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277 Bridge, Lake Amistad, Texas

2/29/12

The Conversation

Adventure Location: Big Bend NP, Texas
Plans: Meander the park

Brain: WOW that was fun this morning.  Lunch is over so get in the Truck and let’s go!

Body:  HOLD IT RIGHT THERE FOOL.  I am tired, my knee hurts, my back is aching and I want a dose of ibuprofen and a nap.

Brain:  Forget it there are adventures to be had, trails to walk, roads to ride and sights to see.  Get moving.

Body: NO FOOL.  Ease off or I will make you REALLY SORRY!

Brain: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzz.

Later in the afternoon.

Brain: Can’t you go for a short walk on a nature trail here at the campground?

Body:  I guess that will be alright if we take our time.  My new hiking shoes will get to work out some.

Rio Grande Village Nature Trail is the name of the trail.  To set the stage bring water you will need it.  Do not go in hot weather!

The trail starts innocently from the campground and crosses a pond on pontoon decks and walkways.  Oh so nice and pleasant.

Then you get across and find the side of a hill and turn left to follow it around for a few feet.  Suddenly the tone of the trail changes with this first set of stairs.

 You get to climb and then climb some more.  The trail becomes a standard rocky trail with great views of Mexico to your right.  Eventually you come to a split in the trail with the sign saying loop trail to the left and spur trail to the right.  Take the spur trail. 

 Body: This is not a gentle nature trail like I was expecting!

 Brain: I am as surprised as you but since we are here I am glad you brought water.  May I have some please?

On down the spur trail is some holes worn in the rock at lots of places.

Here is a close-up of the hole in the rock.  These were made by folks grinding vegetation into a form that could be cooked to be eaten.  That certainly looks like a lot of work to make a hole like this.

We move on down the spur trail toward the river.  In a short while we are walking in river deposited gravel then sand.  Suddenly right there in front of us is the Rio Grande again with Mexico on the other side.  It certainly is lonesome like down here.

That was nice but it is time to head back to the loop trail.  While coming out of the river bottom my eyes keep looking for a short cut to save distance and intercept the loop trail past where the spur trail cut off from it.  In only a few seconds my eagle eye for lazy man trails spots a path up the hill that will save several hundred yards of walking.  Notice that the folks on the trail are headed up to the top of the hill.  We catch them up on top in a little while.

The spur trail to the top is taken.  Up top is two sign explaining things about the area.


The view is worth the climb up to the top.  A picture back down toward the campground makes a statement made in the blog a few days ago silly.  Comfort Castle is not about a mile from Mexico, it is about a thousand feet from Mexico.

Body:  Brain I am going to make you pay for this “little walk”.

Brain protesting:  The brochure did not mention mountain climbing and a death march across the desert in it.  At least you have to admit it was a pretty good way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM’s brain.

2/28/12

Pay Attention Thorns

Adventure Location: Big Bend NP, Texas
Plans: Meander the park

There were five meanders today that resulted in over 150 pictures taken.  There is only room for one per blog entry.  Be assured that if you come here and walk or ride a bike you will not run out of adventures in one year of every day having a new adventure.  None of the adventures will be a repeat of a previous one.  However you may have several mega size camera cards full to the brim to organize.

The next concern is the heat.  Here in the low desert this afternoon at 1700 the Truck was registering 95 degrees F, not in the sun, out where we were meandering. My water toting capacity HAS to increase to more than the one liter grabbed for the first meander today.  It was refilled for each different adventure and was barely enough each time.  So far there have been no serious hiking/walking efforts.  My lungs are still acclimating to the altitude which is only in the 2000 foot level.

Next spring it will be time to be here by Feb. 1.  The Chisos mountains area is a lot cooler and may get a visit when the Teams go closer to there.  Today we found that the main Visitor Center at Panther Junction was almost a 60 mile round trip.  There is a lot of distance around here.

 Now on with the story.   This place was visited years ago in another lifetime of mine.  My interest was a lot different at that time and like close to thirty seconds was spent here.  Today it was closer to an hour and a half.  The nature trail proved to be good and informative.  Just watch for the pay attention thorns when you walk the trail.

