Southwest Holiday Adventure Part 1 of 6

For the 2013 Christmas holiday season we decided to explore the Southwest area of the United States.  The primary reason was to visit some family and we then expanded the trip to include a few other destinations.  Won’t you join us on our journey?

Southwest Adventure 2013The trip was daunting to complete in 15 days but we were up to the challenge!  We left early evening on the Friday before Christmas headed to our first stop, Galveston, TX, 1,100 miles away.

Southwest Adventure 2013When you are traveling in an RV, especially when towing a car, you should stop every 200 miles to check things out.  Rest areas are a great place to do this.  In the middle of the night, Cracker Barrels are also a great place to do this as they have RV parking and they have few, if any, cars in the parking lots.  This first stop is when I discovered that I forgot to put a lock in one of the pins for the tow bar bracket.  Fortunately it had only worked out about 1 inch of its total 4 inches in length.  I was able to get this fixed quickly.  You can bet I tripled checked my car connections every other time I did it the rest of this trip.

Southwest Adventure 2013Flying J Travel Centers are also a favorite stop of ours and we stopped at many during this trip.  We especially love them because most of them have RV lanes and plenty of room for us to maneuver.  Additionally they provide propane and places to dump your waste tanks for a fee.  Joining their RV rewards program also saves you a few cents per gallon and lets you dump your tanks for half the fee.  In the picture above you’ll see some people without an RV camped under the ‘stars’ in their sleeping bag.

Southwest Adventure 2013

Southwest Adventure 2013

Southwest Adventure 2013The way we like travel is by making the trip an adventure and less about the destinations.   In the above pictures you’ll see the General W.K. Wilson Jr. bridge outside of Mobile AL.  It is just over 6 miles long and has a cool architecture.

Southwest Adventure 2013

Southwest Adventure 2013Yay!  We made it through two more states.  If only it went by that quickly.  Fortunately I don’t mind driving.

Southwest Adventure 2013

By the time we got to Texas the ‘winter storm’ was in full force.  Fortunately we only encountered rain although just 60 miles north of us had an ice storm.

Southwest Adventure 2013I’m not sure if the Texas way is to drive friendly but that’s what they claim.

Southwest Adventure 2013Did I mention it was raining?  Fortunately you can see a break on the horizon.

Southwest Adventure 2013

As we near our destination of Kemah (about 30 minutes north of Galveston) we encountered the Fred Hartman Suspension Bridge in Baytown, TX.  This one was really cool to see up close.

Southwest Adventure 2013After setting up our campsite we headed down to Galveston Pleasure Pier.  Unfortunately they had closed from the previous storms so we missed this again.  This is the second time we have been through the area and not been able to check out the park that is on a concrete pier extending into the Gulf of Mexico.

Southwest Adventure 2013Fortunately Kemah Boardwalk, a short 3/4 mile drive from our campground, was open.

Southwest Adventure 2013Carriage ride anyone?

Southwest Adventure 2013They have a decent selection of rides although we didn’t do any of them this time…

Southwest Adventure 2013…except of course their wooden coaster, Boardwalk Bullet.   This is a wooden coaster built by The Gravity Group.  We were not overly impressed.  If you love the lateral forces of tight corners on a coaster then this is for you.  If you love a balanced coaster with some air time and other forces then this is not for you.  Regardless we found it to be quite rough, a trend we’re finding with Gravity Group wooden coasters.

Southwest Adventure 2013

Merry Christmas Kemah Boardwalk!  Thank you for being open!

Southwest Adventure 2013

We spotted some kittens that were living under some steps.  My daughter wanted to take one home.  You will note that we still do not have a cat as a pet.

Southwest Adventure 2013We ate dinner at the Cadillac Bar, a Mexican restaurant.  We found the food good but the service slow despite there not being many people there.  It was also quite pricey, much more than we expect from a Mexican restaurant.

Southwest Adventure 2013Back at the RV, we are decked out for Christmas.  That is if one string of LED lights qualifies as ‘decked out.’

Southwest Adventure 2013The next morning I found that the trip had made one of the tow bar arms very hard to move and I didn’t have any of my standard lubricant handy.  TIP:  If you’re in a pinch, spray Pam works well.  It held for another day until I could pick up some real lubricant.

Southwest Adventure 2013This was our stop for the night.  Marina Bay RV Resort seemed like a nice campground.  The sites were relatively roomy, well maintained, and all paved.  All the utilities were in great working condition, too.  We arrived after the office closed and left before it opened.   They were clear on instructions and I left them a note to call us.  The lady was extremely friendly and we were able to pay for our site over the phone with a credit card.  We will stay here again.

Southwest Adventure 2013One thing I noticed on our last trip to Texas is how much they love their interchanges and bridges.  I have never seen so many interchanges with so many bridges as I have in Texas.

