D-Day finally arrived! We left Volente on Sunday, July 17, and made our way west. For the first day, John and the dogs rode in the truck and I followed in Tracker because we could not make the lights that mount on its roof and connect to the coach work properly. No brake lights; no turn signals; no tow. After a generally uneventful but longer than anticipated trip (we missed a key turn and went quite a few miles out of our way), we arrived at our first overnight stop, the Red Arroyo Camping Area of San Angelo State Park. Located on O.C. Fisher Lake, the park offers nice accommodations. The lake is a little low, but we were told the water level is still higher than it has been for many years. Here is a photo of our campsite. We didn’t have a view of the lake, but we had a tree! And we had bobwhite quail calling until dark and up again at dawn.
There are several walking trails around the park, and we as well as the dogs enjoyed winding through the grass and mesquite savannas. We didn’t see any quail, but mourning dove and whitwings were there in droves.
One reason we came west through San Angelo is because our grandson will attend school here at Angelo State University. A part of the Texas Tech University System, Angelo State is situated on a beautiful campus covered with large live oak trees.
While driving around campus, we saw this statue of a sheep. It certainly isn’t Angelo State’s ram mascot, but instead is part of a project that places similar sculptures around town in honor of San Angelo’s heritage as the Wool Capital.
We also took time to tour the historic Fort Concho. The fort was established in 1867 to protect frontier settlements and map the vast West Texas region. It served that purpose for 22 years, and at full strength was occupied by 350-400 men. The fort covered 1700 acres and consisted of at least 40 buildings, most constructed of native limestone because there were few trees in the area.
Fort Concho has been restored from ruins, many of which originally looked like these.
One of the restored buildings is the hospital. We were glad we didn't have to look forward to wards like these...
or "medicines" like this!
San Angelo SP is also home to some of the official Texas longhorn herd. While driving around the park, we saw these beautiful longhorn cows grazing beside the fence. Each one bears the five-pointed Texas Star brand.
We enjoyed our short stay, including moonrise on Monday night over the West Texas horizon.
On Tuesday morning we were up early and off to our next anticipated stop in Muleshoe, Texas. Since we had planned only a quick overnight stop, we hoped to stay in the Ray and Donna West Free RV Park, a small, city-owned facility. Remembering our several stays at the free city RV park in Concordia, Kansas, we were perhaps overoptimistic. After all, West Texas isn’t Kansas, Toto. We knew we weren’t likely to have shade and green grass like Concordia offers. However, we weren't anticipating a bare caliche parking lot with eight RV hookups standing starkly in the middle, only a little grass along one side and no fences. We decided to move on to Clovis, New Mexico, and hope for better accommodations.
We had already traveled over 200 miles (our ideal maximum miles per day) and were getting tired and cranky. We were understandably disappointed when the RV parks in Clovis weren’t much better than the one in Muleshoe. Again we moved on, this time to Oasis State Park, located south of Clovis near Portales, NM. It turns out that was a very good decision, in spite of the fact that we wound up driving over 300 miles that day.
Oasis SP is a true oasis in the desert. Bathhouses were new, and there is a lovely rock-lined pond that is stocked with catfish. We found a long, pull-through site with a nice tree and a covered picnic table on a concrete slab with a wind block. The gravel site was even level enough that we didn’t have to unhook and truck.
A couple of horses grazed just beyond the park’s perimeter fence, and the calls of scaled quail filled the air.
One of the camp hosts feeds the quail, so we got glimpses of several, along with numerous bunnies, scurrying around the park.
Because the quail were running along the ground, they didn’t look like birds at all, at least in the dogs’ opinion. Their prey drive kicked in and they wanted to chase them. Fortunately, I was braced for the pull, but felt it in my arms and shoulders.
As the sun was setting in the west another lovely full moon was rising over the desert. We slept like babies.
Wednesday morning we made the run into Santa Fe. Along the way, we met several of these BNSF engines pulling what appeared to be oil transport cars.
Then, north of Fort Sumner we almost dozed on these long, straight stretches of road. (Fortunately or unfortunately, the road was rough enough to make dozing impossible.)
As we approached Santa Fe, the clouds were building over the mountains to the north.
After an uneventful trip, we are now parked in our favorite spot at Los Suenos RV Park. It feels like home.