The area is well marked with a sign on the main road.  However the area scenery can distract you so watch for the sign.
 The road into it is passable by most any vehicle.  There may be a wet spot of two on the gravel but it is no bother.

 At the parking area just past the clean one holer is a narrative sign to explain the significance of the well.  The picnic area is right in front of you when you park.  The picnic area first table is accessible by wheelchair.  The second area has steps down to it but walkers and crutches would do fine.  The nature trail is not wheelchair accessible but crutches should do ok.
 A picnic table took this picture of an OFM holding up the cottonwood tree.  Man O Man would you look at the glare from that bald head!

 The house foundation was not found but the thorns did find my legs.  The well was pumping this small stream of water.  Apparently that is enough to really make a lot of difference in the area.  Lots of animal tracks decorated the general area also.

By the time this adventure was over, it was number three today, my tummy was hungry and my calves were SCREAMING UNCLE.  Back at the Castle lunch was prepared, instantly devoured and rest time arranged.  Little did the Teams know that hotter excitement was waiting for us later in the afternoon. 

We need to be more careful on the adventures or my body may never recover enough in one night to keep on trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/27/12

Arrived Bibe


Adventure Location: Big Bend NP, Texas
Plans: Meander the park

Since it was moving day the morning had a light rain, cold temperatures and a significant breeze to keep me from getting too excited.  The nasty weather held with the Teams until about noon in Sanderson, TX.  From that point on it was bright sunshine and wonderful temps.  In fact at 1900 tonight it was still 81 here.

 It is a long road to the park and then to the Rio Grande Village campground.  At the entrance gate the attendant told me there were lots of spots open.  He was right if you use a tent.  Even a rig as small as Comfort Castle was too large for most of the open slots.  The bigger sites out in the sun where the solar does well were all full.

There was even a wonderful cluster of bluebonnets at the entrance to the park for my enjoyment.  It was nice to see some beautiful flowers at the entrance.

We are squeezed into campsite 29.  There is about three inches clear on both sides and the roof.  The tree limbs will be in the way in a few days when they leaf out.  They have buds now.
The Team paid for seven days of camping here.  That is a total cost of $49 for us.  There is water and a dump station not far away.  Right behind this site is a water faucet, a rest room and a trash dumpster.  We are almost as far back in the campground as you can get.  I bet it is less than a mile through the trees to Mexico.

When the trees leaf out in the next couple of weeks the scene in the next picture will not be available.  For now from the door of the Castle you can see a major cliff through the trees

As forewarned before the blog most likely will be posted on an irregular basis.  Last time out here about five entries were published after the Teams had moved on and found good internet.

So if you do not hear from the OFM be assured he and his teams are out trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/26/12

Nippy Night

Adventure Location: Del Rio, Texas
Plans: Move onward tomorrow.

SPECIAL NOTICE: 2/27/12 1320 IN ABOUT TWO MINUTES THE TEAMS WILL TURN SOUTH IN MARATHON TEXAS AND ELECTRONICALLY DROP OFF THE FACE FO THE EARTH FOR SOME FUN.


The morning was cold with a strong breeze helping chill everything.  The Living Team is still learning about this boondocking stuff.  Last night was the first cold weather experience as a boondocker.  The next time the Teams are caught in cold weather we will be ready for certain.  There is plenty of sleeping gear on board so staying warm while in bed is easy.  But boy those night time trips to the necessity room can be a bit nippy if my act is not together.  And my act was not together last night.  It got down to 49 in the Castle with an outside temp of 39.

Since this is the last day planned here and the laundry is close by the Laundry Team was commandeered to get busy.  The laundry out here by the campground turned out to be very nice but expensive.  The price was $2.25 a load for washing.  The driers were $1.75 each for 24 minutes which was enough to get both washer loads dry in one dryer load.
While the clothes were going around in circles, the OFM took a meander around to check out the strip center.  Two of the businesses are closed.  The convenience store and an unknown business on the end are now gone.  The laundry and the Casa de Vino are still in business.

