Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Arrival in Big Bend

Roger here...   We are currently ensconced for a week at the  Maverick RV Resort in Lajitas, Texas.  It is affiliated with the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa complex, just across the street.  The opening pic shows the outdoor seating area behind the restaurant at the resort.  Nice, huh?  Big Bend State Park is one mile west of us.  Big Bend National Park is seventeen miles east of us.  Lots to do and see!

Those of you, of a certain age, will remember the pop song "Camp Granada" from the sixties.  The theme of the song entailed a young man's miserable start to summer camp, followed by the joy of finding great things.  Our trip mirrors that theme. 

The trip over was eventful.  It should not have been, but it was.  After we left Seminole Canyon State Park, uneventful miles rolled by on U.S. Highway 90.  My main concern was making sure the gas tank was full before we made a left turn in Marathon heading south to the national park.  I knew that gas stations were nearly nonexistent in the Big Bend area, and obsessed on having a full tank before we left civilization.  Because I was obsessing, it should not have been a problem, but it was.

We drove through Sanderson, TX and could have gotten gas there, but I wanted to have more gas in the tank.  I opted to wait until Marathon, 54 miles down the road, because I knew from reading blogs that we could AND SHOULD gas up there.  It should not have been a problem, but it was.

As we approached Marathon, we noticed smoke north of the highway.  Then more smoke -- and darker.  Oh great!  A wildfire.  Soon we met a brigade of fire trucks and earth movers headed for the fire.  A little scary, but we passed the smoky area and were heading in the opposite direction.  Whew!  We are OK now, but we weren't.

Finding gas stations that fit our motor home is often a challenge.  We need lots of room to turn without bumping into things.  Many gas stations just do not have the space, or are too crowded.  We have a guide that lets us know where we can find RV-friendly stations from the interstate exits, but we were not on an interstate.  I am always concerned in small towns, so when we approached Marathon, Dianne and I both watched closely to see if there was a gas station that we could fit into.  There was!  The Shell station on the right!  And no one in the way --- easy in, easy out.  Good news!  Dianne exited the motor home to guide me next to the pump.  No more worries, but there were.  When Dianne put the credit card into the pump, she got a message saying to pay the cashier.  When she went to the doors of the station THEY WERE CLOSED.  Why?  Could it be because it was Sunday?  We tried a different credit card, but got the same message.  Crap.

I saw another station down the street.  Good news, but it wasn't.  After pulling next to the pump,  Dianne discovered that it was also closed.  Crap.

We slowly drove through the picturesque town (though we weren't really enjoying it) hunting for another gas station.  There were none.  We had to drive 34 miles to the next town, Alpine, instead of a more direct route south to our destination.  

By this time, I was more than frustrated.  The uneventful miles passed slowly.  As we neared Alpine, a larger town, it looked as if we were driving into SMOKE.  Another wildfire!  A wildfire behind us, and a wildfire in front of us, and not enough gas to get to Big Bend and then back out.  Crap.

Dianne got a blurry shot of a helicopter carrying water to drop on the fire.  Not encouraging.

We found a RV-friendly gas station in Alpine.  It was open, and it accepted our credit card.  The entire town smelled of smoke, and I empathized with the residents, but our immediate problems were over.  We headed south on State Road 118, away from the wildfire, and arrived at our campground after about an hour.

The Maverick Ranch RV Resort has 102 full-hookup, 50 amp spaces.  We reserved a spot at this resort because we knew it would be very hot, and we would need a place with fifty amps to run both of our air conditioners.  Thank goodness we had a reservation; with our rig, the campground now has a .9 percent occupancy.  Yes, we are the only ones here!

But that is not all bad.

We have beautiful views from every direction.

The spacious and landscaped pool is entirely ours.  It is in an enclosed area, and the staff told us that our dogs were welcome in the pool area, since no one else is here -- very unusual.  

The gravel road to the isolated tent sites is perfect for taking the dogs on a long morning walk.

The staff told us that we could also walk our dogs along the golf course to the Rio Grande.

The wildlife in the campground and immediate area is incredible.  We have seen javelina, black-tailed jackrabbits, and wild burros in the campground.  We've been told to watch our dogs carefully in the evenings, because the coyotes pack and attack. 

 There is a nightly show at dusk which includes scores of bats and lesser nighthawks frenetically flying in every direction, eating insects.  Fun to watch from our patio area.  And lots and lots of birds.  I saw a painted bunting this morning (Dianne did not see it, and she is not happy).  Here are shots of a roadrunner that we saw nearby, and several indigo buntings that hunt for food at our campsite.  This evening a very large roadrunner ran under our motorhome.  

The Lajitas Resort (part of our complex) across the street was an oasis in the desert.  Very cool.  

The main street was lined with Texas-styled shops.

A path beyond the main street leads to the restaurant, the outdoor views, and the "Thirsty Goat Saloon."

This place is amazing.  AND, it is essentially ours. Off-season is not a bad thing --- except maybe for the temperature --- 100+ every day so far.  But, it is a dry heat.

After checking out the resort and making reservations for a float trip on the Rio Grande, we headed for the Big Bend State Park Visitor's Center  - Barton Warnock.  

Like everything we have encountered in Texas, it was very well done.  

Nice view, huh?  

One of the most interesting exhibits was of a pterosaur fossil that was discovered in the area.  The bone fragments were connected with metal to show how massive this flying dinosaur actually was.  I am in the last pic, just to add perspective.

Dianne will be posting soon about our first hike -- a slot canyon adventure to "Closed Canyon."

Time for the pet picture of the day.  We call this "Basketball Kitty."  Big Chuck has always been -- let us say -- large, but he has put on some additional heft since we started our travels.  This is a shot of his furry behind as he has dinner on the RV console:

1 comment:

Nancy and Bill said...

Well, you've found a great spot!!

Can't wait to see where we get to explore while you are there. Our TODOS list is getting longer and longer!!

Just be sure and take LOTS of water...100+ is HOT, HOT, HOT with or without humidity ;o))