Sunday, December 17, 2017

Daisy Meets a New Friend in Texas!

Daisy made a new friend this week in Dominic!
Barb is the ultimate route planner. She spends hours hovered over a map and the internet finding places to stay and interesting sights to see using the most efficient routes. She had the next few weeks planned taking us from north Texas to central Texas down to southern Texas. Sights to see, places to stay and people we were hoping to visit. Our friends Red and Pam were on the route and we hoped to catch up with them as we swung through central Texas. Well, they must not have gotten the memo as they were leaving well before we planned on getting to their area.  
So we scrapped our plans, packed up and made a beeline to go see them! They were staying at their brother’s place just south of Junction. The total trip was about 7 hours much of which was through flat, open farm country. Those of you who know us, know we are fascinated with farming. It is so interesting to see what and how crops are raised across the country. Cotton seems to be the primary crop in this area of Texas. Miles and miles of cotton fields dotted with oil rigs. The combines and other harvest equipment used down here are a lot different that we are used to seeing up north!
A cotton baler dropping another bale....
As we got closer to Junction the open, flat terrain was replaced with wooded hills. Of everyplace we have seen so far in Texas, we like the hill country the most. The diversity of this area is very cool. Junction itself, is a cute little town of just under 3,000 people and where the North, South and Main Llano Rivers meet.   
Red and Pam were about 20 minutes outside of Junction down a gravel road with several large ranches on it. A couple of the ranches are high fence game farms with exotic animals on them Aoudads, Axis deer, Blackbucks, among others inhabit these ranches.
The road in....
We had not seen Red and Pam since the winter of ’15 in Quartzsite so when we met them on the road a few miles from their place it was hugs and handshakes all around. We followed them to their rig where we met Greg, Red’s brother, who owns the property.
Greg's place with our rigs on the right
After getting settled Red took me for a walk to an area overlooking one of several game feeders on the property. Texas has a totally different view on game management compared to South Dakota. While it is illegal to bait the deer in South Dakota, Texas encourages and even rewards property owners for feeding the wildlife.
In addition to whitetail, Greg’s property also has wild pigs, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion as well as axis deer and blackbuck antelope. All are native to the area with the exception of the axis and blackbuck (both native to India) which apparently escaped from an exotic game ranch several years ago and are thriving/breeding in the surrounding countryside. Part of Greg’s wildlife exemption requirements with the state is that he needs to feed, manage and record the wildlife on his property and part of that is harvesting some of the animals.  Red asked if I would be interested in hunting an axis deer. Would I?!!??! I could not say yes quick enough! They can be hunted year round as they compete with the native species and the state does not want them out in the wild.

But first we needed to get a new hunting blind in place. We spent the next morning painting and transporting it to the field.

We did not like the way the color looked on it so we painted it a darker green the next day as well.
Red said I could shoot an axis buck or doe but said that there was one particular buck in the area that he would hold out for. I hunted morning and night for 3 days seeing countless whitetails, axis does and a smaller axis buck.
A look at the terrain in the area

Whitetail doe

The smaller Axis buck
Meanwhile Pam and Barb went geocaching, went for walks along the country roads and even washed our rig and the trucks! We had lunch at a local BBQ restaurant and of course had to check out the Donut Palace.  We had great dinners every night and we have not eaten that well in quite a while! Did we marry the right women or what?!?!
Another great meal being prepared!

A toast to good friends

Barb torching her world famous crème brulee  
The last day of our stay I was prepared to harvest an axis doe if the opportunity presented itself. Red wanted some meat and we agreed to split anything I shot. I went to the newly constructed blind while Red went to another stand a little ways away where he was going to take a whitetail doe if the opportunity arose.

I sat there watching several whitetail does and a pretty nice buck and I could see the smaller axis buck bedded about 300 yards out along a tree line but no sign of axis does or the bigger buck. The whitetail does grazed off and headed towards Red so I knew it was just a matter of time before I would hear him shoot. About 5 minutes later, what should walk into view? The big axis buck! Earlier, I had asked Red how I would know the big one when I saw him and he said; “As soon as you see it you will know it’s him” And boy was he right! I had the rifle up and on him within seconds of seeing him. Within seconds of my shot, I heard a shot come from Red’s direction. My buck was down and if I knew Red, he had a doe down as well!
We met back at the rigs about 20 minutes later to compare notes and indeed we both had harvested animals.
Red was a great guide!
Now the work began! The following day (we stayed an extra day now) was dedicated to visiting the local taxidermist followed by processing the deer. Both Barb and Pam joined in on the fun as well!
Barb and Pam cutting up some pork trimmings to mix with the venison

