2. “We have more fun than anyone” Texas road trip... September/October.2019

Day 6 
The sand was getting to me.  And more annoying than that, is the Gulf air which is kind of slimy.  The inside of my 4Runner, which had been so clean along with all my bedding, was now covered every day in a damp slimy air. I could hardly see out my windows & wiping them off with a paper towel was like smearing the inside a dead bug.   I had two things stuck to the walls of my 4Runner with heavy duty velcro, & they had fallen off.  My phone chargers were acting up & not working right.  Plus, there was sand everywhere.  And, I was still un-nerved by the flooding last night. These were all the down sides of beach camping.  I could leave & go somewhere else, or change my attitude & tolerance.

I drove off Port A & back over to Corpus Christi & washed my car, making sure to get the underside & wash off any residue from last night.  I also noticed a couple of rusty things…two spots on my 4Runner, a bunch of stuff on my bike & my two key chains…UGH!  I went to a cute little coffee shop I’d passed earlier made from shipping containers…it was called Island Joes & they had great coffee.  I plugged in everything that was dying & visited with Danny over the phone.

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I’d been messaging back & forth with a Sister on the Fly who was also coming to Padre before the Gonzales event.  She’d arrived at the campground last night, so I drove over to meet her.  Rebecca was so much fun to meet!  She’s from St. Louis & has been a SOTF for quite awhile.  We chatted & I checked out her new van she’s currently traveling in.  She told me about Sea Beans…something I found fascinating.  We drove up to the Visitors Center (she needed to buy ice) & the volunteer was giving a talk about all things Padre Island….including he had some actual sea beans.  Rebecca was headed back to her camp & I was going to check out another campground on the island.  We hugged good bye, knowing we’d meet up again soon in Gonzales.  She’s also an amazing water color painter…awesome!

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I did a drive-by of Bird Basin campground, but it was just a parking space, on concrete for $8 a night.  Id rather be on the beach, in spite of some of the frustrations Ive had.  Before I left the park, I found a parking space near the outdoor shower.  I cleaned out as much sand as I could, washed the wet & stinky rug in shower, shook out my blankets & made it all better.

I stopped at Mikel Mays for lunch.  Its out on a pier & a couple of people had told me it was good.  The temperature was super hot & the restaurant had only giant loud fans; no AC or breeze; there was a sour smell to the whole place & when I sat at the bar there were several flies buzzing around me as my dining companions.  I got up & left.  I drove back to Port A & stopped at the Black Marlin Bar & Grill. I stepped into a quiet air conditioned clean place & ordered the gulf shrimp tacos…one blackened, one fried & one grilled.  They were great!

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I headed back to the beach.  It was Sunday evening & the beach was much more empty & quiet.  I backed in & started walking.  I noticed that there were a whole lot of jelly fish now washed up on the beach, along with more seaweed & other natural stuff.  Once back at the car with a beer & book in hand, it also turned out to be great bird watching.  They were scavenging the stuff that was washed up & were pretty entertaining.

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Making good headway on all the books I’ve brought with me & fairly good dent in all the beer I brought (I didn’t trust Texans to make good beer), I checked my newly found “current’ app regarding the ‘flooding’ & found a time.  I drove far down the beach to right before the ‘day only’ parking & backed up to the fence for the dog beach.  It seemed the farthest from the water & almost a little built up (guess that doesn’t really stop the water though).  I opened my back window all the way & moved the pillows to that end of the 4Runner…so easy to switch ends of my bed!  Then I grabbed my flashlight & began my late night vigil to watch the water rise.  I read a lot, but every 30 minutes would check the level of the water with my flashlight.  Soon it was 1am & I was dozing off.  I set my alarm for every 20 minutes.  In one 20 minute time frame, the water came within about 20’ of me.  It never came closer than that, but I was amazed how fast & far it came up when it did.  After the ‘flood-time’, I laid down & finally went to sleep, feeling pretty confident the high water for the night was past.

Day 7 

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Camper & I woke in the morning to another sunny hot day, but dry…except for more slime on everything.  I had kept everything in the 4Runner, so there was nothing to pack up.  But just because I’d stayed dry in my super wide spot, the rest of the beach was not…it was like wet cement.  And, the beach was full of stuff that had washed up.  It wasn’t too pretty.  Not a place I wanted to pull out my table & chair & make coffee.  So, I drove to the nearest outdoor shower, washed up & changed clothes & waved good bye to Port A. 

