In my last blog I said we were having a couple of days off in Orlando and while they were two great days, the weather was against us. Tuesday we had a horrendous storm come through dumping around 75mm of rain in 30 minutes, the campground was awash with water filling any low spots, fortunately our tent was in good order. Then Wednesday it was quite cool and windy. We left Orlando on Thursday morning with the threat of rain and by the afternoon it was raining, and windy. We found a little campground on the Gulf of Mexico near a place called Port St Joe, we spent the next day there as the weather wasn't much better and we weren't keen on riding in those conditions, so another rest day, though not pleasant!
Saturday was clear and warmed up during the day, we were headed to a State Park camp called Blackwater River State Park. As we neared the campground the road was closed due to the river being a couple of metres above its usual depth and consequently flooding the road. We had to make a 23 mile detour to get the extra mile, but it was well worth it, it was a beautiful camp in the forest.
Next stop was New Orleans and a campground full of noise from train whistles and planes taking off! We spent a day in New Orleans and while it was a unique experience and there were quite a number of interesting sights and buildings, it didn't fulfill our expectations, how much of that is a result of Katrina we don't know.
From New Orleans we continued west into Texas where the landscape started changing quite quickly from forest as we entered to desert where we are now. On the way to Big Bend NP we stopped at a couple of places, one campground and probably one of the nicest we have stayed in only cost us $5, and that included breakfast with the owners! The worst campground we have come across was in Fort Stockton, this one was that bad we didn't stay, even though it was free! Julie had been wanting to see a town reminiscent of the western movies and the closest we have come to was Mason. Here were big wide streets with a grassed square in the middle of town that housed the courthouse. The buildings around the square all had wide verandahs which were beautifully lined with pressed metal. We entred one building that was set up as a museum and it was free. Here we learnt about how Mason was a frontier city were early settlers were faced with Indians, cattle rustlers, horse thieves, hangings and shootings. Reading the history was like reading a script for a Hollywood Western.
As we have headed west and south through Texas we have commented many times on how it resembles parts of central Australia, only hilly. We have been very surprised by how hilly it has been, we expected it to be flat. We have also passed much infrastructure relating to the collection and processing of oil, more than we have seen anywhere else. Now down here in Big Bend we are right on the Rio Grande river and we can see Mexico. The countryside is most breath taking and dramatic and what we expected of this area, very hot, dry and arid. We have had 39° for three days.
We plan on leaving tomorrow, we will head up into New Mexico and then across to Arizona before we start heading North.