Wednesday we took a tour of downtown Fort Davis which is not really very big. Pretty courthouse with 4 turnstiles to enter the area. They were placed there to keep the burros out. Originally, trade between the US and Mexico was conducted by traders using the burros as pack animals to carry the trade goods. When the burros were replaced by wagons, the traders let the burros run loose. The burros made the court house grounds part of their home. They became such a nuisance that the locals built the fence and the four turnstiles around the court house to keep them out. Still see some burros on the ranches nearby. The nice green courthouse lawn features a memorial to Sgt Manuel Gonzalez, “Fort Davis’ One-Man Army” who won a Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart for his actions at Salerno and Monte Casino during the invasion of Italy in World War II. They have named the street in front of the Post Office for him. Then we walked down the street past the Hotel Limpia built in 1912 and slightly restored for weary travelers. Actually has two buildings and both are neatly furnished with vintage furniture and rockers on the porches. Then we proceeded down the main street to the Old Texas Inn, Hotel and Restaurant which actually had an old fashioned soda fountain in it with bar stools and Blue Bell ice cream. So naturally we had to hop up and have a hand made milkshake. Yummy! They also have a small gift shop and serve meals and good burgers here. When we finished there we walked back to the truck and returned to our quiet place at Crow’s Nest too full of milkshake for supper!
When we were opening up the rig at Crow’s Nest we discovered a broken bracket on one of the slide awnings. After emailing a picture back to Hoilday World for ID of the part – it was an anti-billow bracket, we could go online and find a replacement. The one we found was in California. How to get it to us in a remote location of far WestTexas was the big question. So we did a quick bit of research and found out about General Delivery. Seems as if you can have something sent to you c/o General Delivery, Anytown USA and all you have to do is go into the Post Office to claim it in a few days. So we called back and ordered the part shipped to Ft. Davis. Sounded good, now we must wait to see if it works. That was on Wednesday and on Friday about 4:15 PM we picked up the part. Voila, it worked just fine and another valuable lesson learned for less than $16.00 total! We had to back the truck up really close and use our 4 ft ladder to reach the awning but took about 10 minutes and we were ready to go down the road safely.
Our drive on Tuesday was not too long as we had a destination at the Crow’s Nest on the Medley Ranch. http://www.crowsnestranch.com/history.htm About 30 years ago the Leader had a deer lease on this ranch and they have opened part of it to RV travelers and have a few cabins as well. So we carefully trekked down a short graded road and over two cattle guards into a special place. As we pulled in we saw several mule deer through the trees. We selected a site and set up under the watchful eyes of more deer. Needless to say the girls were really anxious to get out and about. Our spot had several nice trees and a stone patio right out our door. This was to be our home for the next 4 days so we set up the chairs and TV outside as well as opened up the inside to the breeze. The best part about this is it is so quiet and the skies are so dark at night you can see a million stars. We are at an elevation of about 5800 ft here so stays cool. There is only one other rig here and they are the hosts. He is a former pilot and she is an artist and paints West Texas landscapes, a few of her works are in the Big Bend Museum at Sul Ross State University in Alpine. More about that later!
Monday night we stopped at the Marathon Motel & RV right up the street from the Historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas. Check it out: http://www.marathonmotel.com/ This motel was built in the 1940s, is being restored and is a neat place. We left the truck hooked up, connected water etc. then ate supper and watched a great sunset out our back window. That is when we heard the first train go by. Oops, another one of those noisy nights. Thank goodness it was at least across and on the south side of the highway. So we prepared for bed then about midnight the wind came up and it began to rain. No, it was pouring and shaking our rig. This part of Texas is so dry from the drought that they go crazy when it rains. Sure enough the next morning we confirmed that we were safe and the gravel had stayed under our rig so we could go ahead and leave. We pulled out onto the highway to go eat breakfast and parked on the street next to the tracks. As we walked about we discovered few places open for breakfast – some were cute but who knows, even a Burnt Biscuit might be good. But not open that day. So we walked on down to Johnny Bs and ordered a basic breakfast, served on a foam plate with a paper napkin. Then we heard that there was almost 2 inches of rain that night. WhooHoo that is great. After breakfast we walked across the tracks and down a block to the Gage Gardens, what a treat in the desert! And it is actually being added to all the time. Sure is going to improve that area of town as it mostly historic adobe homes or ruins. Have to admire the Gage owner for all their efforts. The hotel is very neat and we had been in there a few years ago so wanted to see something else this trip. Check them out here: http://www.gagehotel.com/ We could have had breakfast there but needed to get moving onto the next adventure so packed up and drove on west.
