Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Fredericksburg, TX: Closed on Tuesdays

 No RV chores today after spending most of the morning yesterday removing the damaged awning roller assembly from the VRRV.  RichardM was very helpful in this endeavor; and now we await delivery of the replacement awning in about ten days or so.

The plan was to drive in Bridget's Jeep to the town of Fredericksburg to tour the Museum of the Pacific War/Admiral Nimitz Museum.  

Along the way, one cruises through the small town of Bandera, which boasts a Roadside America attraction:

We also cruised by Camp Verde, an old Army post where the US Camel Corps once was based.  Near the site of the camp, there's a ranch where we'd been told were White Bison!

There were indeed, cropping the grass sedately, close to the fence line so we were able to get pretty close without disturbing them or being in danger ourselves.

The donkey? It came right up to us asking for a treat, I think.
Either that or he was telling us to leave the Bison alone.

Sadly, we would find out later that these Bison were raised for the purpose of "hunters" to shoot them as trophies!  Apparently, it'll cost you $13,500.  I don't get the point of it all but such is the fate for these magnificent animals.

We got to Fredericksburg and parked the car to wander along Main Street for a half mile or so to the museum.  The whole area has buildings made out of the local limestone rock, very neat.  Here's the old bank as a representative example:

However, when we arrived at the museum, we found it closed.  None of us had thought to check beforehand as it was a Tuesday!

Oh well, turns out, I'd forgotten I'd been at the museum before with Martha while we were riding on Scarlett.  Probably did a mental block of the whole day as it was the same day the engine seized on Scarlett:  LINK

Here's a pic of me at the statue of Admiral Chester Nimitz:

We walked about Main Street, perusing the tourist trap stores.  Several were also closed!  The joke became that the whole town was closed, especially when we found the "Oldest Brewery in Texas" restaurant, you guessed it: closed!

Some more wandering and we happened on the Auslander German Restaurant which although a bit pricey, had pretty good offerings of the Germanic Culture.

My Schnitzel Sandwich, it completely covered and 
overflowed the sandwich bun!

RichardM's Rouladen

Bridget's Jaegerschnitzel

We were all stuffed but not stuffed enough to not share a small Apple Strudel, very tasty.  Sorry, no pics, we all dived at it when it was brought to the table.

Here's an example of the tourist type stuff available both in Fredericksburg and the Bandera.  There was of course the standard stuff, with some kind of Texas motif.  No one ended up buying anything however.  

The drive back to the SKP co-op was without incident though I was having trouble staying awake due to the heavy lunch.  We did make one stop at the Harbor Freight in Kerrville and I picked up some packing blankets to try and use for window insulation in the VRRV.

Good day of touristy wandering.  I return home tomorrow via plane to take care of some paperwork.  I'll be returning with Martha and the Honda CR-V.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Tilting Solar Panels with RichardM

Saturday, January 27

I rode Yagi, my Yamaha TW200, less than half a mile to the ruins of St Dominic's Church. It was built on the old site of the town of Old D'Hanis.

After I returned to the co-op, RichardM and I spent about 5 hours working on installing brackets on the first of two of his four RVs solar panels; so that they can be manually angled up to catch the sunlight.

We only got the one done as we were going slowly and carefully to make sure things would work the first time. There was lots of fun going up and down the RV's ladder to get tools and bits. I went on one of the two trips today to the Tractor Supply store in the nearby town of Hondo for hardware.

You can buy a Jeep for cheap at Tractor Supply!

That evening, RichardM had paid for my cheeseburger dinner at the co-op's clubhouse where they were also hosting a Sock Hop dance. Both Richard and I left after eating, but Bridget remained to dance to '50s music.

I got a supply of Reflectix insulation from Richard and used it all up crafting double layered insulation panels for all the VRRV windows. I am hoping two layers will provide better insulations in terms of heat retention. Single layers of the stuff are grateful reflecting the sun's heat but don't do any kind of heat retention.

Sunday, January 28

Today we finished installing the second solar panel atop RichardM's RV.  The second one, unsurprisingly, went much faster/smoother than the first panel.  Only minor issues encountered I'm happy to report and RichardM is seeing very promising results from the two tilted panels.

