As we headed out for our January trip we were watched from above.
Our destination is the Skyline Ranch RV Park in Bandera, TX where we’ll attend an Escapees rally with the Alamo Area Escapees . We’ve been to Bandera, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World, before. It’s an interesting place. At the rally we met a lot of nice people and had a fine time swapping RV stories at the nightly happy hours and dinners. But these were the only planned activities. As you know, we refuse to live an uninteresting life.
The park certainly isn’t much to write home to mother about. It’s half full with winter Texans and the rally took up most of the rest for this weekend. They chose this park because it’s close, the rates are low and it has a large rally hall. I see their point, but….
On Friday we did some exploring and discovered the Hill Country Natural Area. It’s a former cattle ranch that was donated to the state. Just inside the park is the main ranch house and related outbuildings.
The ranch house was built in the late 1800’s. For a while it was used as the park manager’s residence but now it’s vacant and needs restoring, according to the park ranger. It’s closed to the public but we got close enough to take a better shot of the ranch house.
As we ventured farther into the park we saw an interesting creature out in the former pasture. There are lots if various non-native deer in Texas kept mostly for private hunting.
I didn’t have my long lens with me, so the shot above is the closest I could get. But, I blew it up afterwards to provide this closeup. Not very clear, but I believe it’s a Black Buck.
As we meandered through the park, we came upon this primitive campground where they announced bring you own horse. Each site has a corral. We thought this was pretty cool. I love horses, but I’m not a horse-person. I’ve done a little group riding, but that’s it.
The park has lots of trails that are open to hikers, mountain bikes and, you guessed it, horses. It was too late to start out that day and we weren’t dressed for hiking, so we made a plan to come back the next day, since we assumed, correctly as it turned out, that the rally group activities included sitting around, eating and drinking, all of which we like to do, but we need more!
So on Saturday we headed out to do a hike to the overlook. The trail head parking was at the horse-friendly campground mentioned above. The trail map denotes that this path is rugged and steep, and they didn’t lie, at least about the steep part. Each of these steps are about 2 1/2 feet, a few higher.
At the top of this section we turned onto the trail to the overlook but after a quarter-mile or so the trail began descending and angling back to the trail head. We had made a wrong turn. Still wanting to see the view we back tracked and got going in the right direction – up. At the top there is a loop trail that goes around the mountain. I availed myself of the provided bench to enjoy the view. If you look real hard you might be able to see the ranch buildings at 11:00 from my head on the far side of the pasture.
Here’s a zoomed in view
Here I am on the trial with Miss Chloe. Sorry for the poor quality. It’s an iPhone shot.
Near the top we met this couple on horseback. The white horse is staring at Chloe, but all creatures got along well.
We brought plenty of water but forgot Chloe’s dish so Mary Lou resorted to hand feeding.
Back at trail head parking lot this bush with bright red berries caught my eye. A little internet research revealed it to be Possum-haw holly (Ilex decidua).
We returned to our camp and did happy hour and dinner with the group and had a fine time again, but it broke up early. On the way back to the rig we could hear live music. Since it was only 7:30 we walked over to the Crazy Horse Saloon, had a few beers and enjoyed the music. There is a rumor that I was seen on the dance floor.
That’s all for this trip. We have another planned, so keep watching. As always I enjoy your comments.