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Sherman, parked for the night by the Bulkley River near Smithers, British Columbia.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Smithers, British Columbia.

Where are they going next? Towards Prince George, British Columbia!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

No logic at San Angelo State Park

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise at Menard County Park in our spot by the river. Didn't have to get an early start, so we puttered around on the free wifi and took our time getting ready to go.

But by the time we did leave, it was getting windy. We should have left earlier!

Here's our sunrise...

Sherman's sunrise by the river.

And the wind continued. While we were headed north, we actually had a nice tailwind. But our route had us turning west, and then that nice tailwind became a not so nice cross wind. It was not fun to drive in. Sherman becomes a big sailboat in a crosswind. I think Ruth thought we were going to tip over a couple of times!

Texas bluebonnet flowers.

It's pretty flat around this part of Texas. Reminds us of Saskatchewan.

We made it around the southern outskirts of San Angelo (pop 100,000) and stopped at a Walmart to buy a few things, and filled up with gas at $2.29 a gallon ($0.76 per liter CAD). Then, only a couple of miles further to the south entrance of San Angelo State Park.

We stopped at the office and used our annual pass to avoid the daily entrance fee, then asked about camping. We only wanted to stay the one night. I had seen online that they have "primitive" sites without any hookups for $10 a night, and that works for us.

But the lady says "motorhomes are not allowed in the tenting sites, but I can give you a water and electric site for $20".

But we don't want to pay $20. And, nowhere does it say they are tenting sites. It says they are primitive sites.

And I understand why they have that rule. Some of the sites only have sufficient parking for a car, and they don't want people with bigger rigs sticking out into the roadway, or driving on part of the grass. 

I explain that we are only 28 ft, and from the pictures they have on their website we would easily fit in some of the tenting sites.

She says no, that's the rule. 

I ask for the boss, because I understand that she didn't make the rule. But the boss is at an event all day and she may not be able to contact him. She promises to try later in the afternoon.

So, with day use pass in hand, we drove over to the day use area.

Sherman, parked in the day use area at San Angelo State Park.

San Angelo State Park is on the shores of the O.C. Fisher Reservoir. If you look at it on Google Maps, or the maps that the park itself uses, you would think the park is on the shores of the lake.

The map shows a lake.
Only problem is, there is no more water in the lake! 

The water is far away, and there isn't much of it.

Back in 1951 when they built the dam, there was lots of water and this was a popular park and fishing lake. The lake was stocked and the five boat ramps were busy. 

But the current drought in Texas (now into it's 8th year) means that the little bit of water here is hardly usable. In fact, in 2015 the lake totally dried up, killing all the remaining fish. 

I found a chart of the water levels over the years and this has happened before. It seems cyclical, as are most things in the world. There was no water in the lake from 1965 to 1975 either.

Boat ramp.

So because there's no water in the lake, the park isn't used much. 

We were getting ready to go for a hike when the park ranger came by. He was checking to make sure we weren't planning on camping in the day use area. No, we weren't but why would it have mattered? I didn't say that to him, but it's true. This day use area doesn't get used at all because nobody comes here! Anyhow, we explained the situation, and he said he has had this conversation with the boss before. He said they are trying to get this day use area turned into campsites.

We set off on a hike.

Hmm. Looks like there are buffalo here!

We honestly thought they were buffalo. We hiked over there to get some photos.

Turns out I could get really close to them! Too funny.

One of the primitive sites. 
A tractor trailer could fit here!
And there were two other sites just like it.

Ruth, on the trail.

Not much to see, other than what you see in the photo above. It would have been a bit more scenic if there was water in the lake. We did spot a couple of birds though...

A western meadowlark.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher.

Made it back to Sherman, and drove back over to the office. By now, it was after 5:00pm, and we had to make a choice. If they weren't going to let us stay in the primitive area, we weren't going to stay at all. We could drive back to the Walmart (or the Lowes next door) but overnighting at big box stores is for emergencies only.

I had found a listing on the freecampsites website for a county park. It sounded decent, but it was 14 miles (22 kms) away. That would be our backup plan.

I went back into the office, and the lady said she spoke with her boss, and we are not allowed to park our motorhome in a tenting site.

No logic at all, and she couldn't give me a reason. I wish I could have spoken to the boss to see what his logic (or lack thereof) was.

I even asked about the three sites (61, 62, and 63) where a tractor trailer could have fit, and she says "nope".

So, they have a nearly empty park, and they turned down our $10. I know, it's only $10. But if you had a business that is clearly not doing well, wouldn't you do anything you can to accommodate your customers and bring in some income?

No logic at all.

Check out the photos of their "Primitive Campsites - Drive-up"...


Nowhere does it say that these are tent sites.

Anyhow, we drove on to a better place, and it was free... Foster County Park...

