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  1. #21
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,537

    Default

    I hope those boot-owners checked their boots before putting feet into them. As you know, being from Arizona, lots of things can hide in boots!

    Great trip report so far -- it's enjoyable, relaxing reading!


    Donna

  2. #22

    Default Heading West - Day 19

    Sunday, April 3, 2016

    Start: San Felipe, TX
    Finish: McKinney Falls State Park, Austin, TX

    While enjoying our morning in camp I did some checking and discovered that the new NPS site, Waco Mammoth National Monument, is closed on Sunday and Monday and does not open until 11 AM on Tuesday. It is still being managed by the local government and Baylor University, so the typical 7 days a week schedule we expected has not been initiated. It is one of the new NPS sites and one we have yet to visit and definitely a planned part of this trip. Luckily we had time to adjust, we don't have another scheduled event until next Saturday afternoon in Mesa, AZ.

    We continued to do some Letterboxing in the park (less bugs in the morning) and nearby town before we enjoyed a Chinese buffet in Sealy. We had decided to head towards Austin, as there is always something to do in Austin. Along the way we stopped at 2 sites for the last of our El Camino Real de los Tejas NHT stamps; Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery SHS and Bastrop SP. Monument Hill was most interesting, it also includes an historic brewery, homestead and memorial. The memorial is dedicated to those killed during a battle for the Republic of Texas in 1842. This is a great example of what you can find along the route of a NHT. This is a place we would not have known about. The short walk through this free State Historic Site was enjoyable and unexpected.

    Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery SHS - LaGrange, TX




    We arrived close to 5 PM at McKinney Falls SP, and our final stamp on the Tejas NHT, and was shocked to find a long line at the entrance station. None appeared to be campers, campsites were available; we were told this crowd was normal all weekend long due to the park's proximity to Austin. We settled into our quiet and secluded campsite, we were tired from our weekend's activities. Pleasantly surprised with a lack of bugs - heading West is good!

    Wildlife Sightings
    Northern Cardinal
    Brewer's Blackbird
    Swallow
    Wren
    Great Egret
    Cattle Egret
    Great Blue Heron
    Northern Mockingbird
    Red-headed Woodpecker

    Eastern Fox Squirrel
    No snakes!

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,056

    Default Smart Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by Pmount View Post
    The shorter tower ramp was blocked by an alligator.
    Dang, I think I'd yield to that critter too!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-26-2016 at 03:48 PM. Reason: typo

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,056

    Default How about those Love Bugs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pmount View Post
    Friday & Saturday, April 1-2, 2016...
    And most annoying;
    Gnats, gnats and more gnats than imaginable.
    Yeah, those gnats are a pain, no-see-ums are worse, especially the biting ones. By the way, have you ever been in a "Love-bug" infestation?

    I never knew that about Copperhead snakes. I thought they were very poisonous.

  5. #25

    Default Bugs & snakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Yeah, those gnats are a pain, no-see-ums are worse, especially the biting ones.
    No Love- bugs, to date. We have been victums to no-seeums over the years, UT - along the Colorado River, ND in T Roosevelt NP & NC - Cape Hatteras NS. We carry no-seeum net to cover our screen windows, in hopes of preventing future misery.

    Copperheads - don't take my word - that was the experience of 2 people. We avoided!
    Pat

  6. #26

    Default Austin - Day 20

    Monday, April 4, 2016

    Start & Finish: McKinney Falls SP, Austin, TX

    Amazingly quiet park, considering it is part of Austin and near the airport, or we were tired enough from our weekend that sleeping late was easy to do. Just before noon we headed through NW Austin to a new National Wildlife Refuge - Balcones Canyonland NWR. It has been a while since we have spent time in Austin, but we were surprised at the growth, and with it heavy traffic. The terrain changed from very flat to beautiful rolling canyons.

    Wildflower in NWR


    We spent some time in the headquarters office before taking a back road through the countryside to a couple of viewing areas within the NWR property. The birds were elusive, but enjoyed a few flowers.

    After a few stops for shopping and browsing through an antique mall we found a neighborhood pub, Gourmand Neighborhood Pub, that had a local beer we wanted to try, Stash IPA. It also posted on its website that it was fashioned after their favorite bar in Tucson. After re-routing a couple of times because of accidents we arrived and enjoyed a tasty beer and very large sandwiches. We learned the name of the Tucson place, BisonWitches. We had not been there, it opened down by the University of Arizona after we have spent much time in that area. We may give a try after the students leave for the summer.

