Texas and more Texas

Sent on July 17, 2015

The last time I emailed was from Treetops RV park, near Arlington, Texas. It’s been too long! Too much has happened! I will try and take you all through it, though I won’t fault any of you for wandering off halfway through the story to make some tea.

Treetops RV resort was lovely, though the people were a bit aloof, which surprised me. Generally RV park folk are friendly. It was fine, though, Youngest and I walked to Target a few times for the occasional grocery need (milk, ice cream, cookies, you know – the important stuff), and just hung out inside to avoid the heat on the other side of the RV door. The park was crawling with grackles – like ravens, but with a purple sheen to their feathers and much larger tails. They strut around and bully the smaller birds by flapping their wings and making loud noises. They’re kind of jerks, to be honest. But pretty jerks.

After Arlington, we met up with D, a contact of DH’s, and went to the Cresson race track for a few days, where we plugged into power and overnighted next to workshops. I really enjoyed it, as did Milo, as the evenings meant everyone else cleared out and we had the place to ourselves. We ran Milo on the track (he thought he’d died and gone to heaven) and I took some photos of plovers – they were all over the place in the evening. D took us to a German restaurant in nearby Granbury one evening, and we all had schnitzel. Youngest was not overly impressed by the schnitzel, but we all enjoyed the strudel afterward. Granbury is a quaint little town – it has a proper town center, which is not common anymore, really, which surrounds the courthouse – a stately affair. We wandered around after eating, and people were setting up for the upcoming fourth of July holiday. Stands were being put up to sell everything from BBQ food to large tin sculptures (I desperately wanted the pig with wings, but DH, wisely, said no).

We left Cresson and moved on to “Sun Country RV Park,” near Lake Whitney, still in Texas, which was dirt cheap and almost empty. I got confused, for a bit, and told DH we only got in because there was a cancellation (which had been a different park, but honestly, who can blame me for mixing them all up). So as we wandered around the very (VERY) empty Sun Country park, he kept saying, “Boy, it’s a good thing there was a cancellation!” Sun Country’s office looked like it had come out on the wrong end of a storm, and there was a sign there that said, “Office is closed due to building condition.” The pool was lovely but we never ended up using it. Instead, DH and I played several rounds of pool in the empty clubhouse, and I borrowed a book – Lonesome Dove, by Larry Mcmurtry, which is supposed to be THE western novel everyone should read. I haven’t started it yet. But I will!

Then we headed off for Austin, Texas, and stayed along the way in one more lovely spot, in Georgetown, Texas, at the Berry Springs RV park, which was across the road from Berry Springs Reserve. We only stayed a night, but we walked through the preserve twice – once the evening we arrived, and again the next morning at sunrise, where we surprised a small group of deer on the walkway. The preserve has wide swaths of prairie land, with tall grass, as well as clusters of pecan and oak trees. Apparently a lot of wildlife can be seen there – foxes, deer, a multitude of birds – but the one wild thing we saw the most of was the yellow garden spider. It’s astonishing how giant they are. They make huge webs, always with a little zigzag of silk coming from the center. The lubber grasshoppers (which are also quite large) were no match for these spiders – we saw one large grasshopper partially wrapped in one spiders web. Though they were fascinating, and strangely lovely, they were also great deterrents (in my opinion) for keeping people on the trail. Who would want to tangle through one of those things’ domains? Bleah!

We got into Austin on July 5th, and we made our way to the Pecan Grove RV park – on what is called Austin’s Restaurant Row, about a mile from downtown. We had Zilker Park and Barton Springs within walking distance as well. Barton Springs Pool is a section of Barton Creek that has been fenced off and has a lifeguard on duty each day – an impromptu public pool made from the very clear Barton Spring water as it comes down the creek. A great idea, I think – and because the water is not impeded, it continues to flow and is crystal clear in the swimming area. If you don’t want to pay the 4 dollar admission, you can go right above or below the pool and swim straight in the creek. Many, many people were doing just that when we walked along it – with dogs as well. Our time in Austin was really lovely – DH did not leave for his event, so we got to spend the week all together. A few blocks down, on either side of the RV park, were food truck lots. I have never eaten from a food truck, and I had to try them – it seemed imperative. Especially since Austin is known for its food scene. It would take several dozen paragraphs to get through all the great food we had there, so I’ll try and stick to the highlights. We had Tex-Mex at a place called Chuy’s. Tex Mex, for those who don’t know, is the Texan take on Mexican food. It tends to have more cheese, is heavier on the meat, and is actually delicious, were I to judge from that place alone. I’m sure I’ve had Tex-mex before, just never called out as such. DH and I had lunch one day from a food truck called “The Mighty Cone,” where they fill cone shaped tortillas with all sorts of things. I had spicy breaded chicken and slaw in one, and DH had a “Monster Cone” with shrimp, avocado, chicken, and other assorted goodies. One morning we went to a spanish food truck and had breakfast tacos – bacon, egg, onions, some sort of red sauce, and cheese wrapped in a tortilla. They were very filling and cost 3 dollars each, so we were both fans.

