Amarillo by Morning

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by txplants, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    “Amarillo by morning”

    The official theme for my spring break trip. Actually, my destination was just short of Amarillo in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. I wanted to spend a few days camping and hiking, and then rendezvous with my family in San Antonio for the remainder of my week off.

    I departed Houston Friday morning just looking to log some miles and get the trip started. Made Lake Brownwood State Park by late afternoon. After setting up and cooking dinner I took a walk and enjoyed inspecting the incredible CCC structures that persist in the park. There are also cabins for rent that look very nice, albeit rustic. If you’re in the area and looking for a good place to stop for the night, I recommend it, and the Comanche Trails “tent only” sites overlook the lake and are a short walk from hot showers.

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    Day 2 was cold and blustery with occasional spits of rain and the ride a bit raw as I made my way to and through Sweetwater and onto the Llano Estacado. I dipped into a McDonalds in Post Texas to warm up and have a cup of coffee as a restorative. It did the trick, and I pushed on through Lubbock. My mood was further restored about an hour south of the park as the skies cleared.

    The park was all I hoped it would be!

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    The Fortress Cliff primitive camping area would be home for the next two days. The sites are basic, and cheap, with a picnic table, cover, and little more. Water spickets are scattered throughout the site and although the park is in the grips of a drought (no campfires) the scenery is splendid!

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    You are a short walk from the Rock Garden and Lighthouse trailheads. In fact, I made an evening hike of the Rock Garden.

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    And then returned to cook dinner and relax.

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    More to come!
    #1
  2. Valker

    Valker Been here awhile

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    Very nice, I'm in.....and I only live about an hour from there. I used to go many times a year.
    #2
  3. Bug Dr.

    Bug Dr. Extroverted Loner

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    In once more. I almost stopped there a few years ago to camp. I'm anxious to see what I missed by passing up the place.

    I was southwest of Meridian, TX a couple of weeks ago. This was my first taste of the hill country. I certainly want to go back for more.
    Mike
    #3
  4. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Thanks, Valker! I see that Pampa is very close by.

    Howdy, Mike! Thanks for joining in.
    #4
  5. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Day three was dedicated to hiking the 6-mile round-trip Lighthouse trail and scrambling to the base of this park icon. Incidentally, this trip was an opportunity to try out a new sleeping bag. I’m a Big Agnes fan, but I find their temperature ratings don’t work for me. For example, I was cold in a “30 degree” bag in the high thirties and cold in a “15 degree” bag in the high twenties. When temperatures dipped down into the mid-20s during the night, I was adequately warm in my new Big Agnes bag rated 0 degrees! Go figure.

    I hit the Lighthouse trail early, around 8 AM. A short distance from the trailhead one is treated to this breathtaking formation!

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    After a few miles, the Lighthouse comes into view…

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    Just about there! The Lighthouse (right) towers over 300’ tall and this picture just doesn't capture its size...

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    Here is one with humans for scale. See them?

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    Think they felt like they were being watched?

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    The scramble to the base is no walk in the park either, but the view from up top is amazing!

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    Once there I parked for quite a while, enjoyed the sound of the wind and occasional canyon wren, and went through most of the snacks I’d brought along. Was even treated to a V-22 fly-by (I've never seen one before now).

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    More and more hikers began to make their way to the top, my cue to leave. The return hike was at a leisurely pace taking more time to appreciate the geology. Hit this trail early if you seek solitude as it is extremely popular!
    #5
  6. srelegante

    srelegante srelegante

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    Great shots.

    Texas Hill Country has been on my list for a while-I think 2014 would be a good year.

    SE
    #6
  7. kojack06

    kojack06 Been here awhile

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    Great pictures! Very nice Nemo tent!
    #7
  8. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Come on down!

    Thanks man, love my Nemo!

    Visited the park museum in the afternoon. Then rode back up to the canyon rim in search of cell phone reception to check in back home. One could spend days at this park, but I’m slated to head to San Antonio in the AM.

    Here’s Crystal the next morning loaded, and ready to schlep 650 miles across the Llano, through the Hill Country, to my brother’s place in San Antonio.

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    #8
  9. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Met my family in San Antone, and we started off our visit the next afternoon with a hike at Hill Country State Natural Area near Bandera...

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    Talked to one of the park rangers and she said they would be happy to accommodate motorcycle campers in any of the "horse campgrounds"!
    #9
  10. Mudclod

    Mudclod Mojo Moto

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    Excellent txplants! That lighthouse must be something to see.
    #10
  11. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Thanks Mudclod! Yep, it's a great hike.
    #11
  12. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    The following day my brother recommended we tour the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, beginning at Mission San Antonio de Valero (better known as the Alamo), and then working our way south along the San Antonio River where the park officially begins at Mission Concepcion.

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    Entrance to the nave and sanctuary at Mission Concepcion. The brightly colored frescos that once covered the structure have long since faded.

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    Inside the restored sanctuary at Mission Concepcion.

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    Partially preserved and possibly restored fresco in an interior room.

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    On to Mission San Jose.

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    San Jose's legendary "Rose Window".

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    Mission San Jose. Interesting cascade of walls and archways as well as intersections of earthly materials and blue sky.

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    Last stop. Mission Espada, the oldest on southernmost of the Missions.

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    Entrance to the church.

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    And then, lunch!

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    I thoroughly enjoyed this tour and, while there is a rather circus-like atmosphere around the Alamo…

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    …the remaining missions have a very remote and sacred feel to them.

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    This would make an excellent day trip for your club if you’re within a day’s ride.
    #12
  13. millican

    millican Been here awhile

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    Nice!
    Palo Duro Canyon is one of our favorite stopping points in the Texas panhandle as well.
    #13
  14. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Thanks man!

    All good trips come to an end, and this one did the next day with a return to Houston, and work. Here's a parting shot of the Texas flag over downtown San Antone. Adiós!

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    #14
  15. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University

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    Whoa! :eek1

    LOVING your pics Txplants!

    :clap
    #15
  16. Htown

    Htown Adventurer

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    Killer pics man, great report. Quick question for you:

    The gf and I will have 3 days in the area in late may and I was wondering how you would split your time between Palo Duro and Caprock? We would be going for hiking. How many days would you recommend Palo Duro for?

    Finally, great to meet another outdoors enthusiast in Houston.
    #16
  17. Valker

    Valker Been here awhile

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    You could spend a year hiking either one and still miss stuff.
    #17
  18. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Thanks Htown! I have to agree with Valker...

    I could have spent three days at Palo Duro and still not have thoroughly explored the park (not even close really). When I look at a map of the park trails, there are a half dozen or so other 5-6 mile round trip trails in addition to the Lighthouse. Not to mention, there is an excellent museum in the park at the Visitors Center that I could have wandered around in for half a day.

    Have a great trip! Take some pictures and share them here!
    #18
  19. Valker

    Valker Been here awhile

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    And that doesn't include the museum in Canyon, TX (Panhandle Plains Museum). It is one of the finest anywhere.
    #19
  20. HarryBalls

    HarryBalls Curmudgeonly Rider

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    Nice, I've been hiking out in Palo Duro and was born and raised in San Antonio. The Osprey was out of the 20th SOS at Cannon AFB, just down the road in NM. Their squadron is next door to mine. I'd never wanna fly that death trap though. :nah Thanks for sharing!
    #20