    McKinney wildflowers


    Lupine - aka Bluebonnets


    When we got back to the park we went to check out the falls; upper and lower. The geography was similar to Perdenales Falls. Neither of the falls were large, but the area was interesting and I could understand why it is a well-used recreational area. This park was also of interest because I descend from the McKinney's that settled Texas, my line stayed in Kentucky.

    McKinney Falls SP
    Lower Falls


    Limestone shelf


    Upper Falls


    Wildlife Sightings
    Northern Cardinal
    Northern Mockingbird
    Rock Pigeon
    Brewer's Blackbird
    Great-tailed Grackle
    Turkey Vulture
    American Crow
    Common Raven
    Swallow

    White-tailed deer

  7. #27

    Default Waxo Mammoth NM - new NPS visit - Day 21

    Tuesday, April 5, 2016

    Start: Austin, TX
    Finish: Odessa, TX

    Traffic in Austin was nasty, and especially this morning when we wanted to head north towards Waco. All 3 main N-S highways had accidents and stopped traffic heading north. Map app had us go east then angle up north of the congestion which worked.

    Monday morning Austin traffic


    Along the way we made a stop at a Rest Area along I-35. Besides restrooms this building had storm shelters built into the structure, a small room nestled into the center of the building with benches along the wall. Considering the open landscape this would be a great place to be during a tornado watch/warning.

    Storm Shelter


    The drive from I-35 over to Waco Mammoth National Monument was very pretty, it followed the Brazos River to the Bosque River and a series of parks. The Waco Mammoth NM was just designated a NPS site last year and is still being co-managed with the City of Waco and Baylor University. The 45 minute tour cost $5 or less for with discounts. This site is visually different from any other mammoth sites I have visited, the site is heavily forested and sits along an active river. Usually the sites are high and dry. The current site looks like what I have seen depicted as a diorama of an Ice Age ecosystem. This enclosed dig site is actively being excavated by scientists, it was just discovered in 1978.

    Waco Mammoth NM & smashed penny


    Along my travels I try to complete activities associated with Quest Scouts. This is a relatively new program, started in the Fall of 2014. A young man in Portland, OR has developed this adult-scout style program. His creativity is amazing. You participate online, and at no-cost, if you chose. One of the activities for a current badge, Breakdown, was to visit a tourist attraction and collect an elongated penny. So getting a smashed penny at Waco Mammoth NM was a perfect fit - NPS site plus one to add to my husband's collection. We found several machines on this trip at Texas State Parks.

    Now we needed to make tracks west, cross country to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The highpoint of the afternoon was the fried chicken meal we had at a Bush's Chicken, a Texas chain. It was the the best fried chicken meal we have ever had, looking forward to our next trip through Texas and a meal at Bush's!

    We moteled it in Midland, no decent camping in the area. As we came into town we passed several prairie dog towns, enjoyed seeing them popping up from their mounds.

    Wildlife Sightings
    Northern Cardinal
    Northern Mockingbird
    Rock Pigeon
    Great-tailed Grackle
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Turkey Vulture
    Common Raven
    American Raven
    Swallow
    Crested Caracara
    Black Vulture
    Swainson's Hawk
    Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
    Mourning Dove

    White-tailed Deer
    Turtle
    Black-tailed Prairie Dog

  8. #28

    Default Tribute to Merle - Day 22

    Wednesday, April 6, 2016

    Start: Odessa, TX
    Finish: Bottomless Lakes SP, Roswell, NM

    Breakfast, gas & groceries before we left Odessa and headed SW to Guadalupe Mountains NP - To the Mountains! I was anxious to see mountains out the windshield. It took a while after we left Midland-Odessa, but after about an hour of driving I could see the Guadalupe Mountains on the horizon.

    Our first stop was at the visitor center. While there a couple was wanting to purchase the $80 annual federal pass, the ranger said he was out of the passes and they could buy one at Carlsbad Caverns, their next stop. He did not charge them the entrance fee. We were wondering if the Centennial year was causing a run on the passes.

    We drove into McKittrick Canyon, within the park, for a picnic lunch and a short hike. The 1 mile hike along the Nature Trail turned into a fossil hunt for my husband. By training he is an invertebrate paleontologist, in his early career focusing on trilobites. He can spot the small stuff and help determine if it is a fossil or a bump in the rock. The Guadalupe Mountains are a giant reef from the Permian Age, over 250 million years ago.

