Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fort Davis National Historic Site Fort Davis, TX

From Goliad I continued my western trek and arrived at Fort Davis, TX a tiny town of 1000 Texans which is named after a famous Army fort from the Indian frontier days.  Fort Davis was established in 1854 and was occupied by US Army troops until 1861 when Texas succeeded from the Union and became Confederate territory including the area around Fort Davis.  The troops at the fort tried to get back north to Union territory but many were captured and spent years in a Confederate prison in San Antonio.  Confederate troops then occupied Fort Davis until being driven out by a California-based Union force in 1862.  Union troops promptly abandoned the fort and it remained unoccupied until 1867.   After the Civil war traffic along the San Antonio - El Paso road once again was targeted by Apache and Comanche raiders so Fort Davis was reestablished to protect the settlers pushing west.

The entrance to Fort Davis Historic Site.
The visitor center is within the enlisted men's barracks and is the white posted building in the photo above.  Entrance fee is $7.00.  Within the visitor center is a small museum with displays depicting scenes from Fort Davis in the 1800's.

One of the museum displays at the visitor center.

Whenever I think about Army forts in the west I always picture log walls with guard blockhouses on each corner but that wasn't how Fort Davis was constructed, probably for lack of trees.  It was a group of buildings built in a three-sided canyon with the southern face being open.

Officer quarters, some of which you can tour.  Note the cliff in the background.
A second enlisted men's barracks has been set up as an adjunct to the museum and holds larger items.

A cannon display within the enlisted men's barracks.
After the Civil War Gatling Guns capable of firing up to 300 rounds per minute were standard equipment for Army units.

This gun was never fired due to lack of ammo to practice fire it.

The display sign said when a lieutenant asked the Fort Davis commander for permission to practice firing the Gatling gun he was told he could but he'd have to pay for the ammunition out of his own pocket -- so the gun was never fired.

There was a group of volunteers that dress up in authentic uniforms and civilian clothing from the 1870's and stay in character when or if they interact with the site's visitors.  Being able to tour through some of the furnished officer quarters and especially the post's hospital was really interesting.

The post hospital.  It contains displays of medical practices from the 1870's. 
Readers of this blog know I'm a sucker for history subjects so you probably guessed I really enjoyed touring Fort Davis.  It's not exactly "on the way" to anywhere but there IS a very nice Texas State Park (more about that in my next post) within five miles of the Fort that could be a trip destination.

If you're in the area don't miss the chance to tour the historic site.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Campground Review: Goliad State Park and Historic Site Goliad, TX

If you leave the Houston area and travel southwest down US-59 for two and a half hours you'll come to the tiny town of Goliad, TX.  A few miles south of Goliad is Goliad State Park and Historic Site where I camped for a couple days in mid-March. 

 The park lies on both sides of US-59 within a big loop the San Antonio River takes on it's way to the Gulf.  There are three tent-only campgrounds and two water-electric RV campgrounds within the park with the tent-only areas being right along the river and the RV spots being more centrally located within the park.  As it was Spring Break week the park was pretty full and I was only able to secure a campsite in what I'd describe as an "overflow lot" which amounted to a gravel parking lot with hookups around the edge with the requisite fire ring and picnic table.  The other RV camp area in the middle of the park was the more conventional individual pull through sites and would be much preferable.  If you go try to reserve sites in that area.

At least I had a corner spot in the lot.
Here's the park data sheet:

Hookups:                                             30, 50 amp, water
Fire ring:                                              Yes
Water Access:                                     Yes (river)
Fresh Water:                                        Yes
Trash Service:                                      Yes
Toilets:                                                Yes
Showers:                                             Yes
Dump station:                                      Yes
WiFi:                                                   No
Level sites:                                          Yes
Laundry:                                              No
Store:                                                   No
Pool:                                                    No
Shade:                                                 Yes
Verizon reception:                               4G, 3 bars
Internet reception:                               4G, 3 bars
Cost:                                                 $20 / night

My intention upon setting up camp was to check out kayaking conditions with the possibility that my friend Becky who is an avid kayak-er would drive down from Houston with her kayak.  Unfortunately there had been a lot of heavy rain in the area and the kayak launch site was a muddy mess.

The kayak launch site -- Mud City!
  Because of all the run-off the San Antonio River wasn't the most attractive kayak venue anyway.

The muddy San Antonio River, usually it's much nicer looking.
There is an official six mile paddle route that begins right in Goliad and comes through the park to end up further down river which I'd like to try sometime.

This sign announcing the Paddle Trail is within the park.
On the last day of my stay I visited the Mission Espiritu Santo historic site which is right next to the park office.  Originally set up by the Spanish in 1722 near Victoria, TX the Mission was relocated to Goliad in 1749.  It's purpose was to introduce Christianity to the Aranama Indians.

The front entrance into the mission.
Today the mission has been reconstructed and houses a neat little museum with artifacts and displays showing what life in the mission was like for the priests and soldiers stationed there.

A museum display of artifacts found in the mission area.
This display told the history of the mission.

A portion of the original 250 year old walls.
I love history and visiting the Mission museum was really interesting.  A trip to Goliad State Park is worth it if only to see the Mission historic site and museum.  I wish the weather could have been a little nicer to allow kayaking but I enjoyed my stay at the park and would recommend it with the caveat of, if possible, getting into the drive-thru RV sites rather than the parking lot area.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Almost Back

My five month Home Depot / Urban Boondock experience is thankfully in the past and the Tank is back on the road where it belongs, away from Walmart parking lots (of which I AM grateful for).  Sorry for the lack of posts but there was only so much I could tell you about Walmart parking lots and the Home Depot work experience you don't already know.  I've already got two campground reviews and a National Historic Site review penned but I can't post them because my location in the Davis Mountains in far southwest Texas (yes, Texas has mountains) has just a sliver of internet connectivity that doesn't permit me to upload pictures of the locations.  Tomorrow I head to New Mexico and better connectivity so I anticipate being able to post then.

Man it feels good to be back!

Thanks for reading!