We will set up tilt brackets for the remaining two solar panels as soon as the parts this coming week.

Friday, January 26, 2024

RV Chores Day

 Cloudy day today, but warm enough for the most part.

I helped RichardM to swap out an armchair from his Class A RV for another in better shape.  I'm glad to report nothing damaged as we "pivoted" the replacement chair in through the RV's door.

I spent the afternoon marking up the junctions of the VRRV's roof support framework.

Two winters ago I think, I'd woken and noticed that the underlying framework struts were outlined on the lightly snow-covered roof:

Using a digital edge finder device, I slowly found/confirmed and marked the junctions shown above.  The idea being that when walking about on the roof, I'll step only on the junctions and along the lines supported by the framework.

Below photos make the VRRV's roof look really dirty and scratched up, it's not really.  I just had to boost the contrast and other items via post-production to enable you to see the crosses I put on the junctions:

The white Gorilla Tape crosses are close enough along the path of the metal framework underneath the roof covering.  

I walked about the roof, stepping only on the crosses.  The footing felt fine and with no "soft" feel that I'd felt in unmarked areas.  Hopefully, the markers will prevent further "softening" of the plywood material under the TPO Roof material.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Now Dry Camping at Lone Star Corral SKP Co-Op

I left the campsite in thick fog conditions, driving along US Hwy 90 East to the East Diablo campground's dump station where I took on water after dumping tanks.

From there it was foggy driving conditions (I even had my four-way flashers on) all the way to Del Rio, TX and its Walmart where I picked up a replacement tripod.  (Yep, managed to lose yet another one).  

A quick stop at an AutoZone got me a new air filter for the VRRV and I got rid of the old engine oil from back when I changed it near Carlsbad Caverns NP, NM.

The fog finally burned off east of Del Rio and I was able to make good time to the small settlement of D'Hanis, TX where I turned off to reach the Lone Star Corral SKP Co-Op RV Park.  SKP is for Escapees, members lease a lot on a long term basis.

Richard and Bridget M. are such owners and I'll be visiting with them for the next few days.  I was able to get a spot in the Co-Op's "boondocking" area.  Basically, dry camping on a gravel lot next to their perimeter fence line.  Lot-Docking I guess.

Pretty good deal, RichardM is my sponsor, and I only pay $5/day.

I got to their place shortly before Noon, ahead of schedule, but no problems getting me registered and settled.

I visited with Richard and Bridget for a bit, they showed me their lot and shed, nice setup.

Before dinner, I returned to the VRRV and changed out the air filter on Uma:


Before you say it, I had changed the air filter back on 29June23, about 6000 miles ago.  I'm hoping this will help a bit with the MPG results going forward.

I'll be exploring the area via Yagi, my TW200.  Some exploring with the Machidas of course via their Jeep I think.  We'll see.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Last couple of days at the Amistad NRA

I stayed at the Spur 406 Campground the whole time.  If I ever return, I must try for either the first site just before the pay station, or the site I was in which is just before the dirt trail to primitive camping sites.  (Note: apparently the primitive campsites are also fee sites).

Signal was good, though for whatever reason the signal would go away for a few minutes at least once a day.

Tuesday, January 23

I rode the 14 miles or so towards the Exxon Gas Station located near the Diablo East NPS Campground.  I got some hamburger buns but the gas pumps were down, technical issues.

I rode slowly back, taking the time to check out the NPS campgrounds and facilities on the southern side of the Amistad Reservoir:

Diablo East Boat Ramp, I saw at least three
Border Patrol boats being put into the water.

The Governor's Landing Bridge on the right
and the railroad bridge on the left

On the northern end of the railroad bridge

Made it back to camp fine, here's a pic of a resident I almost ran into while walking about the campground:

Here's Tuesday's post-sunset colors:

Wednesday, January 24

Last day at the prone-to-being-overcast in January Amistad NRA, Western TX.

