Sunday, December 4, 2016

Permian Basin Stonehenge

  We’ve visited other stonehenge replicas (not the real one though) and this one is the most accurate representation with all of the stones in the correct spots, even many of the ones that have fallen. It will take years of weathering for the stones to lose their sharp edges and drill scars to better match the ancient ones. The replica is a bit shorter than the original but exact in horizontal size and astronomically accurate. The Heel Stone, which marks the summer solstice, is located across Preston Smith Road.

  A sidewalk circles the replica. It doesn’t fit flush to the ground so there’s a slight step up from the parking lot. The interpretive signs are at a good level for easy reading.

  Signs at the parking lot entrance request that visitors obtain a parking permit. We stopped for about 15 minutes and took a chance and didn’t get one. The parking lot is large enough for RVs.

Stonehenge   31.89133, -102.32639


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Presidential Museum

   Forty two small panels ( Barack Obama isn’t included yet) give accounts of the life and accomplishments of each president. Larger displays cover important newsworthy events and cases hold campaign buttons and other memorabilia.Two collections have been donated to the museum – 42 small dolls representing each First Lady wearing exact copies of the inaugural gowns, and 36 mosaic portraits of the presidents. The house that George H. W. and Barbara Bush lived in for a year when George W. was a baby is located on the grounds and is opened by appointment only.
  The museum is accessible but some of the items in the cases are hard to view from a seated position. Touch screens have been mounted behind the cases and are impossible to reach from a wheelchair.

   The parking lots are large enough for RVs. Use the east lot if your RV is long.
Museum   31.88255, -102.31904

Ellen Noel Art Museum

The museum has three small galleries and a sculpture garden. Two galleries and the sculpture garden were closed when we visited. Do not go out of your way to visit the museum but stop in if you’re visiting the Presidential Museum next door.

  The museum is accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs. Even though this lot and the Presidential Museum lot are back to back there isn’t a cut out between them so it’s necessary to drive from one lot to the other.

Museum    31.88226, -102.31966


Friday, December 2, 2016

Alley Oop Park and Museum


   We knew Alley Opp from the song but were surprised to discover that the comic strip still appears in more than 600 newspapers, although not by the original artist, V.T. Hamlin, who died in 1993. In the 1920s Hamlin worked as an illustrator for west Texas oil companies and became interested in paleontology which led to the creation of a comic strip about caveman Alley Opp and his dinosaur Dinny.

   The Alley Oop Park and museum were built to celebrate Hamlin’s 65th birthday in 1965. The park has a 65’ concrete dinosaur and a big metal Alley Oop head – great photo opportunities. :-) The little museum, which has exhibits on the history of the area, was closed when we visited.

  The park has a paved walk to the dinosaur and the museum. The museum has a ramp and should be accessible.

The parking lot is large enough for any RV.

Museum    30.91662, -101.90826


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spur 406 Dispersed Camping

  This is part of Amistad National Recreation Area and Spur 406 has a small, 6 site campground with tables and a vault toilet. There’s also dispersed camping south of the campground. Turn left on the dirt road after passing the toilet.  We stopped at the first clearing but the road continues down to the lake where it opens up to a large clearing. The road is narrow and has a muddy spot with deep ruts. Almost any vehicle will scrape bottom and possibly get stuck.  Since it doesn’t appear to get any maintenance by the park, if you want to use the road you’ll have to fill the ruts yourself. The reward is a great camping spot right on the water when the lake is high.

  Spur 406 continues past the dispersed camping turn off and dead ends at Amistad Lake. The water level of the lake fluctuates depending on the amount of rainfall but it’s been slowly rising over the last few years and is now just 17’ below the full level.  Depending on the water level, there may be no place to turn around. Walk to this spot and the dispersed camping areas if you’re unsure of the conditions.

Camp   29.54826, -101.01864


Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino

  There are three small Native American communities in Texas but the Kickapoo tribe is the only one that can legally have a casino. Since this is the only casino in Texas it gets a lot of business even though it’s in the middle of nowhere. What started in 1996 as a tiny casino and bingo hall has grown to a Vegas style casino with a six story hotel and a RV park.

