Texas Episode 4: Stormy McWinterstormface, 2021

February 10 – 22, 2021

We have the ability to travel anywhere in the world but we ended up stuck here, smack dab in the middle of a natural disaster.

The Kemp

I finished reading the book, Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne during our first few day in the hill country. I was hesitant to start it as I usually don’t like spending time on things where I think I already know the outcome. To me, it just seems like a waste of time knowing the story line; the Native Americans were here, the white settlers came west beating them into submission, and now they live on reservations. But wow, this book offered so much more by detailing the struggles and culture of the people on both sides, and the conflicts that would brutally shed huge amounts of human and buffalo blood across the plains. The book is jam-packed with insightful information, facts, and details leaving me with a much greater appreciation of both sides. The book was thought provoking leaving me to consider if there was a point, an incident in history that could have had those Christian settlers from the east see this rich culture of the Native Americans as a beautifully diverse people, worthy of saving versus exploiting and invading? In the end, I sat, exhaled and sadly struggled to imagine any other outcome given the situation of this time and place in history.  

Reading this book while traveling the area made it much more real. Seeing the towns, rivers, and landmarks mentioned in the book. Journeying through a place where the west was in a state of anarchy, a place living in turmoil. The constant threat of bloody conflict and death with the Native Americans was real and played out many times as settlers continued to encroach on lands once ruled by tribes, most notably the Comanches.

As we all know the end of the story, the Imperialism policies of the large nation to the east with its eyes set on expanding to the west won out, forcibly moving the Native Americans to reservations, slaughtering their buffalo, and now owning the land. It is obviously clear to the TWT team that the struggles that had them eventually defeat the toughest tribe ever to exist, the Comanche’s, obviously weren’t met with the Winter Storm of 2021 (which we cleverly call McWinterstormface). Had McWinterstormface been there in the mix then all the Texans would have gone home and those that remained would likely be living under the rule of the most current Indian Chief in the land known as Comanchea.

To be clear, whatever you read here should in no way take away from those folks outside the city where power was lost for days. We’ve heard the struggles of people trying to stay warm in their cars, being days without power and water, and of severe damage done to their homes and businesses through burst water lines and other utility issues. Linemen were risking their lives around the clock working to restore the power through all these weather conditions and should be commended as heroes. But what we found and lived though were completely strange and contradictory circumstances. One where by noon or earlier each day we had the ability to move freely around town without much effort, the roads were pretty clear and safe for driving slowly. Fredericksburg is a progressive modern town sitting between the large metro areas of Austin and San Antonio, with no mountain passes and good roads. As everything continued to deteriorate in terms of utilities, food, and gas, the gainsaying in our minds grew. Sure, Texas sits down here in the south, a normally warm climate, but how long does that excuse fly? It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds after the fact, the role of its power grid, independent so they don’t have to comply with Federal guidelines, and other contributing controversies to include green energy. All we can attest to from our point is that the infrastructure failed miserably for the people in most of the state (read about El Paso which managed much better). No one seemed prepared for this event and the response was slow, if at all, to the small world we lived in. Other than that, you can come to your own conclusions but we are ready to move on.

I wrote the following blog pieces in italics the day before the 9 days of McWinterstormface 2021 struck and found it interesting when I reread it for the first time this morning (2/18).

We’ve done really well over the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 to pretty much avoid winter. Sure we’ve had some chilly nights and mornings mixed in with cold beach days, and even the constant battle with mozzies (AKA mosquito, skeeters, little biting bastards). We spent time in the southern most land of the lower 48, enjoyed the east coast of Georgia, southern swamps, and skirted the Gulf of Mexico through five states. But nothing has come close to the winter blast that we are going to be experiencing this week in Texas. With freezing rain, ice, and snow and temperatures in the single digits forecasted for 2 nights and 8 straight nights of below freezing temperatures, we are in for it. Maybe it is payback or maybe it is simply living a real life, experiencing whatever Mother Nature tosses at us. We are as prepared as we can be while living in a hard sided tent on wheels. We shut down the water system today by draining the lines and adding antifreeze throughout the system. We filled our 7 gallon water tank, water bottles, and tea pot for morning coffee. We have a $15 electric heater and a Mr. Buddy propane heater as backup, and we have the team of travel tough humans and a dog for companionship. We plan on many inside things to include blogging, reading, staying in contact with friends and family, and visiting San Antonio and Austin to check it all out. So even though we get our week of winter, the journey continues. 