The temperature did climb to 63°F, so it was warmish.  However, the clouds overhead pretty much blocked the sun the whole day, I think I felt its warmth and light perhaps for a total of 5 minutes through the afternoon.

The main highlight of the day was when I rode Yagi to the end of Spur 406 for "water crossing" pictures:

I leave tomorrow for Hondo, TX to visit the Machidas at their Escapees Lot.

Tonight's post-sunset light show:

More to follow.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Waiting for Warm Weather at the Amistad NRA

It was a very long and cold last couple of days.  The high temperatures never crested over 44°F on Saturday or even 41°F on Sunday!  Overcast skies added to the gloomy feel as I sheltered inside the VRRV, catalytic propane heater keeping me nice and warm.  As usual, inside days are cleaning days so at least I got the VRRV cleaned up.

Finally, today, things started to warm up a little bit starting around 2:00 PM or so.  The sun was even visible, shining through gaps in the clouds at first then warming things up nicely for about an hour and a half.  

However, the clouds moved in again and though it was 52°F only by 4:30 PM, it felt colder to me whenever the breeze would pick up.  

Today's sunset was well underway when I motored out to the spot I'd picked out at the water's edge where Texas Hwy Spur 406 ends.

The clouds really masked the setting sun so instead I went for reflection/artsy shots of Yagi:

Today's high temperature was 56°F according to my weather app instead of the forecasted 62°F.   Tomorrow is forecasted to have a high of 70°F!  I hope that proves correct.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Last Day at the Gap and now at the Amistad NRA

 Thursday, January 18

It turned out, by late morning, to be a gloriously warm day today.  It would hit a high of 80°F!

I did some riding about the trails in the WMA, enjoying the warmth of course.

I also got some small amount of hiking around the campsite area and found me a small pond!

I know, I know, big deal.  What do you want, this part of Texas, to include Big Bend NP has proven "ok" but nothing like the wilds of Utah or Arizona.  Still, hope springs eternal I suppose.

Tomorrow, I leave for the Amistad National Recreation Area, hoping for a change of scenery and still seeking continued warmer weather.

Friday, January 19

I left the Black Gap Area shortly after sunrise and by Noon I was setting up camp at one of two remaining camp sites off of Spur 406.  The place is managed by the US Park Service and the daily fee of $6 for dry camping spot can be paid via credit card at the registration machine near the entrance.  Kind of like those automated parking machines you see in cities.

Good LTE signal here.  The temperatures dropped today into the 50s however with occasional wind making it seem colder.  

I set up the gazebo this time to help cut down on the effects of the wind, minor though it is compared to previous wind conditions earlier in the camping trip.

I went on a short ride with Yagi to check out the NRA's reservoir:

The end of the 406 Spur

I thought the "primitive camping" alluded to in iOverlander were near the water but no, the trail to access them is actually just past the pay sites.  I walked down the trail and saw at least two suitable sites for boondocking but since I'd already claimed one of the pay sites, I didn't want to move again.  (It's only $3/day due to my Interagency Access Pass so no big deal).

Below pic shows an overlander rig from the EU, built on an Iveco chassis.  He's actually parked next to the trail leading to the primitive camp sites which are free.

It's going to be a cool weather weekend, with a slight possibility of rain as well.  I will explore the area more via Yagi of course.

More to follow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Big Bend National Park and now in the Black Gap WMA

Sunday, January 14

Left at 7:00 a.m. since I didn't want to spend another cold cold night in the BLM campsite near Carlsbad caverns. I had woken to 21° outside and 32° inside the RV!
Red sky at dawn, should have been warned...

I drove down to Big Bend National Park and although I arrived before 3:00 P.M., following the rule of threes, I would not get into a campsite till almost 5:00 PM!

All of the delay was my fault, I thought it would be like a typical national park where you go and find the spot then register for it. But no, you have to find available spots using recreation.gov since it's all reservations for the sites that can accommodate RVs.

I wasted a lot of time trying to find a site on my own, then once I realize I had to use the recreation.gov app no matter what, the lack of cell signal didn't help. Luckily there was Wi-Fi at the visitor center at Panther Junction and I was able to book a campsite at the Rio Grande Village campground.

