprints! Protection vehicles at regular intervals along the whole border, including a truck with 4 saddled horses ready to head aliens off at the pass!!! Quite unusual.
Really big ranches in this area.
We are now into March.
Desert flowers were starting to bloom…. SO many different and magnificent plants in a desert! A stony desert. Rocks and formations of all colours and geological types.
We saw our first jack rabbits! How stunning they are with this great big ears for cooling down, and their hare like bodies. A tiny snake wiggled across the road, as well as a few small lizards.
Carlsbad has a cave system dropping some 750 metres underground and a 3 kilometre walk into the the heart. Tough walk down and even tougher back as the elevator was down for repair!!
At Bocque, the Birdwatchers RV Desert Park was very quirky, with ‘Bill’ the owner providing great entertainment. This little town outside San Antonio was the birthplace of Conrad Hilton, of hotel fame, and here he carried bags from the train to his fathers hotel for arriving guests.
Two nights in the wonderful town of Santa Fe with our musician friends Elena and Tash, and a private concert for us at their home. Very special. They have just won the Award for Best Music in the New Mexico Music Awards. So talented. This duo is called Indigie Femme.
Loved the architecture and feel of Santa Fe. An obviously creative and artistic population. Furniture, textiles, sculpture, food, music. Adobe everywhere and no high rise of any sort.
We had been told about the famous thermal pools at Hooper, just West of South Colorados famed Great Dunes National Park, so off we went into the middle of very little, and found the Pools after getting lost on someone’s ranch road. We could camp at the pools, and while there we went into what they call the ‘Green Room” which is part of the big swimming area (all naturally heated from the springs). In the covered green room you can go from pool to pool, (there are 5), experiencing all the different temperatures, from 110 down to 90 deg. have something to eat, and a glass of beer or wine. The heat was good, as overnight it was -13 C outside and -12C inside the Wiggie!
From here we travelled to Durango, through a little hippy place called Crestone ( a bit like our Hippy Nimbin) where we stopped for breakfast (very organic and delicious) accompanied by fabulous blues playing live on stage at 9.30 in the morning! Easy to buy legal cannabis here if one needs it.
Durango provided us with a lovely park to stay in with trout in the river, at a little place called Bayfield. We just stayed overnight and headed off to Mesa Verde NP. This Indian civilisation started to build many thousands of years ago stone houses on and beneath the cliff overhangs and, for some unknown reason abandoned their city around 1200AD. It is thought they headed south, and their ancestors still survive in more hospitable climes.
We headed off to view and circumnavigate the remarkable Monument Valley on the “Trail of the Ancients”, (imagine 100’s of cowboy westerns that have used the huge monuments as a backdrop to a desert).
On to the southern side of the Grand Canyon. The canyon is everything one would expect, beautiful stunning vistas with glimpses of the Colorado River flowing 1.3 klm’s at the bottom of the Canyon. The smaller and more delicate Bryce Canyon is just 190 kms away. It is like a very weird wedding cake and was Pens favourite canyon.
We had at this stage successfully completed the circumnavigation of North America in 47 weeks! This includes Alaska, Canada, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland!
We hadn’t booked anywhere to camp at Bryce, and couldn’t find a spot, until we met again a couple we had first met in Homer Alaska, John and Linda. They have the sweetest little house on wheels and have been everywhere all over the world…. They knew of a quiet little free spot so we followed them towards Zion NP and had a quiet night just off the road on the Red Canyon Trailhead. Zion NP. Carved by glaciers Millenia ago, we joined the crowds who flock to this iconic place everyday. Lucky to get a campsite within the park.
Las Vegas. Mad, wild, fabulous and a mixture of a bad dream or two, and fantasy. We stayed at a slightly old and dilapidated Circus Circus RV Park not far from the main boulevard, and a bit of a walk to ‘downtown’ and the “action”. An early Easter, and then stuck in Las V. for 2 weeks, as Pen had a medical condition which had to be looked at and attended to. All went well. Las Vegas was hot and windy and slightly boring after we’d seen what you see in Vegas! We caught up with friends Martin and Estelle, who we had met some months previously way up north in Pennsylvania and who live in Canada.
It was with great relief we left Las Vegas, and we were finally able to head off to Joshua Tree NP, where we had to camp out of the park, as all too frequently sites within National Parks in the US are booked out months in advance. Rattlesnake and scorpion warning signs were very frequently seen. While travelling through Joshua we saw magnificent dark rainstorms on the horizons, all around.
Palm Springs is a beautifully fertile , and manicured valley. Golf course galore, and wonderful urban landscaping and housing.
San Diego, California. 3 days left on our US visa, A big well deserved service for Wiggie before crossing the Mexican border at Tecate on 14th April 2016. Tecate is not far east of Tijuana, but much smaller and less busy for our first major border crossing.
The USA for us was a journey of discovery, (we thought we knew so much!) each of the States we travelled through was visually stunning. Every State different to the one before. We learnt so much about the American people and our journey answered a lot questions, dispelled many myths. The people we have met along the way have become friends, FB friends, and Blog friends. We stay in touch with many, and really enjoy the privilege of this communication, advice and fun.
That completes our first Continent of our 5 continent, 4 year journey.
Total Klm’s travelled. 54,525.
Litres of Diesal used 10,905
A BIT OF FUN: LOST & FOUND
2 Pair sunglasses. 2 pair prescription sunglasses. 1 rain jacket. 2 hats, 1 woollen cap, 2 bath towels, various socks, underwear. 1 Emergency Beacon. 1 No 12 spanner. Various Shampoos, soaps, razors etc. 1 cashmere sweater. Novels. One wife and one husband on occasions!
1 Fishing Rod, 1 landing net, 1 pair fly fishing waders. Various soaps and shampoos, I Bath towel (not same as lost). One wife and one husband.