What I find interesting about the above was the ease and confidence at which we were heading into this week of weather, a confidence that it was No Big Whoop (NBW). We expected freezing temperatures but were completely naive about the resulting statewide infrastructure failure, ensuing mania around food and gas products, the complete shutdown of stores, museums, USPS, and the lack of ability for big trucks to operate on the roadways to resupply basics in a metropolitan area. As you read the first sections of this blog, you’ll notice how we proceeded with each day much like others along our journey, drives into the countryside searching for interesting stuff to see, trips to buy food for a day or two at a time and simply not expecting things to get that much worse.

The remainder of this blog entry begins much like others, with a daily entry of what we did. After a few days typing about the cold and ice, I decided to switch it up a bit and go with a lessons learned section which once completed, pretty much summarizes the time we spent here during this weather event. We hope you enjoy.

Travel Journal

With the water system to the camper now winterized, we decided to spend the remainder of this cold and cloudy day driving to the small community of Castell for a visit. I first heard of this little historic community when researching gravel bike rides in the area. To reach the town, we had to travel north out of Fredericksburg on Ranch Road 2323 then took a left onto a dirt country road. Dirt public roads aren’t prevalent in these parts so the change was fun. Although the scenery along the road was similar to what we have experienced, it did feel a bit more remote, adding some intrigue. 

The original town was part of a five city land grant to be settled by German immigrants in the Camanche territory. Castell, reported in the mid-19th century to be a 5 day/50 mile journey from the closest town of Fredericksburg, was the only one of the original settlements to survive. Castell currently sits along the southern banks of the Llano River and the main, only, active business being the general store which according the hand painted marquee sign, was established in 1927. There were a few other houses, some outfitter stores, and likely a church in the town but I can’t quite remember exactly. There were goats and cows as there are everywhere in these parts. We drove across the concrete pad (many of the small roads don’t have bridges but these concrete pads with water diverters and storm pipes) over the river to check it out before deciding on our next stop. The decision was Llano Texas for some BBQ at Coopers so we whooped it round and headed there. 

We arrived in Llano about 30 minutes later and drove the scenic historic downtown with a traditional 2-story courthouse filling the center square, surrounded by early to mid 20th century looking retail shops, restaurants, and of course, the standard old west dive bar. The route to Coopers took us back to the other side of the Llano River on an old metal bridge before a left turn and another left into the parking lot. 

Cooper’s was mentioned to us by our friends who we first met at the Flamingo Campground in the Everglades and who were traveling with their pet chickens, two cats, and a handsome black lab. There is an entrance where you are supposed to queue up 6-feet apart outside the restaurant as you approach the Pit Master. As you approach him, standing in his Pit Master style bibs and face shield, he raises the hood to present you his daily smoked meat choices. We witnessed a smorgasbord of smoked meats to include chicken, pork, brisket, sausage, and goat. We went with the brisket and goat. After you make your choice of meat you then tell him how much. He doesn’t weigh it but cuts a chunk of what he thinks represents what you just asked for. He handed us our tray with instructions to go inside to the counter where we were greeted by another employee who takes the tray from you and asks if you want your bbq meat sliced and of course we did. Sides are then added based on your choice, to include potato salad, coleslaw, pork and beans, jalapeño peppers, pickles, and sauce. Yes, yes, and yes. We paid for our to-go order and headed out. We could have stayed and eaten at one of the many picnic tables scattered along the back wall but we chose to head home with our bounty of meat. 

We quickly drove home for the feast. The remaining evening was spent eating, preparing for the freeze, and enjoying a nice cozy night in the now winterized camper. 

Note that we would later watch news reports of these two towns and the areas we drove through going days with no electricity starting the morning after our feast. Cooper’s along with other restaurants would be praised by the electric coop for supplying food to the lineman in the area.

