Apocalyptic highway #285 New Mexico and East to Texas
The morning came and no tornadoes, just a steady drizzle. We got to experience our first virus Armageddon buying as we stopped by a local grocery store in Carlsbad at 9 am to find the parking lot packed, pickup trucks circling like hungry wolves looking for a spot to pull into. Tempers seemed normal, no one wildly raging, politeness ensued which was a relief, wasn’t quite sure what it would be like in the store. No toilet paper or paper towels…what is wrong with people? We tried to keep our distance, 6 feet, and get a few necessities, cat chicken mostly. The younger traveling Mewberries can eat anything but the old guy needs his raw chicken, we grind it up ourselves and felt lucky to find some, oh, and wine, I think I will needs lots of wine in the upcoming weeks;) Couldn’t wait to get back to the trailer…sigh…things are changing rapidly. We looked over our state park schedule and started thinning it out. The emails of park closures were coming in so time to pick up the pace!
We took the traveling Mewberries for a quick walk before our departure. Rocket flushed out a few of these beautiful quail and I ran back in the drizzle for my camera. They are gorgeous! Scaled Quail. a first for me I think! Funny how all quail sound and fly alike:) Rocket was then nearly attacked by a large dog in a space in front of us, asswipe just let his dog out, no leash, it chased a jogger yesterday…grrrr….I called the office and had a rant, “Oh yes, we know him, not the first time” they said…Mike said not to rattle the cage, this is America, land of guns. I was pissed off…hell hath no furry like a mad woman;) It was the “oh yeah, we’ll talk to him again” that really ended up pissing me off more. Boot his ass out! but no, these oil workers are their bread and butter at this park. Time to get the hell out, little did we realize the sad and ominous scenes that lay heading South on the 285.
Flare stack after flare stack on each side of a muddy dirty road where a constant battle of 18 wheelers vied for the passing lanes every few miles. It felt like a scene out of Mad Max. The road looked like it was in a constant state of repair. Our windshield wipers were on not for the drizzle but the mud being flung up on us with each passing tanker or container truck. Endless rows of bleak dirt RV parks and temporary housing lined the roads for the oil workers in the area. Made the KOA seem like the Ritz Carlton! Just before Pecos at the 302 the trucks all seemed to disappear going East but the bad road did not. It felt like the Baja swerve and miss the pot holes or lose a tire type of road. Well, we won’t be back on this one again! Yikes! Even the cats looked at us wild eyed…”What the hell was that, we’re not camping here are we look!” Hey, I learned the first rodeo was held in Pecos (according to them), that was not worth the drive;)
We stopped at the Fort Stockton RV Park just North of the 10 for the night. We unhitched and headed back to town to diesel up for the next day and to check something. At the grocery store the panic buying was hardly evident. Yes to the no toilet paper or paper towels but the other shelves were fully stocked. Texans are tough, too big and bad for viruses….0_0…very very bad Indie, very, very bad. The lackadaisical approach most were taking was a bit horrifying. We stocked up on more chicken for the cats, wine (could be used as a disinfectant no? in my stomach;) and tried to keep at least 6 feet away from these foolish souls! The rain clouds opened while I was in shopping and a deluge of water came from the sky. The town streets turned into rivers as we made our way back to the RV park soaked. We were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow, and enough water to clean off the back window so we could see out!
In the morning we headed East on the interstate bound for South Llano River State park 218 miles away. Located about 6 miles South of Junction, Texas it was a place we had bookmarked, or I had. It had mentioned birders…well, if you like Cardinals, this is the place for you. Maybe its just the hill country but there were dozens, everywhere! The bird blinds were closed due to the Corona Virus but I could still peek over the fence for a few familiar guys:) The Cardinals were fighting their window reflections at the trailer:)
A bit of Park History from the park page: Walter White Buck, Jr. moved to this area with his family in 1910 when he was 18 years old. They lived in the house that is now park headquarters, and the younger Buck took over the family ranch after his father died. Buck felt strongly about conserving the land. After his father died, he reduced his 1,000 head of sheep, goats and cattle by nearly half. Eventually, he ran only 125 head of cattle, which he later sold. Caring for the land and not overgrazing his livestock allowed him to survive a five-year drought in the 1950s.
In two of the best years, Buck harvested 75,000 pounds of pecans. He enjoyed caring for the pecan trees, which included both native and cultivated varieties. (that explains what the trees are and why the squirrels are so fat;)ha!)
A bachelor all his life, Buck used to say that this land was his one great love. He donated his whole property to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1977 for wildlife conservation or park purposes. The park opened in 1990.
South Llano River State Park expanded from about 600 acres to 2,600 acres in 2011, when the Walter Buck Wildlife Management Area became part of the state park. This backcountry area offers hiking, mountain biking, and primitive camping.
The park is home to one of the largest turkey roosts in Central Texas. Turkeys roost from Oct. 1 through March 31. The day use area is only open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during these months, so that humans don’t disturb the roosting turkeys. I did not see a single turkey:) but we only did one hike past the river:) I can see why the campground is a LONG way from the Llano River. Evidence of severe flooding is everywhere, including the town of Junction where a major bridge was mostly swept away…
The news from everyone had us stop and rethink about moving our booties along a bit faster back to Canada. Word of possible border closing (to tourists, not us Canucks) was hinted at so we went to the office and canceled our next two nights and decided to head East as quickly as the old cat would let us:) We also were receiving cancellations from Louisiana at our park stay South of New Orleans. Turns out they are turning it into an isolation center for the virus the Reserve America operator told me…time to high tail it out we decided! We were feeling a little stressed….the sight of several Nine-banded armadillos just at dark sure gave us a smile. So cute! No shots, too dark but they were burrowing around in the grass looking for grubs and waddled off when we went out to look at them. Texas speed bumps someone said they called them:( The idiots outside with their smoking campfires in 85° heat should have been the speed bumps instead, what is wrong with people?
Groot, Gamora and Rocket looked a bit crestfallen as we prepped to leave. This is a traveling Mewberries approved park. With grass, and trees and paths and lots and lots of BIRDS! It is also a Dark Sky Park which is wonderful. No lights anywhere!
But there won’t be any socializing with the telescopes for now, just social distancing:) We were surprised to see so many people’s cavalier attitude towards the news again here….stay tuned for bit more of Texas before we get to head North! Saludos amigos-I’ll be socializing with the birds and wildflowers only for now!