Fran & Steve's 2003/2004
Waltz Across Texas

Part One

Our 2003/2004 Road Trip
Travel Log

Part Two

360º Panorama of Our 2000 Home
at LaPosa South LTVA

360º Panorama of Hope Arizona

360º Panorama of Slab City

Harold Drummond's RV Poem

Aerial View of Quartzsite Arizona

Our 2002/2003 Trvelog

Our 2000-2001 RV Odessy Travelog

Our 1999-2000 Adventure 2000 Travelog

Our 1998-1999 Excellent Adventure Travelog

Our winter ‘03-’04 adventure, started where Interstate 10 passes by the ‘border’ town of Anthony. Anthony, located between the 10 and the Rio Grande, straddles the New Mexico/Texas border. This community’s claim to fame is The 5th Quadrennial World Wide Leap Year Festival. More about Leap Year in our Calendar section this month.

As you may have guessed we aren’t technically ‘waltzing’ but the song keeps running through our minds as we move along and explore some of this great state.

Heading southeast from El Paso on Interstate 10 we crossed desert interspersed with rolling hills ...referred to as ‘mountains’ on the map. The hills were a beautiful relief from the desert, an opinion apparently shared by wild deer, many of whom live there, indicated by large numbers of them that were obviously unsuccessful in their highway crossing attempts.

Arches that lined each side where the roadway was cut through a hill were accidental works of art created by nature and the construction crews. Earth layers, compressed horizontally over the years to various thickness and color patterns were intersected by the evenly spaced vertical marks made by construction cutting equipment forming a beautiful parquet-type wall. Can’t help but wonder if the workers were aware of the artful beauty they created.

Fort Stockton just off the 10 is steeped in history and a great anchor point for day trips to southwest Texas points of interest. It has several RV parks and a WalMart which seemed to have a lenient policy toward RVers ... one end of their parking lot was lined with rigs.

We learned that out there on the desert and mesas were oil wells and, surprisingly, vineyards... Texas wine country!

Based out of Medina Lake Thousand Trails Preserve we spent many days exploring Texas Hill Country ...Lake Hills, Pipe Creek, Bandera, Helotes, and Boerne (pronounced ‘Burney’... honest!). We went through Luckenbach and Stonewall on the way to Fredericksburg and found all three to be charming places. The three or four ancient buildings in Luckenbach can draw out the ‘country’ in everyone and cause them to want to return for jam sessions or rent the town for family reunions.

We could have spent many hours more in the Pacific War Museum and the Admiral Nimitz Museum in downtown Fredericksburg.

The main streets of most small Texas towns reflect what life was like a century, and more, ago. And everyone of them has a restaurant that promises you ‘The Best Barbecue in Texas’!

We also visited San Antonio to see the Alamo and go on the River Walk, by boat. It was beautiful!!

San Antonio’s famous River Walk, decorated for Christmas

On across the 10 to Lake Conroe Thousand Trails we went, to take advantage of their wireless internet. Some new-found Texas friends told us of a route to get there that would miss Houston traffic... which they had no polite words to describe. By the time we realized we had missed the turn off it was too far to go back. YIKES! We found out what they meant.

The area north of Houston will always be one of our favorite places in the U.S. The rolling hills are a beautiul change from flatlands, the lakes are wonderful, the people are friendly, the towns are quaint... what else do you need? We drove around and across Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston and visited the Escapee park by Livingston. We could live there happily when we get off the road... except that our families are all in California.

Houston is a nice enough city with lots to do culturally, historically and commercially. It is trying to deal with its traffic problems with spaghetti-like freeways twisting over one another to take you to other parts of town... sometimes parts you hadn’t planned on visiting. We ventured into Houston only twice... once to visit the Houston Fire Museum and the Apple Computer Store and the second time on moving day when we passed right through the city on our way.

Headed south out of Houston we were back in flatlands, but there were still lots of woodlands with wonderfully different trees and other plants. Lots of cotton is grown in this area and some rice.