We woke to freezing rain with temperatures that never got high enough for a thaw, the wind added a chill and sounds of iced limbs clinking together. We heard tree limbs tear off the main trunk and crash to the ground as the weight of the ice and gravity won out. The utility side of the A-Liner, port side, was covered in a sheet of ice making moving now seem difficult, if not impossible. Everything around us was encased in a half-inch of ice. The rain and sleet trickled down all day and with the exception of a few dog walks and a drive to the HEB, we stayed huddled inside our warm cozy home. One of our neighbors moved sites mid-afternoon after a frozen limb had fallen from a large tree cracking the sunroof on their trailer, putting us on guard for the trees above us. Dinner that night was left over brisket and beans, which won’t go into the lessons learned but never a good idea when living in close quarters.

Note here that the next morning we looked at the forecast which now showed the prospect of temperatures not rising above freezing for the next 7 days which was a major change. 

Another morning and another day covered in frozen ice with temperatures that never warmed above the freezing mark keeping a sheet of ice over the port side of the rig. We slow woke and started the day with some work inside, blogging and whatnot. We each went for a run, staying off the roads covered in a sheet of black ice, Lysette with Toohey, then me with myself. Other campers who were leaving spent the morning pouring warm water and carefully breaking ice off their rig so they could depart. I did some of the same just to make sure the ice wasn’t doing any damage to the seams and critical hatch covers. We went for a drive through downtown Fredericksburg and through some of the older residential neighborhoods close to town. We witnessed much more damage from iced limbs that had fallen, sometimes half of a tree laid on the ground. We also did some research for fun, learning that home prices in this small town, close to two major cities, had prices that were ridiculously high, Colorado high. 

We drove outside of town, back to a road we had ridden our bikes on called Hayden Ranch Road. It was a hilly, twisty road with a few cattle guards. We got there and found things as expected, frozen, but the roads were dry and good. The grasses now looked silver like my hair, the bare trees, dormant waiting on the spring, now with limbs covered in a sheaths of ice. The fence line, barbed wire sitting with the crystalized water incapsulating the rusty wire and the prickly pear cactus with needles no longer threatening from their sharp spines but from the thick cold ice cycles that dull their ends. 

We drove home stopping once for gas but finding that the gas door lock was frozen and couldn’t, with our best effort, break it free from ice. All wasn’t a failure though as the squeeze (southern for convenience store) had a 6-pack of Coors Light, the Silver Bullet, to take back to my nearly empty cooler. 

I spent a good portion of the remainder of the afternoon walking back and forth from the men’s room with two water bottles, filled with hot water to clear ice. We hunkered down through the evening with a video call to the Facehunt family. We spent lots of anxious moments throughout the night hoping the large pecan limbs that were iced over above us wouldn’t fall. 

The big debate inside the team headquarters that night was whether to try to move south or stay here through the storm. It would take extra effort to move based on all the ice on the trailer and the roads, but with no prospect of a thaw for the several days, why just sit and waste time here? The Research and Travel Department went to work studying options by studying various towns, weather, and directions. With all the options, we now have a decision to make, one we’ll make in the morning. 

Our morning decision was to prepare the rig for a move, a small step, but one that needed to happen whatever option we chose. So we went to work because either way, we needed to move the camper from beneath the large trees to a less treed site or further south to warmer temperatures. We talked to the office and were told there were plenty of sites to move to so we didn’t need to hurry as no one was coming in.

Our effort to pack up the camper started and ended with water bottles filled with hot water from the tap in the bathhouse. This was used to thaw everything that moved while folding and hitching the rig and to remove ice that would fold into the camper as any moisture would drip inside the living space. Needless to say everything took much longer, with greater effort, than usual. 

After getting it to the point of being ready to fold it up but still not having a final decision on what to do, we decided to drive a few miles to the gas station to fill up with gas which would also give us the chance to check the roads. What we found were slick roads due to a layer of ice so the decision was made to stay but to move from site 11 to site 17, out from the canopy of large frozen limbs which were hanging above the rig.

The next morning we woke and did what we do every morning during a winter event which was to check the weather with the hopes of some miraculous change. The good news was the air quality index* of 28. Yay. The AQI is a colorful graph, in fact has more color that the radar which is mostly blue and purple. So with this new tool of positivity we discussed how wonderful the air quality was so we should be really excited to get outside. This level of optimistic attitude only works well though when the other non colorful weather indicators are working in your favor. The temperature when we got up was a balmy 3, there were a few inches of powdery snow on the ground and of course a wind of 13 mph giving us the feels like temperature of -13 degrees. So despite being good to breathe, you can’t likely breathe in it long without lots of proper clothes and even then, not comfortably. 

Think of the AQI as a yardstick that runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 or below represents good air quality, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality.

air quality index

At this point in the storm I have decided that typing a daily list of bad weather things was no longer interesting. The brief excitement around the Air Quality Index feathered away, losing its luster, so we had to find other fun. What was found was to now shift from the daily travel journal which could be limited to words like cold, ice, and more. So instead we hope you enjoy our lessons learned segment.

Lessons Learned

With the prospect of not blogging daily events combined with having 33 years in the risk and safety profession, I immediately started thinking of what we could have done to better prepare for such a weather emergency. The following is my after incident review based on the reality of what we went through over the last week or so. These aren’t listed in any specific order or value but a random list, mostly as I thought of them.

“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.”

― Nassim Nicholas TalebThe Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

The above quote will help illustrate how our history of winter weather played out in our lack of preparedness. The lesson of the Black Swan is found deep in what you don’t know, more than what you do know. But in either case, we hope you enjoy these from our camping experience in the Natural Disaster, the McWinterstormface, 2021.