Red and I grinding some burger!
Making some bratwurst
We had a great time with Red, Pam and Greg and cannot thank them enough for their hospitality! We left Junction the following morning and headed back north to continue our original plan. 
Meanwhile, we have been closely following the news coming out of South Dakota where the 3rd largest fire in Black Hills history has burned over 57,000+ acres (84 square miles) and devastated Custer State Park. Although our property was out of the path, over 70% of the park was burned. As of Saturday night (12/16) 80% of the fire is under control. The buffalo (60 head), antelope and elk herds were able to escape the fire but the burros were not so lucky. All 9 have been located but are being treated for burns. The park is asking for donations of both hay and money to help.  

The black/red outline is the fire area
Next stop Ganbury where we plan on spending a few days with one of Barb’s barrel racing friends who moved to the area several years ago!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Three Days in Amarillo

I woke up yesterday morning startled and alert. There was someone driving right by our rig! Why would someone be driving by our rig way out here? We are over ¼ mile off the road on private property in the middle of South Dakota. That is really how I woke up, it took me about 30 seconds to realize that we were not in the middle of a field in South Dakota, we were actually in an RV Park in Amarillo Texas. I know other RV’ers can appreciate the fact that you will often wake up and have to look outside to see and remember where you are. Those are the trials and tribulations of a FT RV’er!
We only spent three days in Amarillo but we packed them as full as we could! We had a list of adventures that we wanted to go on, the first of which was visiting the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. Over the years we have owned almost exclusively quarter horses. We did have a couple of learning experiences with Arabians and Thoroughbreds but the quarter horse was always the horse of choice at our place.
We didn’t know what to expect walking in. As we entered we saw two full walls of pictures of the hall of fame inductees; both human and horse. We only recognized one or two of the human inductees.  We recognized most of the horses and actually owned some from the bloodlines of many of them.

Two of our best horses were out of the Dash for Cash and Clabber bloodlines.
Barb wanted to take this guy home!
Then it was off to the RV Museum.
This was free and was actually very cool as some of the items displayed brought back memories from our childhood.

This bus was actually used in RV The Movie
It is said that no visit to Amarillo is complete without stopping by Cadillac Ranch. Frankly we were expecting a little more. We have seen pictures on many blogs. A row of Cadillacs buried in the dirt spray painted all sorts of crazy colors.
The Home Depot in Amarillo sells more cans of spray paint than any other in the country. Like all the other tourists we walked out there, spray painted our names on a car and took a selfie….
Then it was time for lunch, but where to go? A quick check of Diners Drive-ins and Dives said that the Coyote Bluff Café was the place to go. It was also rated #1 in Amarillo on YELP as well so how could we not go? Well when we pulled up to the outside of the café we were second guessing the decision.
But in we went…..
Barb got the Burger from Hell and me, I just got the boring Old Fashion Burger. Both were good. Barb’s was hot, in fact so hot she could not even taste the burger.
So how do you top all those adventures? Why you go see the Huge Pair of Legs Statue of course! According to Roadside America the statue was “Inspired by a similar set of big legs in the Egyptian desert, Stanley Marsh 3 (who commissioned the nearby Cadillac Ranch) paid a guy named Lightnin' McDuff to build the legs. A joke plaque claims that the rest of the body was destroyed by jealous football players from Lubbock.”

This is what we actually saw when we got there…….Barb did not even get out of the truck.
People have taken to spray painting the legs as well!
To top off the day we went to dinner at The Big Texan Restaurant.
Barb and the big cow (Barb is on the left)
The Big Texan is known as being the home of the “free” 72oz steak. That is if you can eat it and all the sides within 60 minutes.  When we were there two guys were seated at the raised table reserved for those who accept the challenge.

I had the Duke Cut Ribeye while Barb had the Palo Duro Prime Rib. Both were very good and well worth the price.
Of course Barb had to get a flight of beer!
As we were eating we kept an eye on the two gentlemen at the challenge table. Time went by 50 minutes, 40 minutes and they kept eating. As the clock hit 10 minutes and one of the guys got up from the table my curiosity got the better of me and I had to walk over and look. He had over ½ of his steak left while the other gentleman had ¼ left. As time expired neither of them were able to complete the challenge and left with several Styrofoam to-go containers.
Stuffed, exhausted and bloated we went home and directly to bed. This bring us full circle to the beginning of this post when I woke up in a panic.

