Friday, March 27, 2015

Llano, Texas and we found a cool little RV park here…

We left San Angelo State Park driving west on state highway 87 to highway 71 heading to our destination, the small town of Llano, Texas, population 3200. Man that road to Llano was seriously beat up… There has been lot of oil activity in this area and the road has paid the price. Nonetheless, we pulled into Riverway RV Park unscathed.

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We changed our original plan from going to the more remote South Llano River State Park to stay in Llano for three nights to see if we could find parts for our broken Thetford toilet. As full timers we really must have a working toilet on board!

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Getting the toilet fixed hasn’t turn out to be an easy task. Once I had taken it out of the RV and disassembled it I discovered that two plastic pieces called the waste ball and the waste ball drive arm were broken. Of course no one had both of these parts but I was able to find them on Amazon and have ordered them to meet us at our next park in Fredericksburg. We move there today so hopefully by the end of the day we will have a working toilet again.

In the meantime we are more than glad we chose Riverway RV Park.  It is a cool little park I found while perusing RV Park Reviews and was amazed at their score of 9.7. I was even more amazed when I discovered that they accept Passport America so this 9.7 park is only $15 per night with full hookups! To top it off the park is on the Llano River and has a small trail that we have enjoyed alongside the river. The owners (Texas Aggies) are so friendly as have been all our neighbors.  Our view of the Llano River in our "front yard" along with the exceptionally nice,clean facilities have made our stay wonderful despite our toilet woes. This park lives up to its ratings for sure and we recommend it to anyone planning a stay in this area.

We did have some time to check out the small historic town of Llano, Texas. Our first discovery was a small place along the Llano River where some impromptu creativity had resulted in  the creation of about a 100 artistic cairns.  We noticed remnants of melted candles where some had apparently stayed during the night to meticulously construct their cairn. There were even other artistic displays scattered about making this spot rather interesting. It even inspired me to build a cairn. However, we found out later that these artistic creations were the remnants of the Llano Earth Art Festival that was held in here earlier in March.

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We spent some time walking around the small town and soaking in the history of the old buildings remaining. Like many small rural towns in Texas this one shows the presence of decline and the beginnings of revitalization as some of the old boarded up buildings are being reborn into antique shops and small eateries. Most of the older part of town surrounds the stately courthouse building built in 1893.

Of course the Courthouse in Llano is really cool as so many of the courthouses are in Texas. Each county has a county seat where the courthouses were located and in Llano the original one had burned down but was rebuilt years later. We decided to check out the interior and were greeted by a friendly law enforcement officer who after chatting with us decided to give us a personal tour of the courthouse. He even showed us an old bank vault that was built to house the entire collection of legal records. Seeing the locking metal shutters around the windows indicated that it was built to withstand any future fires to protect the important documents. What a fun chat we had with this rather friendly fellow…

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Llano has been a really nice stop especially since Spring is arriving as evidenced by warmer weather and the sighting of beautiful Texas wildflowers beginning to show their vibrant colors…

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

San Angelo State Park and San Angelo murals…

Our last  last day in Monahans Sandhills State Park was mostly spent inside as the weather remained chilly, cloudy and rainy off and on all day. I was able to venture out to stretch my legs in the sand dunes every now and then but mostly spent time planning our route to College Station, Texas with a stopover to visit the grandkids. Looks like we will now go to San Angelo State Park and then on to Llano to Riverway RV park. Next will be a short stay in Fredericksburg, Texas, then Blanco State Park which will be followed by a longer stay at Lake Pointe Campground at Canyon Lake. From Canyon Lake we will go to Lockhart State Park and then on to College Station for a month.

 

The 162 mile drive from Monahans to San Angelo State Park was a bit rough as most of the road we traveled on was under construction and the rest, in my opinion, should be. At least some of the early spring flowers are starting to show up! We pulled in, set up and enjoyed the rest of the day in the solitude. While I was watching a little March Madness Sharon set off for a walk and when she came back we went for another walk together. The lake is still nearly dry but this park is a nice place to spend some quiet time (kind of like boondocking with hookups). Later in the evening I checked out one of the wildlife viewing stations where I saw some deer and as many as 7 javalina at one time. The diversity of the birds were nice but the beauty of the male Pyrrhuloxias was the most striking.

The next day we took off for an urban stroll around the town of San Angelo. Our mission was to walk around the town to seek out the 14 murals painted throughout the downtown area. One cool things about these murals is that they have a phone number we dialed into to hear the history behind each mural. Some of these narratives were quite interesting especially the ones that were narrated by the artists themselves.

 

We very much enjoyed the tour as a walk and not as a drive as we had the added bonus of seeing many of the sheep that have been artistically decorated to honor the town's Wool Queen history. Apparently San Angelo was once the country's largest wool producer so annually women would compete wearing their finest wool outfits and a Wool Queen was crowned.  Sadly the tradition ended when cotton became king for clothing manufacturing until a local woman renewed the contest by inviting artists to submit renderings of painted sheep every year and the one judged best becomes the newest addition to the painted sheep in town. We saw ten sheep (they say there are around 35) during our more than four mile journey in the downtown area.

 

Another added bonus on this urban stroll was we discovered a newly operating brewery called Zone One which had been opened only three weeks. They were serving their first large batch beers and surprisingly to us the stout and pale ale were pretty tasty. We only had one since we also wanted to visit another brewery we discovered last time called Joe’s Brewhouse.

Well we found out Joe’s had been bought out and the new owner Mark told us he had been open only one week and would be called SoCo to commemorate his roots in southern Colorado. He is not making his own beer yet as he is awaiting the appropriate licensing but he is serving a long list of Texas craft beers on tap. Since he had tap beer from the Rowena Texas brewery called Horny Toad (one I wanted to visit but it was just a tad too far away) we sampled their beers. They have a very nice Pale Ale but Sharon thought after a taste of their stout, it was a bit weak, so she opted for one made in Grapevine Texas instead.

  

We met a really nice couple at SoCo that recommended a Mexican restaurant, Fernandez, so we drove over to it only to find it closed on Monday… sigh… We headed home to make our own dinner and then walked over to the blind hoping to see the javelina again since Sharon missed them the night before. We were fortunate to see one, but only one, and saw some different birds out feeding such as the pretty Rufous Sided Towhee. 

 

Our next stop (where we are now) is at Riverway RV park in Llano where we must address an unexpected, unpleasant toilet issue...