I stopped back by Island Joes for more coffee & power & chatted with a local guy (with a Texas-sized ego) & a couple of people working there.  I asked about what there was to see in Corpus Christi…nothing was the answer all of them gave me.  I Googled what there was to do.  I didn’t want to see a big retired aircraft carrier, or go to the Aquarium, or visit the Selena museum.  One of them mentioned that Rockport was a really neat town..wineries & good places to eat.  So, I went through the car wash again, then hit the road heading to someplace new.

It was Monday & most of the shops in Rockport were closed.  But, I walked up & down the 3 blocks looking in windows & going in & out the three or four places that were both open & interesting to me.  This seemed to be a town that drew groups of older women shoppers…although they should have checked to see what was actually open before they all arrived on this Monday (but I hadn’t done that either).  I went into a big gallery & visited with the woman working there.  

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She suggested a really good place to eat & pointed out the ONE winery in town.  The winery was in an old run down house, very unappealing & not opened either.  So, I drove the 7 miles out to the recommended restaurant only to find it was closed too.  I asked Google to help me out & found Moondog which was supposed to have a good view & tasty food & was open.

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Against my better judgement, I went with the bartenders recommendation of the smoked brisket nachos.  They do all their own smoked meats in house as well as roasting the corn that was on the nachos.  

It was all delicious & I knew I’d be leaving a lot to waste, but they were yummy.  I left Rockport not too impressed & then my stomach started to be unimpressed too.  I was thinking of paying for camping tonight in one of the Texas State Parks.  I drove to Goose Island State Park & drove around looking for camping. Ummm….it’s brutal hot out & this park had no shade.  The campsites were overgrown with long grass & in the sun.  Nope….not paying for this.  

I’d read about some free camping at a place called Magnolia beach with showers & toilets but sometimes crowded.  It sits on the bay so I thought maybe the sand/slime factor might be a bit lower.  I spent the rest of the day driving & trying to convince my stomach to behave & found this little gem for camping.  In truth I was parked on the pavement, but each place had grass, a view & a little pink cabana with a grill & picnic table.  I was there off seasonthe snow birds would soon be coming in flocks.  But not tonight.

There were about 3 big RV’s at one end in a huge parking lot, but only one tent on the other end.  I found my cabana & checked out the bathrooms.  The shower rooms were locked, but the toilets were flush complete with sinks & outside was an outdoor shower….pretty sweet in my book. The temps continue to go up, but I read under my cabana then as the sun went down, I walked the beach.  This is one of the few natural shell beaches in Texas so there was lots to look down at & the view of the bay was pretty with big & little ships going in & out of port towards the Gulf.

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I had a yummy beer (thinking this would settle my stomach) & called it a night.

Day 8 
I had soaked some oats last night so ate breakfast along with coffee & view this morning.  Then I took a nice cool shower in the outdoor shower & then finished another book.  I drove into town to a Bucee’s but this one was tiny & not anything like the huge ones I’d stopped at on my way down here.  But, they had ice, which I needed. In spite of having my new spiffy cooler, the temps are so hot here I was back to buying ice almost everyday.  Then I drove to a Whataburger…a fast food joint started in Corpus Christi.  It’s super rare I eat fast food & I know I won’t be trying this place again.  And, it was probably a bad choice when my stomach is being cranky.  Back at my pink cabana, I set up my hammock & had shade & a breeze & lazily read more.

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Early in the evening an old Volkswagen Van drove up with stickers plastered all over the back.  A young guy & his big dog parked,  got out & walked the beach.  He came over & asked about the camping in heavy Swiss accent.  His name was Chris & the dog was Zeus…who understands commands both in English & Swiss.  Chris was traveling the world…from North America to South & was very nice & interesting.  We shared some travel conversation throughout the evening until the bugs showed up for the night.

As darkness fell & the bugs wanted dinner (me), I put my new sleeping net on the back of the 4Runner.  My brother had given me the giant net & told me to magnetize it to my 4Runner.  It was super hot tonight.  I’d anticipated this trip to Texas to be warm, but not this hot.  I’d bought a teeny-tiny fan for inside the 4Runner.  So, between my two new things, I was hoping to stay cool enough to sleep well.

Day 9 
I was warm last night, but not hot.  But this morning, it was getting hot quicker.  I made coffee & Chris & I chatted.  There was no breeze & the water was super still this morning.  I packed up ready to move on & said good bye to my fellow traveler.  I stopped in the town of Victoria, which seemed like any other suburban town & ran errands…gas, groceries, ice & another car wash.  I have now washed my car 3 times in the past few days…that’s two times more than I washed it all of last year!