One of the days we were there, we walked downtown to wander, and Youngest decided to leave us and go to the library. I think he only went because there was a new iPhone software out and the wireless at the RV park was terrible. But off he went on his own, and he hung out in the library reading while the software downloaded to his phone on the library wireless. So I can’t be terribly upset. He was reading! Yay! Small victories.

The RV park itself was great – pecan trees all around, a nice leash free park area a block or so away, and we managed to pick up some history. It was built in 1947, and hadn’t changed a heck of a lot. When we pulled into the slot, the guy working had to bring out a pole and raise the power lines for us to prevent us hitting them with the air conditioner on top of the RV. Each tree was tagged – all over the city, trees had small metal tags glinting on their trunks. A neighbor in the park pointed to the condos next to the park, and said, “That used to be an RV park too. A guy bought it and razed all the trees to build the condos, which is when the city started tagging and tracking all their trees. You’re not allowed to even cut a branch without getting permission from the city anymore.” What?! That’s awesome! No wonder Austin was so lovely.

After Austin we moved on to the Wagon Wheel Guest Ranch, in Snyder, Texas, which was a bit confusing, and made us nervous, as we couldn’t find any reviews online. But it was cheap – 15 dollars a night – and we thought, how bad can it be for one night? Such a strange place it was! It was nearly empty – there were two other RVs and we suspect they were permanent guests. But it had a handful of buildings, all with hand painted signs in front – “Bunkhouse,” “Headquarters,” “Office,” etc. The bathrooms were not useable, at least for me – they were in the back of a long unused clubhouse, had very little light, and had a sign asking people to please not flush toilet paper. The clubhouse floor was concrete, with large dead beetles scattered about, as though they came for a dance and managed to get poisoned instead. It was gloriously rustic – I will say that. The buildings were all wood beams and texas style. They had a pen of reindeer (who looked very hot), and there were cattle on the land behind the place. The birds were everywhere – I’ll need help identifying the birds in most of the photos I took while there. We also saw horned toads (actually lizards), but we didn’t touch any of them due to their ability to shoot blood from their eyes as a defense mechanism. Oh, and the lubber grasshoppers! My goodness! They were everywhere, and they are so big that they’re clumsy when trying to jump. It was not unusual to have one whack into the back of your leg. Often if we came near them, they would do one half hearted awkward leap and then start walking very quickly away. I took a lot of photos of them, as well, just because of how enormous they are.

Of the Wagon Wheel Guest Ranch, I told DH, “This is the kind of place that, in a book, someone would end up here during aimless travels, fall in love with the place, and decide to stay and help the owners restore it to its original glory.” It looked, as DH put it, like, “Someone spent an awful lot of money on it, once.” There were two small dogs running free – a little hairy terrier type and a dog that was part boston terrier and part chihuahua. You’d be out walking, and they’d run up to you, all friendly, and follow you on your walk. Such a strange lovely place it was.

Ok. I have to end this now and come back to give you the next leg of the update, maybe later today or tomorrow morning. Pie Town, New Mexico, will need its own email, practically, there is so much to tell. Also in the next update – Sonoran Pronghorn herd! A meteor crater! A rain storm that nearly flooded out the town of Winslow, Arizona! The Petrified Forest! And of course, miles and miles of traveling.

We’re shooting to be at my dads, in Lake Havasu, by Saturday.

We are all well – hope this finds all of you happy and well, too!

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