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Old 11-13-2006, 09:33 AM   #1
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Natchez trace to West Tx

I am giving some serrious thought to spending from the day after christmas to the end of Jan on the road in the the big bend area of tx. Im really wanting to decompress and concentrate on my photography for a bit. I havent been to this area so any inside information would be greatly appreciated. I am trying to do this on the cheap, prefer less developed over developed, two lanes are better than four,and I love history.

Between Natchez trace and Padre
I was thinking about going down the natchez trace then over to Padre Island Nat. Sea shore. Is there anything to see between the two? Nice camping spots?

West Tx
I was thinking about cutting over from Padre to Eagle pass and then working up the river to Big Bend. Again, all new territory for me. On the map I see alot of roadside parks, can you overnight in them? How are the state parks?


So chime in with your recomendations, just looking at the map I am guessing there will be alot to cram in to that month.

Thanks!
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Old 11-13-2006, 11:36 AM   #2
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Rodney, we lived in San Angelo for many years so I can help with a couple of things. Those roadside parks in Texas may be just oversized pic-nic areas. Out in WestTexas, TexDOT has built many of these along the highways basically as a shady spot to pull off the road and stretch yer legs. They are kind of nice, but small and not much there but a table or two. It may not be legal to stay overnight there, can't recall. The State & US highways out there are generally very wide and (were) in good shape when we lived there. Do a google search on "bar ditch". Also look up Farm to Market road.

WHat to see while your there. We never made it down to Big Bend National Park, but it is supposed to be one of those "ya gotta see it to believe it" kinda places. Try to get to McDonld Observatory if you are at all interested in Astronomy. Be prepared to dodge the tumble weeds (literally). Snakes grow to the size of Fire hoses. The wind can blow at 30 knots for days. It can be 90 degrees today and 20 degrees tomorrow in January. Some of the best people you will ever meet in your life live in Texas. Oh yes, don't pass up any of the BBQ places in the small towns. Man, I loved Texas. Wouldn't trade those days for anything.

Jim

On edit: I'll bet Pahaska gave give you some great places to visit.
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Old 11-13-2006, 01:33 PM   #3
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Go to http://www.traveltex.com/ and have them send you the 2006 Travel Guide. Growing up I spent a lot of time around Port Aransas, Rockport, Corpus Christi (and Mustang Island), and Port Isabel near Brownsville. One potential rarity is wintering whooping cranes on Padre Island but I don't know what the public access is like.

It would be hard for me to tour widthways across Texas without spending time in the Hill Country north of San Antonio -- but that's well away from any route to Eagle Pass. Texas is pretty much mesquite scrub and flat south of San Antonio.

Jim's recommendation to hit any and all BBQ places is worth your price of membership here! Mmmm... Real Texas BBQ means brisket to me -- just like chili never has beans (or sour cream or macaroni or beets). Just pulling your leg on the beets, but why would you put any of that other *#$@#* in there?
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Old 11-13-2006, 02:29 PM   #4
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For you canoe types: Is it worth taking a canoe along with me?

And who knows about Terlingua Ghost town? Worth seeing?
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Old 11-13-2006, 02:56 PM   #5
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One of my favorite areas

You can take US90 from the San Antonio area west to Marathon (pronounced "Marathin" out there), and then down into Big Bend. Good road all the way. Scattered small towns that are interesting, but don't slow you down appreciably.

There is a neat state-run museum as you come into Castroville, just west of San Antonio. Definitely worth a visit. West of Del Rio, there is Seminole Canyon State Park with some of the oldest pictrographs anywhere. Worth the guided climb into the canyon. Just west of Seminole Canyon, you cross the Pecos on the high bridge; definitely worth a few minutes stop to walk out on the bridge. I stop at Seminole Canyon whenever I go west.

West of the Pecos, there is a state museum and cactus garden at Langtry where Judge Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos, held court. A definite stop. The museum and garden are off the main highway in the tiny town. Roy bean's little "saloon/courthouse" is on the grounds.

West of there, pretty much open highway till you get to Marathon. Lots of ups and downs, but no major hills. Once near Marathon, it is pretty flat. Stop at Marathon and tour the historic Gage Hotel. Have a meal there if you are there at the right time, either in the dining room or in the cafe next door. If not, there are good cafes near the Gage. There is at least one decent RV park in Marathon near the hotel.

Do a forum search on Big Bend. There was a recent thread on the area.