  1. Crocs don’t after all, make the best winter storm natural disaster camp shoes, even with socks. I frequently praise these shoes as the best camp shoe ever. Their plastic molded components with holes along the top are simply the best, most durable, efficient shoe for camping. They have a decent grip and neat swivel heel strap when times call for more shoe security. They are easy on and off which is an important necessity with the No Shoes Inside the Rig Team Policy (Ed. No. 001). They dry quickly so they can double as a water shoe for rivers, streams, lakes, ocean, and showers and they come in cool colors like military camouflage, combat olive green, and desert warrior tan. I receive lots of flack from friends and family for wearing them, especially with socks and strangers just give me space as they look creepy with jeans or cargo shorts at the grocery store. But either way, I really don’t care because their usefulness and efficiency to me mean way more than other’s opinions. But the one true weakness I have now found is when your socks get wet from snow or melting ice, they render your feet cold. I have been longing for my quarter calf length jet black Keen boots that keep my feet warm, dry, all while bringing a Napoleon Dynamite disco cool element to my style. Gosh!
  2. Know what you don’t know and expect the worst. Many would have said just leave before the storm. Don’t ever go north, don’t leave Florida or Arizona, between January and April as the migratory folks from the northern states, referred to as snowbirds, have learned and been practicing for years. Our plan though was to come here to ride bikes in more interesting places with good cycling roads while fully aware that we could get freezing temperatures. In fact, we purchased the antifreeze for the water system before leaving Florida anticipating a winter event. But the level of what occurred here was unprecedented for Texas or at least that is what the experts would say and we’d believe. We also watched the weather reports and honestly thought the system wasn’t much more than anything we had experience in Colorado, it wasn’t even close to a light Colorado storm. Our naivety in the end was more with the ability for the state to manage this event and the infrastructure that failed. Savannah, a place that rarely gets this level of winter storm, has managed these systems without a large scale failure of infrastructure and utilities, namely the electric grid. Colorado wouldn’t have blinked with this fake punch of a storm, in fact, we were typically disappointed with snow levels not measured in feet in Colorado. With our history of winter events, we sit in a place thought of as a big and tough state, but with no power for long stretches, gas pumps running out of gas, and grocery stores down to their last cans of pinto beans, tomatoes, and one lone package of Beyond Meat Hamburger patties. In the end, it wasn’t what we knew from our experience with winter weather or about weather probabilities, it was what we didn’t know about Texas’ ability to handle it.
  3. Prepare early – Focus on water, food, gas, and propane to manage a couple of days without these resources. Had we been planning on boondocking for a few days, we would have fully prepared the rig for the lack of electricity. But honestly, we wouldn’t boondock in weather like this. Not preparing early got us caught up in the buying frenzy of the “disaster” which is a no win for anyone. Retailers were quickly out of essential food items such as eggs, large containers of water, meats, and some canned foods. Small disposable propane canisters were a thing of the past (and as of this publishing are still not available) but you could stand in long lines at one of the two propane refill stations in town to refill your propane tanks. Our need was more for the small disposable propane so we could run the Mr. Buddy Heater during long stretches without electricity, but in the end, we had enough to work through the power outages with little discomfort. 
  4. Bathroom closures when they freeze, or the lesson is, make sure you have options for toilets when the freeze shuts off water to the bathroom. Again not a problem when boondocking, but digging a cat hole in the middle of a city park isn’t respectable and is most likely illegal. We were prepared with the three legged military grade, brief case toilet that uses a disposable bag system. It sounds gross but in an emergency it works. My one use of the device during the storm turned out to be a trial run as we would later that day learn that two other bathrooms around the park were functional. I sent Toohey and Lysette for a walk while I set it up and commissioned it and it worked perfectly. Although I will admit that I felt a little violated the rest of the day.
  5. Ice and tree limbs over your trailer don’t mix. If you find yourself in the path of an ice storm and are sitting beneath large trees and your house has wheels, then move. We stayed for the first wave of ice even after seeing a limb strike one of our neighbors rigs. We stayed mostly based on the worry that packing and unpacking our systems during a wet event opens the inside to the outside elements. We did move the following day after spending a lot of time defrosting all the components needed for moving. The defrosting process required quite a few trips to get hot water from a tap in one of the bathhouses. Even though the spot we left never took a direct hit from a limb, there were others grounded all around it which would have been chilling to hear fall. Sleeping at night was much less anxious after the move. 
  6. Food freezes. Yup, our pantry is located in plastic bins in the bed of the truck and several of the cans of tuna and soup froze. We aren’t sure why some did and others didn’t but maybe it has to do with salt additives as preservatives and/or the amount of water. We were smart enough to bring the produce inside before the deep freeze which was a good thing and we never had an issue with the bags of fried root veggies (TWT team code for potato chips). Food inside Yeti coolers will also freeze – We had a few eggs that froze and cracked, several bags of spinach that froze, and a few Coors I had to frantically chisel out of the ice in the bottom of the cooler.
  7. Keep electronics charged – Phones, laptops, and trailer battery are all essential to the operation. The phones were our outlets to the world, weather reports, news on the events, and friends and family who keep us laughing. We used the car during the long power outages to charge the phones and had all plugs on deck when the electricity flowed. The trailer battery also drained in the cold weather while sitting at camp evident by the lights not working when the electricity went out. A friend had us purchase a charger while at Walmart the other day which we used to charge the trailer battery. We don’t know if it has worked yet but will report on this once we lose power again. He suggested we simply unplug the trailer from the power to check, but now that we have power, that just seems like a preposterous and far-fetched risk I am just not interested in taking, especially when the reward for the moment for having a charged battery is that our light works. 
  8. Keep your vehicle fueled. The team usually keeps over a half a tank in the truck at all times for security but we thankfully happened to top off the tank the other day while scooting around town. What we didn’t foresee happening was the pumps running out of gas. By day four the disaster hysteria had reached the gas pumps as long lines extended into streets with people waiting to fuel up their large trucks with large tanks of gas. This was the same day that the grocery store shelves emptied and when I asked a manager looking type when the next truck was suppose to arrive she said, “I have no idea.” She went on to tell me in her best leadership voice that, “one (truck) tried to make it here today but got in an accident.” Her departing comment was, “they don’t drive Jeeps you know.” Yes, and with that comment, I am now starting to panic. Our leadership just suggested Jeeps were a good ice and snow delivery vehicle.
  9. Condensation is an issue with all RV’s and campers but ours, being loosely assembled and with aluminum hardware along the wall joints creates many places where warm and cold air meet, producing condensation that as more and more meet, turns into sheets of ice along the seams, especially during the deep freeze. We paid close attention to this but in the future, we might just invest in a pool noddle to cut up to better insulate some of these areas. 
  10. Bikes freeze if left on the roof of the car. We kind of got caught with this one as we fully expected to leave after the first wave of the storm came through to drive south to someplace warmer. But when we saw the road conditions, we stayed and by this time, our bicycles were icicles. Also, remember that everything ices over in an ice event. We had a few other non essential items that we needed to thaw.
  11. Always travel in the winter with a golf club, better if it is an iron, and even better if it is a pitching wedge with greater angle to the club face. Brooms would likely be more helpful but we didn’t have on.-When your rig is covered in ice and snow and the shape is a tall, proud A, it is difficult to remove the snow and ice based on reach and a small 2 step ladder. We packed two pitching wedges (his and hers) when we left Colorado for funtivities while hanging around camps. But to date, we have never used these until finding ourselves needing to clear snow and ice off the rig. If you hook a towel around the club face then you can reach it across the side of the trailer to scrape, pull, sweep the snow and ice. Based on the height of the step ladder and the closeness needed to the trailer for this maneuver, the snow and ice falls along your chest area and into the holes in the top of your crocs (Refer to Lesson Learned 1). As a side, the clubs also make a wonderful tool to slightly tap ice to break it away. Yes, a broom would have been a less expensive option but they take more room and can’t double as a golf club.

