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.
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.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures!