Thursday, March 15, 2012

Changing Parks

Sunday, February 26, was moving day for us. We had stayed the previous 7 nights at Parkview Riverside, and we would stay the next 4 nights at Blanco State Park, which I wrote about last year at this time (see post from last February).

We normally like to arrive at a new park on Sundays for that is the end of the weekend and people are usually pulling out as we are pulling in. Parks have their most activity on weekends while the weekdays are usually calm and easy-going. Of course, there are exceptions to this, such as during summer, Spring Break, and other holidays. By arriving on Sunday afternoon, we have a better selection of sites to choose from.

It takes about an hour or so for us to get the trailer ready for travel. I'll write an entry regarding this routine at another time. I usually get pretty dirty when doing this routine as I have to work outside. So, just before leaving the park, we stopped at the facilities and I took a quick shower in their shower house so that I would be clean for the trip.

After leaving Parkview, we stopped for gas up the road in Leakey and enjoyed some coffee and eats from Subway. Then we headed back north the way we came a week ago. About 30 miles north on US 83, we turned east on State Highway 41. It might have been shorter to travel due east from Leakey or the park on the ranch roads there, but there is no way I wanted to pull the trailer up and down those twisty highways. I opted to stay on roads that I knew had good shoulders and not so many twists and curves and steep inclines.

Highway 41 took us past the famous YO Ranch. After another 25 or so miles, we intersected with I-10, which we traveled only briefly before exiting on Ranch Road 479 north. This small, straight highway would junction in less than 10 miles with US 290 just west of Harper. This is familiar country to us. When we lived in Ozona in the 1990s, we made numerous trips from Ozona to visit Donna's family in Conroe, and this is the route we would take. It's good country, and we enjoy traveling there.

US 290 becomes 4 lanes just west of Harper and remains 4 lanes all the way through Austin and beyond. Of course, we weren't going that far today. We followed it into Fredericksburg, where we stopped to replenish supplies at Walmart and to refuel.

Fredericksburg has long been a favorite destination for Donna and me. We love strolling along Main Street and visiting the varied shops there. One of our favorite hiking destinations is just north of Fredericksburg at Enchanted Rock State Park. Seeing the town made us want to spend a few days there, so I guess that's another trip we need to plan.

But for today, we had another place to go, so we continued east on 290 out of Fredericksburg. From Fredericksburg to Johnson City -- a distance of about 30 miles or so -- is one of the more interesting highways in the state, not so much for scenery, but for the places located there. First, the LBJ State and National Parks are located there; I'll tell you more about those later since we did visit them this trip. But the businesses located along this stretch are fascinating.

On the north side of the highway about 5 or so miles east of Fredericksburg is Wildseed Farms. If you like wildflowers, pottery, and those types of things, then you'll like this place.

The Stonewall area has been known for its peaches for generations, and you'll find plenty of produce stands all along the way selling not only peaches -- and some great peach ice cream -- but other produce as well during growing season.

And then there are the wineries. When Donna and I used to make this trek going to and from Conroe, there were only 1 or 2 wineries, most notably Grape Creek Vineyards. Now there are perhaps as many as a dozen. Although some are located directly on the highway, others may be a mile or 2 down country lanes. And now tasting rooms are beginning to pop up along the highway as well. I'll not even try to list all the wineries, but as you drive along, blue road signs indicate their location.

At Johnson City, we headed south on US 281 for fewer than 10 miles to Blanco. We were able to secure the same camp site we enjoyed a year ago, and we quickly set up camp. After getting everything set up, we built a small fire and enjoyed the surroundings. I enjoy the state parks so much more than commercial campgrounds. Camp sites in state parks are usually larger, and there is much more of a natural setting. This is a good little park.

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