Southwest Adventure 2013Here’s another interchange.

Southwest Adventure 2013

Since we’re in Texas, we MUST stop at Whataburger.  It is one of our favorite burger joints.

Southwest Adventure 2013

When you go make sure you check out their spicy ketchup.

Southwest Adventure 2013On Sunday morning we made the 4 hour trek to San Antonio, TX to visit Six Flags Fiesta Texas.  Why is that, you ask?

Six Flags Fiesta TexasWhy to ride Iron Ratter, of course.  It was still under construction when we were last here in April so we (read I) made it a point to stop here on our way through.  We were not disappointed.  The hybrid coaster (formerly wood with a steel I-beam replacement track done by Rocky Mountain Construction) was phenomenal!  As much as we loved the other hybrid coaster, Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas, this one was better in my opinion, although not by much.  I’ll happily ride either one any time.Southwest Adventure 2013Southwest Adventure 2013

This was also a key coaster for Anna as it made #200 for her.  Of course in our packing for the trip we forgot the bigger 200 sign for her to hold.  She happily improvised and made her own sign.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

On this brisk but sunny winter Sunday afternoon, the crowds were light.Southwest Adventure 2013

Another picture I made her take and she was happy to play along.

Six Flags Fiesta TexasThe look of the train was great and you might be able to make it out in this underexposed shot.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Our seat for the great experience.  I can’t wait to make it back and ride this a few more times.

Six Flags Fiesta TexasToday it was windy as you can see from the waterfalls going over the canyon walls.  You’ll note the train goes through a tunnel in the canyon walls.

Southwest Adventure 2013Since we are here and I did allot a few hours at the park, we rode the new for 2013 ride, Sky Screamer.  Since it had just opened during our previous visit the lines were too long then.  They were manageable this time.  Boy was it cold once the swings made it up over the canyon walls.  What a breathtaking view.  I wish I could have taken a photo from up there.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta TexasFiesta Texas was celebrating Holiday in the Park, the bumper cars were turned into a portable skating rink.  We didn’t try but it was a great idea!

Six Flags Fiesta TexasAs cold as it was, I couldn’t believe someone was in shorts.  It shouldn’t surprise me, though, since I see all kinds of things like this living in the south.

Six Flags Fiesta TexasI always love this view as you enter Fiesta Bay Boardwalk.  Every amusement park should be required to have a Ferris Wheel.

Six Flags Fiesta TexasJeffrey’s favorite ride was Scooby Doo, a dark ride, at Carowinds, although it is now called Boo Blasters.  We were happy to see they still had the Scooby Doo dark ride at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.  We *have* to do this every time we visit for his sake.

Six Flags Fiesta TexasI didn’t know Santa had a castle.  I guess I should visit the North Pole sometime.

Six Flags Fiesta TexasTheir train made a nice decoration for Holiday in the Park although I wish it were running.

Southwest Adventure 2013We are now back on the road to Tucson, Arizona.  To let you know what is on I-10 between San Antonio, TX, and Tucson AZ, our GPS told us the next turn was in 856 miles once we got back on I-10.  I spent a lot of driving on I-10 (over 1,100 miles) with not a lot to see.  Since I knew this I chose to do a lot of the driving at night.  The picture above was something that I found really neat.  Texas has a lot of ‘picnic areas’ along the Interstate and all of them have some kind of theme.  This one happens to be teepees but they have all kinds that fit Texas.  They are all cool to see.

Southwest Adventure 2013Sunrise on the road.  Well actually we’re at one of the picnic areas taking a short break.

Southwest Adventure 2013Enjoy the view to the west as the sun rises.  Note the shadow of higher mountains in the background.

Southwest Adventure 2013Yay!  New Mexico.

Southwest Adventure 2013You will note that I-10 comes very close to the Mexico border in west Texas and Southeast New Mexico.  As such, expect to go through a Border Patrol check point even though you never leave the United States.

Southwest Adventure 2013We saw lots of trains that parallel the Interstate highways.

Southwest Adventure 2013Here’s what Mexico looks like from the passenger’s seat.

Southwest Adventure 2013After approximately 2,000 miles, we have made it to Arizona!

Southwest Adventure 2013Enjoy one of our first views of Arizona.

Southwest Adventure 2013As you get closer to Tucson there is more to see and more ground cover.

Southwest Adventure 2013

We made it to our second destination of Tucson, AZ.  Our dog, Duncan, was happy that we were going to hang around here a few days.

Southwest Adventure 2013Grandpa was there to greet us.


Click here to continue on to part 2.

Southwest Holiday Adventure Part 1 of 6 was last modified on 08/26/2015 by Rick
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