Monday, December 31, 2018

Lost Dutchman State Park: Hiking & Horses

Here we were...the last day of the year. Rain was to come in and we had decided to bag our last night of camping. So we got the tent taken down and headed out for our last hike of the year.

Yesterday we had blue skies. Today it was chilly. Especially after I had to abandon my warm camp coat...
Capturing our photo for a virtual geocache!
We had just passed some horses on the trail. Of course that meant that I had to carefully walk around the fresh horse manure...but the trail was steep and rocky. Anyhow, I lost my footing and took a spill. Fortunately, my hand did not get cut on the rocks, thanks to the very warm, moist and soft manure that my hand was resting in... 💩

Made our way to the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix, which was a perfect stop for a rainy afternoon!

Loved how you can see the various pottery styles by region.
Finally made it to our hotel in Goodyear, Arizona where we had an early New Year's Eve and in-room pizza delivery...Rosati's Chicago style!

Tip: Finding a pet-friendly hotel in the Phoenix area was a chore. We didn't want to pay a $50 fee...ended up at the Hampton Inn in Goodyear. Nice and quiet; had a laundry room (only $1/load). 

The only thing that was a little odd about this hotel was that there was an "Antiquities Museum" which was a room devoted solely to the Bible. There were various historical documents that were for sale.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Lost Dutchman State Park: Know Before You Go

Our camping trip was coming to a close...we were scheduled to stay at the Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Arizona for two nights before heading northward to stay with friends and family on our way home.

We pulled into our site only to find the most dreaded sound possible: A VERY OLD GENERATOR. Sigh. T graciously asked the "neighbors" to abide by camp rules (limited generator hours), and they did. But now we had a decision to make. Stay here two nights as planned knowing that we were upwind from a very old and smelly generator in the rain or stick it out for a night and then head out. We opted for the best of all worlds: Stay a night, get in the hiking we wanted each day and then head out.
Trekking and Geocaching

We made the best of the generator situation by having dinner out during the evening generator window from 5-7pm. Whoop! No dishes tonight! Burgers are scrumptious at Dirtwater Springs in Apache Junction.
Wild Boar or Javalina?

TIP: If you want to avoid the generator situation, give the park a call to find out the best camping area. There are many, many campsites and they will most likely have some great advice.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Seminole to Deming: Let the Storms Begin

Greetings from Deming, NM where we are lounging at the Holiday Inn Express, doing our laundry and eating hot soup.

We had been planning to stay at on Airbnb in Las Cruces on December 29th, however we received a message from our host regarding the snow storm and her concerns that we wouldn't be able to make it up the mountain road to her place (it's not plowed). After much discussion, we decided to instead find a hotel in Deming, NM.

Watching the weather reports, we were a little concerned, but figured that if we timed it right, we would be ok. Our 485 mile driving adventure started off following a storm (freezing rain, some snow) that left at least four sets of cars dented up on the side of the road. Temps got as low as 27 and as high as 40. That doesn't include wind chill. Brrr. 

We had perfect, if not cold, driving conditions.
Frozen Trailer
Lows for the day ranged from 27-the mid 30s.
One Happy Dog

TIP: The Holiday Inn Express in Deming, NM is one dog-friendly place and there is no pet fee. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site

It's funny how in the west parks are way off the beaten path, but in Texas, you are within view of the highway. We pulled off I90 and were pleasantly surprised by this gem of a park, Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site.

Site #28
The next day, we had to divide and conquer when it came to the Fate Bell Shelter dogs allowed. After a fortifying breakfast, I took the first tour, came back and then we took about a five mile hike before T took the second tour.

Hearty Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Hashbrowns and Pancakes.
Sculpture was about 15' tall and in the Pecos style.

Fate Bell Shelter from above.
Fate Bell Shelter from Below
Rain water basin.
Ranger Talk about the Pecos-style pictographs, which are only found in a small area of Texas within about 50 miles of the Pecos River.
After the tour, we took a hike along the Canyon Rim Trail and then cut over to the Rio Grande Trail.

Canyon Rim Trail Hike

Surprised by the view - water in Seminole Canyon!

Heading back on the Rio Grande Trail.
Saw two of these intriguing footprints during our 5 mile hike. Hmmm...

