Our path through west Texas started with a motorcycle ride on the Twisted Sisters. This is a route I saw online that was rated as the number 2 motorcycle route in the U.S. right behind the Tail of the Dragon. While it was a nice ride, it would struggle to make my Top 10 list. Anyway, it brought us through some pretty country.
The last leg of the ride brought us through Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World. There was a crowd at the local fairgounds so we pulled in to check it out. There was a beginners rodeo camp going on where kids as young as 10 learn to ride broncs and even do some bull riding. It became a little traumatic for us when the first kid out of the chute got his foot caught in the stirrup of his bronco and got dragged around the arena a couple times with his head flopping around inches from the metal railings. The parents in the stands seemed unfazed by it all.
We spent a week at Lone Star Corral, another Escapee’s Coop Park, in Hondo, TX. They give first time guests 50% off, so we had a week of camping for $55 plus electric. It was about an hour into downtown San Antonio from there.
The Riverwalk winds through downtown San Antonio, a cool and shady escape from the heat of the city with access to museums, shopping and restaurants.
Cathedral of San Fernando built in 1731, has an amazing light show on its front facade highlighting Texas history.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park preserves and interprets Spanish colonization and conversion of the Native American population in the early 1700’s. The Spanish established a string of four separate missions just south of San Antonio.
The Alamo has some very interesting displays and explanation of its history and the battle that took place here.
We spent a few more days in Hondo than we wanted to when a simple three hour brake job on our truck turned into a weeklong ordeal but that’s another story. We were glad to finally get back onto U.S. 90 heading west again.
The landscape turns into some serious desert west of San Antonio – low scrub, treeless, hot and windy. We camped overnight in the wide open desert at Seminole Canyon State Park near Del Rio, TX.
Even though we were only there overnight we managed to get two good hikes in.
We didn’t see any snakes but did come upon a couple of these furry little guys. They were about the size of the palm of your hand.
Seminole Canyon snakes its way right down to the Rio Grande with Mexico just across the way. The border is protected at this point by towering cliffs and the swift currents of the river.
This area was first inhabited over 7000 years ago. The first settlers of the area left pictographs in the caves and overhanging shelters that line the canyon.
It was just a few more miles to the Pecos River. This is the highest highway bridge in Texas, almost 300 feet high and spanning over 1300 feet bank to bank. If you look closely you can see a certain white motorhome on the center span of the bridge.
Here’s a closer look.
West of the river is Langtry, Texas and the saloon/courtroom of Judge Roy Bean, the self proclaimed “Law West of the Pecos”. Known as the hanging judge, there is no evidence that Roy Bean ever sentenced anyone to death. Judge Bean was more interested in imposing fines on offenders which went straight into his pocket. The amount of the fine usually matched the amount of money the guilty party happened to have in their own pocket at the time. There wasn’t much happening in Langtry except for the very informative visitors center and museum featuring the Jersey Lilly Saloon. It was pretty amazing that the original building, though much repaired and restored, still exists in its original location.
It’s easy to imagine how good a cold beer must have tasted while sitting in the shade of this porch after riding for miles on horseback through this parched country.
We continued west into a steady headwind. The problem when the tallest vegetation in sight is only about 30 inches high is that you can’t really tell how much wind is actually blowing or what direction the gusts are coming from. It makes for a challenging drive, trying to keep our 35 foot box that is basically a huge sail going down the road in a straight line.
The wind was howling by the time we pulled into the Marfa Lights Viewing Area for the night. We had to move the rig to face into the wind to keep it from rocking violently side to side. It kind of explains the round restroom building, anything else would have blown over in the wind.
The mysterious Marfa Lights were first reported in the 1880’s. Unexplainable lights appear far across the flat valley in the hills around the town of Marfa, TX. We saw what looked like distant headlights except they moved slowly, some were stationary and were located up in the hills where there are no roads. I don’t think they could have been car headlights when they were seen back in 1880.
We had one more day of driving to finish up our trek through Texas. We almost didn’t make it out on all four wheels.
We had one stop to make on the way out of Marfa.
Yep, luxury boutique shopping in the middle of nowhere.
Prada Marfa is actually a permanent contemporary art installation built in 2005 with the full blessing of the Prada company in Italy. It makes for an interesting stop and photo op along a pretty desolate stretch of highway.
We battled a heavy 30 mph headwind the whole day but it was a beautiful western landscape with towering canyon walls and a view of the Guadalupe Mountains way off in the distance. Guadalupe Mountains National Park was our planned stop for the night.
To get there we had to make it up Guadalupe Pass. It wasn’t much of a climb so I didn’t think much of it until we we saw the High Wind Warning just as we started up the grade. But how bad could it be after the winds we had been fighting all day?
I soon found out as it really started to howl and the rig started to rock sideways. It hit the side of the motorhome just right and I could see out the mirror as our slide out awning started to unwind and billow in the wind. I let off the gas and it snapped back in place. Just then a gust of wind hit me broadside and I could feel the entire vehicle moving sideways, I thought it was going to blow me over. I let off the gas again and gripped the steering wheel as it settled back down.
I had lost all momentum by now and limped slowly on up the mountain at about 25 mph cringing with every new gust. I was never so happy to pull off the road as when we reached the campground entrance at the top of the pass.
Going through Texas was an amazing journey right to the end.