Carol at the original Judge Roy Bean Jersey Lilly Saloon
and Courtroom (circa 1880's - the saloon, not Carol)
Having taken into account a November 1 arrival at Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort and the remaining driving distance of 700 miles we discussed possible routes. We had talked about Big Bend National Park and would have time to stop, but the logistics of getting there and out seemed daunting. Besides, the one bird we could hope to see, the Colima Warbler, more than likely had already migrated south. Last year we had spent a Week at Davis Mountain State Park and about another week at Falcon Dam State Park. Both would again fit nicely in the time frame for us to arrive at BPV by our reservation start date.
However, we had by now been on the road for four straight months including a "quick" drive up to Colorado and a flight to and from WI. Now, faced with a three month stay in Ecuador for which we also needed to prepare, another possibility arose. We could call BPV to see if our site would be available two weeks earlier. And wouldn't it be nice to sit for a while? "Sit for a while" had to be tempered with the fact that we rarely stand still even when parked.
Fort Davis parade ground
It came as no surprise that the managers at BPV were more than pleased to advance our arrival date by a few weeks. The park was still pretty empty at this time of year. Besides, our friend and neighbor Marty had been parked at BPV while her husband was in northern Illinois working for FEMA. Marty was starved for company.
Fort Davis enlisted men's barracks
Carol cooling her heels on the restored fort commander's veranda
Our decision to arrive early wouldn't alter our route; simply shorten the our stays at Davis Mountain and Falcon State Parks. Texas is a big state. Anyone who hasn't driven in Texas cannot appreciate just how long it takes to cover what appears to be short distances on the state map. We plotted that we could cover the remaining distance to Mission in three stops.
overlooking part of Davis Mountain State Park
Our drive from Guadalupe Mtns. SP to Davis Mountain SP was a tad over 140 miles and included a driving break at the Jersey Lilly Saloon, part of the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, TX. Our three nights spent in the park were relaxed. We stuck close to home and hiked local trails along with a visit to nearby Fort Davis National Historic Site. Davis Mountain was our absolutely, positively last chance for Montezuma Quail. Fortunately for the quail - but unfortunately for us - a wetter than normal season had produced plentiful natural food and cover so quail were not obliged to visit park feeding stations. The check-box on our annual ABA checklist remained unchecked. Drat.
site at Falcon State Park
The distance to Falcon SP necessitated that we stay overnight at the Holiday Trav-L-Park in Del Rio, 230 miles away. We used a pull-through site and didn't bother to unhook our trailer. Located near the massive Armistad National Recreation Area, this was our first opportunity to see first-hand the high levels of water along the Rio Grande watershed. A double-whammy of weather events. First, the remnants of Hurricane Alex in June followed by Tropical Depression Hermine in September, had caused record flooding.
Our drive the next morning to Falcon State Park took longer (270 miles). We once more left our trailer attached for the night. Water levels in the resovior were also much higher than the previous year. We also picked up the fact that the park was relatively devoid of campers compared to last year. A recent tragic and mysterious murder of an American citizen on the Mexican side of the reservoir, probably a victim of increased border violence between warring Mexican drug cartels, may have been partly to blame. Friends had wondered why we even bothered to stay in the park given the recent violence. Actually, with a high number of Border Patrol agents present, we couldn't have been in a safer spot! Besides, the park's butterfly gardens were in beautiful shape. We also managed to pick up another bird species we thought too late in the season to see - Wood Stork.
kettle of Wood Stork soaring over Falcon SP
On Friday October 15, after a stop for breakfast in Roma, and covering the remaining 60 miles, we pulled into to our BPV site. Great to be back and reconnect with familiar faces. Marty was thrilled and immediately set about a welcome back party complete with corn tortillas and margaritas. While most of our friends and neighbors would not arrive for another three weeks or more, it felt good to put down stakes for a while and know we wouldn't have to move the RV again until we stored it December 1 when we departed for Ecuador. The Valley looked green and lush, specially when compared to how it looked when we left in March after most of the vegetation had been knocked down by three killing frosts. Carol's bougainvillea plants, left in the care of the office staff, looked healthy and ready to bloom.
2-barred Flasher at Falcon SP butterfly gardens
With our annual ABA bird lists now tantalizingly close to 500 we hoped we might catch a break and find enough Mexican specialty birds to hit our goal of 500. We could only hope and keep a weather eye on the Texas birding list.