Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Campground Reviews Blog and link

March 30, 2011 Cottonwood Creek RV Park.
Today we were expecting rain that never really materialized. So I started off the day working on the blog.  In particular, I deleted the campground review page and created another blog: America by RV Campground Reviews. I then linked the two blogs together. So if you look at the top of the right sidebar you should see a hyperlink to the campground reviews. I also added some additional pictures and reviews. Working on the blog took most of the day. Please take a look at the new reviews. They should be easier to find via the State name.

I've been doing some minor landscape work here at Cottonwood Creek RV Park.  Sheri, one of the owners, asked if I would be interested in helping her around the park a few hours a week for which she would be willing to pay.  She knew that we had turned down a volunteer position in Palo Duro State Park and would possibly be around for a while. I agreed to help out.  Her husband Les is disabled from his explosive accident, so Sheri could really use the help. So today, I also worked with her for a few hours grinding up cut cedar tree branches and spreading mulch along the trails in the back. 

We've been enjoying our time visiting with our friends and neighbors. We've taken a few side trips with Dale and Betty to a local Mexican restaurant in Dripping Springs. 

I built a new stand for the satellite dish from PVC that I purchased at Home Depot and got it set-up. I'll post pictures later.

We have a few trips planned in the near future and a Mexican Fiesta scheduled for the park.  Meanwhile, we will all be fighting off our pollen allergies and dealing with the yellow pollen dust on our vehicles and anything else left out in the elements.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hill Country Bar-B-Que and Friends

March 23, 2011 Cottonwood Creek RV Park.
We've been doing a lot of nothing yet enjoying our friends and neighbors here in the park.  We had a short "happy hour" one night with our neighbors (door side) one evening and really enjoyed chatting with them.  Before they left to go back to work, Steve explained that he and his wife, Jo were here on vacation from north of Dallas for Spring Break and for their anniversary. Steve had done some extensive research on the best barbeque in the Hill Country.  He prepared a Google map of the best of the best in the area which he later shared with me and he gave me his personal reviews.  It was all quite interesting.  Steve provided me copies of his research before they departed last week.
Based on Steve's suggestions, we took a trip to Lockhart, Texas The Barbecue Capital of Texas.
There are four BBQ restaurants in Lockhart. The restaurants estimate that about 5,000 people visit their establishments each week. This would be roughly 250,000 people a year who eat BBQ in Lockhart.
The downtown is very rustic and interesting.  The old courthouse is still used by the county and houses the Clerk Of The Court on the first floor. We didn't visit the other floors.
We decided we would try one of Steve's suggestions and headed for Black's Barbeque.
Blacks BarbequeLocated at 215 N. Main Street is internationally known and was established in 1932. It is one of the oldest barbecue restaurants in Texas that has been continuously owned and operated by the same family. ( Black's has been recognized in various publications such as the New York Times and Texas Monthly magazine. The May, 1997 issue of Texas Monthly selected Black's BBQ as one of Texas' fifty best barbecue restaurants. During President Lyndon Johnson's term in the 1960's, the President asked Black's BBQ to provide barbecue sausage to be served on the grounds of the U.S. Capital in front of the Smithsonian Institute. With Secret Service and Department of the Agriculture personnel supervising the operations, the sausage was prepared and flown directly to Washington, D.C. for this Presidential affair
Upon entering the unassuming restaurant, you serve yourself sides in a buffet style line and then tell the grill men what cuts and quantities of brisket, ribs, pork, sausage, etc. that you want. The meat is then weighed. Everything is served on styrofoam, so it's not exactly environmentally friend, but the food was outstanding. I think the beef ribs were the best I've ever had!
We've never had real barbeque until we came to the Hill Country last year. We really enjoy it and plan to try more of Steve's suggested locations.
When we got back home we had a surprise. Our friends Dale and Betty were in the site next to us. We had first met Dale and Betty, (farmers from Nebraska), here at Cottonwood Creek RV Park last year at this time. They had paid a visit to us in Mesa, Az earlier this year but had told us they would not be going to Cottonwood Creek RV Park as they would be staying in Arizona.
Dale and Betty spent the past month near Tombstone and we had jokingly suggested via phone and Facebook that they come join us in the Hill Country.  However, they always indicated that they wouldn't be making it this year. In fact, the last word we had from them was from the day before saying they were in Las Cruces and probably headed home. So, it was a pleasant surprise to us to find them here when we got back!
So for the last few days we've been doing a lot of nothing, just sitting around with Dale and Betty, the park owners and other friendly couples solving the world's problems! And afterwards, we've had happy hour at rotating sites for the last few days.  All this talking, thinking, pondering, bloviating and visiting can be exhausting!  One evening a neighbor, "Doc" and Les smoked a pork butt and then shredded it. So we all had a pot luck and shredded pork sandwich dinner. It was fantastic! 
We've gotten little or nothing done and determined that there is nothing that we really have to do! We've really enjoyed all the company.  Yesterday Joyce, Betty and a group of the women from the park had a "girls day out" in Dripping Springs going to a cutesy little place in town for lunch.
This morning, I decided to get out and do a bike ride before all else just to make sure I got some exercise!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Life in the Hill Country: Bee Caves and Blanco TX