Out front of the CdV was a bottle tree.  It was sort of cute.
 Near the bottle tree were some flowers in a pot.  They are some beautiful purple blooms and it was time for more flower pictures in my opinion.

 The rest of the day was spent visiting with the neighbor and preparing to leave tomorrow.  That is except for the hour or so my head got interested in calculating how much heating the Castle needed for keeping warm.  After several gyrations on if, and, or, but the final calculation resulted in needing only a maximum heating of 3600 BTU/hour in rainy conditions of 30 degrees F. It was known that not much heating was needed because one electric heater on low was normally way enough to keep things nice inside.

This means that the next time we are in cold it will be easier to judge how much heat to have on when we are boondocking.  By my calculations one full bottle of LPG would the Castle a month in cold rainy weather.  By then the wheels would have rolled to warmer temperatures anyway

Tomorrow morning some time we will begin to roll toward the next location for adventures.  It will be between here and somewhere down the road on highway 90 toward the west. Hwy 90 has a lot of places for trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/25/12

New Public Areas

Adventure Location: Del Rio, Texas
Plans: Run around between here and there for awhile.

It was unknown to me until very recently that the hunting areas here in Lake Amistad NRA are open to the public for meandering.  Some have old ranch roads and some have whatever is naturally there.  The Visitor Center lady gave me color maps of four of the five hunting areas and a booklet showing the locations of the entry gates.  All of the four are easy to drive right up to the gate.  The fifth area is entered by water only.  There are no public roads to it.

With all this fancy information it seemed only right that some serious meandering needed to happen.  Well it tried to happen.  The Meandering Team was caught without the right supplies for a major meander due to not knowing the area.  This particular area is named Hunt Area 2.  It was interesting from the start.

As you are driving in from highway 90 you notice that it is a very long straight road.  AH HA an old railroad grade is most likely.

The road cuts through the rock in a few places.  This gives the meanderer a chance to see some interesting critter homes in the rock hollows.  This particular one has had recent occupancy from the look of the loose dirt coming out of it.  But no one was home today.

 And then you are at the gate to the hunting/ public use area.  There is parking space for about five vehicles on the right if they are careful. Since no other vehicles were there the Truck got lazy and took up a few spots.
 For access to the area you pass through a vee gate and commence to walk wherever you wish to walk.  In reality the brush is so thick, thorny and intertwined that you will likely just follow the road or some of the critter trails.  As the Team meandered along, occasionally sounds of heavier bodied critters bigger than rabbits would be heard.  At least one was finally identified as the sound of a deer.  There are all kinds of sheep, javelina, feral hogs and a few other critters living here.  The Visitor Center provided me a booklet with pictures of some of the critters living here.

By careful observation you will be able to observe interesting things to the side of the main roads.  This was once a very active ranching area.  Most of the things you see will be either ranching or railroad oriented.  Here is one that was not yet identified because the brush to get to it was too thick.

The Team only walked in for less than a mile so there most certainly will be other things.  For instance something later caused me to look into the brush near the trail.  It just did not look right so the Team moved in closer.  Well what a surprise!  It is a sinkhole just sitting there being cute.

The approach to the sink hole was with extreme caution as the Team was not interested in checking the depth of the sinkhole in a personal manner.  After getting close to the edge the Team was able to hear water dripping into a pool down below.  The sound was as if the drops were falling a pretty good distance.  This next picture was taken with the camera extended out over the hole as far as I could reach and still hold the tree limb in my other hand.  The first picture taken showed nearly nothing.  So the flash was activated and the next picture was the result.
 Now the Meandering Team needs to go back with the proper equipment to tour the whole area and get better details of what we find.  This kind of meandering is another good way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


2/24/12

Rough Canyon

Adventure Location: Del Rio, Texas
Plans: Big Bend NP, TX. Early March

Rough Canyon area was checked out for yak launching and passed easily.  On top of that there are coves and cliffs all around the area that makes a yak a great way to explore.  There are four NP campsites in this location and a couple of small commercial campgrounds.  However by careful choosing of your rig orientation this could be the view for your morning coffee or tea.

