Can spring be far away? – Lake Casa Blanca SP, Laredo, TX

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We arrived at Lake Casa Blanca International State Park  Laredo, Texas in anticipation of great outdoor fun.  But as has often been the case for us recently, expectations didn’t mesh with reality. Gloomy, dreary and wet days were the norm during our one-week stay, as back-to-back winter storms passed through.  It was more than enough to add to my already funky mood.


Lake Casa Blanca SP lies on the western edge of the south Texas brush country.  The park is located in an area known for its distinctive low-growing woody plants.  This plant landscape includes the honey mesquite, guajillo (wah-HEE-yoh) and huisache (WEE-sah-chee).

Lake Casa Blanca is a reservoir on Chacon Creek, which is 5 miles northeast of downtown Laredo.  It was formed in 1951 by the construction of a dam, and it provides recreational opportunities for the residents of Webb County.


Steve collecting images of the park for his review while enjoying views of the lake.

We don’t normally allow dreary days to ruin our stay, so we ventured out whenever we could to breathe some fresh air and get our blood flowing.  There were only a few short intersecting trails at this park, and we knocked them all out in one day !


With few scenic views to admire and many trails blanketed with low-growing thorny vegetation, my attention was drawn mostly to the ground.  One of the trails that circled an expanse of large open field provided a display of ground wildflowers trying to push winter out so they could show their true colors:





But what most brightened our overcast days was the discovery of a little patch of blooming Bluebonnets just outside the park boundaries and surrounded by mesquite trees.  Since we won’t be going to the Texas hill country where blooms carpet the fields and hillsides (they are there in April), I was none the less excited by this bunch of beauties.  I even momentarily forgot my fear of chiggers as I knelt down among them!


Blue Bonnets

The Texas state flower – Bluebonnets

Named for its color and, it is said, the resemblance of its petal to a woman’s sunbonnet, the Bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas.  It blooms in the early spring and can be readily found in the fields and along roadsides throughout central and south Texas.


In and around the park were signs of spring that could be seen and felt.  At the boat launch a couple of quack-quacks were busy making out…


…while these beautiful butterflies were making more butterflies…


…and a wedge of egrets could be seen heading north.  Hundreds of them were taking off from the lake in small groups every few seconds – quite a sight to see!



Finally, this House Wren was busy trying to build its nest in Betsy’s exhaust pipe 😦

Steve was not amused, and he took quick action to protect it and other areas of the coach from becoming “bird condos”.


Not something you want to see, springtime or any other time!

I am definitely looking forward to spring!

At our next stop in Del Rio, Texas, the RV park was lined with blooming Cherry Blossoms which really made my day:


We have finally learned first-hand that one of the biggest challenges in this lifestyle is not having access to a primary-care doctor.  Our unscheduled stop at Del Rio (halfway to our next destination) was made so I could try to see a doctor and pursue the unexplained symptoms that previously had me in the ER.

To my surprise, the first questions I was asked when calling for an appointment were, “Are you in Obama Care?” or “Are you over 55?” or “Can you provide all of your records before we set up an appointment?”  I knew I was pushing my luck trying to get an appointment on short notice, but the questions asked by these offices were new to me and did not help my situation at all.  And that’s why I was in a funk for a while.

Long story short, we moved on into very remote territory without me being able to see a doctor.  I’m forcing myself to think I’m just over-rationalizing what I’m feeling, and I’m actually OK.  Maybe never having had to run to a hospital before has put me just a bit on edge?


Next up:  Going back in time at Seminole Canyon State Park





A quick stop for hubby at Oshkosh, Wisconsin

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Bugatti Racing Plane

[This is Steve’s post about his experience at the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Airventure Museum, which he visited during a quick stop at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  I took a pass on this one – you know, some alone time!].

Wittman Regional Airport.

Final approach to what is reportedly the world’s busiest airport during the annual Airventure fly-in at Oshkosh, WI

While planning our drive from Egg Harbor in Door County to Baraboo, Wisconsin, I noticed that it was a bit more than 200 miles – just about my limit for a driving day with Betsy. When I looked to see what was mid-way between the two cities, I was happy to discover that it was Oshkosh, home of the annual EAA Airventure gathering at Wittman Regional Airport.  I decided right then to make a stop there.

Although I was really hoping to finally attend the Airventure show earlier this summer, we already had plans with friends that just wouldn’t permit it.  So, even though the show was long over, I thought it might still be worth spending a night to check out the airport and nearby EAA museum.  I’m glad I did!

EAA Airventure

After visiting at least a half-dozen air museums and exhibits during our travels so far, I felt comfortable rating this one.  I enjoyed the medium-sized museum that displayed many aircraft from the beginning of flight until the present.  But what made it unique was the area that detailed the Scaled Composites Voyager display, which flew the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world by an airplane in 1986.  It took 9 days for the aircraft to fly 26,366 miles, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager.

Scaled Composites Voyager

Several Rutan-developed aircraft replicas were on display here

There was also a display and movie that showed how Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne flew into space as the first privately-funded space vehicle in 2004, winning the $10 million dollar Ansari X prize.  The company continues as a leader in field of private space travel, and is scheduled to provide rides into space for civilians in the near future.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be able to pony up the required $200,000 per person to take that flight anytime soon!


This full-size replica of SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan, hangs over the Rutan display

There were several other displays of original and replica aircraft that I found interesting.  I’ve always been a fan of Charles Lindbergh and others who had none of the sophisticated navigational aids that I did while flying.  It must have been pretty scary making those long and lonely historic flights!

mock-up of Paris, France

This impressive mock-up of Paris shows what Charles Lindbergh may have seen during his historic approach to the city

Although the name Bugatti is synonymous with race cars, the only example of a Bugatti racing plane resides here.  It has twin engines driving 2 counter-rotating propellers, an awesome example of unique engineering!

Bugatti racing plane

Bugatti racing plane

Even though we spent only one night in Oshkosh, we arrived early and I made good use of my day by visiting the museum and then taking my lovely wife to a Filipino restaurant recommended by our friend Lyndon.  Why drive 200 miles in a day when I can drive only 100 and have so much fun?



We had an excellent Filipino dinner at this place in Oshkosh


Next up:  Who knew how excellent hiking could be in Wisconsin?