Swan Lake NWR

HWY 63, Country Wedding, Avenue of the Saints, Great River Road, HWY 79, Old Spaghetti Factory, Edds Bridge

We are finding out we don’t like Missouri so much in the summer. Not that its not a beautiful place but it is hotter than hell. Don’t mind a little warm weather but day after day keeps us inside and we don’t get as much activity. While at Swan Lake we attended the Park Managers Daughters Wedding. What a neat experience for us, our first Catholic Mass and Wedding. And a really great pig roast and reception on the family farm. Most everything was geared to the kids, Sand Volley Ball, egg hunt with cash prizes, Horse Drawn Wagon ride, Air Tunnel and Tether ball and a host of other things I’m sure I missed. It was a real treat for us City Slickers.
We have taken a two month opportunity at Lake Ozark State Park for Aug. and Sept. We are thinking it will be fun to be back in the old neighborhood again for a while. Lois is excited to visit some old friends she hasn’t seen since leaving the lake and catching up on the local gossip.

Photo Bucket!

Photo Bucket has high jacked my account. I hope you will understand that I am not going back over four years of work and change out my photos. In the future I will find another hosting site for photos. Thanks for your understanding..

In regard to older post, the links to the photo albums seems to still work. I assume its the third party photos on my posts that are the issue.

Swan Lake NWR 2017

HWY 100, HWY 19, HWY 8, HWY 54, HWY 94,

Swan Lake has not changed over the winter, but this year we are here earlier than in the past to get medical issues taken care of and being close to the Momma. In the past we have been here by ourselves but this year we find we are here with another couple, Sarah and Joe.

After traveling around the country coming back to Missouri gives me a better appreciation of Missouri from when I spent my whole life here. I love traveling the old roads, and finding some of the less popular land marks and old buildings. If your interested in Missouri try HWY 100 from Linn to Washington, East or West. Also HWY 19 North or South. HWY 8 again East or West. There is HWY 94 along the Katy Trail East or West. And then my all time favorite to get out of town is HWY 54. There are more than I can mention and many more I have never been on.

We got a pellet BBQ pit and learning what all the fuss is with Smokers. We have a Master BBQer next to us and we plan on him showing us the ins and outs of using a pellet Smoker. So let the BBQ Sauce flow!  P.S. so far we LOVE it, Lois especially likes it cause I have to do all the cooking….little does she know that it is just putting the meat on the grill! We have smoked a couple of pork steaks and filets, came out mouth-watering.

Lois says that being back to Chillicothe is almost like coming home. Getting back to the church and all the great folks there is a real blessing. They do have a different pastor who is very good. We enjoy the services as well as all the wonderful people. Of course there is Wal-Mart, or as Lois says “Disney for Adults”, can’t say I agree with her. My idea of “Disney for Adults” is either Lowe’s or Home Depot, oh well different strokes for different folks.

Graham Cave State Park 2017

Grace Lutheran Church, Wellsville, Danville, Indian Glade Trial, Graham Cave Loop Trail, Loutre River Trail, 3R’s RV

Found our way to Graham Cave SP and deep in a Missouri Woods, in the spring time. Reviews on this park talk about the highway noise here but after being in the deserts of west Texas the frogs out do the highway! Park is geared toward medium size rigs and has a lot of tree issues for those that are not sure of their clearances. Several trails here for hiking. If your interested in History the maintenance man here “Matt” is the local historian. The land use to be in his family and was passed down to the Grahams from the Boone family (Daniel’s son Nathanial). He has a big collection of arrow heads and other artifacts and papers about the farm and its history. The cave is not much more than a Cliff Dwelling with a ton of history. But we found the trails to be very interesting, only a few miles of them but while they were too rough for biking they are fun walks.

 

I had my Cataracts removed this month and what a difference in my world. If you ever have Cataracts don’t wait, get them done as soon as you can.  Its been a while since we hosted a location where we where one on one with the campers. With Lois working the check station and myself delivering fire wood we where able to meet a lot of great people. There was no internet at the park, thus no convenient way to up load our photos and update the blog.

Our most remembered event at this park, other than the tornado at 4:30 AM and a tree branch that had fell through the roof of a motorhome in the park! Lois and I where heading up a hill in our cart and came upon a Gray Fox being chased by a Doe. We where so surprised by the event we didn’t have the though to pull out a phone and get a photo. As we interrupted the chase
the Fox escaped and the Doe went back the way she came. We think back to her Fawn.
Photos bylois:

Lake of the Ozarks

Wichita, HWY 54, Conway, Osage Beach, St Louis, Graham Cave State Park

Stayed in Wichita for a couple days getting use to lights and sounds on parking lots again. Tracked across Missouri to Conway and visiting my Uncle for a couple days.  Then up to Lake Ozarks and our home town Church for Easter. Its interesting after six months in South and West Texas, its so nice to get back to familiar surroundings. While we love the differences in the Deserts we love seeing the green fresh cut grass and trees with green leaves in the spring time in Missouri. Easter morning brought us our first rain in six months.

