April 12, 2013

Report From The Road

A satisfying retirement greeting from Fort Stockton, Texas. Our first extended RV trip is well underway and we are still alive, speaking to each other, seeing new sights, and meeting new friends. Bailey has made the transition to RV dog without a hitch, except for early morning potty needs and an occasional barking fit for no particular reason.

We left home a day early because we could and the forecast was for very high winds along our route. Our first two nights were spent at the Butterfield RV Park in Benson, AZ.

In addition to the normal pool, spa, fitness room, laundry and shower facilities, computer room, and library, there is working observatory, the only one in the world that is part of an RV park. 

Betty and I thoroughly enjoyed an hour long program presented by a local astronomer. Using the resort's 16" telescope we had the unique opportunity of seeing other galaxies, blue novas, and dust clouds millions of light years away. Butterfield also has a working ham radio station that allowed me to talk to fellow amateurs as far away as Atlanta. For some reason I never take the time to do this at home. Silly, I know.

Between wind gusts in Benson

The next night was spent in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Again we fought very high winds all day, with gusts approaching 60 mph, causing dangerous driving conditions and low visibility from blowing dust. Luckily, that evening the winds finally died down though overnight lows were in the upper 30's...much colder than we had planned for. 


Hacienda RV Resort was not really much more than a typical RV park. Since a pool, spa, WiFi, and clean showers are becoming quite standard I didn't see anything that would put it in the "resort" category.
There was a long dog run area for Bailey, so she might feel differently. It was clean and just fine for the night.


I know there's a singal out there somewhere

 
The last two nights have been spent in Fort Stockton, 300 miles east of El Paso on I-10. The park is about 4 miles east of town but has its own café that serves breakfast and dinner. As a special treat Betty and I took a break from what is in the frig in the RV and enjoyed two meals where someone else did the cleanup and cooking.

As this trip is teaching us, ask about a park's WiFi service before committing to a reservation. The Fort Stockton park had workable service only in the dining room which was only open a few hours a day. Service at our site, less than 75 feet from the office was non-existent.

As you read this we have packed up and are heading for Fredericksburg, in the heart of Texas hill country. We are looking forward to exploring countless lakes, rivers, canyons, and parks. Because we will be here for six nights I have rented a car so we can leave R.T. hooked up and really explore the area. Betty would really like to revisit the River Walk in San Antonio so we'll clear one day for that. It is a beautiful site and only an hour away, so why not.

As promised here are a few pictures Betty took by our site in Fort Stockton.







This trip is turning into everything I hoped it would be. We are learning some of the things to do, and importantly not to do that I'll share in future posts. Have a great weekend - I know Betty, Bailey, and I are planning to!



33 comments:

  1. Great post Bob. I look forward to your River Walk review. That is a place on my list if we ever get that far south again.

    On my recent weeklong trip to Cleveland I tried the "minimal" route. That is I only took the bare necessities. It worked out fine; didn't miss a thing I didn't take. The trip wasn't in an RV but instead my somewhat new Chevy Sonic. But it seems that the space I saved by going minimal was taken up by the things Yvonne bought along the way. (ha)

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    1. I had a client in San Antonio which meant 4 trips a year for 10 years. In all that time I saw the Alamo twice and the River Walk three times! I am looking forward to it as much as Betty. It will be beautiful and worth hundreds of photos.

      Betty and I have already made notes of several ways to simplify and cut down on the weight we must carry. At about 9 miles to the gallon every extra pound costs me money.

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  2. Thanks for the update. Sounds like you are having a great time. Looking forward to more updates! Cindy

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    1. It is going very well Cindy. We are now settled in Fredricksburg for the next 6 nights.

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  3. There is a nice RV park at the southern edge of Boerne Texas on IH10, just 20 minutes from downtown San Antonio. Boerne Texas is a mini Fredricksburg. If you are fit and adventerous you may want to climb to the top of Enchanted Rock just north of Fredricksburg.

    Welcome to south Texas. Weather this weekend is forecast to be nice.

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    1. I just picked up a flyer for Enchanted Rock State Park. It is on our list.

      Thanks for the Boerne info. We may decide to linger in the San Antonio area for a few days after Fredricksburg so I'm looking for another "home."

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  4. Love this post! How exciting to share you and Betty trying new things, going new places, and enjoying life to the max!! Can't wait for more posts about this trip and also some of the do's and don'ts.I'd like to try RV ing, Ken is hesitant.I hope you can post info about how to go about renting for a long weekend, so we can try it out maybe up in Flagstaff or somewhere nearby this summer..(when you get home.I'm sure you're not traveling with all that info!)

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    1. Our first time was using a rental in Flagstaff. We drove up from Phoenix, picked up the RV in Flagstaff and stayed at an RV park (J&H RV) just a few miles away. It was the perfect way to get used to everything without a lot of initial driving in the RV.

      Since we drove to Flag we had our car to drive to the Grand Canyon and downtown Flag while leaving the RV hooked up and safe at the park.

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  5. Renting a car for a week - brilliant! I suspect a Class C motorhome is in our future at some point, though not till we move somewhere where we can accommodate it on our property, and having transportation to get around is always of concern, so I love your solution.

    WiFi service can indeed be erratic, but it's almost always good and fast in the early AM hours, which is when we get our serious work done. Anything after that is just a bonus.