    Fossils along Nature Trail






    Lizard hanging out


    Belly Flowers


    We then drove into Carlsbad Caverns NP. A sign, 7 miles from the visitor center, told us the elevator was not working and last entrance to the caverns was at 2:30. Luckily we had been down in the caverns in July. I recently saw a message that indicates the elevators will be operational on May 31(tentative date). I understand it will be the maintenance elevator, as the primary visitor elevators are being rebuilt and will not be in use for another year. Without an elevator you walk in and out, which we have done in the past. Walking in really gives you a sense of entering the cavern and I prefer that to taking the elevator down. It is a steep 750 ft walk down and then up. We got our passport and Centennial stamps, plus my husband got a set of smashed pennies. The machine had new designs from a previous visit.

    North of Carlsbad we stopped at the community college and walked the Ocotillo Nature trail, with the blooms beginning to flower this was a beautiful walk. We continued north and ended up at Bottomless Lakes State Park, east of Roswell. This was unknown to us and a hidden gem. Back in New Mexico with $14 campsites and no entrance fees!

    As we were enjoying our campsite Happy Hour 2 gentleman, with Virginia plates, set up camp across from us. One them stopped by and told us about their one-month cross country trip to many of the National Park sites. In the course of conversation we learned about Merle Haggard's death. We then learned that his travel mate had played with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for 11 years. He was traveling with his guitar and gave us an incredible concert into the evening. Experiences like this are what road-tripping is all about!

    Merle's tribute



    Wildlife Sightings
    House Sparrow
    Mourning Dove
    American Crow
    White-winged Dove
    Swainson's Hawk
    Phainopepla
    Turkey Vulture
    Northern Harrier
    Great-tailed Grackle
    American Kestrel
    Scaled Quail
    Greater Roadrunner

    Cottontail Rabbit
    Lizard

  9. #29

    Default Crossing New Mexico - Day 23

    Thursday, April 7, 2016

    Start: Bottomless Lakes SP, Roswell, NM
    Finish: Albuquerque, NM


    A bit cool (39*) to start, high clouds kept the sun from warming us up. Enjoyed the electric hook-up to fix a hot breakfast. Always fascinated by 4 x 4 campers, this one had US plates. Several campers pondered the m.p.g. of a rig like this.

    4 x 4


    Besides low camping fees many of the New Mexico parks have WiFi on site. The post pictured below was right next to our campsite.

    Carrier 'WiFi' Pigeon


    On the way out of the park we stopped at the overlook for Lea Lake, one of many of the bottomless lakes which are sinkholes, naturally filled by the nearby Pecos River. The day use area is well-developed for swimming and canoes or kayaks.

    Lea Lake overlook


    Across the highway from the state park is Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, their visitor center is a 20 minute drive off the highway on paved roads. The Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes had left the area a month ago. The displays were interesting and their Nature Shop had an amazing selection of wildlife-themed t-shirts. We saw a few birds to add to the list, nothing out of the ordinary. Besides being wintering grounds for some of the big birds they claim to have 100 species of dragonflies and damselflies, with a Dragonfly Festival held in September.

    Back in Roswell we headed north along US 285 and stopped at the rest area, about 50 miles north of Roswell. Roadside sculpture brought some visual relief, except for a few Pronghorn sightings and some distant mountains to the west, to a very bare landscape.

    US 285, mm 150 sculpture


    Our destination today was to visit a couple of the missions associated with Salinas Pueblo Missions National Historical Park, in and around Mountainair, NM. These sites interpret 3 of the the 17th century mission and pueblo communities that co-exisited in this area. Ruins remain at all 3 locations. Outside the main visitor center for the missions, in Mountainair, were a couple of Chokecherry trees in full bloom, the fragrant blossoms were a delight.

    Salinas Pueblo Missions NM
    Mountainaire VC - Chokecherry Trees - Smellivision?


    Quarai Mission


    Abo Mission


    After visiting 2 of the 3 missions we headed towards Albuquerque. We had planned to stay on US 60, but the weather was turning nasty, high winds and rain were predicted.




    Wildlife Sightings
    Mourning Dove
    House Sparrow
    White-crowned Sparrow
    Great Egret
    Greater Roadrunner
    Turkey Vulture
    Swainson's Hawk
    Curve-billed Thrasher
    Common Raven
    American Crow
    Northern Harrier

    Cottontail Rabbit
    Pronghorn

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,259

    Default

    That 4x4 looks like a current generation Ford diesel - I would guess that the fuel mileage isn't too bad - somewhere in the 12 to 15 mpg range.

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