 

Had a rock strike in New Mexico and have to take a day to have 3R’s near Union Missouri to replace my windshield, Ouch!! New house batteries, slide shims replace, and a new basement air this year! I hope the bleeding stops soon.

 

On to St. Louis for a couple weeks to see the Momma and now we going to be at
Graham Cave State Park for the month of May.

High Plains Trail

Hueco Tanks State Park, Trans Mountain, Las Cruces, Bogart’s, Mesilla, HWY 70, San Augustine Pass, White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, HWY 54, Tularosa Basin, Carrizozo, Valley of Fires Recreation Area, No Scum Allowed Saloon, Mesa Land Scenic Byway, Juniper Forest, Santa Rosa, The Blue Hole, Tucumcari, Logan, No Mans Land, Apache Trace, Dalton Gang, Cimarron River, Great Western Trail and Dodge Supply Route, Cannon Ball Stage Line

 

Dust storms are pretty intense, dust flies around like snow, dusting the branches and flat surfaces reminding me of snow, our last week at Hueco Tanks gave us another opportunity to know that after four and a half months we are ready to head back north. We were planning to stay in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah this summer. But my Cataracts are getting worse, so we have decided to head back to Missouri this month and get them fixed.

 

Stayed over a week end at Las Cruces, NM and visited Mesilla, a very old town that hosted Billy the Kid. Spent a couple hours at the White Sands National Monument. Spent the night in Alamogordo next to the train tracks, I love the trains, but here they don’t blow their horns! Just a long rumble during the night. Then onto Valley of Fire at Carrizozo. It offers a couple hours of interest and we moved on after two days. Passed through a Juniper Forest just north of the Lava Field. HWY 54 does a little “Route 66” at the Pecos River in Santa Rosa. Then on to Tucumcari, then north again on HWY 54. North of Tucumcari we found a nice picnic area for the night, with the train right across the hi way from us. So tonight we are at No Mans Land in Guymon, Oklahoma.

 

On a travel note, HWY 54 Van Horn, TX through New Mexico and across Kansas has a ton of Picnic Areas and pull outs that if you don’t mind sleeping with one eye open offer some very convenient over night stops. But as Lois found out not but a hand full of Wal-Marts. There is not much to see on the High Plains but if you take your time and look close there are always interesting things to discover.

 

Photos bylois:

Hueco Tanks State Park

Silver Leaf Night Shade, Fort Bliss, Hueco Bolson, Bordering, Aoudad Sheep,  Old Butterfield Stage Stop, Mescalero Canyon, Tanque DE LA Virgin, Tlaloc Pass, Escontrias Ranch House, Arroyos, Coyotes, Crash Pads, Road Runners, Morning Doves

Lois has found a recipe for cooking Cactus!! So the way I figure it we can survive here in the desert for a very long time. Because every bush seems to have thrones on it. Hueco Tanks is a very different place from anywhere we have been. The Rangers here at the park are very knowledgeable about plants and animals, and they love to show and tell.

 

At first glance Hueco Tanks seems to be a very unusual park. And much like we found at Davis Mountain there is mostly walking into the mountains for things to do. Here there is no riding bikes other than on the main road in and out of the camp ground. The Mountains here are amazing and very much worth all the time and energy you have to explore them. The parks main activity during the months of February and March is “Bordering“. Camping is only an after thought, and as such there are only 20 spots, and two of those are Camp Host spots. The internet is the usual State Park quality, but with not so many campers it makes it more user friendly. There are a ton of Painted Rock Pictographs and Historical Rock Art.

 

I feel very lucky to have hooked up with another Camp Host that is here with us. Dave Strand has been here before and is very well schooled in the Rock Art and the area in general. He has taking me on several outings climbing around the mountains here as if I were still 60!! But with the directions and information Dave has to offer really puts more meaning into what your looking at here. There is no amount of photos I can take that would do justice to the area. If you ever have the chance to spend a day or two here, I highly recommend it. Climb North Mountain and walk the trails, it’s amazing.

 

You can hear Coyotes here at night, there yipping reminds me of old cowboy movies where the Indian war parties where yipping. Its not hard to see why Indians liked the sound, its kind of spooks a Missouri boy.