When we got to Freeport we were so fascinated with looking at all the piping used in the oil refineries that we did not find an RV park. We crossed the bridge over to Galveston Island before we realized it so we dropped the house off at Galveston State Park right between the gulf coast and the bay. It was early so we went into town to explore.

In Galveston we went along Seawall Boulevard and inadvertently got into a lane of cars waiting to get on the ferry to Bolivar Pennisula. In Port Bolivar we found a great little Mexican Restaurant and had dinner. Then we got to ride the ferry back to Galveston Island.

The driving tour of Galveston Island State Park was fun. We got to see a Roseate Spoonbill (through binoculars). What a beautiful, big, pink bird. Next we went to Seawolf Park on Pelican Island to tour the WWII submarine USS Cavalla, and the destroyer escort USS Stewart, ... interesting and educational.

The offshore oil rig Ocean Star, in retirement in Galveston, TX

We accidentally came across the Ocean Star, a retired offshore drilling rig, and museum. What a find! We spent a couple hours touring the facility and learning about the offshore oil industry. An interesting hand out we picked up there has a time line from 2000 BC to 2001 AD so that the oil industry’s progress can be tracked with other civilization developments. For example, the first offshore well was drilled in 1947 the same year Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Or... plastic was invented (1907) the year before the Model T Ford was introduced and five years before the Titanic sank!

Eric Geswender, Ocean Star Museum staff host, by a photograph of the oil rig before it’s retirement.

Our next stop, Mustang State Park on Mustang Island, is east of Corpus Christi. A series of bridges had us hopping from one small island to the next... shades of Florida Keys! Then the big thrill... our house got to ride on a ferry!! And it didn’t sink! That ferry ride was from Port Aransas to Mustang Island. (Aransas is pronounced ‘ah RAN sas’ we were told... not Awransaw, like Arkansas with a r instead of a k!!

Waiting for a ferry to take us from Port Aransas to Mustang Island

We bought two days at the campground so we could explore North Padre Island and Corpus Christi. The weather was not user friendly and the outdoor seminar at North Padre Island preserve headquarters was moved indoors but still made interesting by the Ranger.

William Botts, Ranger
North Padre Island Preserve Headquarters, with Sea Turtle skull.

Our touring in Corpus Christi was cut short by the weather. We headed home sadly, but knowing you just can’t see everything.

Highway 77 south took us to Harlingen. We located a park with wireless internet in Harlingen ...Paradise Park and RV Resort just off the freeway north of town. We planned to stay just a week but the friendly management of the park had a special going so we bought a month. Part of the freedom of fulltiming is being able to change a schedule in a heart beat!

Glenda (left) and Hank Bullard (right), Park Managers, with with office volunteers.

One day, while we were touring, in a little town called Alamo on Highway 83 we found a great jam session. There were four groups of stringed instruments, each anchored by a bass, in gazebos stretched along the highway. We stopped and listened for a while until the groups were tired and began breaking up.

Saturday Jam Sessions in the park at Alamo, TX

Highway 83 goes through a series of small towns on its way from Brownsville to the northwest. These towns are snowbird havens with many, many RV parks and resorts. Making winter Texans feel welcome and satisfying their every need is the biggest industry in this part of the Rio Grande valley.

South Padre Island is the most distant point of our winter’s explorations. A long, low bridge (Queen Isabella Causeway) leads from Port Isabel to South Padre Island (SPI). It arches at one point so that big ships can pass under it to the intercoastal waterway, Laguna Madre, that is along the west coast of the entire island and east coast of the mainland from Port Isabel to Corpus Christi. On the island we drove the length of the road in the center of it, to where it ended in a sand dune. We stopped at one beach access park to check it out and walk in the sand. It would be a great place to spend a couple of months, and it didn’t seem to be as crowded as might be expected in early February. Huge hotels, condos and beautiful homes line both coasts of this narrow island.

We’ve discovered that Texans are proud of their state, their towns, their history, their attitudes and their families. And that’s not a bad way to be, y’all. -- Go to Part Two fo Waltz Accross Texas.

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This last updated April 10, 2004