On Monday as we drove on I-10 heading west we saw the signs for Fort Lancaster State Park and Hwy 290 and decided to take the exit. After an interesting trip down a 2 lane road and a few hills, we arrived at this neat location. Fort Lancaster was one of four forts built to protect stage and mail routes during the 1850s and 1860s from Apache Indians. It was only used from 1855 until 1861 and then was abandoned. There is not much left now but they have done a great job with the museum and the layout and research. They display one of the Stagecoaches out front and many signs near the ruins out back. When you pay at the visitor center you get to use the golf cart to tour the remains out back. So off we went with Basenjis in the cart. We spent a good deal of time here and wondered how they had so many soldiers here with so little resources other than LIve Oak Creek trickling nearby. The other three forts were Fort McKavett, Fort Davis and Fort Stockton – all of which are located in this part of Texas.
When it was initially constructed in 1855, the buildings were just “hackadales,” portable frames covered with canvas, but in the summer of 1857, various companies of the 9th Calvary rotated through Fort Lancaster and rebuilt the outpost. By 1860, most of the buildings had been replaced with 25 structures made of stone and or adobe. While there were usually two companies of soldiers at Fort Lancaster, most of them were not well trained, probably because of the absence of qualified instructors. In 1856 an Army Inspector visited the fort and found that the troops were so untrained, he did not want them to demonstrate their rifle firing skills. He also found that there were 76 prisoners in the guardhouse, 15 of them for drunkenness. The Inspector reported, “they desire nothing better than to get drunk and lay in the guardhouse.” The problem stemmed partly because of lack of officers at the fort, and also because of poor conditions.
The soldiers did make contact with the Indians, however. A typical encounter occurred in July of 1857 when a band of Apaches attacked a mail train on its way to Fort Davis from Fort Lancaster. The escort was made up of infantry which fled back to Fort Lancaster after the sergeant in charge of them was killed. Lieutenant Hartz from Fort Davis happened to be at Fort Lancasterat the time with 40 men. He loaded his men into wagons and covered the sides so that the troops were not visible. About forty miles from Fort Lancaster, the Indians attacked again only to find themselves face to face with forty unexpected rifles firing from the wagons. The Indians quickly pulled out of range and set fire to the grass to prevent the soldiers from pursuing them. The troops moved the wagons to an area that was free of grass and attacked the Indians after the flames had passed. This time the Indians just fled.
In 1858, Fort Lancaster housed approximately 150 men and 3 officers of companies H and K of the First United States Infantry, but on April 12, 1859 Company H was reassigned from Fort Lancaster to Fort Stockton. In June of 1860, the U.S. Camel Corps, based at Camp Verde, stopped at the fort. The soldiers at Fort Lancaster escorted stagecoaches and fought skirmishes with Apaches. On December 26, 1867, a large band of Kickapoo and Comanchero raiders attacked the fort to steal the company’s horses. The company was able to repel the attack but did lose 38 horses and mules. Some of the raiders returned two days later to take the few remaining animals but were unsuccessful. Fort Lancaster was not challenged again by the Indians. Sounds like a really interesting place in those days and still a neat place to visit.
Easter Sunday since we did not have to hunt Easter Eggs we decided to go on a short trip with our good friends from Idaho who are also staying at By the River Campground with us. So we set out with destination of Camp Verde again. As we approached this stop we realized they were closed for the day. So we continued on down the road to Bandera. Luck was on our side and we went into OST for a great lunch. OST stands for Old Spanish Trail and this is a true old time cafe. They serve a big chicken fried steak and good fried chicken tenders, some of the biggest and most tender I have ever seen. They also serve some really good Mexican food. They have a John Wayne room with all sorts of Duke stuff and pictures. The bar is unique in that the bar stools are actually saddles mounted on legs. OST has been here for many years and well known among locals. Out front were mainly pickups mixed with SUVs and BMWs. Bandera is known as the Cowboy Capital of the World so you can expect anything rustic here. It has been home to many dude ranches and camps for kids for years. Once we returned to the RV we spent the evening saying our goodbyes and prepared to leave the next morning and head on further west and more adventures.