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    1. I'm sure you know this trick: reserve an economy car and 9 times out of 10 you'll be upgraded to a compact at the same rate. I just picked up a compact car at Enterprise here in Fredricksburg that is so new it has 84 miles on it and a new car smell...all the same price as the tiny economy car I reserved.


      I am connected right now and answering all comments while I have a signal. Using my smart phone as a WiFi hot spot is probably my ultimate answer. For $20 a month it is a great deal.

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  6. It's the wind I notice on this kind of a trip. We don't get much of it here, except when a cold front is coming in. Then we have wind chimes making noise, which I love anyway.

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    1. The official symbol of West Texas should be a wind symbol. It blew continuously from Las Cruces to a few miles outside Fredricksburg!

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  7. Welcome to Texas! Fredricksburg is beautiful and I hope you get to see lots of bluebonnets in bloom and get to sample the GREAT German food there. Lots of antique shops to see also. River walk is a great way to start out in San Antonio but if you have time be sure to see some of the missions.

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    1. We just drove into town on Route 290. There seems to be enough to keep us busy eating, looking, and buying for a month of Sundays!

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  8. Glad you're having fun. Love Betty's pictures!
    b

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    1. We'll have plenty more both in upcoming posts and in the feature button under the masthead.

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  9. Enjoy the Riverwalk. Took Deb to it a couple of years ago and she fell in love with it, and TX overall. If it wasn't so far from our daughter we would likely be there right now instead of TN. And the Alamo is always fun for history buffs. Travel safe.

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    1. Every time I visit the Alamo I get goose bumps. It has been kind of ruined by being completely surrounded by the city, but it is still an awe-inspiring place.

      The River Walk is a one of a kind experience that is beyond description.

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  10. Your adventure sounds wonderful as well as diverse. I love Betty's photography. Sounds like you may be hooked:)! Continue to enjoy and thank you for sharing with the rest of us.

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    1. We are hooked enough we may expand our travels this year from the almost 3 months already planned!

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  11. I remember those winds driving across Arizona -- I saw a couple of tractor trailers actually blown over. Maybe that's routine for you Westerners. But as an effete Easterner I thought it was scary. Anyway, be safe; and have fun!

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    1. I'm trying to figure out a route home that avoids the 300 mile wind tunnel back across I-10 to El Paso and doesn't take an extra week!

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  12. Cari in North TexasFri Apr 12, 07:04:00 PM MST

    Glad you are enjoying your visit to the Great State of Texas! I second the suggestion to see some of the missions around San Antonio, to get a feel for more of the history of the state. I love Fredericksburg and the surrounding area. Interesting comment about the wifi. I found that most of the rest areas on the interstates in Texas now provide wifi, but that probably doesn't help you right now :-(

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    1. We are going to visit Enchanted Rock Park on Saturday and then take the short ride to Luckenbach, just to say I've been there.

      I used the WiFi at the rest stop just west of Sonora!

      We will definitely try to visit some of the historic missions in the San Antonio area.

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  13. We are snowbirds who have spent the past two winters in southern Arizona and southern California. Without exception, we have never had reliable WiFi reception in any RV Park/Resort. Because we stay in one location for at least a month at a time, we bite the bullet and pay a local internet provider for service. When you are a long way from home for an extended period, these days it is almost a necessity to "be connected". I know that it is quite an expense for the RV Park owners to install a reliable network, but unless they do so, more and more travelers will do as you are doing, and choose to stay only in facilities that can provide good WiFi service. Happy travels!

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    1. I think my best option will be to make my Verizon smartphone a WiFi hot spot. If I can get cell service I'll have an Internet connection. At $20 a month it is a reasonable solution.

      The park we are in now in Fredericksburg has solid service. As you note, paying bills and responding to e-mail, plus watching something on Netflix really means good Internet service is a necessity, not a luxury.

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  14. Oh, that visit to the observatory sounds absolutely wonderful!! And in an RV park! Go figure. And of course, I love Betty's photos. (Hi, Betty!) Give Bailey a pat for me.

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    1. I think Betty has taken close to 1,000 pictures and today marks just our first week gone! I'll post some of the best in the next few days.

      Bailey is a doing quite well, considering she is a nervous dog that over-reacts to almost everything!

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  15. I am sorry I have been missing this journey. We took that very route about 10 years ago. Things have changed I think. When you are in Fredricksburg, be sure to make a day trip over to Gruene. Great music hall with some wonderful hill country shopping. I think you will like it.

    Have fun...I am envious!

    b+

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    1. Was it windy during your trip, too? That is my overwhelming memory of the road from southern New Mexico to the Kerrville area!

      We have fallen in love with Fredericksburg and the Hill Country. I'll have a post with plenty of pictures either Wednesday or Friday.

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  16. I don't know how far off the beaten path you are, but if you really get stuck and have to bill pay, public libraries are great spots to sit and pull out your computer.. not convenient, but as you pass through even small towns you may find one on your way to the next spot.. EVen up in Pine, we have an incredible library with great wifi.

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  17. You are so right. Libraries are great options. Starbucks locations have free WiFi and they are even more available than libraries! Heavens, even McDonalds offers free WiFi. So, there are work-arounds.

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