Shortstop: South Llano River State Park – Junction, TX

South Llano River State Park, located at Junction, TX and about 100 miles west of San Antonio is another great Texas Hill Country state park. The scenery is beautiful and the wildlife is abundant. The river flows along the boundary and is a popular place for tubing. There’s a wild turkey habitat plus numerous deer and other animals like armadillos. There is also a wide variety of birds. The park has many trails of varying lengths and difficulty. I hiked to the top of the scenic overlook. It wasn’t far, but the steepness of the hike left me out of breath.

The campground offers 30 amp and water hookups. All sites are paved and reasonably level front to back. Most of the sites have shelters with picnic tables. There are no pull-throughs, but the sites are angled making for easier back in. The park itself is five miles south of Junction and I10.

We had good roaming Verizon cell service but no data. Satellite TV was fairly easy to get. In spite of the popularity of the river, during portions of the year the park closes almost all river access except for five hours each day to allow the large turkey population undisturbed roosting. Because of the restrictions of river use during a good part of the year I’d say this park doesn’t quite measure up to Garner State Park for river access but still, it’s a good one and well worth a visit.

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Jeff Davis Library

Jeff Davis County Library

Jeff Davis County Library
100 Jefferson Sq , Fort Davis, TX 79734

Jeff Davis County Library

This library combines books and modern day technology with a beautiful historic building. There are current titles readily available, a children’s section and reading areas tucked into corners surrounded by memorabilia and personal items from the area. I enjoyed the atmosphere and friendly staff.

Sightseeing Review: Fort Davis, TX and area

The town of Fort Davis is full of historic buildings and is lovely to walk through. There are several shops, a library with free internet, and an old fashioned drug store with a soda fountain where they dip ice cream and make shakes. There is also a small grocery store if you need to pick up food stuffs. I think that this is an excellent example of a historic Texas town.

McDonald Observatory was a fun tour even though the sky was overcast and sprinkling rain during our visit. We chose to go to the daytime program on the sun and guided tour of some of the facilities. At the visitors’ center there is a gift shop, small cafeteria and an exhibit area. We learned a lot about the sun and its effect on earth even though the rainy, foggy weather kept us from actually using the telescopes. Our tour included a visit to the Harlan J. Smith telescope. At night this big telescope is in use, but during the day tour groups are given an up close look at it. We also saw the even bigger Otto Struve telescope. It has an “open design” and doesn’t look like a telescope at all! I am amazed at the technology involved and how deep into space these world class telescopes can see.

We also enjoyed a drive up the Davis Mountains State Park’s Skyline Drive. The view from the scenic overlook is wonderful and well worth the drive.

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Campground review: Davis Mountains State Park – Fort Davis, TX

It’s a commitment to come to this state park which is 200 miles east of El Paso and 400 miles west of San Antonio. However, it’s less than an hour south of I10 which makes it a good addition to a trip across west Texas via that route.

Our Verizon cell service was poor to zero. The campground does provide several WiFi locations. We found them to be pretty slow and they tended to drop our connects. However it was better than nothing. Also, we had cable TV available at our site. When you include these amenities the higher-than-most-Texas-parks camping fee seem more reasonable.

All in all, we think this is a campground that shouldn’t be missed.

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Shortstop: Balmorhea State Park, TX

Long before the Spanish and European explorers ever came to what is now thought of as the Big Bend country of Texas the native Americans depended on this oasis created by the artesian springs of this vicinity. This is dry country and these springs, now called San Solomon Springs, offer welcome relief and surprising life in the desert. Farmers have used the spring water for irrigation since the 1850’s and in 1938 a large V-shaped pool was formed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. After driving nearly 200 miles from El Paso across high, dry desert, this state park remains a welcome oasis for travelers and a popular swimming hole for the locals and – get this – a place for scuba divers to use their gear in the 25 foot deep pool out here in this dry, dry country. Bahmorhea State Park offers water/electric campsites as well as rental cottages. Many of the campsites are pull through and all have covered shelters. My Verizon phone had pretty good 4G and real strong 3G. We enjoyed a swim in the pool with it’s crystal clear waters which remain a consistent 72-76 degrees year round – this just a short stroll from our campsite. Thousands of small fish surrounded us. The pool has a few small catfish and turtles as well. We also saw a fairly large snakeskin on the sidewalk by the pool. Didn’t see the snake though – no complaints about that. In addition to the spring we enjoyed wonderful star-lit skies at night. The Milky Way is in plain view here on the desert plains of West Texas. We had a curious roadrunner (beep-beep) checking out our campsite during the day and, yes, we heard the call of coyotes at night. My only complaints are the lack of sewer hookups in the campground and bathrooms that need some updating and TLC. I’m sure that this state park will be on our itinerary on future trips across west Texas on I10.