March 16, 2011, Cottonwood Creek RV Park.
The other day we decided to take a ride out to Hamilton Pool. We were told about a "good Mexican" restaurant in the city of Bee Cave. We decided to stop for lunch en-route.  However, we got to the restaurant and learned that on Tuesdays they don't open till 5 p.m.  Of course by now, we were hungry and close to downtown.  So, we drove further into Bee Cave looking for a place to eat when we came across this outdoor mall, Hill Country Galleria designed like a city street. In fact the city hall and library are the central building on the street.
We parked and found a nice little pizza shop selling pizza by the slice. After we finished lunch we decided to forget about Hamilton Pool and just spend some time shopping. We shopped and visited the book stores till after 5 p.m. before heading back home to Maggie and Rico.
Yesterday, we drove a few miles to the Historic District of Blanco, TX.  We visited the town last year.  You can read last year's blog here.  In the center of the town square is the impressive old former courthouse built in the late 1800s.
The courthouse was used in the recent movie version of True Grit.
Now the building is a visitor center and contains just a couple of offices on the first floor. The upstairs is vacant and surprisingly open to the public. It contains the old court room used in the movie.
Below is a picture of the old court room converted for use in the movie.
Later we went across the street to a renovated theater and cafe' that is now the Uptown Blanco Restaurant. We had a very good and moderately priced lunch in the beautifully decorated restaurant.

The weather has been mild with a couple of cold days. However lately it's been cool and damp in the mornings with highs in the upper 70's and low 80's. We are patiently waiting for the wild flowers to emerge and bloom.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just Hanging out In Dripping Springs

March 10, 2010 Cottonwood Creek RV Park.
The last few days we've been hanging out at the campground enjoying the mild weather. We've made a couple trips here and there and to the new H.E.B. store in Dripping Springs about 11 miles away. We love that grocery chain!  
Yesterday we drove to San Marcos and visited the Tanger Outlet Mall.  We've never seen so many stores in one outdoor mall. We enjoyed just walking and looking. There wasn't a whole lot there that we need or want in our lifestyle. We did make a few small purchases at the Columbia Outlet. Most of the shops were empty and we could only assume that they did much better on the weekends.
We've been enjoying our mile walks through the wooded acres in the back of the campground with Maggie and Rico.
Rico and Maggie on the path. Where's their leashes?

Can you find the deer feeder?
Hoodoo in the "back forty".
This morning we decided to take the bikes for a ride out of the park on the 165 Loop which travels behind the campground. It was a hilly ride but lots of fun on the steep down hills!  Of course every down hill meant an uphill climb on the way back as we came back the same way we left.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chilling in the Texas Hill Country

March 5, 2011 Cottonwood Creek RV Park.
We've been enjoying our stay and the pleasant weather here in the Texas Hill Country.
The first couple of days we spent cleaning the rig and setting up for our extended stay. I sanded and spray painted with Rustoleum the BigFoot Levelers and exposed metal on the frame of the rig and kingpin that had shown some surface rust from our month long stay in Corpus Christi. I also took some steel wool to the surface rust on some of the metal components of our mountain bikes then oiled the components. Everything looks brand new again. It had been 9 mos. since I last changed the anode rod in our Suburban water heater so, I took the opportunity to replace it as well.
Cottonwood Creek RV Park has a nice 1 mile path through the woods in the back of the property that Maggie and Rico enjoy. I've also been riding my bike throughout the park, something I haven't done enough of lately! The park owners, Les and Sheri had a pot luck for the guests on Friday. Les smoked two large briskets for 12 hours. It was spectacular and we enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of the guests.
Yesterday was the first day of the season for Wimberley Market Days. The town of Wimberley is about 21 miles from the campground. Although we had gone last year, it's always fun to browse a market.

