Our first 2 weeks in Texas were great. Got reacquainted with some long-time friends in Dallas and Houston and found a promising place to return to another time in Port Aransas outside of Corpus Christi. Seemed like a nice place but the weather didn't cooperate.
Now it was on to the Big Bend area, where some prime Texas golf had been planned for quite a while. I had read about a really nice (and really expensive) golf course as part of the Maverick RV Ranch down in Lajitas, Texas. It's in a very remote area along the upper reaches of the Rio Grande River, literally a stone's throw across from the Mexican border.
But first we had to get there.
Leaving San Antonio after a 2 day visit, we head as far west as we've ever been in the RV to Ft. Stockton, TX. It's going to be our jumping off point to the Big Bend area. We stay at a nice, no-frills park called Hilltop RV. $27 a night if you pay cash. Taz is beginning to have some reservations about staying in Texas, as there are very few grassy areas at many RV parks out here, and she likes to do her business on grass – not gravel; but she muddles through, even as I have to spend extra time outside with her in order to make sure she is emptied at the proper times during the day and night.
We head south the next day towards Lajitas, passing through the small town of Alpine – which will fit prominently in our future dealings with Texas. It's about a 3-hour drive in the RV, only hitting a couple of steep inclines on the way out of Alpine. The rest is very desolate and fairly flat – and very beautiful in places. Two notable places along the way are the Kokernot Mesa and Cathedral Mountain, about as majestic a set of views as we have seen on this trip so far.
Arriving at Maverick RV Resort, we do the obligatory check-in, finding out they do something we hadn't yet seen in RV living – back-in and pull-in opposing sites. Actually not a bad way to maximize your social space by putting your utilities up against one neighbor, and opening up the other side to enjoy a larger area to meet your other neighbors.
You're surrounded by a beautiful set of very colorful mountains on one side, and prairie on the other. They're trying to make something of a destination down there in Lajitas, and they're marginally successful with golf, zip lines, shooting, riding, a spa and some shops, but it all seems a bit too contrived at times. And expensive. But if you like to hike, ride a bike or kayak down the Rio Grande, this could be a nice place for you. Not so much for us as yet.
I golfed early on, and Black Jack's Crossing was everything I had hoped for. It's a long course from the black tees at 7413 yds, and even a bit long for those who usually play from the whites at 6858 yds (they don't have white tees there, but maroon for the “average” golfer. I played from the gold tees (senior) which brings it down to a manageable 6111 yds in length, and avoids many areas of carry that I would never have cleared with my limited tee game. Beautiful undulating greens kept in championship shape with just enough sand guarding the greens to make it worth your while to be accurate. Even though I didn't play my best it took a 10 on the final par 5 18th hole to finish with a crowd-leasing 113 for the round. Still, it's a great course and one I would return to someday, if it wasn't located in Lajitas, Texas.
Barbara had been fighting a medical problem for the past few days, and it wasn't getting better, so the next day we head to Alpine (almost 2 hours away) to what looked to be the nearest competent medical facility (there is nothing but a nurse practitioner in Lajitas, who wasn't going to be taking calls for the next week). After picking up her prescription and heading back another 2 hours, we hoped she was on the mend, but the prescription knocked her for a loop. Two days later, I develop flu-like syndromes (obviously picked up in my visit to the clinic in Alpine) and I'm down for the count. As bad as Barbara felt, she was the healthiest of the two of us and was assigned Taz duties. We extended our stay in Lajitas to recover from each of our maladies, but as was detailed in our earlier post, Taz became sick and died. Having had enough of what was turning out to be a cursed place called Lajitas, we head north to drop Taz off in Alpine to be cremated and to grieve. This was on a Sunday.
Hoping to pick up Taz's remains on Tuesday morning after the promised 10 am time frame, we drive the hour down to Alpine (we were back at Ft. Stockton at Hilltop RV) only to find out Taz would not be ready until after 4 pm that day. With nothing to do in Alpine, we head back to our RV with plans to pick her up the next day. HOWEVER, a winter storm was coming into the area the next day! Thought we'd have to stay TWO days because of the roads and delays, but the folks in Alpine were able to get Taz taken care of mid-day Wednesday. WE still had to endure the 2 inches of snow, two days of below freezing temperatures and two nights of turtling in our 36LA to conserve heat, but on Thursday morning we FINALLY headed westbound on I-10 for a relatively short 360-mile drive towards Deming, NM, where we planned to spend the next week resting, recovering and getting our physical and emotional strength back.
But the great state of Texas wasn't through with us just yet. For the entire drive we were hit with 15-20 mph winds and up to 32 mph gusts, coming in mainly from the front but occasionally from the drivers quarter, slowing us down and absolutely killing our gas mileage. After 6 hours of fighting this I was wiped out, but at the 5 hour mark we FINALLY entered The Land of Enchantment for the first time.
The upshot of this past 5 weeks is that we love Texans; but we're not enamored of the state itself. So except for a speed-run back east once we experience New Mexico and Arizona, it will be off our list of places to visit for a long, long time.
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We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.