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Shortstop: El Paso West RV Park – Anthony, NM

This RV park, located near I10 and just a mile or so from the Texas state line, got good reviews and offered an Escapees discount so we decided to give it a try. It has several level pull through sites as well as back in’s located on the parameter of the property. The clientele is a mixture of long term residents who are working in the area and short stay travelers like us. The pull through sites are “back to back” and long enough to allow tow vehicles to stay hooked up. The restrooms are modern and clean and the folks running the place are friendly and welcoming. We found the campground to be a bit noisy. Working people started their day early and overnight campers were anxious to get on the road. It just so happens that we were given the site right next to the dumpsters and we could smell them, not in our camper, but any time we were outside. Nothing I’ve said is a real big deal but it did add up to a less than restful night for us. We would return to this place, but I think I’d lobby for a site a bit farther from the dumpsters.

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Campground Review: SKP Saguaro Co-Op – Benson, AZ

We loved it at the Escapees SKP Saguaro Co-Op in Benson, AZ. In some ways it is my favorite campground to date. The resort was designed by and for fulltime RVers who are members of Escapees. The fulltime philosophy and common sense approach is evident everywhere from the wide, paved roads to the excellent and much used activity center.

The property has no pool or spa and reservations are not accepted. Escapees facilities are famous for always finding a place for a traveler to park their RV even it has to temporarily be a spot with no hookups. The activity center has a large meeting room with a full-sized commercial kitchen, a large library, a workout room with modern equipment, and a crafts room. There’s also a nice porch with a view of the valley below and the Dragoon Mountains. This view is especially pretty at sunset.

If you get the idea that I like this place you are 100% right!

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2014 – Sightseeing in Southeastern Arizona

We enjoyed our time in Southeastern Arizona. Our RV Resort, located in Benson, was a great place to stay while exploring the area.

Leaving Tombstone we drove on down to Bisbee to take the Queen Mine Historic Mine Tour. After buying our tickets we looked a the displays and watched a video about mining. When they called our tour we lined up and were given hard hats, slickers, and miners headlamps. We then went out and got on a small tram that took us down into the mine. Two guides gave us a great tour telling us how the mine was laid out and what it was like to be the miner. They demonstrated the tools they used and talked about the dangers they faced. At two places we got off the tram and walked down the tunnels to see what it would have looked like to the miners. It was both educational and fun and we highly recommend not only the mine tour, downtown Bisbee which is a unique experience in itself.

We know we hardly scratched the surface of interesting things to see and do in this area. On future trips we’ll check out the “Cochise Circle” of historic places related to the great Indian Chief, Wonderland of the Rocks at Chiricahua National Monument, and so much more.

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Shortstop: Countryside RV Resort – Apache Junction, AZ

Our early October stay put us in the resort just ahead of the first winter arrivals so the property was very quiet and empty feeling. There are people around. Apparently, they stay year around – weathering the Phoenix furnace-like summers. In a month or less I’m guessing this place will be filling up with it’s 55+ crowd of winter people.

At the heart of the campground is an Activity Center and pool. There’s a large meeting hall and library plus a billiards room, post office, shuffleboard, and other amenities. I think it would be interesting to try this place out in January-March when things are in full swing.

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Sightseeing review: Cottonwood, Sedona, Jerome, AZ

We enjoyed our time in the Sedona/Cottonwood/Jerome, AZ area.  To be honest, though, we mostly relaxed at the campground doing a few needed chores.

A short distance from Cottonwood is Jerome — a city built on the side of a mountain with a marvelous view of the Verde Valley. Jerome was a mining town and across the years it produced over a billion dollars in copper, gold and silver.  There were two mines there.  The first was the United Verde Mine and the second was the Little Daisy mine which was owned by James Stewart Douglas. We stopped at Jerome State Historic Park and toured the museum in the Douglas Mansion which is built over the Little Daisy Mine.  The video of the city of Jerome and the mining industry there was fun and informational. Most of the rooms have city and mining memorabilia but the family library is still set up and the billiard room has a billiard table and a piano that belonged to the family.  From the park we continued into Jerome and found the streets are as narrow, steep, and twisting as advertised.  There is public parking making it easy for those who want to shop or eat.  Many of the original buildings are still in use although some are now private homes. We drove up and through the town to a scenic overlook.  It is an exceptional view.  From the overlook I looked up the mountain and spotted a trestle from the mining days.

We enjoyed looking around the area and know that there is much more that we didn’t see.  Really, though, that’s part of the fun of our touring lifestyle.  We plan on returning and will continue our exploration of this area then.

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