Our first stop was Fort Davis. This small town could be missed if you blinked but was rich in history. Originally it was a frontier military post with significant structures which laid along the Old Overland Trail (El Paso to San Antonio). With our fill of sightseeing in the last few days of New Mexico we decided to take three days in this sleepy town.
It was a good place to catch up on maintenance/cleaning of Moho and hike two great trails. The first was from our campsite at Fort Davis Mountain State Park; Skyline Trail where we climbed straight up and got great views of the Park as well as Fort Davis, 4 miles away. Thenext day we packed a lunch and hiked Limpia Creek Trail. From the top we got panoramic views as well as a forest fire approximately 3 miles in the opposite direction of Fort Davis. On the last day we decided to drive into Fort Davis to do a 10 km. flat run and tour the Fort. The run gave us the opportunity to see quite a few of the old buildings and the enthusiastic Ranger gave us lots of information about early Fort Davis during the second half of the 19th century and the "Buffalo Soldiers" who were stationed there.
Before heading out from the park we had a few visitors. Yah, the javelinas. There were three and they sauntered through our campsite. I now know why the big nose. They use it to uproot young plants in the ground and then proceed to eat them. They fed for a few minutes then wandered along to the next campsite.
Next stop was Big Bend National Park. Our 100 mile drive through the National Park to the River was very rugged, desolate and remote. The Park borders on Mexico and the natural boundary is the Rio Grande River. Big Bend offered opportunities to run, hike, bird watch and utilize the river for water activities. The ironic part was that the area was experiencing a heat wave with temperatures 10 degrees above the norm. So with temperatures reaching 39C or 103F, we moved slowly. We did a short hike along Boquillas Canyon where the river gave the illusion of cooler temperatures.
Along this trail we found mexican wares for sale as the Village of Boquillas is just on the other side of the river. Once a 300 person village depending onthe tourist trade of Big Bend the village is but 90 people since 2002. Homeland Security closed all border crossings in this area and the Mexican people were forced to re-locate to other areas. There was one sole, Victor; the singing Mexican. He placed a donation can on our side of the border and I guess sneaks across at the end of each day to pick up. His voice can be heard throughout the canyon. The other beauty of the canyon was the blooming cacti. The combination of high temperatures and a little water have allowed these dormant seeds to burst into bloom earlier than usual. Before leaving Big Bend we got up early, unhitched Moho and did a hike/run from Daniel's Ranch to Hot Springs. The 105F water of the hot springs was nice to soak our feet but the air temps were rising and we had to get back.
We were so glad we did not take the advice of people that told us there was nothing in Texas and just drive through. After arriving in San Antonio, we decided to stay a few days and divide our activities between the City and the surrounding hill country.
The first day was spent on a beautiful scenic drive which we called the 'barbecue trail". Thinking Texas was dry and desert like, we were very surprised to discover how lush, beautiful and picturesque the hill country was. We decided to make it a fun day and sample the "texas barbecues". Our first stop was Lockhart where we visited Smitty's for brisket and Black's for pork loin. Both were delectable. It would definitely be a challenge to keep the weight in check if we had this back home. It was good that they were samples and not full meals. On we went to Southside Market and Bar-B-Q in Elgin. Here we sampled Elgin hot guts with saltine crackers or simply sausages. Next stop was Taylor where the lineup was long and as we were not ready to eat we purchased chopped brisket in barbecue sauce for take away. We did try some texas ice cream - Blue Bell which turned out to be average.
Last stop but definitely our favourite was The Salt Lick in Driftwood where again we ordered brisket for take away. The aroma was so good it didn't make it off the parking lot. This thriving business was started by a husband/wife team who wanted a reason to remain in Driftwood. It has since changed hands and now a Sheriff has to direct traffic for parking. It was good that this "barbecue trail" took 11 hours to complete. Again, the scenery of well maintained ranches, long horned cattle, great looking horses and abundant spring wildflowers along the roadside added to our day.
San Antonio was definitely a worthwhile visit. The City was very inviting and we found lots to do and see for a day. Starting with a tour of the Alamo we learned the history and the significance of that battle in 1836. While the details of the siege are debated there is no doubt the symbolism of the battle. It was a struggle against overwhelming odds - the defenders holding out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. We moved through the downtown core stopping for a picnic lunch at the Main Plaza which was reconstructed in 2008. We paid a visit to the San Fernando Cathedral to see the resting place of soldiers such as Davie Crockett, and James Bowie to name a couple. The El Mercado was the opportunity to purchase mexican goods or for us a chance to sample mexican sweets.
The highlight of downtown was the Riverwalk. A 5-km. walk with much to see. San Antonions have built this walk incorporating commercial, art and natural beauty. Water taxis are available but we decided to walk and work off the sweet calories. Before taking our bus back to our KOA we sat for refreshments and watched people strolling along the Riverwalk. Good-bye San Antonio but we think we'll be back.
Last day in this area was another driving day. We set out to view more of the colours of the Texas Hill Country in bloom. We were not disappointed. Our first stop was Fredericksburg, birthplace of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Texas White House, the family cemetery and lots of exhibits and films about LBJ and Lady Bird. Also in town, at the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park we walked through meadows of bluebonnets and stopped to watch birds feeding along the nature trail. With over 700 historical structures in Fredericksburg we followed the walking tour where 30 significant ones gave us the historical flavour.
It was time to head back but we managed to make one more pit stop off our track. We discovered Luckenbach. It has maintained it's ghost town feel but it's country music association was still alive. It is a popular Sunday afternoon spot for musicians/song writers to take the stage and entertain passersby. The old post office, saloon, dance hall and general store were still in operation. It was great to be entertained but this week there was no Willie Nelson.
Last stop before heading into Louisiana was an overnight RV park a few miles west of Houston. Good-bye to Texas - we enjoyed our stay.