 After checking out the camping area the Team moved over to the day use area where BillyBob and I caught fish last year.  With the lake so far down it was natural for a Meanderthall to meander around some.  This next picture is quite revealing.  The picture is from the day use area back toward the camping area.  In fact if you look to the left side where the metal shade shelters are visible you will see where the above picture originated.
  That point for camping seems like a great location if you are totally self-contained like the Castle.  There is no dump station at this camping area but one of the commercial campgrounds might let you dump for a small fee. The OFM Team's cost for these horrible sites is $2 a night.

While talking with the volunteer at the ranger station, it was learned that seldom does the campground get any campers.  There was one truck camper there today but no evidence of any others in the recent past.  In fact they get very few visitors at all.  The last visitor for the visitor center had been five weeks ago according to the volunteer there.  The log book confirmed his statement.

It was a bright but cool day so some exploring needed to be done.  From the day use area the Team meandered along the shore that normally has at least ten feet of water over it.  The rock cliff in front us beckoned to be checked out carefully.  It appears that it was a quarry operation at one time.  The holes for explosives were very evident in the face of the rock.

 Naturally the Team had to meander up onto the top section to check things up there.  The view was really nice.

We could see well down into the water from on top of the rocks.  No fish were seen swimming around. The cold front coming in this evening must have all the fish congregating in the deeper water.  This canyon is where the Devils River comes in from the north.  In and of itself the Devils River is pretty special.  There is even a VERY REMOTE Texas State Park on the upper part of the river. A friend and I rode mountain bikes in that park about a hunnert years ago. It was definitely worth the trip.

On the way back to the Truck a sneaky rock grabbed a picture of the OFM meandering along like he knew what he was doing.  Not Likely! 

This is a relatively remote area but there is a small cafĂ© and a small grocery store in the community.  Gasoline is available.  Diesel is an unknown still.

Another great adventure also happened but it will have to wait for a later telling. My injuries from yesterday are mostly healed except for a sore left knee and the scrapes on my right elbow.  Neither will get in the way much when the Teams get out chasing trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/23/12

Falling Fat Man

Adventure Location: Del Rio, Texas
Plans: Big Bend NP, TX. Early March 

Several chores were knocked out of the way this fine day.  How fine was it? Check out this high temp for this afternoon.

 The most interesting part is what happened late in the day.  If you did not know somebody that can fall down and hurt themselves when they are already sitting down, now you do.  A large rock was my seat as my fishing line waited for a nice big fish. The rock wobbled a little but not really bad.  A shift of my weight to bring in some line set the events into motion.  The big rock came loose and slid down hill far enough to hit the back of my ankles.  That kicked my feet from where they were holding me in place.  That event caused me to fall off the rock to my right and wedge my right elbow between two other boulders that did not move.  The wedged elbow caused the rest of my body to come to rest on some jumbled loose rock.  WOW that was interesting was NOT my thought!

When the excitement was over the question was what is damaged now?  As it works out there was only a small amount of blood smeared on the rocks from my elbow.  The skin was torn slightly in several small spots. No serious tears were found in my thin skin.  However several parts of my body had slightly sprained joints.  Some of the joints are my neck, right elbow, both ankles and several sore muscles here and there.  Final analysis showed no major damage of any sort.

 However the low lake levels have so much loose rock showing that it is my opinion that my shore line walking around Amistad is finished for this trip. The cold front due in tomorrow apparently turned off the fish catching anyway.  All the boats coming in this evening had caught very few bass.

A very important chore that was partially completed today was to search for locations for launching my kayak.  The low lake level makes it very hard to launch except at improved locations.  The loose rock and steep slopes would be way too interesting for me to try.

