We put in over a thousand miles in March, but much of that involved crisscrossing Florida while visiting family and friends. This month we truly head west and put a lot of miles on the odometer in the process. Following our unexpected extended stay in Pensacola, we cruised across the Florabama border and passed right through Alabama and Mississippi before stopping for one night in Farr Equestrian Center Park in Baton Rouge, LA.
I had gotten a bit mixed up during my research, and had mistakenly included this very well reviewed park in my short list of very affordable options like the Passport America participants I was comparing. It was not. At $35 a night it is pretty steep for a county park, but it was very nice, with views of the pastures and horses from our site.
The only downside is the difficulty in finding someone to make payment to during the weekend, especially since they lock the electrical junction boxes during low demand periods. This park would be ideal for anyone needing an RV park near the LSU campus, but make sure to call ahead and sort out the payment and access to electricity during standard week day business hours. Lastly, don’t be put off by the google directions: yes, you will pass through some smaller streets and over a pretty hefty railroad track swale, but it will get you there.
We left after one day and continued along I-10 with a stop in Lafayette to get what Gas Buddy suggested was about the cheapest gas in the country ($1.89/gallon at the time) before plowing onward. We were aiming for a Passport America park on the far side of Houston, but Mother Nature had other plans. Light drizzle turned into rain which turned into a maelstrom forcing us off the road at a random exit. We waited for it to abate while looking at our options for a revised night stop close to our current spot.
Finding no cheap RV park options, we eased ten miles up the road during a rain break to the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel in Baytown, TX. The spot was just big enough that we could fit the rig with Loki still attached. For you non-RVers: several store and restaurant chains allow overnight RV parking: most Super Walmarts, Home Depots, Lowes, Cabellas, K-Marts, Flying Js, and surprisingly, Cracker Barrels.
We settled in for the night before pushing on to San Antonio the next morning. Originally planning to use one of our Air Force Frequent Camper Program free night certificates at Lackland AFB, when we learned they were full we shifted plans and secured three nights at Fort Sam Houston. You here that? Three nights. That was the plan. We’ll circle back around to that down post.
So we connected at the spacious, pull through, full hook up site on a concrete pad to relax for a couple of days after our hard push west through wind and rain. The base is huge. Not huge in the way that say, Arnold Air Force Base is with its few people and thousands of acres of woods. I mean a large chunk or property filled with soldiers, sailors, and airman, buildings everywhere, confusing roads, schools for the kids, and something like five different Exchange posts. We got lost a couple of times, but the upside was it felt like the safest place on earth: in the heart of Texas, on a big military installation filled with battalions of troops.
While there we did the obligatory trip to The Alamo. Seems like they had great rental options, but we will stick with Thrifty. Hah! No, we went to the mission and gave ourselves a self guided tour. The place is well organized for tourists to gain an appreciation for the nature of the siege and battle, and the grounds are gorgeous.
I could have done without the holier-than-thou response from one of the period actors I interacted with though. After reading part of the letter from Bowie to Houston in which he expected an imminent attack, and that it would come “by land” I asked the actor if this was some sort of gallows humor on the part of Jim. He replied something along the lines of “I don’t think anyone was making jokes at a time like that.” Oh please, get over yourself, the dark humor in the letter gave me greater admiration for the event, not less.
Without meaning to we also stumbled across the city’s amazing Riverwalk, one of the nicer versions of such a thing I have seen in our travels. The part we explored appeared to be a diverted loop from the San Antonio river, with elevated platforms and shops on each side, periodic arched pedestrian bridges, and even tour boats cruising the narrow channel.
Anyway, remember that three day stay we paid for? Shortly after our arrival we discovered that blog acquaintances Dan and Lisa of Always On Liberty were in the park. And then we found a bunch of weekend farmers markets that, on a whim, we applied for and were quickly accepted to as vendors. The combination was enough to make us extend through the weekend. We had evening cocktails with Dan and Lisa nearly every night along with two excellent meals (one out: Southerleigh, just outstanding, and one in: Lisa’s experimental work with her new air fryer, fried chicken without the oil!)
We were accepted as vendors by two conflicting events, and chose to participate in the Saturday and Sunday Legacy Farmers Market just 20 minutes up the road from the base. Manager Shari was very helpful and accommodating, and generally runs a laid back but successful set of markets. Unlike some FM managers, she doesn’t require a seasonal commitment, doesn’t assign spaces, keeps the table fee very low ($10), and is apparently flexible enough to not worry about her long term vendors skipping a day or two to take advantage of other monthly or annual sales opportunities.
We walked into the market with a sales goal that would leave us satisfied, and a higher one that would make us happy. Saturday was better than Sunday, but averaging out the two days, call us happy with results that hit right at the average for our scores of markets during the last year. A nice result considering we didn’t expect to have any sales options at all in Texas.
Having basically “worked” the weekend (five hour market, set up an hour early, drive time, damn, its basically like having a job!) on Monday morning we chose to extend one more day. We desperately needed to do laundry, stock up at the commissary, prep Serenity for the long drive, and spend one more evening with Dan and Lisa.
The hardest part was the one day extension: the RV office is very accommodating, but they seem to be dealing with a lot of cancellations and no shows, but assume “worst case” as far as site availability goes. We had observed the strange process when we extended from three to five and then again to seven nights, and for this final extension we actually had to move sites. No problem for us; the move would serve to get us ready for the real journey a day later, but it was disconcerting to move, and then watch as the spot we vacated stayed empty the entire day and night.
There its, a deluge of posts, more than one a day this week, and we are basically caught up. Next up, a big surprise in West Texas.