TIP: If you go, make a reservation and be sure to specific what you want in your campsite. They assign you to a spot based on your needs. We had spot #28, which looked away from the rest of the campers. Water was across the street.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Historic Goliad

Greetings from my new fav place to eat, the Empressario in historic Goliad. Belated Christmas meal of amazing pulled pork smothered in in homemade salsa verde and topped with melted cheese over fries.
T loved her burger!
Spent the day taking in the historic sites, doing a little geocaching, and getting Shasta to a groomer...a dog on a road trip that needs a bath is not a good travel companion. She returned beautiful and adorned with a Christmas bow.

Weather: warm rain with thunderstorms predicted tonight!

Mission Espiritu Santo

Presidio La Bahía
Chapel @ the Presidio

Candle for Dad 
Caching @ Peck Cemetery
(One of many Texas cemetery caches.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas in Texas!

Greetings from Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore! 

After a quick hike around the park, we took a side trip to the Gulf Coast today. High around 75 degrees.
French toast with cream cheese and lemon curd.

We weren't expecting to drive over 200 miles, but that's what happened. Had a great time exploring the coast.

Port Aransas Ferry (free)

Christmas @ the Beach
Next time we camp on the beach!

Government Shut Down = Dog on the Trail
(We picked up the poop!)

TIP: If you head down to Port Aransas, be sure to pick up a beach pass. Park on the beach and even camp for free! Just make sure that it isn't hurricane season!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve @ Goliad State Park & Historic Site

Greetings from Goliad, Texas. Pulled into the park around 4:25pm. Set up camp, had dinner and enjoyed a balmy evening. We were at one of several small campgrounds in the park. Tonight, three other campsites were occupied, two of which were from Ontario, Canada.

Part of the reason for coming down to Goliad was to see the mission's light display. So after dinner, we set up our own candelaria and then headed to the mission to check out the lights.

Today, the weather hit high of about 73 degrees; tonight's low is predicted to be 60 degrees. And this is why we are here!

Alpine to Goliad: Wild Game and Fast Highways

The one thing about winter camping: you don't have a lot of daylight...We were up early from our Airbnb, packing the car in the dark. As darkness turned to dawn, we were ready to hit the road. We had planned to stay on I-90 much of the way as it is a much more scenic route than Interstate 10. However, as we drove east, the sun was blinding and with all of the game that we saw along the road, we decided that it might be safer to head up to Interstate 10 earlier than planned.

Greetings from Ft Stockton, TX where everything is big...even the custom made roadrunner outfit.
Around 9am on 12/24/18; 40 something degrees.
Thankfully, we hit the San Antonio area on a Sunday, so traffic wasn't so bad. Taking the loop around, we eventually got out of the urban area and enjoyed the warm temps on our drive.

Arrived at Goliad State Park and Historic Site around 4:25pm.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

On the Road Again: Catalina to Alpine, TX

Greetings from Alpine, TX. Rolled in about 5:15pm on 12/23.
Winter camping in cold climates was something we wanted to avoid. So, stopping in New Mexico was not on our list this trip. Instead, we opted for an incredibly long day, driving from Catalina State Park in Arizona to Alpine, Texas where we stayed in an Airbnb for a warm night.
The Texas Way: FAST
Local Park for a Walk with the Dog
Alpine, Texas @ 6:04pm, high 50s
Much of our drive was non-descript. But there were two standouts: the freeways and overpasses of El Paso and the beautiful hill country we encountered just as we entered the Alpine area. On our next trip, we will take some time to explore Alpine and the beautiful murals around downtown.

Next up: Goliad, TX. Looking for mid 70s with a chance of a thunderstorm on Wednesday.

TIPS: If you are driving with a trailer, try to plan your drive through El Paso on a weekend or other low traffic time. There are many, many on ramps and people are in a hurry. Find your lane and stay your course. If you are headed east, there is a rest area just after you leave the urban area.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Hiking @ Catalina State Park

Nothing like jumpstarting a day of hiking with a good breakfast! One of my favorite things to do while camping is to make a great breakfast. This morning, we had French toast with cream cheese and lemon curd. 

Someone looks happy!
After luring her up with an early morning breakfast, we headed for the Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail and grabbed a few Geocaches along the way.

Early morning hike to the Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail.

Aha! An ammo can cache.
Better read up on the park trivia to get to this cache.
Arduino inside!
Once back from the hike, we headed up to the Canyon Loop Trail, but found everyone else was headed there as well - and I mean hoards of people and hoards of dogs. So instead, we took the Romero Canyon Trail and headed up to the very small pools. We saw a total of seven people and one dog over the next few hours.

Hiking and caching. Perfect combination!
Big, huh?
Napping on the trail.

TIP: If you take your dog on the trails, use a short leash. There are many opportunities for your pet to step on cacti.