We steered Sherman out of Ft. Worth on the fourth morning of our RV road trip. Our destination was Goodfellow AFB Recreation Camp in San Angelo, TX which was about five hours away. This RV Park had no reserved spots available, so it was first come, first serve. We had called ahead and learned that there were a few spaces available at the time we called, but we moved along briskly in order to have a place for Sherman, our Cruise America RV, to spend the night.
By now we were becoming comfortable with the nuances of driving a motor home. The most difficult aspect of driving a vehicle of this type was becoming accustomed to driving with only side view mirrors to observe the traffic around you. The mirrors were large and easy to use and the wide angle mirrors were helpful as well. Nevertheless, for the first couple of days, I felt like my head was on a swivel and I was constantly casting glances from side to side.
There was one other factor that took some getting used to and that was driving in the wind. Sherman acted much like a big kite when the wind was blowing from the side…and it seemed like the wind was always blowing. This required some serious concentration at times and always required two hands on the steering wheel. At one point when crossing the open plains, a gust blew us onto the shoulder of the road. That experience was a bit unsettling. By the end of the early days of this trip, I felt the effects of holding Sherman to a straight line and was usually a bit fatigued. However, as mentioned above, I was getting used to it and just settled in on a speed of no more than 65 mph and used cruise control whenever possible.
When we arrived in San Angelo, we went first to the Air Force Base and not to the Recreation Camp a few miles away. There was no Pilot/Flying J nearby so Sherman needed fuel and we needed a few things for our kitchen. Goodfellow is a very large base and the employees and airmen were leaving for the day as we arrived, so traffic caught us at an inopportune time—remember we did not have reservations. We gassed up, (love BX gas prices) turned Sherman around and headed out.
Upon arrival at the Recreation Camp, the camp host, a very friendly gentleman named Ralph, greeted us warmly. He lived in a huge fifth wheel trailer at one end of the Camp. Ralph said he didn’t think he had any spaces left. Our hearts sank, it was getting late in the day, and we didn’t have a plan B.
Ralph went back to his trailer and grabbed a clipboard, then headed off to the camp office, telling us to wait while he checked a few things out. We endured several long minutes of sitting by Sherman immersed in hope. Ralph returned and asked us how long we would be staying and we replied that we were there for one night only. Our luck won out. Ralph had one space left. It turned out that, of the four campsites at Goodfellow that can be reserved, a camper making the reservation for one of them was delayed by a day. Sherman filled that space very quickly.
Before we connected the utilities, we got some directions from Ralph for a nearby place to grab food for take-out. We didn’t feel like cooking. Ralph suggested we give Packsaddle Barbeque a try since it was only about a mile down the road. We had been looking forward to some Texas barbeque so we were all in.
Packsaddle was a storefront operation in a strip center. When we arrived there were no customers, but two very friendly young ladies greeted us and made suggestions. Helen (adorable wife) wanted to try sliced brisket—something we don’t get in Tennessee, and I ordered a pulled pork plate. Both meals came with baked beans and cole slaw. We piled back into Sherman and returned to the campground, hooked up, and settled in for the night. Since we had a microwave oven in Sherman’s kitchen, we decided to take a walk around the campground then return to warm up dinner.
I want to give an overview of the Recreation area for our Military Living readers. The Recreation Camp is a very nice park. It only has 20 spaces, but all have electric, water, and sewer hookups. It has a great shower facility that is very clean and well maintained. (we took full advantage the next morning). There is also a nice washer/dryer facility that sits inside a reading and rec room with many books, videos, and puzzles to browse or read while you wait for your laundry to finish.
The campground sits alongside Lake Nasworthy, a pleasant lake for fishing or boating. There is a marina and a marina office for boat rentals although this was closed on the day we visited. We sat on one of the benches beside the marina to regroup from a day of driving. This was a welcome break.
After our Barbeque dinner (just ok, not great), we listened to music on the MacBook I brought along. If there is anything to criticize about this camp, it is that, while Wi-Fi is available, it is very unreliable. We finally gave up, but that was not really a big deal. We could remain disconnected for one day.
We awoke around sunrise and walked to the mini mart outside the gate for ice and coffee. Unfortunately, we did not have time to browse through the town of San Angelo. We needed to make our way to White Sands Missile Range because, like Goodfellow, there were no reservation sites available. I’m told that San Angelo is a great place to explore but we’ll have to come back on our next trip.
We did make one pit stop after we hit the road and it just happened that we stopped in front of a historical marker pointing to Castle Gap, a break in the mountains where the first cattle drives came through in the 1800’s. I did some research later and learned that the early drives through this gap opened the trail for future drives from Texas to Montana. The stories about these drives later served as the basis for one of my all-time favorite novels, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Legend is that eight different gold shipments were lost by settlers while venturing through the Gap, and treasure hunters still work the mountains in search of lost gold.
Not even the possibility of finding gold could convince Sherman to drive through Castle Gap. He preferred instead to continue Easin’ Along.
Please come back next week–White Sands, NM.