Wimberley Market Days

Wimberley hosts the oldest outdoor market in the Texas Hill Country and the second-largest in the state. We feature over 475 booths of everything you can't live without. Come stroll our tree-shaded paths, listen to live music and shop to your heart's content.
  • 1st Saturday of the month March-December
  • Open 1st Saturdays 7:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Clean, Handicap Accessible Restrooms
  • Free Admission
  • 3 Large Parking Lots - $5.00
  • Motor Coach Tours Welcome
It was a little cool on the opening day as we had a cold front push through overnight. But, we had a good time walking through the myriad of booths. Afterwards we drove into downtown Wimberley and got a bite to eat and a small slice of pie at this beautiful shop which is typical of the stone faced buildings in the area.
After lunch and pie (Joyce didn't eat pie) we took a walk around the town square noting all the typical tourist type shops selling antiques and art. We weren't looking for any of that so I pulled up a seat and read the local town rag while Joyce shopped. In the local rag, I discovered a local attraction, Mount Baldy currently known as Prayer Mountain as it was purchased by a local church.
Apparently the mountain was originally named Mount Alberta and it has a twin. However, the local nickname was Mount Baldy as originally the cedar was sparse at the summit. 
It's basically 218 stone steps up the side of the mountain rising straight up 1,182 feet. 
The steps and the "dance floor" at the summit were built in the 1950's.
Joyce and I climbed to summit taking in the beautiful views of the hill country. At the summit is an eroded irregular stone foundation that must have been the "dance floor" It's certainly not smooth enough for dancing now! In the photo below you can see the twin mountain in the distance.
The mountain was purchased in the 90's by a local church and the name changed to Prayer Mountain but, it remains open to the public. We enjoyed the exhilarating climb.
Back home, we've been having second thoughts about accepting the volunteer position in Palo Duro Canyon. We've learned that there is no WiFi in the park and no Verizon service for our phones or MiFi in the Canyon.  That would mean two months without service! Now apparently there is some WiFi service at the visitor center on the rim. However, we learned that it is 15 miles round trip from our proposed assignment in the Mesquite Campground Loop.  We are not on vacation. This is our home and lifestyle. We need the internet to pay our bills, maintain our blog, keep in touch with folks and entertain ourselves. So the lack of reasonable access for two months may be a deal breaker for us. If the lack of internet were the only concern we could work around it. However, the cost of traveling to Palo Duro Canyon from Cottonwood Creek RV Park at the current fuel rates (which continue to climb) is nearly equal to staying here at Cottonwood Creek RV Park for an additional two months as opposed to volunteering for the two months. Normally that wouldn't be such a big factor however, we have to backtrack and return to Corpus Christi in June. We really like it here in the Texas Hill Country at this time of year and we like Cottonwood Creek RV Park. So right now we are leaning towards declining to volunteer in Palo Duro Canyon as it's not a good fit for us at this time. We need to make a final decision soon so we can give the park time to find replacement volunteers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Travel Day to Cottonwood Creek RV Park, Dripping Springs, Texas

March 1, 2011 Cottonwood Creek RV Park.
We got up early on what was perhaps the start of one of the prettiest days or our stay in Corpus Christi. The wind was down to 10-15 mph, a relative calm! This was a good start for our travel day.
We made our final preparations for hitching up. Joyce secured everything inside and I took care of the outside. After about an hour, we were hitched and ready to roll at 9:17 A.M. Traffic through Corpus was fairly light.

View Larger Map

The drive on interstate 37 was smooth if not boring until reaching San Antonio when the increased volume of traffic kept me alert.
We were headed for Cottonwood Creek RV Park outside of Dripping Springs, Tx. This was one of our favorite commercial campgrounds in the beautiful Texas Hill Country that we visited last year.  After a brief stop for lunch we pulled into Cottonwood Creek RV Park at 1:30 P.M. We had traveled 218 miles. The owners, Sheri and Les met us at the entrance and directed us to lot 7,  at the front of the park. 

They spent about two hours with us catching up as we made sporadic progress unhitching and setting up. Sheri and Les are full time RVers that own, developed and live in the park. The park setting reminds me of a state park with the gravel roads and the sites set amongst the trees. 
There's a small creek bed behind our rig. Unfortunately the creek is dry now. They've had a dry winter.
So, with the price of fuel skyrocketing, coupled with the fact that we need to be back in Corpus Christi in June for our son-in-law's Navy "Winging" ceremony, we decided to stay here for a month. We've also tentatively accepted a volunteer position in Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo Texas for the months of April and May. Actually, we've been "tentatively accepted". We are waiting for the final word from the park pending our "background checks"! That will put us just over 700 miles away from Corpus. We've never been to Palo Duro Canyon or the Panhandle of Texas. The pictures we've seen of the Canyon are beautiful. 
We paid $325 plus electric for the month here at Cottonwood Creek RV Park. The rate for a week is $150 plus electric. Friday, the park is having a brisket barbeque/ pot luck. The park is providing the brisket! There's plenty to see and do in this area and we plan to make the most of it.