Saturday, March 3, 2012

Southern Hill Country Trip, 2012

It had been several months since Donna and I had spent any time in our travel trailer. After spending some time prepping and loading it, we hit the road early Sunday, February 19, for a little winter camping trip in the southern Hill Country.

To start the trip, we headed east on US 87. Just east of San Angelo, the land is flat in the area known locally as Lipan Flats. There is a great deal of farming done in the area of Wall, a small German community. Near Eden, the land begins to look more like the Hill Country. At Eden, we turned south on US 83, and the terrain became more rolling and wooded. We soon passed through Menard on the San Saba River. Menard is the home of Presidio San Saba and Mission San Saba -- both constructed in the mid-1750s by the Spaniards. The lost San Saba Mines, which Jim Bowie reportedly worked, are also in the area. Since there is so much history in this little town, I'm already planning a trip there, so more on Menard at another time.

As we approached Junction, the hills became more pronounced. Junction has long been a favorite place of ours. When our daughter was young, we would camp at South Llano River State Park and spend our days fishing and floating on that clear, spring fed river. Located at the junction of the South and North Llano rivers (hence the name), Junction is the county seat of Kimble County. It's a lovely small Hill Country town, and is a good stopover for travelers on I-10 traveling between San Antonio and El Paso. We stopped briefly for coffee and gas there, then continued south on US 83. I noted there was a Cooper's BBQ there, so I know where I'll stop on the return trip.

As we approached Leakey (pronounced Lay-key), the hills became higher and the valleys deeper, or so it seemed. The Frio River valley popped up on our left (east). There is a scenic overlook about 10 miles or so north of Leakey, and we pulled in there for the shots below.

East Frio River north of Leakey
East Frio River north of Leakey
East Frio River north of Leakey
We passed through Leakey about noon, and about 15 minutes later, we pulled into our destination, Parkview River RV Park.

The park is on the east bank of the Frio River and directly across the river from Garner State Park, arguably the most popular park in the Texas state park system. During warm weather, water rats from all over journey to Garner to tube down the clear waters of the cypress-lined Frio River. As much as we love state parks, we opted to camp across the river simply because Garner does not provide full hookups for RVs.

After setting up camp, Donna spent a bit of time fishing in the Frio River. Our trailer was located on a bluff directly above the river, so it took less than a minute to walk to the river.

Donna fishing in the Frio; our trailer is on the bluff behind Donna

Our trailer; taken from across the river in Garner State Park
After Donna finished her fishing, we spent the rest of the day huddled about a fire. A cool east breeze kept us near the fire. We grilled some sausage and ate them in hot dog buns as the sun settled behind the hills in the west.

The next day, Monday, February 20, we drove down to Uvalde for a look at things there. The first part of the trip continued the same type of scenery we had passed through the previous day. However, a few miles south of Concan, the terrain suddenly flattens out. While mostly ranch country, there are several sections of farm land, and we saw various healthy crops, including purple cabbage and onions.

We passed through Uvalde years before on a camping trip to Mustang Island, and my family and I visited the place for a couple of days when I was in the 4th or 5th grade. I was disappointed with the town on this trip. I wanted to visit the John Nance Garner Museum (see picture below), but it was closed for renovations. And there really isn't much more there. In addition to "Cactus" Jack Garner, who served as Vice-President of the United States from 1933-41, Uvalde is also the hometown of Dolph Briscoe, who served as governor of Texas from 1973-79.

John Nance Garner Museum in Uvalde
We stopped at a local Mexican restaurant where I had probably the worst Mexican food I've ever eaten. After a brief stop at Walmart for a few supplies and gasoline, we headed east on US 90 to the small town of Sabinal, located on the Sabinal River. The terrain continued to be mostly flat and South Texas brush country. From Sabinal, we headed back to our trailer at Parkview Riverside RV.

More trip report to be posted . . . .

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