Of not so drastic but otherwise necessary are things like anticipating that people would stop working. In Savannah when temperatures dropped below freezing and with any suggestion of ice and snow, we’d all go home, put on comfy clothes, and stay inside until the warmth returned. If it snowed enough which was seldom, we’d pull the plastic bags from loafs of bread and put them over our hands secured with knee length white cotton sports socks as gloves to go out side for a brief attempt at rolling up a snow man or tossing a snow ball. 

During this Texas sized event, people that were moving empty pallets at the grocery store, C-store clerks, and the folk at the fast food chicken place all survived their drive to work and kept things going. Meanwhile, thousands of folks turned out to shop and fill their tanks with fuel. Our park staff handed the water key to the volunteer camp host before the storm with instructions to call them should he need to do anything with the water, and left. No one came by for over a week to check the facilities, clean the bathrooms, or managed the park. We made do using Clorox wipes on surfaces we touched and Crocs for showering. Also, we found the USPO closed, and we all know their motto about working in inclimate weather. They didn’t bother to show up either. 

In the end, we made it. In Texas, where even small is big especially when it comes to winter weather, we survived the 9 days. Many friends would text us to see if we were still there and how we were doing which was nice but also likely their call of concern was from what they were hearing about through the drama played out on the news service. The other campers were extremely kind and generous throughout the storm. I think they worried about us in our little tent sized camper. They offered us everything from heaters, water, eggs, cheese and herb biscuits, to their bathrooms. The only one we accepted were the delicious cheese and herb biscuits which should have likely made its own lessons learned which would have been befriend those who can bake in a travel trailer. They were all amazing offers and generous humans.

We learned, we laughed, at some points wanting to be concerned but really just mystified at all the contradictions we were experiencing. How such a small weather event could render a place so helpless. We talked about how we felt like maybe there was more going on that we just weren’t aware of, like we were living in a bubble of security. As mentioned in my introduction, we don’t want to take away from those heroes out in rural areas trying to restore electricity in bad weather where people spent longer amounts of time with no utilities, where some only have their cars for heat. There were places that were in trouble and hard working people out risking lots and getting it done. But most of the issues we witnessed were in places with electricity, metro areas, where the roads were clear enough between storms for citizens to go out to fill their grocery carts and trucks, where people can easily sit in their warm homes watching the events play out on major network television. Trucks from the warehouses couldn’t drive the interstate and major roads to resupply in other major cities. There were no mountain passes needed to get here. Maybe if they all just drove a Jeep we’d be in a better place and our bathrooms would be cleaned.

