Virginia Beach, VA to Del Rio, TX

April 29, 2004 - Westward Ho! Our first major destination was Houston, TX, to visit grandchildren, but we had to make a few stops along the way. The first one was Crosswinds State Recreation Area, about 20 miles west of downtown Raleigh, NC, with a nice campgound on Jordan Lake.

April 30, 2004 - After one night, we headed for my brother's house outside Monroe, NC. He has 5 acres in the rural part of the county and we had plenty of room in his driveway. Camping in soneone's driveway is a great way to visit. You are close but not too close and you don't impose upon your hosts too much.

May 2, 2004 - The next stop was McCormick, SC. My wife is researching the geneology of her mother's branch of the family tree and we spent several days in local cemeteries looking at headstones. We had previously done an Internet search on using the family name and then, using the results, mailed letters to promising contacts. A very distant cousin (a common great-great-great grandfather) from McCormick responded and we met Tom and Beth and their family and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with them.

May 6, 2004 - Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City, AL. Located on the shore of Lake Martin, this is one of the prettiest state parks that we have stayed in. Large lot to park in while registering. Plenty of shade trees with ample room to maneuver the RV. Paved interior roads. Very nice. But we were in a heated rush to get down the road so we didn't even unhook and we left the next morning.

May 7, 2004 - Escapees Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, AL. This is one of the nicest Escapees Rainbow parks with large grassy sites under large shade trees. Escapees member price is $10.50 per night plus metered electricity (.08 per KWH). Nice pool and clubhouse. Five miles from civilization so it is quiet. Twenty miles to beach (Gulf Shores). Nine miles to Foley, AL where you will find Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and many restaurants, including Lamberts, home of the throwed roll. This is a very popular wintering park but, by this time, most of the snowbirds had left.

May 9, 2004 - Betty's RV Park, Abbeville, LA. We found this place at RV Park Reviews and it had received rave reviews. So we had to check it out. The RV park is Ms. Betty's yard, with about a dozen full hookup sites surrounding her house, which also contains the office. Like most private parks, the sites were small and close together. Quite a bit of road noise from the nearby street. So what prompted so many rave reviews? The secret is Ms. Betty, although the low price ($12.00 per day) might have had something to do with it. Ms. Betty is a homegrown Cajun with loads of personality and hospitality. But, to appreciate this, one must stay more than a day or two.

May 11, 2004 - Escapees Rainbow's End, Livingston, TX. Since we were going to Houston and being Escapees members, we had to pay homage to the Escapees headquarters. All Escapees parks make visitors feel welcome and members are made to feel like one of the family. But the park in Livingston does it in spades. Social hour is quite an event. If you are interested in the Escapees RV Club check out their website.

May 13, 2004 - Trader Village RV Park, Houston, TX. This RV park is adjacent to one of the biggest flea markets I have ever seen and, that weekend, the area was a zoo. The RV park was nice but, like most private campgrounds, it was pricey and the sites were too close together. Concrete pads with paved interior roads. Nice pool and bathhouses. We spent four days with my son and his family. We wanted to stay at Brazos Bend State Park but it was full, so we settled for this RV park closer to town. We didn't get to do the "hot dogs over the camp fire" thing with the grandkids.

May 17, 2004 - Holiday Trav-L Park, Del Rio, TX. This was one of the longest legs of the trip as we rushed to get to Big Bend National Park. What can I say about Del Rio? We didn't even unhook.

May 18, 2004 - We left Del Rio and headed for Big Bend National Park. Along the way, we stopped at Langtry, TX and visited the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center. Very interesting and authentic and well worth the small fee.

West Texas is the beginning of the "wide open spaces" and Marathon, the gateway to Big Bend, is where the fuel prices began to leap upward - 42 cents more per gallon than in Houston and San Antonio. Then things settled back down a bit in El Paso. But this convinced me to eventually buy 3 five gallon fuel containers at Wal Mart and fill them with fuel when the price was relatively cheap and avoid the high prices in remote locations like Marathon. At about $6 per container, they paid for themselves by the end of the trip. It was also very comforting to know that I had an extra 15 gallons when the fuel gauge approached empty.

Flying J has a website that lists fuel prices at all their locations and I consulted this website often to help me decide when to use the fuel in my containers.