After three great nights in Frisco, TX, we head south towards Houston. It's not supposed to be a long drive, but our GPS program (CoPilot RV) has been set to avoid toll roads, and unfortunately Houston is overrun with toll roads. So instead of a direct drive down I-45 with a quick run across I-10 to our campground, we end up taking some smaller back roads through rural Texas. This ended up turning our 5 hour trip into more than 6 hours, including some very slow sections running through small towns.
But the drive was worth it. We ended up staying in Stephen F. Austin State Park in San Felipe (once known as San Felipe de Austin), but that's a story for later.
Stephen F. Austin is a wonderful state park, with plenty of sites big enough for the largest rigs down to primitive camping. The RV sites are pull-thru semi-circles with full hookups, and the only downside is that they just have 30 amp electric available. It wasn't a problem this trip, but I'm sure during the scorching days of summer when high amounts of air conditioning is needed, this would be a problem for bigger rigs like our 36LA. Level sites (typical of Texas in general) with a large circle of mowed grassy area, fire pit and grill and a picnic table at each site. If I had to estimate, our site #11 was at least 60' wide by 80' deep. Past the mowed areas the rest of the park is left natural for deer, coyotes and other wildlife to inhabit. Two or more hiking trails for visitors to enjoy.
There is a golf course adjacent to the park, but it was closed for renovations while we were there. It used to be associated with the state park, but is a private concern now. Looked nice. Would have liked to play a round there.
But as good as the park was, we were there to visit with an old friend I hadn't seen in more than 40 years; Bob Johnson and his wife, Susan. Bob just recently retired from the ministry, and he and Susan bought a Ford F150 pickup and a new Lance travel trailer. They've been enjoying it for short trips over the past year, and we've both been looking forward to meeting up once Barbara and I finally got around to retiring to full-time RV living. Really, really nice people who introduced us to things around Houston, including Galveston, while we introduced them to nightly mini ice cream cones for dessert!
We got to experience a bit of early Texas history not generally taught. Everyone knows all about the Alamo, Sam Houston and Texas' fight for freedom from Mexico, but many people (ourselves included) didn't know much about how Texas was founded BEFORE the nasty business at the Alamo. The guy who got it all started was whom the park we stayed at was named; Stephen F. Austin. He was responsible for receiving land grants from Spain (via Mexico) in order to bring immigrants from the U.S. Into the territory of Texas. These people would, in turn, receive grants of land from their local “empresario” (Stephen F. Austin) and they would build, farm and generally make a new life for themselves while developing the land for commerce and paying taxes to Mexico. The Stephen F. Austin museum, located just a few minutes away from the state park in a plot of land that was once part of San Felipe de Austin (the original settlement of Americans in Texas), is an excellent way to learn about early Texas history and a very interesting man. Even if you don't stay at the park, it's a good day trip to take on it's own.
A sculpture outside of Stephen F. Austin museum depicting the flight out of town in advance of Mexican troops. The fleeing Texans burned the town of San Felipe de Austin in order to deny the invading troops anything to make their stay comfortable. Interesting fact: The sculpture initially didn't include the dog I was posing with. It was determined that a blind person trying to access the museum with a cane could possibly hit the woman with the lantern, so the dog was added to block that part of the sculpture!
One big plus from our Houston trip was finding the last couple of skeins of yarn in the right dye lot for Barbara to finish her crocheting project. I was getting pretty tired of hitting every Walmart at every stop we made to find the right dye lot!
A day trip to Galveston got us our first view of the Gulf of Mexico, and even though it wasn't a great day weather-wise, whetted our appetite for our next destination – Port Aransas – a barrier island between Corpus Christi and the Gulf.
We didn't have time to see NASA's space center this trip, but we'll be back another time.
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.