After the storm was over evidenced by the sunny skies, warmer air, and the return of the park employees, we, along with our fellow RV’rs, hung around outside and discussed our experiences. We shared information on grocery store shelves and the availability of gasoline, which all returned to normal levels within a few days. How the park was simply left to fend for itself. The experience, although something we didn’t want, but see in some ways as a good lesson in winter camping, the limits of our systems, and the strength of our team to make it while cramped in this little living space of a camper for extended periods of time.

The couple of days following McWinterStormface, 2021 were delightful with sunny warm skies. In fact, our final day was in the mid 70’s and included a bike ride on some more of those amazing little Farm to Market FM roads.

As we reflect on our time in Fredericksburg, we really enjoyed this place, we’d definitely visit again. We are leaving with lots of unfinished business though. Our list of things we didn’t do was large and included the Admiral Nimitz WWII museum, the Lyndon Johnson State Park, the Old Tunnel State Park which is known for its bat caves. Enchanted Rock is one of the most well known parks to visit, a large granite rock second to the one in Stone Mountain Georgia in size but it was shut down from apparent damage from the storm. We never made the trips to Austin or San Antonio and missed the scene at Bankersmith and dinner at Alamo City Cafe. We did wander the downtown the late afternoon of our final day which was nice but confirmed it is a touristy spot. We both agree that a return trip here is needed to experience the things that storm cheated us out of this year.

Our move, Monday, February 22, was to Fort Stockton, Texas for one night then to Alpine, Texas for a few nights where we’ll stock up for our deep dive into Big Bend National Park. A place we have heard amazing things about and are eager to experience.

As of the publishing of this blog, we are in Alpine, Texas staying at the Lost Alaskan RV Park staging our push into Big Bend. Our camp in Big Bend Cottonwood Campground which sits on the southwestern side of the park along the Rio Grand River across from Mexico. This will be a dry camp so we will be leaving the comforts of connectivity, electricity, and plumbing behind which we have come to depend on. The temperatures for our stay are forecasted to be pleasant so all systems are go.





7 responses to “Texas Episode 4: Stormy McWinterstormface, 2021”

  1. Ed Wolph Avatar
    Ed Wolph

    Great ice photos. Glad to hear you all survived.

  2. Maureen Avatar

    So grateful to catch up. Have been very concerned how you did in the storm. I had hoped Toohey got a room for you at local Marriott!!! Maureen. Stay Safe ❤️??

  3. Joodie Avatar

    I’ve been through plenty of nasty ice storms but in liklier places! Love the icy prickly pear photos — so beautifully incongruous. Toohey seems to have the right attitude ?

  4. Bronwyn Avatar

    I think I saw next year’s Chrissie card in the photos. I’m impressed with you for staying active during the winterstormface. I think it was the perfect storm for crawling under the covers and reading for a week straight. Which, I suppose, is why ‘m not out camping, eh?

  5. Carlos A Bernal Avatar
    Carlos A Bernal

    McWinterStormface had to be a challenging adventure in a wonderful part of Texas at the wrong time.
    Big Bend should be adventurous too. Enjoy as much as we enjoy TWT.
    Carlos and Nancy


    Brrrrrr, what an experience. Amazed that you could even move around in that temperature with the freezing rain and all. You guys are tough, thick skinned or plain stupid to not notice how miserable you were. 🙂

    Hope the next week is/was warmer. We have had a few snows here to include 10 inches last night but then the sun comes out and melts most of it away.

  7. ROSEMARY Avatar

    Yikes – I had been wondering how you were faring out there in Texas, I’m relieved that you appear to have weathered the storm better than many of the state’s residents who describe the experience without an inkling of the joy that you were able to chronicle! I had wondered also, during your visit to the Galveston area, if you had read the book Isaac’s Storm, describing the disastrous hurricane in (I think) 1900? It’s a pretty interesting read and and honest portrayal of that horrible storm… So we hope you’re now enjoying your next stage, (with home almost in sight! ) and that the sun shines on you all…
    Rosemary and Clive