Navigator was on her electronic instruments, computer, watching TV, phone weather updates, weather channel and Garmin, plotting every turn and maneuver for this entire trip. She was so busy most of my driving hours, attempting to avoid floods and storms, barely had time for site seeing. We never found ourselves in a spot that we could not escape. She did really well 😊
Leaving San Antonio Alamo KOA just ahead of more storms predicted. We drove eastward to Lockhart State Park. One of our favorite small parks situated on a 9 hole golf course. We do not golf, but find the little park quiet and relaxing, away from the city life and convenient to our prowling.
Only a few spots near the little stream were available during this little holiday when kids in groups attend small learning trips. Three buses left them off for their guided hikes and lessons on nature’s interesting features. One evening, a ranger led an Owl hike, to search for elusive critters. I was invited, but much too muddy for me to happily walk the steep trail in search of ‘Hooters’ 😊
Following arrival and set up, navigator and I drove the tow into San Marcos for traditional evening dining with friends at Saltgrass, a Landry’s restaurant situated over the San Marcos River source near the college. Three hours of visitation later, we bid our friends adieu and returned the 18 miles south to Lockhart State Park, our homestead for a few nights.
Backtracked to San Marcos Texas, and another few miles on the interstate in the tow car for a bit of shopping the following day. Always enjoy a discount outlet mall [Tanger double malls combined] and lunch at Cracker Barrel, before a bit of exploring the area. Driving 35 miles south to Gonzales, an historical antiquey town, and then return back to the RV at Lockhart for the night, ended the day.
An evening hike around the golf course revealed several patches of dug up earth. Ranger answered my query of wild hogs? They do some serious digging when the weather is wet. He mentioned the thousands of Armadillos doing similar, but lesser earth moving damage whenever weather is dry.
The countless tree spiders of the Banana type, fill the trees in spring, alarming the acrophobia folks to no end. Fishing in the stream this trip would have yielded stocked 9″ catfish by a thousand. The rangers hunt the wild hogs periodically to cut the numbers, but when the litters are large and frequent, it takes only a short time for them to again overpopulate.
Drive the tow car to Austin next day for lunch with our granddaughter. She is in her 3rd year at Austin, the notoriously fast-track, University of Texas [Longhorns]. Sports Medicine is her interest at this point.
Returned to our nice cozy home in Lockhart State Park as the rain began falling. No end in site for the big rain storm covering most of Texas this tour. Partaking in the park’s holding dump-fest, then leaving Lockhart in morning, we drove on to one of our favorites, Ink’s Lake State Park, for another few nights stay.
By-passing Austin traffic is problematic, as it extends for more than 20 miles in all directions. Even Buda Texas is now a bustling ‘burb’ of Austin. Marble Falls fuel at Walmart for $2.35 was happy day. Roasted chicken parts from Walmart deli, filled our needs. Did I mention rain?
Achieving the remarkable feat of a finding a camp site at Ink’s Lake State Park near Burnet Texas, we found a nice shady spot safely back from the water’s edge during anticipated rain. Important on a dam controlled reservoir.
During a brief pre-dusk lull, I walked to the nearby, large fishing dock and visited with a couple of re-united elderly brothers, as they were catching only turtles on their worms and Jello soaked hotdogs.. to their consternation. That was the last warm sunshine seen for days. Discovered that spraying WD-40 on the worms attracted bites.. turtle bites.
Driving the tow backtrack into Marble Falls for a bit of antiqueing before leaving the area, was of interest. Mediocre lunch at Doc’s Fish Camp in Burnet was more costly than dining at Walmart deli. Lesson learned there.
It has been raining for several days now and after arriving at Ink’s Lake State Park Sunday, two nights 15 feet above and 300 feet away from shoreline, we were told by the ranger, to “move the rig, our RV camp site was about to become endangered and the access road closed, Flooded”. The Buchanon Dam that feeds Ink’s Lake, is about to release a serious quantity of water, to prevent it’s own storage problems from the continuing storm.