I had reservations to meet Jill at Palmetto State Park for tomorrow, but was hoping to score a site here tonight.  I’d be paying for the next two nights, but this was supposed to be the Texas gem of State Parks.  They had a site when I showed up…as a matter of fact, they had every site in the no-hook up area, so that was easy.  And they had trees!  And they had shade!  And water & a picnic table & bathrooms that were far away & showers that were super far away.  But, I was happy to be here.  

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I knew some Sisters were supposed to be here tonight, although they would all be over in the hook-up side of the park (because everyone needs their air conditioning!)  I walked around the campground, checked out the San Marcos river that was nearby, opened a beer & my book.  I moseyed over to the RV side of the campground in the evening, found the showers & the Sisters! There was big group from Tennessee & some from Texas & they were all welcoming to this lone Sister.  It was a fun evening listening to their stories & getting to know a few of them.  They were headed out early the next morning to check in a couple of days early to the Gonzales event.

pulled out my headlamp & walked back to my quiet spot on the other side of the park.

Day 10
I slept well last night…I could hear the coyotes through my open windows & hatch.  The net is working really well at letting the air in & keeping the bugs out.  It’s not too pretty & has a little weird chemical smell, but I’m happy with this new addition.  I don’t usually camp in hot places…exception being Utah.  And when I do, I’ll be glad to have the net.

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I was excited to see all the short trails they offered in this park…about 5 or 6 miles total.  You could break out in a sweat just standing in one spot, but I wanted to hike & I did have the ability for a shower afterwards.  So, I spent the morning hiking everywhere in the park.

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I packed up my car & drove over to the showers…I was past check out time, but not too worried about it.  Then I drove up to Luling to a BBQ place one of the Sisters had mentioned the night before.  Evidently there is a Texas BBQ trail & this place was on it.  It was kind of weird in that you walk into this huge restaurant with a counter in front & behind a door in the back is another counter.  Cash only signs plastered the place.  So, the process is to walk into the back room which is about 100 degrees & had 5 guys working behind a tiny counter, but that’s where the meat is cooked.  You order whatever meat you want, by the pound, & are asked if you want pickles (two choices), a chunk of onion & how many slices of white bread.  Thats all served on a tray with butcher paper & then it’s time to pay.  If you want side orders of food or drinks, you order & pay for that at the front counter.  I ordered two ribs & a glass of water.  They were good, but I would soon learn (while checking out a few other Texas BBQ places) that their emphasis is the rub & the meat, but never the sauce.  I’m a saucy girl…love lots of sauce on my BBQ so I’m picky about what sauces I like & what sauces I don’t.  And in Kansas City, we have a ton of great BBQ & the emphasis is on the meat & the sauce.  

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After my ribs, I walked around town a bit.  Not too many shops, but one I went into ended up being a history lesson on the state of Texas.  Misty was the owner of the Box Elm boutique & super friendly.  I told her I was just traveling through & asked her opinion on which town I should visit next today.  I was there for 30 minutes as she told me her family’s ranching history, the history of the three towns (this one, & the other two I was considering visiting) as well as about the town of Gonzales…where the SOTF would celebrate their 20th anniversary.

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I followed her recommendation & drove to Lockhart which she described as having many cool shops around the town square.  The town reminded me of Waxahacie…where I went to the Girl Camper event last April.  There’s a huge courthouse in the center with the businesses’ surrounding it.  I parked & walked all around going in a couple of the shops.  Most were antique/vintage shops, which seem to be in every small Texas town.  Texans must love their old stuff…or other peoples old stuff!

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I headed back to the park anticipating Jill’s arrival this afternoon.  Her & Tramper showed up just after I’d arrived at our campsite seeing both my first armadillo & a little snake…yikes!

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The RV side of the park was filling fast as Sisters came in from Oklahoma & more from Texas.  It seemed they all knew each other but welcomed Jill & I easily.  We all pulled up chairs around someones picnic table & got to know each other.  There was laughter & fun & I learned all about the Six Flags of Texas.  Then it was dark & everyone was leaving at the crack of dawn (Jill & I wouldn’t leave until around 8am) to drive the short distance to Gonzales to start ‘having more fun than anyone’…the Sisters on the Fly motto.

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