Where we are camped is backed onto the Guadalupe River and since it is so close and handy, the Leader of the Pack decided to take advantage of the situation. He caught a couple small perch on tiny hooks then used them to bait a line with larger hooks which he then tied to a small branch down by the water’s edge. Then Friday morning before we left to go to the vet, he checked his line. Lo and Behold he had 2 fish on the hooks. So now we are fixed for some good fried catfish dinners. Of course we had to buy a small Fry Daddy at Gibson’s and pick up some fresh Louanna’s Canola Oil and corn meal and flour. Two sites down from us there was the neatest young family with 2 small boys who were on their first outing in a new rig. The boys were itching to catch a fish so some time was spent on Saturday helping them bait their hooks and catch the perch then rig the line to catch a big catfish. Cute kids and makes us realize this is a great way for parents to spend some quality time with their kids. We call it “Building Memories”.
After leaving Camp Verde on Thursday we headed toward Boerne to check at Tweety’s RV Store for some guards to attach to the rear bumper of the truck and protect the front of the 5th wheel. As we drove that way we had a signal on the dash telling us of another Diesel Emission Fault. Since this is the 4-5th time this has occurred we knew that we would soon be shut down to 50 MPH and we needed to get to a Ford Dealer Service department. So after turning back toward Kerrville and calling the Ford Service number we ended up at Ken Stoepel Ford. The techs there were very helpful and knowledgable and already been talking to the main Ford service number and knew we were coming. Seems as if what is important is to find techs who regularly work on diesel engines and since this is a smaller town located in an area of large ranches, there are many big trucks in the area. They went right to work and within 3-4 hours had checked the system, replaced the NOX sensor and reprogrammed the software. Hopefully it is fixed. Seems as if this problem has occurred on Ford, Chevy and BMW engines and has something to do with all anti-smog devices required by the EPA. So once again we spent hours of our trip at a Ford dealer, hence the Ford Vacation!
The thing that Basenjis enjoy most is running wide open and we try to make sure the girls get to do this every morning. But seems as if there are some weeds in this area near the island that really are hard on them. Friday morning we noticed that Maggie was definitely having a reaction as she was covered with red rash and whelps. And Tia had a dreaded flea. Probably picked up while resting outside on the ground under a big live oak at Prairie Mountain School on FM 2323. So off to the local vet in Ingram (who is another Aggie Vet). She checked Maggie out and gave her a steroid shot along with a bottle of Aloe and Oatmeal shampoo. Then we made a quick trip into Kerrvile for some groceries and to pick up prescriptions and eat lunch at Mamacita’s Mexican Restaurant. Great food and nice atmosphere and prices are right!
Then when we got home it was my duty to once again bathe a wild Basenji. I ought to get extra pay for this but once again I perservered and they both were clean and soothed. In a few days they will be treated with flea medicine along their upper back and neck from the Kerrville Ranch and Pet Store on Hwy 27. As long as we are out in the country and woods they need to be protected.
On Thursday we drove southeast of Kerrville about 23 miles to Hwy 173 go to lunch at Camp Verde General Store. What a great place with a neat history. In March 1855 Congress approved a bill to secure camels from the Mideast to use for army transportation and military purposes. The first shipment of 33 camels arrived in 1856 and accompanied by 4 native drivers, they arrived at Camp Verde in August 1856. The second load of 40 camels arrived in 1857. The third shipment, used as a cover for slave importation was turned loose to range the coastal country. At the outbreak of the Civil War 53 camels were at Camp Verde which soon passed into Confederate hands. In 1865 the fort with 100 camels was recaptured by the US. After the war money was needed for reconstruction so the camel project and Camp Verde was deactivated in 1869. Now this location and surrounding area is a peaceful, delightful place to have a good lunch at reasonable prices.
You can shop while waiting for your table and camels are everywhere in the store. They are adding onto the original stone building and soon will have more space for your dining pleasure. Outside there are gardens, a swing and patios as well as some beautiful restrooms. Plan a day trip to this place and enjoy!