Part 4: Guadalupe Mountains, NM to San Marcos, TX


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The Trip

We spent the night on a trail in the Guadalupe Mountains in southern New Mexico.  In the morning, I did some target shooting with my pistol to insure that I was in good form for the upcoming hunt.  We broke camp and headed toward Carlsbad, NM.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The sign is not interesting, but the story behind it is.  After we left our camp, we headed toward Sitting Bull Falls near Carlsbad.  On our way to the falls, we hit the closed gate and sign shown in the photo above.  We had no choice but to turn around and continue on to Carlsbad.  We ate at a local restaurant and while I was paying the bill a USFS employee came up behind me in the line.  So, I asked him why Sitting Bull Falls was closed.  He said: "Fire; it cost about $2 million dollars to control the fire and it was due to a couple of folks visiting the country that had to have a hot breakfast and let their campfire get out of control.  I caught them and they paid a $5,000 fine each and got 90 days in jail.  I figure they got off easy."  The fire burned down the whole area and took out the facilities at the falls.  It also destroyed the brush in the area and the ranger told us that there were plenty of dead animals that had starved to death.  Sitting Bull Falls is a riparian area similar to Arivaipa Canyon and has a spring-fed stream.  After his story, I was sorry that we did not get to see the area.  As a consolation, he told me that the area was due to open up the following week (after we would be long gone).

Despite the harsh terrain, the local ocotillo were in bloom with brilliant red flowers.

After lunch, we headed south from Carlsbad toward Pecos, TX.  Along the way, we passed many oil wells being drilled.  This is a pretty big rig.

The west Texas deserts are harsh and barren.

Further down the road, we passed this gas burn-off device in operation.  Excess methane is burned to prevent explosions.

We eventually hit I-20 and headed east toward Midland, TX.  Along the way we passed plenty of oil infrastructure.

Some of the plants were quite large.  I am not really sure what this plant does.

Oops.  I am not sure what, exactly, happened but I would bet money that it involved a cell phone.  Several days later, we watched a fellow in a pickup towing a loaded stock trailer run through a red light and he did not even know it; he was yakking on the phone.  The sad thing is that most folks think that they have spare brain cycles that would allow them to drive and talk at the same time, but it is rarely true.

Near Midland, we decided to call a halt for the day and found an RV park that was close to the freeway.  The park was filled with oil workers who were using their RV as their housing during their work.  We asked for a site with shade as it was well over 100 degrees, and this is what we got.  Thor barely fit.  We were the talk of the park and within 10 minutes we had a large crowd of folks asking questions and poking around.

From Midland, we traveled east on I-20 into the hill country part of Texas and headed for Stephenville.  Kathleen located a city park in Stephenville that allowed camping for free.  The park was large and well kept.  There were plenty of folks out playing baseball, soccer and running.

Next morning, I was out nosing around and came upon this group of butterflies chowing down on a bit of old watermelon.

From Stephenville, we took the backroads to Ft. Worth to visit a unimog buddy.  Along the way, we passed the AWACS plane on final approach to one of the local military bases.

Our destination was Irving, TX to visit our friend Vince.  We met Vince at Overland Expo the previous year.  Vince has a U500 that he is building out as an expedition camper.  Above, the driver's side front tire is off because he is testing some new bead-lock rims.  The new wheel is on the left.

His living compartment is based on a military cargo container that was used for electronics.  The container is aluminum-foam sandwich and is very robust.

Inside, Vince elected to use tool boxes as his cabinets.  Aluminum Superstrut is used to connect components.

For the galley, he used a wood-topped tool cabinet and cut a hole for the sink.

The strut used to affix the wall cabinets are visible above.

Vince had to remove his wheel as part of his tests.  The front axle of the U500 is visible.  Those disk brake rotors are really big.

Vince let us park Thor in his shop and stay there.  Thor barely fit with only a minimum clearance on each side to allow passage.

A closeup of Vince's ex-military bead lock wheels.

We had several nice dinners with Vince in the Irving area.  Vince was nice enough to drive us around the area to get some parts for Thor.  When we finished at his place, we headed south toward Austin.  As we neared the center of Dallas, the structure above was visible from the freeway.  I have no idea what it is, but it was interesting.

Our route gave us a good view of the Dallas skyline.

Our destination was McKinney Falls state park near Austin.  After we had parked, I noticed this odd caterpillar on one of my tires.

The camp was a bit pricey at $30 but it was a nice, flat site that had electrical, water and showers.  There were nice oak trees that gave us shade.

We had a pleasant night and next morning we went to check out the falls.  Along the way, we spotted fields of wild flowers that were blooming.

The falls were created as the river passed over this ledge of limestone.  The falls created a nice pool below the ledge.

Note the convoluted paths that have been eroded into the limestone by the water.

On a log in the river, I spotted this family of turtles.  They were watching me and as I got close for a better shot, they bolted into the river.

Across the river on the far bank, there were more turtles.  The one on the right was just coming out of the water to sun himself.

At the base of the limestone ledge were some nice cypress trees.

Cypress "knees" are the visual definition of "gnarly".

We motored south on I-35 and had lunch in Buda, TX followed by several hours in the Cabela's store there.  One of the employees came to the parking lot to see Thor and told us a story about a 500 lb hog that was shot on a hunt that he guided.  He had photos to back up his story.  From Buda, we headed toward Palmetto State park near San Marcos.  The park was uncrowded and we got a nice spot.

It was nice to see Vince and the progress he has made on his rig.  Central Texas is green and scenic; a far cry from the barren deserts of west Texas.  Tomorrow, we head into Gonzales for our third hog hunt.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2012, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.