Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Texas Impressions

Fences!  Does Texas have fences?  Texas has everything fenced, and gates are more often than not chained and padlocked.  I was warned by others that Texas does not have the same expanses of federal land in National Forests and BLM lands like Arizona for example, and they were right – at least down in this corner of Texas.  But I am not complaining.  With great National Parks like Big Bend – without fences, and with miles of backcountry roads to drive and camp on, cheap campsites like at Amistad rec area, there is no hardship.  Things are different here, not necessarily better or worse.  Texas has ranches, too!  All that fenced land?  It’s all ranches.  And they love their gates.  The entry roads to these ranches all have large, CIMG3372CIMG3373CIMG3384CIMG3385CIMG3386fancy gates along the highways.  Many are the simple chain and padlock, but many more have sophisticated, solar powered entry systems.  And there appears to be criteria Winking smile.  The unwritten rule seems to be that no part of the ranch development can be seen from the gate, save perhaps the distant view of a windmill!  Speaking of which, they have many, many working windmills in Texas.  Not the modern power-generation type like California, but the traditional ones that pump water for the cattle.  The gate will have the ranch name and maybe the brand, and perhaps a silhouette of cattle or horses all cut out of metal.  What is really impressive is to see the gate for a ranch, then 20  or 30 miles further down the road – see another gate for the same ranch!  Some things in Texas are huge.  Some of the gates had an RV parked just inside, often with large lights at night, and a person there to check traffic in or out.  I’m not sure, but my guess is that it is paid hunting areas, or security for oil and gas facilities.

Oil and gas facilities – they got lots of that down here.  All over.

And I don’t mean this in a negative way – just an observation.  Because of it’s proximity to the Mexican border in this area, it shares some of the same attributes as Mexico.  Some of the urban areas – garbage and trash – everywhere.  I almost got nailed at a 4-way stop.  Because I stopped.  The guy that came up from behind me blew through the 4-way stop at 50mph after I narrowly got out of the way!  And like Mexico, rules on passing seem to be based on common sense (is it safe?), rather than those lines on the road!  Of course, sometimes it is not safe, but they pass anyway!

Lots of pitbull type dogs, usually on chains, sometimes not.  I was riding my bike down a paved road nearby, when a loose one took exception to me and took up the chase!  Outrunning a pitbull on a bike with a half-flat tire is not easy.  But it provides motivation to pedal harder for sure! (Note to self: turf the water bottle on bike and replace with bear spray)

Cemeteries (graveyards) are a big deal down here.  Statues, and monuments, and plaques, and flowers everywhere.  They are evidently well cared for and visited often.

Adult day-cares.  This is new to me.  I guess you drop off your grandparents on the way to work?  I saw several in this area.CIMG3474

Car-washes!  Wow.  There are more car washes than phone booths around here!  I counted 24 of them in about a 15 mile stretch, and likely missed at least half as many again.  And these are only the ones on the main road.  I suspect there are many more out of sight.  And all types.  Everything from the touchless computer controlled ones at gas stations, mostly the coin operated types, but also lots of hand-wash variety.

And camping?  Lots of traditional RV parks of course, and a few state parks with reasonable prices.  But I thought I would not improve on the $4/night fee deal I had at Amistad, till I found a county park that charges $2/night or $50/month.

 CIMG3464CIMG3438CIMG3439 It has huge open spaces to randomly park, a few trees for shade, water stands everywhere, and even a shower (!), and an allegedly working RV dump!  Lots of room and only a relatively few occupants.  And (bonus) for a place this cheap, there does not appear to be any homeless, destitute types, as are sometimes encountered.  I think I am going to keep it a secret, but feel free to e-mail me and I might just give you a few clues!  Definitely worth a waypoint on the old iPhone/GPS!

Not to be forgotten, there are lots of birds to keep Hailey occupied.  As she approaches her first birthday, her education continues.  Today, it was ‘Tree climbing and going out on a limb – 101’.  Most of the trees at home have vertical trunks with no branches for 15 feet, so these ones are a good training area for her.CIMG3440

There is a cat in this tree!                         Oops!  That was a close call, I almost fell.


Hey, I can see Mexico from up here!


When she got tired of tree climbing, she started driver training!  All right now, paws at 10 and 2, keep your eyes on the road.



Hmmm, I hear there is free camping on the beach at Padre Island …


  1. i would be interested in this location as I love the lake amistad region... send to heyduke50 at inorbit dot com

  2. Hey, looking at those pictures I don't see anything resembling a mountain on the horizon...not even a big hill. I think we'll take a pass on Texas again this year:))

  3. Thanks for the map it saves me google earthing you.
    It sounds like everything is big in Texas,Enjoy

  4. Thanks for the map it saves me google earthing you.
    It sounds like everything is big in Texas,Enjoy