The first place checked was Diablo East boat ramp.  There is room on either side of the normal concrete ramps to launch paddle boats.  However it is over a quarter mile up a steep hill to the parking lot. The good news is that it is near deep water that is reasonable fishing territory.

Another location is the 277 North campground. The first ramp is right in the campground and without water.  To get to the water would be a long hike across a serious mud flat.
 The other ramp still has water and is usable for paddle boats.

The 454 ramp is closed but the road to it goes into the water and could be used for launching.  However the long walk would require a cart to carry your boat.  Yep a yak cart is part of the Yakking Team here at the Castle.

The new blog picture came from the 406 campground area.  The old road is the access to the campground and then keeps on going until it submerges into the lake.
 Just about where the blog picture was taken is an excellent gravel launch area to the left. There are actually two kayakers out there in the picture.

There are still another couple of areas to check out tomorrow for launching.  There will not be any loose rock walking for me tomorrow. Falling on rocks is not the best way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/22/12

Its Over

Adventure Location: Del Rio, Texas
Plans: Big Bend NP, TX. Early March 

A morning walk around the area was very interesting.  For the first part of the foggy morning it was the spider web walk.  The webs had moisture hanging on them.  The low sun made many of them quite spectacular.
 As the day dried out a few critters scurried or bounded across the road.  There are still lots of deer in this area.  Tracks of them were seen all over the road from start to finish. When the mileage was checked for the walk, it came to two miles and an hour. Meanderers do not hurry.

The Publishing Team headed into town this morning to find some WIFI.  For those who need to know Wal-Mart here in Del Rio has very strong Wi-Fi through the McDonald’s located inside the store.  From in the parking lot it was great.

As you know a few weeks ago my air card was eliminated with the plan of using Wi-Fi while traveling.  The Hawking dish antenna was purchased to help in that effort.  The Hawking antenna has done its job exceedingly well.  However the cost of driving the Truck to find Wi-Fi spots is significant and has showed that it costs more than paying for an air card.  It is also very inconvenient to sit in the Truck and try to publish this blog.

After getting the entry for yesterday posted on the blog, the Writing Team decided that that was enough.  The search for another Sprint air card was on.  The Sprint store in Del Rio had just the right air card and plan for our needs.  The new air card is much faster than the old one. The new plan costs about $15 a month less than the old one.  This means that the OFM may be missing in action less often in the future.

The Hawking dish will be stored away in a convenient place in case it is needed again because of a lack of air card service.

This also means that the pictures can be better resolution in the future.  The new service is a 3g/4g service that can load the pictures to blogger a lot faster.  That is a good thing.

Where to turn off the word verification in the newer blogger format has eluded me.  In the previous style it was at settings/comments then word verification.  That settings/comments now does not bring up a place to change word verification.  Help please.

Getting rid of the two word verification would go a long way toward trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/21/12

Foggy Traveling

2/21/12 Adventure Location: Falcon Heights to Del Rio, Texas
Plans: Big Bend NP, TX. Early March

A lot of hard slow miles was my lot in life today.  But it was a safe trip. Over three quarters of the trip north was in fog to heavy fog. Until the Traveling Team made it to Quemado the fog was a constant factor.  Speeds were from 60 mph to 40 mph in the fog.  After Quemado it was bright sun, warm temperatures and dry air.  As usual the Castle and Truck worked together perfectly. It was hoped that the repairs to the Truck were done right and everything would be ok and it was.

We pulled into San Pedro campground about 1430 this afternoon and by 1500 a certain OFM was getting a nap to rest up from the stressful fog driving.  It was a wonderful nap.  We plan to be here until we leave.  The same campsite as last time here was available and became our home.

 The view from the main window is still nice and faces to the east. 

 The lake level is way down.  In this next picture the normal full lake level would be about a foot deep under the STOP sign. 

A little looking around found a spot or two to try my luck with bank fishing.  The lake is so low that launching a yak at the normal spots will be very difficult. But there may be other locations that will work and a yak cart is still hiding in the bedroom waiting to be put to use.

In the last picture above, the old road bed can be waded all the way across to the other shore line.  That opens up some more chances for adventure.