 

Ted Pick is the Star Interpreter and he puts on a great couple hour show talking about the night sky with his laser pointer and his knowledge of the heavenly bodies.

 

Dust Storms are a real deal around here. Dust is in the air most days, haven’t seen rain here in the Chowowin Desert since we got here. In fact we have not seen rain since we left the Golf! Had to replace or basement air and we where blessed to find “Borgarts RV shop in Los Cruses, NM. There not cheep but they give you a good feeling when there taking your money. We plan to get back on the road again the first of next month and head north.

Photos bylois:

El Paso, Texas

Permian Basin,  Prada Marfa, TX 54, Van Horn, TX 62, Cornudas, Chihuahua Red Sands Desert, Salt Dunes

 

We left out of Davis Mountain ahead of a day with high wind warnings. Got started early and headed onto Van Horn and run into an afternoon of high wind 35 to 45 mph with 60 mph gust and dust, lots of dust out here. I’m not sure its considered a “Dust Storm” but we hunkered down for the night. Lots of open spaces in West Texas and it don’t take much wind to ruin my day. But on the up side Van Horn has trains that blow their horns a few times as they come though town.

 

Drove up to the Guadalupe Mountains and the Salt Dunes on HWY 54 and headed west on Texas HWY 62 to Hueco Tanks State Park. The drive is amazing. Photos don’t do any justice to the Mountains and Desert. Several pull outs on HWY 54, but not really organized rest areas. Both roads are in excellent condition. Once we got to within 30 miles of El Paso we came to a pass through the Hueco Mountains that was breath taking down to the valley that is El Paso. Touched base with Wal-Mart and went on into Hueco Tanks. It has been a wonderful month of traveling South Texas.

 

Photos bylois:

Davis Mountain State Park

Texas HWY 118, Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, Indian Lodge, Grant Trees, Buckhorn Caldera and Paisano Volcano, Goat Head,

 

The Mountains have more trees in the valleys than the basin has, and some of the trees are huge. Grant Trees, Rio Grande Cottonwoods and Emory Oaks. Picnic areas along the hwy are fabulous, with concrete tables and huge volcanic rocks towering over head. Fort Davis is pretty much a tourist trap, but if you get out on the back streets and see the real town its pretty wild westerly. The park itself is in a deep valley with lots of trees. We haven’t really seen trees much since we left Goose Island. In the park there is no phone service or OTA TV, but cable is offered. Internet is only at one location.

 

We visited the McDonald Observatory and found it to be amazing vistas at almost 7000 feet. Where we were parked a deer almost ran over Lois as we were getting back in the car. The Mule Deer are all over the place. I think they’re use to tourists in the park, as Lois has a shot of one smiling at her!

 

After volcanic activity stopped, erosion carved the valleys and canyons that surround the area. At my age and condition hiking these hills is limited, but I have a great pair of binoculars, I can set for hours looking at these interesting vistas, rock formations and spotting critters.

Photos bylois:

West of the Pecos River

Texas HWD 90, Dryden, Sanderson, Marathon, Alpine, Marfa Lights, Dagger Trees, Chihuahua Desert, Permian Sea

Ok we left out of Seminole Canyon in the fog and the day cleared up about an hour after we got going. Lots of interesting Hills, Butts, Mesas and Mountains. Hwy 90 is a good road across South West Texas. Didn’t always have phone service but for the most part coverage is good. Gas can be outrageous such as in Langtry but for the most part its only running a few cents higher than on the interstate.

 

Went out to the Marfa Lights viewing center and spent the night. The lights started up almost immediately after the sun went down, making me think there where a bunch of rabbits out there with lights on their tails. But as it got darker and I started looking at them with my binoculars, I could see there is something strange going on out there. They went on all night, dancing around, coming and going. As daybreak came they left. I put together a movie of what I could get hanging out the kitchen window. I had read about the trains here and they are wonderful. But they do not blow their horns, I like when they do that in the distance. But once we where asleep, I only woke up to once about sunrise hearing the train. If you take the time to watch the film, I am holding the camera free hand and zooming in and out. The lights are moving, I am moving, you be the judge.

 

Cold front coming down again so we decided to stay in Alpine, Texas at the Lost Alaskan RV Park. Very nice park for the most part, a big nice laundry, they have propane fill and nice level pads, full hook ups and cable. Also good internet. We found the town of Alpine to be very neat in a Texas sort of way. And of course the Hills, Butts, Mesas or Mountains are amazing.

Photos bylois: