From Davis Mountain SP to Del Rio, TX was one of our longer drives (222 miles). That may not sound like much to seasoned vacation drivers but when pulling an RV we rarely go over 60 mph. In part to save fuel but mostly to play it safe. We also prefer to stop and stretch along the way. And breakfast. Our breakfast stop (El Peppercorn Café) was in Marathon, TX. Anyone who has visited Big Bend National Park will recognize that this is where Hwy 83 intersects with Hwy 285, the road that leads to the park’s east entrance. The Gage Hotel, a turn-of-the-century retreat reflecting the trans-Pecos era is found in Marathon. What a pleasant surprise for a town seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
We arrived at the Holiday Trav-L-Park by late afternoon. Rains and high winds moved in that evening and remained most of the next day. We were happy not to be battling foul weather on the road.
Del Rio, Texas, another border town (a “Two-Nation Vacation Destination”), is located near the Amistad National Recreational Area. When the weather turned bad there was only one thing to do – go shopping! There would not be shopping opportunities close to our next stop so we got caught up on replenishing groceries. A break in the weather allowed for a short walk through part of Amistad NRA (Diablo east entrance) in a bountiful cacti garden. There we learned about an area winery, Val Verde Winery, located in what was described as the “old Del Rio” or the “real” Del Rio.
The winery came up a bit short on wines to our taste although their Don Luis Tawny Port was too good to pass up. While most wineries we encounter offer free tastings, this one offered a free tasting of one wine of choice but to try all nine wines, there was a $3 per person fee. Not terribly expensive but we’ve always found such fees annoying and pointless and more often than not a deterrent that has kept us from stopping at wineries that have such fees.
We finished off the day with a late afternoon dinner at La Hacienda Restaurant where most of the staff spoke only Spanish. Profesor Miquel would have been proud. The décor, service – and most importantly the food – were well worth the stop. If you’re ever in old Del Rio make it a point to partake. However, skip the Margaritas and stick to the beer.
Our drive to Falcon State Park was an even longer day (272 miles). Thankfully, the previous day’s storms had died out and the skies were again sunny and clear. To while away hours on the road we often listen to audio books (iPods are such clever devices). On this stretch we finished up the “The Collectors”, the second book of four in the David Baldacci “The Camel Club” series and began Dan Brown’s, “The Lost Symbol”. We presume that which is lost will be found? Time and several more hours of driving will tell.
About half way through our drive we began to notice significant numbers of butterflies crossing the highway, mostly American Snout, aptly named for their long, snout-like palpi. Numbers increased to where it felt like we were in a snowstorm but instead of snowflakes there were butterflies. As beautiful as this massive flight was, we felt terrible smacking into them – but there was no way to avoid the carnage. Apparently large flights of American Snout such as we experienced are legendary (if unpredictable).
By late afternoon we were parked and setup at Falcon State Park located outside the small town of Falcon Heights where we remained for five days. The wind had kicked up again but the temperature was moderate in the low 60’s. Within minutes of setting out our lawn chairs, Groove-billed Anis appeared. Crested Caracaras along with both Black and Turkey Vultures soared above. Green Jays appeared at the feeders. We were not in Wisconsin, to be sure.