Trekking Through Texas

Mid-November – mid-December 2017

After our 4 days at Guadelupe/Carlsbad it was time to head all the way across Texas. Texas is humongous, which you don’t realize until you drive across it, and then you forget until you have to drive across it again. 🙂

We broke up the trek with a few stops. The first one was a return visit to Monahans Sandhills State Park. After an arduous drive that included potholed roads, long road construction delays, and tons of oilfield truck traffic we arrived to sun glinting off the dunes. Then the rain moved in to spoil any hopes of sand sledding, so it wasn’t as stunning as our last visit. Still I did get out for a nice walk around the dunes on our last day.

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Next we planned on staying at the SKP Park in Hondo TX, but when we arrived we found mayhem. They were repaving the internal roads so half the park was closed, including the dry camping, and they had crammed everyone into the other half so had no spots available. Wish they would have said something on their website, but luckily they pointed us to nearby Quiet RV Park, which was just that, and since they accepted Passport America we got half off our site. So in the end it actually worked out great for us. Plus we found a delicious local BBQ joint.

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Our site at Quiet RV Park backed up to farm fields.
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If you’re ever in Hondo TX try the BBQ turkey at Heavy’s!

Our last stop was Lake Corpus Christi State Park. We wanted a short drive to Padre Island, since sites are first come first serve and often fill up, so this park to the west of Corpus Christi fit the bill. Unfortunately it seemed more like a place for locals to come and party on the weekends or go fishing than a great place to camp. The sites and roads were crumbling and muddy from the recent and continuing rains.

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Hunting season so the deer are hiding out at the state park 🙂

I have to admit my gloomy mood matched the gloomy setting and our rainy 3 days here seemed to stretch on forever. But we were rewarded when we pulled into the campground at Padre Island and had our pick of several oceanfront spots. We choose the exact same spot we were in last year since we knew it afforded great ocean views right from our trailer.

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Looking back at our site from the dunes you can just see the solar panels raised to catch the winter sun.

Ahh, 2 weeks at the ocean. I could instantly feel my mood improving and my stress dissipating. Just like last year it felt like we were on vacation. I know that’s funny because most people look at our life and think we’re on vacation all the time. In reality there is a lot of time spent planning, maintaining the trailer, doing chores, and taking care of everyday life, but somehow when we hit the beach we feel relaxed. We take daily walks and observe the tides and just chill.

Each day the beach is a little different. This time on the day we arrived there was tons of sargassum seaweed, trash, and small man-o-war all washed up by a recent storm. Apparently the currents bring a lot of stuff from the south tip of Florida and the coast of Mexico up this way. Another day the beach was littered with jellyfish. We saw hardly any of the tiny seashells we had seen last year and even saw some different birds this time.

We made a daily habit of picking up a trash bag or two from the campground host and filling it. About 90% of what we picked up were toothbrushes, plastic bottles, parts of shoes, bottle lids, plastic bags and random pieces of brightly colored plastic. Many times the plastic was so brittle that it would shatter into tiny pieces when we tried to pick it up. I totally understand how they find sea animals whose stomachs are filled with plastic. Unfortunately these creatures mistake the plastic pieces for food. We even saw two seagulls fighting over a piece of brightly colored plastic. If you want to do one thing to help the environment, cut back on your use of plastic in any way that you can!

We drove down the island to Big Shell Beach. It is covered with shell fragments that have been tumbled in the waves. They look like broken pieces of pottery.

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Again we celebrated Thanksgiving with a feast prepared in our trailer. Turkey breast, green bean casserole, marshmallow sweet potatoes and squash cooked on the grill, biscuits cooked in the solar oven, and mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and salad to round out the meal. Not bad at all.

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Thanksgiving dinner with a view!

After our relaxing “ beach vacation” we headed to Mission, Texas. Chuck has been searching for places with RV casitas. Basically this means a tiny house next to a parking pad for your RV. We figure this might be the next step for us. It would give us a break from the trailer and a place to spend the winter while our trailer served as a guest house for our visitors. One place that seemed to fit the bill was Retama Village. It’s down in the very tip of Texas just a stone’s throw from the Rio Grande.

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Our site next to a one bedroom casita.

Our first week there was glorious. The weather was in the 80s and the clubhouse and pool were beautiful. Our site was just across from some friendly Airstream folks who had us over for cocktails and conversation. They had recently purchased a casita and were kind enough to share their thought process and experiences.

We enjoyed a week of sunshine, dips in the pool, and butterflies everywhere (the area is on their migration path). What we didn’t find was an interesting town. Instead there was lots of sprawl and traffic and chain stores, but not an area with that interesting, vibrant small downtown feel. We did manage to find a cute little spot to enjoy my birthday dinner.

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And we visited the nearby National Butterfly Center.

At the end of the week we had a list of pros and cons, but were still on the fence.

Pros
own the land
stick built structure
hookups for RV
landscaping maintained by park
low cost of living
beautiful clubhouse/pool
butterflies

Cons
far from family
not a lot of organized activities
not an interesting town
traffic
bugs
humid

We decided we needed a little more time exploring before we could make a decision, so we moved to the adjoining Bentsen Palm RV Park.

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Here we discovered another con, the wild fluctuations in the weather.

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Waking up to 30 degrees and snow was quite a shock after the 80 degree weather of the week before! And it kinda tipped the balance for us. So after we waited out the cold front moving across south Texas we made the long trek back across this vast state to spend our winter in Arizona. But that’s a story for next time.