As I was positioning the RV on the rather small site, I managed to damage the awning on the right side of the RV. The sucker is totaled, and I was feeling a bit bummed about it, but when I checked in with Martha she reminded me that it's an 18-year-old piece of plastic.

There is no signal at the campsite, but nearby is a park store/has station with Wi-Fi; which although slow allowed me to check in with Martha. I also activated the inreach personal locator beacon with its texting via satellites capability so I can be reached by my family.

On the plus side the low tonight is just going to be 38° vice the projected 16° back at the Carlsbad Caverns BLM site.

Monday, January 15

By mid-morning it was warm enough to go riding on Yagi. I explored the immediate surroundings of the campground to find myself right at the edge of the Rio Grande.

Throughout my riding today alongside this river, I would find myself within a stone's throw at times from Mexico.

No border wall of course since this portion of the border with Mexico is managed by the National Park service and that image wouldn't fit the posters with it?

I rode over too the Boquillas Crossing and a bit further, the Boquillas overlook.

What I had assumed to be some kind of rock art or memorial rock collections upon arrival turned out to be clay offerings and knick knacks from the Mexican town of Boquillas from across the border.  Interesting marketing model, honest customers are expected to place money into a locked metal container anchored in the ground.

The Rio Grande aka the border between the USA and Mexico

Back in the day, a tramway ran across the border:

The border crossing point was closed today, probably for MLK day.

Returning to the National Park Highway, I continued in the direction of Panther Junction and took this picture of the bluffs overlooking the campground.

Riding to the nearby Rio Grande, which you access via a short walk up a small hill. No pic as you can barely see the river.

Back on the highway, you shortly come to the turnoff for the Historic Hot Springs. Apparently a gentleman by the name of Langford built the infrastructure to accommodate and attract people to the "healing powers" of the 105° waters

A short quarter mile walk from the parking lot and I found a small square rundown structure's foundation, full of people, enjoying the hot water. I did not join and returned to the motorcycle.

Here's some pics of signs explaining the remaining buildings from back in the day.

Turning back south after the above, I rode a couple miles of rough rocky road called the Old Ore Road. The scenery, was desert and sage bushes, the road being the main source of "entertainment".

I would turn around at the backcountry campsite named Camp de Leon and returned to the trailhead entrance.

It was mid-afternoon by this point so I returned to the campground to check in with the family and lounge for a bit in the warm afternoon sun.

I would return to the trailhead area for the Old Ore Road during the Golden Hour for pics:

Tuesday, January 15

I was woken just before midnight by very strong winds blown through the campground. The VRRV was rocking in the frequent strong gusts so I brought the slide out in. This worked as usual to lessen the rocking caused by the wind.

I woke around 7:30 to 27° outside and 37° inside the RV. I hurriedly turned the catalytic propane heater on and things warmed up nicely soon after.

After breakfast, and since today was going to be an inside day due to forecasted high of only 43°; I decided to forego the $16 I'd paid to stay till Thursday and left Big Bend aka Big Yawn. Yes, I'm a jaded observer.

I drove over to the park entrance and from there turned onto FM2657 or Farm Road 2657 heading to the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area or WMA.

After some confusion due to lack of cell signal and planning, I found the WMA Headquarters where one can register and buy the Texas Limited Usage permit for use in WMAs. The nice thing was that there was Internet access to allow you to buy said permit only for $12 and that it's good till 31AUG24.

Without this access to the Internet, I faced long drives to find a human as there was no one around the buildings and a sign at the registration shack said payments weren't taken there anyways.

Armed with the permit, I also registered myself with the WMA using paperwork forms provided.

The road was rocky and bumpy that I took the the campsite I selected solely on the fact it seemed closest. It worked out to almost 2.5 miles of rough road from the HQ to the campsite but Uma did great.

The camp sites are very well dispersed, I don't the closest one is closer than a mile and across the highway. No signal of course, so I had to ride back to the HQ to use the wifi signal to post this.

Supposed to be getting warmer tomorrow and next couple of days, I sure hope so.