After using our Texas State Park pass coupons to the fullest extent, we intended to leave anyway, this just encouraged us further. As we slept through two nights of heavy rain, no internet, then morning wet, I had to disconnect the cold, stiff, 50 amp power cable and water line, in the rain and 36 degree temperature, my enthusiasm was waning. Dumping the holding tanks, in the rain, was not quite relaxing.
As we drove the familiar route we often take back westward, we also noted that the usually mild little stream along side the pavement, held in check only by an old railroad track embankment, the Llano River had now grown to a 1/4th mile wide raging torrent paralleling our highway,… yards away. An extreme adventure that whitewater enthusiasts would fear.
The Llano River was now being fed by the five inches of rainfall during an extended time. It filled the old limestone river bed and quickly engulfed several houses and downtown Llano, all built with little regard to the old high water level river banks the early settlers would have wisely recognized.
Texas, already sitting on 300′ feet of water resistant, solid limestone caprock from the mid cretaceous shallow sea, has climate cycles. Drought for many years, followed by floods, Texas sized for both.
We were notified by friends in San Marcos, of a couple of bodies found so far. The many reservoirs and dams control the flooding and protect Austin and San Antonio. As each lake reaches capacity, it dumps, gates controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers, to the lower lakes, that in turn dump what they can no longer control. Travis reservoir protecting Austin communities, was already at 103% 0f capacity.
Dominoes in effect, with those living in flood plains, the victims. The construction stages of Corps of Engineer projects usually have the 100 year flood in mind. Their dams appear overbuilt….., except when the 100 year flood arrives. As engineers studying real history of climate, they also know that there are 200, 300 and 500, let alone 1,000 year cycles, all of which they know can Not be controlled.
We filled with fuel in San Angelo, usually in last prep for the trip toward home. Wind devoured our fuel faster than anticipated and slowed our progress. We drove northward past Big Spring’s Wind turbines, miles of massive, spinning blades, north past wet cotton fields, peanut farms, grape vines and whatever else is a cash crop.
Cows in abundance. Goats, Sheep, Oil wells, Plastic lined earthen water reservoirs for irrigation, appear often with their large diameter roadside tubes transporting the precious stored commodity miles in all directions. 137 additional miles of wind and rain driving after fast fuel fill at San Angelo and finally parked for night at the marvelously free La Mesa City Park. 30 amps of free service kept the coach’s electric heater toasty, and us dry.
Rain to some extent lulled sleep. Morning arrived early. ‘Burnin’ daylight’, fixing breakfast in cloudy darkness, we gradually moseyed another 150 miles north west through Brownfields, Plains and left West Texas, crossing the state line at Bronco, into Tatum NM, headed for Roswell NM, again against the wind. Refuel again at Sam’s Club in NM, just to be prepared in caution for wind. Rainfall kept the wipers in action for days of driving. Today was no different. Roswell forecast was rain. Yes it did.
Following a Subway lunch, Roswell NM behind us, we drove northward toward ABQ NM, the junction route of I-40 being our next turn direction goal. Turning West at Cline’s Corners, 150 miles north of Roswell with the last 50 miles into Albuquerque, the Interstate was welcome. Finally a tail wind of motoring silence, some nice friendly truck traffic, in place of western rural highway desolation.
The wipers never stopped and sporadic rain fell all of this 380 + mile day. On travel west and arrival through the canyon leading into sunshine engulfed ABQ, the wind was finally at our back, until we pulled into the perpetually sunny city and top off fuel at ABQ Costco.
There, the east wind was heavy, due to a strong low pressure area in Arizona sucking the air from ABQ.
We ate a Costco hotdog and a slice of pizza before winding city streets the last 8 miles home for the night. Unload the cargo, park the old reliable rig, 108,000 miles total now, …and over the next days, change oil, creep under and lube the chassis, check vitals, drain tanks and water lines for winter before storage, anticipating, planning the coming spring trip… but tonight to relax in the home bed.
All told, a wet, but still always another fascinating, challenging, educational trip, totaling over 1,500 miles in the old Holiday Rambler. Not as much hiking as usual, Not much of anything outside in the rainy RV camps, just setting inside reading ….and watching the other campers battle the elements. Tents are the real challenge. Those energetic folks are really, The Brave 🙂