Balmorhea State Park, Barbary Sheep, Enchanted Rock, Fort Davis, Longhorn Caverns, McDonald Observatory, San Angelo, Texas
Taking US190 towards Jasper Texas, on our way to San Augustine and Mission Dolores Campground for the night, we actually crossed the Sabine River from Louisiana into Texas! For the last several years we have had to take a very southern (and sometimes very convoluted) route because the Sabine River regularly floods and shuts down all kinds of crossings including Interstate 10!
We had our usual chuckle about how to know when we’ve entered Texas…the speed limit on that little 2 lane road we’ve been tootling along on at 45 or 50 jumps to 75 miles per hour 🙂 . Yeah really.
Spring wildflowers blanketed the sides of the roads and out across green fields of cattle reminding us once again how pretty east Texas can be this time of year.
We stayed with State Rt. 21 the whole way to our destination of Bastrop (we’ve posted about Bastrop before) and recommend this route to any of you coming to Texas for say, Austin. There’s not to much traffic, some cute towns, Nacogdoches in particular and especially in the spring it’s pretty countryside. It will also allow you an opportunity to stop at the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site which to our great surprise was open on Easter Sunday! The small museum doesn’t have a lot of artifacts, and what it does have are replicas, but there are good representational murals and structures.
We have been to Bastrop quite a few times but never stayed at the South Shore Lake Bastrop Campground until this trip. Very busy on weekends and during the summer, arriving late on Easter Sunday, we found it almost empty, While level is an issue, we do recommend it for inexpensive, private, quiet sites and good shade.
We also recommend the Bastrop Discount Tires store where we got 6 new Michelins put on the rig.
We had a few days to kill before visiting with our daughter-in-law in Leander and back to Bastrop for a visit with our “adopted” kids there, so we headed for Fredericksburg west of Austin on US290. We have been here several times before so wanted to do something different. Staying at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park Campground just outside of town and RIGHT next to the airport which was quiet at night, we recommend only the Horseshoe Loop which was much less cramped than most of the campground. We went to the National Museum of the Pacific War over the course of two days. Admiral Chester Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg and there are several things to see pertaining to him and/or his family. The huge and excellent George H.W. Bush Gallery is the only part we did and it involves a tremendous amount of reading. Folks who have gone to museums with us know that Ed reads almost all and I do read all of the descriptions, so we don’t move along fast 🙂 . We do recommend you hold out part of two days (can’t take it all at once) and put this on your MVL (Must Visit List). We also suggest you put the Buffalo Nickel Bar & Grill on your list for lunch, one of the best burgers ever and the buffalo chili is pretty darn good too!
In previous trips, I had always noticed signs for Enchanted Rock when passing through this area so I said let’s go see what it is. Just 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is worth the trip! The largest pink granite monadnock in the United States the climb to the top while steep is not difficult. (A monadnock is an isolated large rock or small mountain hard enough to resist the erosion that has weathered away the softer surrounding rock. For you folks back home, our Sugarloaf Mountain is a monadnock)
I had noted on our map Longhorn Cavern State Park, so on our way to Leander, we took 281 passed Marble Falls to Park Rd which has some serious and unexpected (but fun) DIPS so if you’re in a big RV or travel trailer especially, watch out! Way back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and Ed and I didn’t know each other, we both did some caving and so we like to take a look when the opportunity presents itself. Longhorn is not worth a special trip but if you’re in the area do stop in.
After our visits with family we set out for a couple of days at San Angelo State Park to do chores (taxes) and so we could visit the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art. Turns out they were closed for an installation! I told the young man we had come specially to see them… from Maryland no less! He took pity, asked his boss, and he kindly let us in to see their small permanent ceramics room. Proof, be nice to people and more often than not, they’ll be nice back 🙂
A number of years back we stopped at Balmorhea State Park for the night and it was so windy and cold we did not go for a swim. This time Ed had checked the weather and said let’s go, and I am so glad we did!
After our dip, we headed for Fort Davis via 17 which is at the end, a very pretty drive. We have been to Fort Davis before and I especially like the area. It’s desert, but also because of the elevation has enough grassland to successfully ranch and pretty mountains to hike.
There’s also an “upscale” and more importantly the only full bar restaurant in town called Blue Mountain Bistro where we had a very good, three-course meal prepared by a Vermont based visiting chef! Yum. The next day we headed for the McDonald Observatory where every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday they offer their very popular “Star Party” with talks, telescope viewing and constellation tours. I had seen that they were completely booked for that, but we could still do their daytime tour and solar viewing. It was VERY windy, 70 mph gusts, and consequently, they did not open the roof of their solar telescope. However, a very engaging and intelligent young woman gave an informative talk/powerpoint about the sun with live images from telescopes based around the world. She then led the tour to their 3 big telescopes.
AND the really fun bit… 3 reservations canceled, so we got to stay for the Star Party! Lots of FUN with some very bright folks…..and the night sky…..WOW!!!
We are currently in New Mexico and will soon be inviting you to join us underground in a truly magical place!