Without the air card internet will be spotty for quite a while.  This entry is being typed with no idea when it will be published.  Tomorrow (Wed) will involve checking around for a free Wi-Fi to use to publish. 

It is tired time and my rest is very important to assist toward the goal of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/20/12

Adventure Location: Falcon Heights, Texas
Plans: Big Bend NP, TX. Early March

There are over four miles of nature trails in this park.  Only three miles show on the park map.  However it has been found that there are many other well developed trails other than the ones shown on the park map.  This is about part of one of them.  Many more curves and benches are waiting for your own explorations.

The main point of this walk was to get down to the lake shore on the back side of the park.  This nature trail from near the primitive area would get the Team closest to the lake shore before we cut cross country.  It is well marked on the map and in person next to the road to the primitive camping area.

 The trail is wide and gentle.  The birds are a major attraction in this park, second only to the bass catching.  During the gentle winter months the temperature are very pleasant.  The rest of the year the temperatures are brutally hot.  Along the trails are numerous benches to rest your tired hot body.

 Eventually the Team cut toward the lake shore on a critter trail.  That critter was definitely shorter than 5’-6” tall.  The Team could not be denied the passage as we crashed forward.

 When we finally came out of the brush on the lake shore it was rather anti-climactic to say the least. On this day the winds were topping 30 continuously and gusting over 40.  The view of the lake shore was barren of really interesting objects or other stuff.

 After being beaten to a dried out pulp by the wind the Team cut back toward civilization and the trail.  The way back was better because we found a trail made by taller critters.  Walking on two feet is better than crawling on hands and knees.

Late in the evening another walk down by one of the day use areas resulted in a nice shot of some boaters calling it a day.

This park offers many ways of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

2/19/12

BOAS

Adventure Location: Falcon Heights, Texas
Plans: Big Bend NP, TX. Early March

NOTE INTERNET WAS DOWN LAST NIGHT
It is not known if my body has lost any weight yet but it definitely is a lot stronger since all this activity has started again.  The morning came in with a glare from the bright sunshine.  Cool temperatures accompanied the sun.  Breakfast was good and a meander was called for by my feet and the camera.  That sounded good so off we went.

After some brush busting through uncharted territory that has not had a human footprint in at least three days, the Meandering Team found this very aggressive looking plant.  Since internet is not available but in limited quantity you will have to look the plant up to see what it is.  It was a mean looking devil and no the thorns were not touched to see how sharp or toxic they were.

Eventually the Team made it to the shore line of the lake and progressed along it looking for objects of interest.  Parts of two fishing rods were found.  Some eyelets will be salvaged from one of the parts.  Additionally there was this odd object on the shell.  What it was originally is not known.  Feel free to guess and comment.  My guess is that the last use for it was as an anchor.

As the Team headed back toward the boat ramp we got to watch these three yakkers working the stickups in the lake.  Nope no fish were caught while we watched.  They did seem to be enjoying the fantastic day in the making.

In fact it was so nice that BillyBob forced me to put my yak without a name into the water for the first time.  The yak was hauled down to the lake and readied for its first launch.  The launch went well and as the Yakking Team pulled away from the shore the camera took this looking back picture of the Truck.

The wind was a bit strong but the wave action was very small.  A lot of paddling was done and even had a belligerent stick in the water try to tip us over.  It failed.  HE HE we are good.  As we rounded a bend in the shoreline there was a neat bird there.  What name it goes by is not known.  So for now it is called “Bird On A Stick”.  When BOAS took flight because team was trying to get closer for a better picture, it has something clutched in its left claw.  Whatever it was was heavy enough that the BOAS flew with a definite left lean.

This evening a brilliant sunset was in the making.  A clear day and sky tonight with bright sun surely seemed like it would be a good evening to photograph the last few minutes of the day.  That was a correct assumption as you can see from the new header picture.

Taking a lakeside hike, paddling a new yak, seeing a neat bird up close and chasing the sunset certainly set today as a great day of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.