Our overnight spot last night.
GPS 31.32964, -100.63858

Windy on and off last night and I didn't sleep the best. Might have to have a nap this afternoon.

Yesterday's drive, 89.8 miles (144 kms).

We're headed to a Boondockers Welcome host just north of San Angelo. He's got a house on a big property with lots of space for a motorhome. Looking forward to meeting our host Paul.

Supposed to get hot this afternoon! High of 98F (37C) and windy!

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Nice price on a Black and Decker cordless drill...


And in Canada...




36 comments:

  1. A way better spot. Just fyi gas here in BC ranges from $1.49 a litre regular (recently went up) to $1.60 a litre. You may want to rethink the budget for your trip North. Too many tree huggers here (who all drive cars) who are holding Alberta hostage with the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Alberta is threatening to hold back gas/oil to BC. It's getting ugly

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    1. CKNW radio reported this morning gas is $2.00 per litre in Vancouver.

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    2. Yup, I bet there's some places way up North where the gas has to be brought in by burro, and will be pretty expensive.

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    3. I think these people just enjoy being jerks! They are in charge and nothing will change them! I would have moved on down the road also!

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    4. We know that prices are going to be higher but it may be one of our only chances to get up north so we will just have to figure that into the budget and perhaps just have a more expensive summer. We know that going north isn't going to be cheap!

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  2. Sadly I have ran into this logic way to often. Our motor-home is only 24 feet so in our case it is even more stupid.. I have usually bought the bullet and paid. Illinois is one place I have seen this. Thought most of the tenting sites are almost like pull thrus..
    I can understand if they are close to full, not to use up all the tent sites. I have also stayed at parks where the camphost was off for a couple of days and they come knock on the door to get paid at 6:30 AM.... They had a box for self check ins but refuse to use it..
    Logic a rare commodity..

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    1. As Kevin mentioned in the post we can understand why they have these rules, especially for when it is busy because there is always someone out there that tries to push the limit. It is just so frustrating when the park is pretty much dead though and we would have taken a site that wasn't even near anyone and we would have had no problem fitting into it or been sticking out onto the road way. Just no logic being used at all! :-(

      We will have to keep this in mind any time that we go through Illinois and not try staying at any of their State Parks.

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    2. I don't know if it would be be all the parks as in Mo. the local park sets many of their local rules. Not sure about Il. Some Ohio parks honor the Passport America half price deal thru the week. Maryland you can when a senior get a half price card for life for 5.00. Do not have to be a state resident. Not sure if US residency requirement. I don't mind paying for camping but the day use fees some places are just wrong.
      Actually the earlier park where they wouldn't let us in primitive was Indiana not Illinois. Sorry about that.

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    3. We have found in the past in order to make use of the senior's discount in the State or National Parks you have to be a US citizen, so it doesn't help us much but we know that a lot of State Parks will let us use the primitive sites, we have only come across two that haven't and they both happened to be here in Texas.

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  3. And then they can't understand why oh why they got let go! Common sense ain't that common it seems.
    Is it a Texas thing? We had to deal with a company that was "supposed" to see to our expenses in Europe based in Texas. (why of why the company that cannot be named used a company out of Texas to deal with Ex-Pats remains a mystery to this day.)
    It was great blog fodder when they were clearly clueless chowder heads, but was still a bit frustrating from time to time. I mean, all of the folks we had to be in contact with were sweet and nice as pie, but not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
    I too would have left, even if it meant sleeping at a big box store.

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    1. We don't necessarily blame the woman at the desk, she is just an employee who doesn't want to lose her job for "breaking" the rules. She even tried to reach the manager to ask and get his permission, it is him that was being totally unreasonable! As you said, common sense isn't so common. :-(

      No, it isn't necessarily a Texas thing seeing that we have stayed in other parks without this issue although we did have a problem at one of the first parks we stayed at but we talked to the manager there and he made the exception for us and we fit perfectly into the "tenting" spots.

      Yep, even we were prepared to stay overnight in a parking lot. After that, there was no way we were going to pay to stay there overnight!

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  4. Sometimes those things happen with no logic, take you 10 bucks you are only staying one night for heaven sakes.

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    1. No worries, we got the better end of the deal by staying for free further up the road and at a much prettier place! :-)

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  5. Things sometimes happen for a reason. Looks like you ended up in a premium site for the magic price...FREE!!! Safe Travels

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    1. Yep, we were very happy at our free spot. Much prettier than the camping area at the state park.

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  6. It's the snobbery of tenters that brings this about - backpackers, hikers, many of them all think RV'ing is worse than hoteling. So, they're the ones who often insist on no RV's at their tent sites. I am glad to know people like you that can do all of those things and still not be condescending to others.

