Last we checked in, we had just left Arizona to start our eastward trek to Florida. We’ve done this cross country repositioning many times over the years, and are always looking for new-to-us routes across the great state of Texas.
One place we’ve never been is Big Bend, and we really had it in our intentions to explore it this spring. However, with the book re-write taking longer than anticipated – we just didn’t feel we had the time available to do it right without feeling rushed the rest of the way.
But we weren’t going to let that get us down, there still has to be plenty of awesome to discover!
For this trip across the country, we have about a month to play around with. We’ll be mixing it up with long driving days (which for us is usually around 200-250 miles) and multi-day stays in-between.
We like to find balance in making miles, getting work done, exploring the areas we pass through and hopefully social time with friends along the way.
So, here’s the tales of the first segment of our journey to Florida:
Making Miles: Anthony & Van Horn, TX
Since we had the opportunity to explore New Mexico on our westward trek last fall, we decided to kick start the repositioning by getting some significant miles under our tires.
We left Willcox, AZ after completing our Elks membership, and started heading east. We considered overnight stops in Deming or Las Cruces, but we were making good time and called ahead to a Harvest Hosts location closer to El Paso to see if they had room for us that evening.
We arrived just in time to enjoy a wine tasting and a lovely sunset walk around the vineyards.
In the morning, we tackled El Paso – one of our least favorite cities to pass through. Even mid-morning the traffic was horrible, and many parts of I-10 under construction.
By the time we were approaching Van Horn, TX – we were both ready to get off the road for the night. I checked ahead and found 3 RV parks in the area offering a 50% off Passport America rates under $15/night.
A perfect stop to rest and do some routing to our next destination.
In the morning we set out for a relatively shorter drive to Davis Mountains State Park, with a stop at the roadside attraction Prada Marfa ‘store’. It’s a cool permanent art installation in the middle of nowhere.
We had mistakeningly thought it was actually in Marfa. But while browsing Yelp, we serendipitously discovered that it would actually be on our route just north of Valentine. If you’re not looking for it, you could drive right by otherwise!
Interestingly, we had a local stop and ask what the big deal was about this place and why so many stopped to see this little building on the side of the road.
We just answered – ‘It’s internet famous‘.
Davis Mountains State Park
Since we’re heading east back into the lands of denser population, and thus more abundant cellular signal – we really wanted to find a couple stops with poor signal for our cellular antenna testing project.
Davis Mountains State Park (our review) fit the bill perfectly, as many of the reviews we read noted the lack of cell service without a booster. I initially made a reservation for 3 nights to cover the weekend, and we’d play it by ear from there.
True to word, we could not get much signal at all on our phones and hotspots. But when we turned on our weBoost 4G-X cellular booster with the included antenna we were able to stream video.
The nearby town of Ft. Davis is right over this mountain thing in front of us – perfectly blocking line of sight to AT&T and Verizon’s towers. However, some signal does get over the mountain and bounces around the canyon where the campground sits.
This was going to be a perfect testing location! We spent a full day doing nothing but take readings on different configurations of antennas, boosters and amplifiers.
And we had a book to get formatted for Kindle & iBooks and get officially launched! Which we successfully managed to do by driving up to the top of Skyline Drive to get even better signal for upload speeds to submit the files.
But our stop wasnt all work… we also made sure there was plenty of time for play.
We booked a Star Party at the nearby McDonald Observatory – which was absolutely fabulous. So glad we made that stop at Prada on the way in so I could pick up some fancy shoes and a purse to attend.
Nah, not a party in the sense of cocktails, live band and fancy clothing. It was all about gazing at the stars and using many of their telescopes.
This geek girl was in constant amazement peering into nebulas, clusters and watching Jupiter rise over the horizon. Very well done, and a definite must-do if you’re in the area.
And blog followers and fellow nomads Crystal & Pete happened to be in the park and invited us over to share in a meal. They both work online in their day jobs (veterinary consultant and software developer), and are also exploring their musical passions by performing folk music in their touring duo called ordinary elephant.
We enjoyed getting know these two, and hope to catch them on down the road again!
And of course there was a lot of bike riding and hiking to be had. We’re really enjoying our folding electric bikes, and they impressed us by getting us to the top of Skyline Drive a couple of times.
Our stay at Davis Mountains State Park was delightful – such a lovely area of Texas. We ended up extending 3 additional days, and could have easily talked ourselves into more. We’ll have to come back to this area again, and especially get down to Big Bend!
We’ve made our way to the Texas Hill Country, and will be hanging around the Austin area about a week before we continue eastward. We have made reservations for a stop in New Orleans along the way, but other than that – the routes and stops are still unplanned.