Day 2 included only one adventure, the gun show was going on this weekend so how could we not go? We each bought ourselves an early Christmas present. I spent the afternoon organizing the belly while Barb spent most of her time inside the rig doing a deep cleaning of the kitchen and bathroom.

The next day we packed up and drove 30 minutes south to Palo Dura State Park. We have heard from several readers that this was a must visit when in the area. Known as the Grand Canyon of Texas we were skeptical as all we saw was flat land since entering the state. Even when we were with a mile of the park we did not see any “canyon” but once we got to the park it was evident how the park got this nickname.
We only spent one day here so we spent our time driving around and getting acclimated with the park. We were able to squeeze in one hike on Rock Garden Trail. Both the dogs and us are not used to ths warm weather (67 degrees)!

Bonus, the trails are dog friendly!

Cactus growing from a crack in the rock

Lots of cool rock formations

How did this rock get on its side?
We even found a geocache!

We stayed in site #85 I the Mesquite campground. Both 85 and 88 were nice sites that are big rig friendly. No cell or Wi-Fi service down here, you will have to drive back up to the entrance gate if you want to make a call. This park will definitely be on our route on future trips!
Site #85
We would have stayed longer but we have big plans for the week. Our friends Red and Pam are just a short 6 hours south so we are going to run down and see them. But wait, you thought we were hanging around this area so we could run back to South Dakota when our shed is delivered? Well, Barb made a few phone calls and was able to get it delay until we return in April so now we are free to travel as we wish. Look out central Texas, here we come!



Thursday, December 7, 2017

These Snowbirds Flew South!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is the case, these four pictures say a lot…..

We had planned/hoped to stick around South Dakota for a few more weeks but the weather Gods had other plans. Despite all our efforts to stay thawed, the temperature dipped down into the low teens the other day and we had a water line freeze up again. Actually those efforts were not in vain as we did not freeze up totally as in the past, this time it was just one line. The hot water line to the kitchen. We had water, hot and cold, everywhere else but no hot in the kitchen. I tried tracing it from the hot water heater but it disappears into the frame somewhere so I will have to do it when we have time and much warmer weather.
We were sad to go but we will be back soon enough
So we hit the road on the 5th and headed south 200 or so miles to Sidney Nebraska where we spent the night in Cabela’s parking lot. We even got out of there without spending any money!
Then it was on to Lamar Colorado for an overnight stay where it got down to 7 degrees and that same waterline froze up.

It has been a long time since we have been on the road. By that I mean traveling to sight see with no real destination. Thinking back it has been since last April. Since then we have had specific long term destinations; South Dakota, The Farm, Pasha Lake, back to The Farm and then our property. Now we are on the road, no real destination in mind other than warmer weather. That hardest part so far is getting used to the noise at night. The other thing different about this trip is that we are traveling together. We left the jeep and 4 wheeler in South Dakota. Since we don't have a specific agenda and we don't plan on staying anywhere long term we decided to leave them both behind.

We were able to get out for one last adventure before we left. Although we were less than 20 minutes from Wind Cave National Park, we have never took the time to tour the caves. So the day before we left, we headed over there to take one of the tours. They offer a limited tour schedule during the winter and for $10 each we had our own personal tour guide. We were the only two on the tour. It was very cool as we took our time and had more of a conversational tour rather than the formal tour on busier days.
Although the sights and formation in the cave was interesting, what we found most interesting was the stories behind the scenes. When asked if the caves were haunted our guide responded “I have stories if you want to hear them”.  She said that the caves seem to have an energy of their own and there are times when the cave “just does not want you there”. She told us stories of voices in the cave when there was no one else around. Shadowy figures following some of the employees around and one story where two employees were walking the cave after hours and the hair on the back of their necks stood up at the same time and they knew something was watching them. Interesting and scary all at the same time!

These box formations were pretty cool
She said these box wafer formations could be up to 8 feet thick
Our ultimate destination for this week is Amarillo. Research showed that there are several potential boondocking spots in the area. We don't want to go any further south at this point as we may have to run back to South Dakota when our shed arrives. 

Checking Passport America we saw one park that was only $13.50 a night so we thought we would stay there for the weekend while we got acclimated to the area and decided where we wanted to stay long term. The AOK RV Park is anything but its namesake but it will do okay for the weekend and at least we are not froze solid!