  Usually when we stop at a casino we stay in the parking lot but every lot entrance has a 7’ 2” high bar blocking any large vehicles from entering. Kind of a big hint that they want RVers to stay in the RV park but at only $15.00 a night for a paved parking pad and full hookups it’s a good deal.  Each site has a small paved patio but no table. There isn’t a restroom so tents may not be permitted. The casino entrance is a bit of a trek across the parking lots but there is a shuttle – not wheelchair accessible. To pay use a debit or credit card at the self-service kiosk.

The casino has wide aisles, light chairs, and easy to reach card and money slots.

Casino   28.61353, -100.44065


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Falcon Heights Campsite

  By Mirriam-Webster’s definition of a ghost town “ a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted” this campground would fit the definition of a ghost campground. Dozens of crumbling concrete tables are scattered over the large acreage of a grassy park. Very few have any type of parking area. Dirt roads zig zag randomly through the park, some in very bad condition.  But strangely enough the park has restrooms, hot water showers, many fresh water faucets, a dumpster, and a battered shelter with electric outlets. And it’s free!

  We planned to stay for just one night but it was so quiet and peaceful that we stayed an extra night.

   The main road into the park is gravel, in fair condition, and shouldn’t be a problem for any RV type or size. Many of the other roads are dirt with deep ruts and soft spots. Use caution when driving on them.

Campground    26.565191, -99.127838       


Monday, November 28, 2016

Stillman House Museum & Brownsville Heritage Museum

The Stillman House is one of the oldest houses in Brownsville, built in 1850 and occupied for three years by Charles Stillman, a businessman from Connecticut, who founded the town of Brownsville. By 1875  the house was owned by Manuel Trevino. One of Trevino’s guests was Porfirio Diaz, a Mexican general who, while living in the US, made plans to overthrow the Mexican government. Diaz was successful, becoming president and dictator for 35 years, until he was ousted from power in 1911 and Mexico was thrown into turmoil for the next 20 years. Some of this history is covered in the heritage museum with information about revolutionaries Venustiano Carranza, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.

  One of the most interesting exhibits in the museum is a German made MAN. It’s a large omnibus, custom made, and owned by a member of Diaz’s regime but there’s no record of it being built or of it entering through customs in the US or Mexico. Other exhibits cover early history of Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico which was an important Confederate port used in smuggling cotton to Europe during the civil war.

  The museum is accessible. The house, which is furnished with period pieces and also has exhibits about the Stillman family, is accessible. A small courtyard at the house is accessed by steps only.

Parking is limited. The museum lot is too small for RVs but several spaces on the street are reserved for museum visitors. RVs will fit by using two spaces. Get a pass at the admissions desk to avoid a ticket.

Museum   25.90068, -97.49629


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Historic Brownsville Museum

  Located in the pretty 1928 Southern Pacific Depot building, this museum has one gallery with artifacts and information about the early history of Brownsville and another gallery with artifacts from St. Joseph Academy but no information about the school. Locomotive # 1, which ran between Port Isabel and Brownsville delivering cargo and passengers to the town, is housed in a separate building along with railroading artifacts.

  Both buildings are accessible.

  Two small parking lots are located on East Madison Street on either side of the museum.  Small RVs will fit in the lots, larger RVs can be parked on the street.

Museum   25.90719, -97.4989


Saturday, November 26, 2016

South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center


   More than 500 different species of birds have been spotted in the Rio Grande Valley making it one of the best birding areas in the country. Late fall through spring, when the birds are migrating to and from North, South, and Central America, is the best time to visit. As usual we did not visit at the peak time so the birds that we saw were permanent residents. 


  The site includes a small interpretive center, a gift shop, a butterfly garden, an observation tower and a 3,000’ boardwalk trail. The trail travels through different wetland habitats which are maintained for easy viewing of the birds. There’s a fee to visit the center and the boardwalk. An additional boardwalk (which we did not visit ) at the Convention Center, located just north of the Nature Center, is free.

   Everything on the site is fairly accessible. One of the touch screens at the center is too high to be usable from a seated position. The top railing on the boardwalk blocks the view so it’s necessary to peek through the fence slats to see anything.

   The parking lot is very large so any RV will fit.

 Center   26.13724, -97.17358