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Old 02-20-2019, 05:26 PM   #1
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Our West Texas Adventure

We just returned from a 10-day trip from Friendswood, TX (near Houston) to Big Bend National Park and several Texas State Parks. This was the first extended trip in our new Ford F150 with 3.5L EB and our 2015 Escape 19. The new truck handled magnificently, and I was very pleased with the towing experience. A few stats: we traveled a total of 1829 miles of which 1609 (88%) were towing and 220 (12%) were non-towing. Our MPG for the entire trip was 14.1 per the truckís computer. It was as low as 12.7 on two lane roads and in stop-and-go small town traffic and as high as 17+ on Interstate 10 with a VERY STRONG tail wind. Overall, I was very pleased with our MPG given the number of small towns and the elevation/mountains in the Big Bend and Fort Davis areas. I installed the solar powered TireMinder system for this trip. It worked flawlessly, and I was reassured by its continuous monitoring of tire pressure and temperature.

https://www.amazon.com/TireMinder-So...rds=tireminder

The weather varied as is expected in Texas at this time of the year. Early on, we experienced freezing rain and sleet, cold temperatures (high 30s and low 40s Fahrenheit), and wind (50-60 mph). Then, as we headed home, temps topped 80-85 Fahrenheit. There were burn bans in effect everywhere except Choke Canyon SP and South Llano SP Ö so no campfires. We only used 2/3 of a tank of propane and used a small electric heater where hookups made it possible.

On our trips we typically watch for other fiberglass or unique trailers on the road or in campgrounds. Here is our list:

Casita Ė 9

Boler Ė 2

Scamp Ė 2

Escape Ė 1 (a 21)

Airstream Nest Ė 2 (the first we have seen on the road)

Below are comments on our stops (and, yes, pictures, too!) for others who are in Texas or will venture this way.

Choke Canyon State Park. There is no canyon here! Itís a reservoir near Three Rivers, TX. Itís a convenient overnight stop with large campsites. The toilets and showers were not as clean as we like. The park is near established oil fields so expect trucks and rough roads in the area. There are two units here, but only the Calliham Unit has a campground.

Seminole Canyon State Park. There is a canyon here! It was cold and windy and within sight of Mexico. We only stayed one night, but I recommend a second night in order to take the guided Ranger tour into the canyon to see the petroglyphs. The toilets and showers were acceptable.

Chisos Basin Campground in Big Bend National Park. We stayed here three nights in site 25. This is a good site (compared to others) and will accommodate all Escape models. Per otherís recommendations, we studied the campground at length in order to choose our site. It was well worth the effort, and I highly recommend it. Most sites would be an uncomfortable fit for any but the smallest Escape trailers. There are no hook-ups in the campground. Clean toilet facilities are centrally located. Note, there are five to six sharp curves (10 mph) as you drive to the campground. We found Chisos Basin to be somewhat Ďcentrallyí located in the park and made accessing and touring the other park areas easier.

Davis Mountains State Park. Our trip north from Big Bend took us through Terlingua, Alpine, Marfa and on to Fort Davis. Davis Mountains State Park is a very nice SP with large sites and a good mix of full hookups, water and electric, and primitive sites. Unlike Chisos Basin where we had surprisingly good cell coverage (AT&T 2 bars), in this campground there is NO cell coverage since the town is on the other side of the mountain. There is a beautiful lookout spot you can drive to and get excellent cell coverage, but in the campground there is no coverage at all. A few areas in the park had Wi-Fi coverage; however, it was slow with a weak signal. However, another camper had a new weboost cell booster he was testing and was able to get good coverage from their site.

The toilets and showers were clean. There is lots to do in the area such as Fort Davis, the McDonald Observatory, Marfa and Alpine.

South Llano State Park. Once we turned east we stopped at South Llano State Park in Junction, TX. This was a great find! Itís near Interstate 10 and is a good stopover if needed. All the campsites are on one loop and are big and spread out. The toilets and showers are above average, and there are trails in the area. This is a large wild turkey roosting area, and, although we didnít see any, we want to go back and try our luck in sighting the wild turkeys.

