Monday, August 31, 2009

August 30

Jim made breakfast in his dutch oven - sausage, hash browns and eggs. We hooked up and drove back to Houston. We backed the Casita into the driveway so we could unload it and clean it up before returning it to the storage lot. Carolyn immediately went to work cleaning up the overgrown plants in the yard. While we were gone all of the azaleas in the front yard flower bed had died from the drought. We will have to replace them with something more drought resistant. This trip was a great way to escape the Texas summer heat. We didn't have to use the Casita's air conditioner until we got back into Texas.

Here are some statistics from our trip:

Total days camping: 98
Total miles driven: 12,866
Total gasoline cost: $2,284.26
Average gasoline cost per gallon: $2.44
Average gasoline cost per day: $23.31
Average mileage: 14.9 miles per gallon
Total campground cost: $893.91
Average campground cost per day: $9.12
States visited: 13
Canadian provinces visited: 2
Pictures taken: 8,413
Nights camping at:
National forest campgrounds - 32
Bureau of Land Management campgrounds - 19
Passport America RV parks (half price) - 14
National parks - 9
County and city parks - 9
State parks - 5
Friend's driveway - 4
Canadian national park - 2
Canadian provincial park - 1
Indian casino parking lot - 1
Wal Mart parking lot - 1
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park - 1


August 29

Elton's son Stephen, his wife Kelly, their children Joshua and Erin, their granddaughter Keely, and their dog Dakota came to spend the afternoon. We all walked over to Lake Conroe and they went swimming. For dinner Stephen barbequed hamburgers and Jim made yet another dutch oven apple cobbler.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August 28

We took Martha to the National Forest ranger station so she could buy an America the Beautiful Senior Pass. Then we went on a short hike on some trails near the campground. We saw a Gulf Fritillary butterfly on a Monk's Cap flower and a small snake of unknown species. A cold front and rain came through just as Jim was making baked chicken and rice and apple cobbler in his dutch ovens. We had to cover the dutch ovens with umbrellas to keep the rain from putting out the coals.

August 27

Carolyn's brother Elton arrived and set up his popup trailer in the space next to us. Carolyn's friend Martha also arrived. Jim made a green chile chicken stew and a peach pineapple cobbler in his dutch ovens.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 26

We left Waco and drove to the Cagle campground in Sam Houston National Forest on Lake Conroe. Carolyn's brother Elton is bringing his popup trailer here tomorrow and her friend Martha is also coming. We will be camping here through Saturday night and will go back home to Houston on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25

We left Winters and drove to Eola, Texas to visit the states's most remote brewpub, the Eola School Restaurant and Bright Brewing Company. The owner, Mark Cannon, bought the old Eola School (built in 1928) four years ago. The place had been vacant for over 20 years and had been repeatedly vandalized. Mark has been renovating the place on an ongoing basis and he has done a tremendous amount of work. He gave us a tour of the place and we drank some of his beers (which were very good). Mark was nice enough to break out one of his few remaining bottles of banana lambic beer for us to try. We then drove on to Waco where we camped in the Army Corps of Engineers Midway Park on Lake Waco. We took some pictures of the sunset at the lake.

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 24

We got up and walked around Oasis State Park. This desert area has a lot of sand dunes -- it looks a lot like a beach but without an ocean. There is a small lake -- I guess that's why they consider it an oasis. The place is absolutely infested with house flies. They got into the Pathfinder and we fought them all day. We left and drove to Lubbock where we stopped off for lunch and beers at the Tripple J Chop House and Brewing Company. Their beers were very good. We looked at a statue of Buddy Holly and then drove to Winters where we set up the trailer in the city RV park. We had an electric hookup for free. We needed it to run our A/C because the temperature was 101 degrees.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August 23

We left the Rio Bravo campground and started our return drive back home. We decided to skip going to Santa Fe because we've already been there several times already. We drove to Fort Union National Monument and walked around the ruins of the fort. Then we drove on to Ft. Sumner where we saw Billy the Kid's grave. We set up camp for the night at the Oasis State Park near Clovis.

August 22

We took a loop drive to some of the nearby historic adobe Catholic churches. We drove by the Picuris Pueblo church and then drove through Las Trampas and went in the Church of San Jose de Gracia built in 1760. We found out that the church is rarely open so we were lucky to see it. They allowed non-flash pictures inside the church for a donation. Then we drove to Chimayo and saw the famous Santuario de Chimayo built in 1816. They did not allow pictures to be taken inside the church. This used to be a sleepy little church with a dirt parking lot and very little landscaping (we had been here years before). Now the place has a paved plaza with landscaping, gift shops, restaurants, grottoes, stone arches, and two parking lots. In one of the church's chapels is a hole in the floor which contains holy dirt which is reputed to have healing powers. The gift shops sell containers for people to put the dirt into so they can take it home. The ante room of the chapel contains prayers, pictures, and objects (like crutches) left by healed people. The church is called the "Lourdes of the West".

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 21

We drove past rafters on the Rio Grande on our way back to Taos. We stopped at the famous San Francisco de Asis church. Construction on the church was started in 1776 by Franciscan missionaries, was completed in 1815 and is still in use today. Then we went to the adobe home of Kit Carson where the famous scout, explorer, and Army general lived from 1843 to 1868. We then had lunch at Montes Chow Cart where we ate delicious chile relleno burritos. Then we visited the Taos Pueblo which is over 1,000 years old (the oldest continuously inhabited community in the U.S.) No electricity or running water is allowed at the pueblo. As a result there are only about 80 people willing to endure these austere conditions and live in the pueblo full time. We saw the ruins of a church built in 1619 by Spanish priests with Indian labor. The church was burned by the U.S. army in 1847 in retaliation for an Indian revolt. Around 300 Indians who tried to seek refuge in the church were killed in the fire. Then we walked around the shops in Taos Plaza and had drinks at the nearby Alley Cantina.

August 20

We went on the Big Arsenic Springs trail hike which was two miles round trip. It went down 680 feet from the rim to the Rio Grand. We hooked up and drove through Taos to the BLM Orilla Verde Recreation Area Rio Bravo campground on the banks of the Rio Grand. We had electric and water hookups with flush toilets and pay showers for only $7.50! We drove back into Taos and had beers at Eskes Brewpub. Then we looked around a Mexican/Indian shop and then had a New Mexican dinner at Orlandos Restaurant.

August 19

We left the Columbine campground and drove a few miles to the BLM Wild Rivers Recreation Area Big Arsenic Springs campground on the Rio Grand Gorge. We got a nice campsite right on the edge of the gorge. We went to the Visitors Center and drove around to the various lookout points. Carolyn made a hummingbird feeder out of a shaker top spice jar.

August 18

We went on a short hike to a meadow. We ran into a group of people who were using pack llamas on their hike. The smaller children rode some of them. We made a campfire at night from wood scrounged from other campsites and downed forest limbs. It was the best fire we have ever made -- it burned so good.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17

We left the RV park in Questa and drove to the Columbine campground in the Carson National Forest, about five miles away. We set up camp and put on Elvis T shirts in honor of Elvis' death on this day in 1977. We went on a sightseeing drive through the resort town of Red River over Bobcat Pass and through the town of Eagle Nest. We went on to the Palisades Sill rock formation in Cimarron Canyon. Then we drove back to camp and updated the blog.