Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Leaving San Antonio and headed to Choke Canyon State Park

First of all, Sandy and I want to wish everyone a
Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New year

During our last week in San Antonio we had some pretty wild swings in the high temperatures of the day. One day it would be 60 degrees, the next 85 degrees, then it would be 52 degrees.

Before we left San Antonio, Sandy bought a Poinsettia plant so we would have some Christmas decorations.

After having spent a great month in San Antonio, we left on Sunday the 14th and went south another 75 miles to Choke Canyon State Park. While driving down US 281, yup it's the same 281 that goes through South Dakota, we went through a town called Jourdanton and noticed a couple of old interesting buildings. One turned out to be a jail house and the other a court house.

Here is the jail house.

The Courthouse is symmetrical on all four sides. When you look through an outside door you end up looking out the outside door on the opposite side of the building. The old courthouse was visible from quite a distance outside of town. The town itself is very small, but the citizens have done a wonderful job restoring and maintaining this beautiful building. Too bad it was a Sunday or we would have been able to go inside.

We were going to spend three nights at Choke Canyon State Park so I could get in some fishing, but ended up staying a full week. I could only get out two short days because we had a lot of wind. When we got to Choke Canyon it was 87 degrees. Then the next day was completely different as around 3:00 PM I checked the weather and it said the temperature was 47 degrees but felt like 36 degrees (wind chill factor). What a difference. It was as if someone flipped a switch because the wind instantly changed direction (from the north) and the temperature dropped 40 degrees.

The sites are pretty nice with good separation. They say it gets busy here but you could not tell it when we came in. At that time there were only three RVs in here and two were camp hosts. But I can see it would get real busy when the fishing season was going as the campground is right on the water. The lake was also quite busy with duck hunters.

Also, this park has a lot of birders who come in for photography opportunities. So far, we have seen Roadrunners, Armadillos, Whitetail Deer, Rabbits, Opossum, Raccoon, Caracaras, Turkey Vultures, Sandhill Cranes, American White Pelicans, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, American Coots, Cardinals, Turkeys, plus numerous other birds we have not yet identified including many varieties of hawks. The Sandhill Cranes usually hang out on shore about a quarter miles from our campsite, but from the sound they make it seems like they are right next to us. There are warnings about alligators too, but the weather was too cool for them to be out, so we didn't see any.

We got some pictures of a Vermilion Flycatcher although the pictures didn't turn out very good.

Here is a picture of a Great Egret that is starting to show its breeding plumage (the extra feathers on the sides).

Along the shoreline there are lots of small trees and brush covered with a vine of some sort. The area under this canopy is pretty devoid of grass because the vines block a lot of the sun. When I look at it I keep thinking it would be a great sport to stand in and watch the surrounding wildlife. The dense thickets provide excellent habitat for birds and critters.

Here are a couple deer we saw. Doesn't he look majestic staring at me?

While walking around the area we wondered if this was a trail we really wanted to take since the sentries were posted on guard. Looked something like the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds".

On Tuesday the 16th I left to go fishing around 11:00 AM and it was 38 degrees. This is a 25 inch Gar that I caught on a Spoonplug. For gars, this is a small one, but at least I caught something I'd never caught before.

I finally got a picture of a Green Jay. In the US they are found only in the southern most area of Texas. They are a real colorful bird with vibrant green back, blue head, black throat yellow/green belly and when flying, display yellow on the underside and top of it's tail.

Here is a picture of an Armadillo and a Caracara, which is a hawk-like bid that is also found only in the southern most part of Texas and down into South America.

This is Friday the 19th and last night the low was 70 degrees. Again, it's a very foggy morning. The high for the day was 80 degrees so, as you can see, we are on this rollercoaster ride of weather. While Sandy and I were out for a walk we again came across the people with the dog on the Ural motorcycle. (I had met them while I was out for a walk earlier in the week and had given them our card with the blog site so they could see what we had written about them.) It turns out they are from Wisconsin and spend their winters in the south volunteering at different State Parks. While we were visiting with Janis and John, Janis mentioned that she had sent the pictures to their relatives and friends and said how much everyone had enjoyed seeing them. It was a view that most people would normally not have photographed. Janis said that her sister mentioned they should also have a picture from the front, so here are John, Janis and, of course, Gypsy the "Moto Dog".

Here are John and Gypsy (a Setter) ready for the road. Janis, I think this is their secret hunting car. John, it looks like your next accessory should be a scabbard with a shotgun in it.

On Saturday Sandy and I took the boat out for a ride and I tried fishing for some crappies but did not have any luck. Choke Canyon Reservoir has several areas that still have a lot of standing timber. We went back into one bay and it was fun to try and run the old creek channel. The weather was real pleasant, but still overcast. Unfortunately, duck hunters were back in an area I wanted to fish, and we didn't want to get too close to them.

Here are some turkeys and Sandhill Cranes on the shoreline in front of our RV.

It's Sunday and the low last night was 46 degrees. It is overcast again with 20 MPH plus. Today we are going to start our trip to Big Bend National Park. It is 393 miles to Alpine, TX and another 100 miles farther south to the park. We will probably take two days to get to Alpine, base out of there and do day trips to the park. It was around 4:00 PM when we got to Del Rio, TX so we decided to stop there for the night. Looking through the Trailer Life Campground book we picked the Lonesome Dove RV Ranch as the first one to take a look at. It turned out OK so we ended up spending the night there. If the economy gets real bad we just might have to come back here as their monthly rates are $235 +electric for a month. It cost more than that at a lot of campgrounds for just a week.

Today we finished the drive to Alpine, TX on US Hwy 90. Along the way we stopped at the Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site. They have a small but nice museum that we went through. They also have a guided tour of the canyon, but it only runs on certain days and today was not one of them. The next time we are in the area we will try to catch the tour because it's the only way you can get into the canyon. The area has lots of pictographs from 4,000 years ago.

Until next time,
Dave and Sandy

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