Enroute home we stopped at The Laurel Tree Restaurant in Utopia, TX for lunch. This is a must see if you are in the area at the right time. It is only open on Saturdays for lunch and dinner. Reservations are required. It has a set menu for lunch and dinner. Laurel (the owner/chef) trained in France, the menu changes weekly, and all the dishes are made with fresh local ingredients. It was a highlight of our trip! The good news that itís a very easy drive from a number of campgrounds such as Lost Maples SRA and Garner SP. Pro tip, they have no liquor license so its BYOB for your favorite wine or other adult beverage. The staff is wonderful, and we will definitely return.

http://www.utopiagourmet.com/

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures!
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:36 PM   #2
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Choke Canyon SPIMG_4941.jpgIMG_1083.jpgIMG_4944.jpg
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:39 PM   #3
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Seminole Canyon SPIMG_1074.jpgIMG_4948.jpgP2080011.jpgP2080015.jpg
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:42 PM   #4
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Chisos Basin and Big Bend IMG_1069.jpgP2100044.jpgP2100027.jpgP2090020.jpgP2100039.jpg
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:48 PM   #5
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Davis Mountains SP and surrounding areaIMG_1078.jpgIMG_4994.jpgIMG_4993.jpgP2130162.jpgIMG_4998.jpgP2140200.jpg
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:51 PM   #6
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South Llano River SPIMG_1079.jpgIMG_1068.jpgP2150002.jpgP2150032.jpgP2150034.jpg
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:53 PM   #7
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The Laurel Tree, Utopia TXIMG_5007.jpgIMG_5008.jpg
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:16 PM   #8
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Nice report, you have set a high standard.
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:26 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info and the wonderful pictures!
We're headed to Big Bend at the first of April and these will be a great asset for our planning.

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Old 02-20-2019, 06:51 PM   #10
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I want to see what the food looked like............
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Old 02-20-2019, 07:28 PM   #11
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Sorry no food pics but hereís the lunch menu. Lunch is four courses and dinner is five. IMG_5013.jpg
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Old 02-20-2019, 08:53 PM   #12
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Did you go to the Star Party at the McDonald Observatory? I am going to Davis Mountain SP (for the sixth time) in early May. The skies will be dark and the eta Aquariids meteor shower is due at that time.

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Old 02-21-2019, 12:07 AM   #13
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We would recommend getting tickets to the Star Party well in advance. We stayed at Davis Mountains State Park last April for a couple of nights and wanted to go to the Star Party but already they were sold out for all the days we were in the area. Still pretty there, take the time to do the loop drive, lots of nice scenery and wildlife.
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Old 02-21-2019, 12:48 AM   #14
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The last time I was there was 3 years ago (pre Escape). Went to the Star Party (3rd time). The sky was somewhat hazy and so not the best of views. Plus standing in line at each telescope for 20 or more minutes for a 5 - 10 second viewing was not enjoyable especially with the poor views. The talk and video shown in the auditorium was excellent. Buying tickets beforehand is good advice. About 4.5 miles east of Fort Davis is The Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. It is worth visiting. Lots to do in the area.

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Old 02-21-2019, 06:21 AM   #15
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Excellent report, thanks for taking the time to share. The sunset picture from Big Bend is beautiful!!!!!!
Don't worry I'm sure your not the only one of us Escape owners that drive down the road going look honey there's a............

Enjoy the journey.

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Old 02-21-2019, 08:25 AM   #16
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We didnít make the Star Party. The days we were there didnít match up. At this time of year they are only offered Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. I agree that reservations are highly recommended. An average night can have 300-500 people. Where they all come from I donít know! .

If you canít make the Star Party I highly recommend the tour during the day. It includes an excellent talk about the sun (with live views) and detailed inside tours of some of the telescopes.
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:30 AM   #17
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Texas State Parks just changed their reservation system. You can now book a specific site. My experience is if you are going to a TX SP on a Friday or Saturday any time of the year itís best to get a reservation at least a few days in advance. There are lots of families who like to camp on the weekends and parks relatively close to population centers are popular on weekends. We find that Sunday through Thursday are pretty open.
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:44 PM   #18
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What a great post. Thanks very much for sharing your adventure.
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