I stay at Study Butte ( pronounced "Stoody"). There are several RV parks there, but I stay at the Big Bend RV Campground. The only hookups in the park are at Rio Grande Village, all the way at one end of the huge park and the sites are just an overcrowded parking lot. Other than that, in the park, you are boondocking and it can get mighty cold at night. Study Butte is as close to the best parts of the park as any campsite in the park. In addition, from Study Butte, you are close to Terlingua, Lajitas, and, best of all, the river road to Presidio, arguably the prettiest drive in Texas.
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Old 11-13-2006, 03:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gen Disarray
For you canoe types: Is it worth taking a canoe along with me?

And who knows about Terlingua Ghost town? Worth seeing?
You could canoe down Santa Eleana Canyon or one of the other 2 canyons, but winter is not really the time of year for that. I have rafted Santa Eleana canyon and it can be a wet ride in places and get out and wade in other places if the water is low.

Do drive the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to the mouth of Santa Eleana Canyon and hike into the canyon. You can go about 1/4 mile upriver between vertical canyon walls. Terrific camera spot. Some of the side hikes on the Ross Maxwell Drive are worth taking. None too strenuous.

If you go to the Chisos Basin (and you should), take about a half-day to hike from the campground area down to the "Window". The Window is the opening through which all water that falls in the basin flows down a waterfall. Great scenery and wildlife. We encountered numerous deer and javalinas on that trail.

Terlingua is neat. We usually eat one meal at the Starlight Theater, now a restaurant. The trading post is worth a visit and the walking tour around the remains of the mining town is interesting. There are a couple of artist-types with stores there. All in all, Terlingua is worth a couple of hours at the most.
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Old 11-13-2006, 03:13 PM   #7
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Whooping Cranes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
One potential rarity is wintering whooping cranes on Padre Island but I don't know what the public access is like.
The best way to see the whooping cranes is to take the excursion boat from either Port Aransas or Rockport. The cranes stay out in the marshes and are generally pretty far from land access. The boat was able to come within perhaps 75' of the big birds.

In Rockport, eat at the "Big Fisherman". The seafood there is awesome and cheap.
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Old 11-13-2006, 03:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gen Disarray
On the map I see alot of roadside parks, can you overnight in them? How are the state parks?
You can legally overnight at rest areas in Texas.

Texas State Parks are generally pretty good, but the state has cut back funding until they are suffering. Most parks were built by the CCC in the 30s and not all sites are long-trailer friendly. As I mentioned above, Seminole Canyou, on your route, is a favorite spot and has good length sites.
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Old 11-13-2006, 04:30 PM   #9
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Hey John, you left out Marfa.

We stayed in several State PArks many years ago. But we were tent camping in those days. Mostly in the hill counrty and central Texas. I agree that the state parks were pretty nice from what we saw of them.
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Old 11-13-2006, 05:42 PM   #10
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Good Eats

If you are comming across I-10 thru Breau Bridge La. take a break for lunch at "Mulattes",(everyone in town knows where it's at) and find out what real cajun gumbo is all about.

In Marathon Tx. find "Bettys Burnt Biscuit" and sample some of her goodies while getting an ear full of local color.

While out of the way, Palo Duro Canyon offers fantastic photo opportunities.

Dave and Barb Nichols
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Old 11-13-2006, 06:13 PM   #11
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Hey John, you left out Marfa.
Yeah, and snipe hunting too!

Jim, I don't know that Rodney is seeking an Area 51 experience with the Marfa lights. My father in law, Rodney Shogren, did B-17 gunnery training at nearby Pyote -- said it was the most desolate whistle stop he could ever have imagined!
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:06 AM   #12
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Yay For Me

The most important part of the plan (getting a spring semsester teaching post) fell into place this week so it looks like this trip may happen after all. I'm looking at about five weeks all together for the trip. Ought to be a nice end to my first full timing adventure (10 months). I'm thinking the Trade Wind will be in the dry dock during Feb for upgrades and repairs.......
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Old 12-03-2006, 06:37 PM   #13
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Hey, Congrats Rodney. I haven't been online most of the weekend so I'm trying catch up on reading. So, ya wanna clue us in on the who/what/where of yer teaching assignment? Maybe one of us can come and audit a class or two and "help you out" with lots of interesting questions!

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Old 12-03-2006, 10:04 PM   #14
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Rodney, I'd say John Irwin's comments are good counsel. We've boondocked at Big Bend, but not for your duration - and not in January. Big Bend is definitely a good call, and actually there was an article in the most recent Airstream Life.
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