Saturday, February 7, 2009

February 7, 2009 Heading west to explore

February 7, 2009

OK .... another change of plans. The idea of going south to Mission and the land of endless RV parks has been replaced by a trip west. We have decided to head for Big Bend National Park (thanks to me and my constant nagging) and some real adventure. But we are in no particular hurry to get there. We are going to take 2 or 3 days to straggle across Texas and then find our way farther south towards the Border. We do our normal "Laurel & Hardy" routine of bungling the proper on ramps and run around in circles while calling each other on the walkie-talkies and laughing. I would be very disappointed if we ever got off to a smooth start. We get out of Corpus and into some very barren looking territory on a little highway numbered "44". Very flat country, the winds we were getting in Corpus are still strong, but beginning to diminish. We go through Robstown, Banquete and Agua Dulce (Sweetwater) ... population 737. Tiny tired bungalows with bare yards and dusty mesquite trees that have lost their leaves. I would be surprised if more than 10 families in these towns had a yearly income of more than $20,000. Very poor places. Alice, Texas (population 19,010) boasts a row of franchises. Holiday Inn Express, Chili's, Walmart Supercenter, LaQuinta Inn, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's, Dollar General, Whataburger, RadioShack, Little Caesar's, Dairy Queen, Church's Chicken, Walgreen's. Yeesh! There are 2 automobile dealers, a hospital, an airport (of sorts) a bank, a bowling alley and a Beall's department store. This is truly a metropolis. It has 5 stop lights! But then ..... nothing. South Central Texas. Nothing. We stop for lunch at a Dairy Queen in Freer ... the very heart of freaking nowhere. I have heard that the DQ elipse is called a "Texas stop sign"! More nothing. Texas scrub. All of a sudden you pass a drive with massive gates and flags flying ... the Tillman Ranch!! Antelopes and exotic game for hunters to come and pay big money to climb in a stand and wait for these things to come and eat corn and present themselves as targets. BANG!! .... trophy on the wall. Then more nothing ... 50 miles of nothing. Wait! ... here is the town of Catarina (pop 80!) with a church, a post office and the Catarina One-Stop. Truly one stop ... gas, groceries and a bathroom .... then 30 more miles of nothing.

Carrizo Springs is actually a county seat. It has a Court House, what looks like a jail, an Ace Hardware. Also the smallest Walmart I have ever seen. We had determined that there were 2 RV parks in the next tiny town and we did an eenie, meenie, miney, mo to pick one. Found out later that the one we DIDN'T pick was a real dog .... and we stumbled on one of the best kept secrets in Texas. A place to Rest, Rekindle and Restore. Crystal City is a pimple on the map of Texas, but it has a statue of Popeye in the center of town and proclaims itself to be "The Spinach Capital of the WORLD".

The Triple R RV Resort 5 miles outside Crystal City, Texas is a sweet, quiet place on the Nueces River that is part of a working ranch. It was privately owned until a few years ago, when some rich oil man (Chase Oil) from Arizona decided he wanted to buy up property along Rt65 and anything with water. So he makes the folks an offer they can't refuse and keeps the RV park for a write-off and because he can afford to do what he wants. (At least, that is the story I heard.) It is small, immaculate, quiet, private, full hook-ups at each site and very reasonable.

Our site is next door to a guy named Fred. He feeds the birds, and every morning I watch an amazing number of brilliant red cardinals argue over who is going to eat first.

There are lots of huge, old Live Oaks for shade, hot days, cool nights and socializing with the other people if you choose. We stayed for the Valentine's Dance at the pavilion ... where the men all cooked whatever meat you brought, we all contributed side dishes and there was a campfire and dancing to a live performer (who was really very good!) until the wee hours.

We have made a reservation to stay here again next year . It's a very cool place. We came for 2 days and stayed for a whole week! But now we are ready to make the trip farther west and south to the desert. First stop will be Brackettville, I think. Onward!

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