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    1. As both an RVer AND a backpacker, I will say that the use of generators by many RVers can positively ruin an otherwise tranquil camping experience.

      Of course, that could be dealt with by yet another rule of prohibiting generator usage in non hook up (i.e. primitive sites). Oye vey!

      In any event, Ruth and Kevin it looks like your free site is much, much better!

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    2. I don't know that you could call it snobbery, we used to be tent campers ourselves and if all the tent spots were taken up with RV's then even I would be upset but when the place is empty to start with and it was only for one night it just didn't make sense. There were some sites that we understand why they don't allow RVs in because they have physical barriers that would prevent you from backing up enough that your front end would be sticking out onto the roadway but we wanted one of the sites that was far away from everyone and had a ton of room to park and not have our front end poking out onto the roadway.

      I do agree that if an RVer ran a generator in the "primitive" site, that would have frustrating, so then all they need is to have a rule that says no generators, if you can't live by that then pay for a site that has electricity but we wouldn't have needed to use our generator. It's just so frustrating! :-(

      Yes, we ended up with the better deal and site in the end, even if we had to drive a little further down the road to get to it. :-)

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  7. I'd pitch a 10$ tent and park my 30 foot car πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ™„πŸ™„

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    1. Daniel, just love it. LOL! But, yes, it's all in how a person looks at it. Yep, using the KISS method, just walk into the office, say that I would like a tent site, please; hand her the $10 bucks; stick a pup tent on the main part of the site; and park Sherman in the site driveway. All the "technicalities" will have been taken care of.

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    2. We should have done that, we even had a tent with us! :-) The only issue is that the lady at the desk was at the window when we arrived and she would have contested that our vehicle was not a car! :-(

      Oh well it ended up being their loss.

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  8. You have a much nicer spot anyway and it didn't cost you anything. Now you know for next time and due to your blog, others now know as well.

    Enjoy your time with the boon dockers welcome fella!!!

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    1. Yes, we did end up with a much better deal! :-)

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  9. I have been in Texas 60years of my life and the state Parks have definitely gone way down in the last three years

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    1. We really haven't had an issue with the Texas State Parks, they have all been pretty good for the most part, well except for the cleanliness of some of the parks bathrooms. Some of those could be a little better looked after. This is the first park that we really didn't enjoy much, and most likely will never return to this one again either.

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  10. As a New Mexican, we're trained from birth to hate Texas. That said, we travel there regularly, mostly for music; Texans are great supporters of live music. But I've never seen the appeal of San Angelo.

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    1. Oh my. I was born in NM but lived most of my life in Texas. Does that mean I am half hated?

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    2. We have enjoyed our visits through Texas over the years. Some places are much prettier than others and we haven't even been in the Big Bend area which I am pretty sure that we would love.

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    3. You'd love Big Bend NP, and also Big Bend Ranch State Park. Big Bend Ranch is probably bigger than all the other state parks put together. It's very scenic, and mostly undeveloped. We spent a night in the park 3 years ago, 50 feet from Mexico and were probably the only people within 15 miles in any direction.

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    4. I know that we would Creigh but for some reason our route has never taken us this way. It is in the plans though for some time in the near future. :-)

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  11. You ended up with a waaay better spot to overnight in...now we know where to go! Love the gorgeous pics of the birds! Safe travels.

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    1. Yep, we did end up with a much better spot and free at that! :-)

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  12. I've run into these silly park rules too. Usually because the park management is staffed with people who have never used an RV and don't understand the issues. No common sense at all. :c(

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    1. You could be right about the staff not knowing the limitations/issues with RVs. We totally get understand the need for the rules to be there when the park is busy but when it is dead like this one was, we just don't get it!

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  13. A couple of years ago I received a rather curt email; from some guy at a Corps of Engineers district in Texas, complaining that he was sick of having RV’ers show up, because of my camping app, at a couple of COE parks in his district that he claimed were tent-only. I told him that on his district’s website the information for both stated that they provided primitive camping. There was absolutely no mention that it was tent-only. When I pointed that out to him he got rather nasty and said that of course primitive meant tent-only. I told him I had been camping for 50 years and had never run into a spot labelled as primitive where I couldn’t stay with my small RV. I told him that any camper/RV’er would agree that primitive means only that are no or very few amenities. His response to me was so nasty that I ended up contacting his boss and his boss’s boss, who finally agreed that they would change the web page. Argh!

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    1. How frustrating and rude of them! At least now they have changed the website to reflect this. You are right though, if it says primitive that means little to no services and is fair game to an RVer if they can get into the spot and park without breaking rules, such as parking with wheels on the grass or nose/back end sticking out onto the roadway because you are too long when the rules say much park on pavement. If they don't want RVs in those sights then they need to say "tents only" and that will take any of the guess work out of the equation.

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