Back-Track To January 1, 2015…
So, to bring you all up to speed, recall that we decided to depart Big Bend National Park (heading for Del Rio, Texas) a few days early due to impending snotty weather (which we escaped by a matter of hours) and just way too much humanity.
But, let’s back up just a bit. I wrote all of the last blog post whilst still in the midst of a nasty bout with the flu. In doing so, I left out some stuff I should not have (and left in quite a few typos…).
First of all, I forgot to post a picture of my friend Neil Miller and me, sitting in his classic Morgan roadster, while we were still at Lost Dutchman State Park, near Apache Junction. A thousand pardons Neil…so here it is now.
Next, fast forwarding to Big Bend National Park, I neglected to mention a side trip we took into an area called Chisos Basin. It’s about an 8 mile drive off of Highway 385, turning off not too far from the Panther Junction Visitor Center. The drive into the area offers some magnificent views as you pass through several different desert and high desert ecosystems during the roughly 2000 foot elevation gain on the way in. An extremely magnificent part of the Park…at least until you get to Chisos Basin. What the NPS has allowed to happen there (for whatever reason) is a total atrocity. After passing through a beautiful environment on the way in, you are dismayed to find a hotel, restaurant, bar, incredibly horrible traffic and a campground that is so cramped and crowded that it comes close to resembling tenement housing. OK, this is just our opinion. Also, unless you are either tent camping or pulling a small tent trailer, you won’t even make it down the road. Perhaps this place would be more palatable during such a non-busy time of the year, and yes, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is probably about the worst time to be staying almost anywhere. But, that’s just our opinion.
January 3, 2015 – San Antonio, Texas
We arrived in San Antonio, Texas, with me still fighting the flu and a persistent, horrible cough. Despite this, we did some normal tourist stuff, like going to The Alamo and then to the River Walk. The Alamo on a Sunday was predictably crowded. But, still and all, it’s an extremely informative historical site, about 30% of which has been preserved (the rest falling to ‘progress.’) The monument is maintained and funded by a Historical Society, composed totally of volunteers; they have done an extremely commendable job. It’s free to get in, but there are copious donation boxes spread throughout the site. What is somewhat disappointing is what now surrounds The Alamo: a sprawling mass of places like ‘Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not’ and numerous other establishments of the same venue. Sorta takes the air out of the piece of history you have just visited. The River Walk area is OK…but touristy as one would expect. We had a couple of over-priced margaritas and some damnpretty good ceviche. Another kinda cool thing we did was take the city bus from the RV Park where we were staying into the downtown area. Not bad at all getting there, but the trip back proved to be somewhat of a challenge for two old geezers who have not had to figure out a bus schedule in years. After about an hour or so and walking more than a just few block, we finally found the right stop. The Bob was so excited on the way home that he pulled the ‘stop cord’ about ½ mile too early. You could see Dee Dee mouthing the words ‘Dumb Ass.’
January 7, 2015 – Corpus Christi, Texas
We are now at the Mustang Island State Park, located on Mustang Island, just South East of Corpus Christi.
It has been 10 days since we last saw the sun (except for a brief moment in San Antonio). We feel like we are doomed. And, we gulped down our last dose of Vitamin D several days ago.
This Texas State Park has a good campground, complete with a cabana to provide shade from the sun, which we did not have to worry about the whole time we were there. It rained hard and was very windy most of the time. The only saving grace in all of this was the fact that the rattle snakes stayed ‘indoors’, which certainly provided Dee Dee with a certain degree of relief. We were almost right on the beach – maybe only about a 3 block walk. Charlie was in doggy heaven; he got to chase a tennis ball and swim in the surf until he could hardly lift his tongue off the sand. Wahoo! Texas State Parks has an interesting fee structure: the campsites are fairly spacious and have water and power (there is a sewer dump conveniently located on the way out.) The rate is $20 per night, which seems reasonable until you factor in a $5 per day, per person, park use fee. That brings your stay there to $30 per night. Still and all, given the locale, not too bad a deal.
We drove down the island and took the FREE ferry (there were FIVE of them running full-tilt boogie) off the Island and over to the mainland, and then drove a big circle back through Corpus Christi and back to Mustang Island. The next day, we headed over to Padre Island, driving over a small causeway that links it to Mustang Island. At the end of the road is Padre Island National Seashore. Located on the south Texas coast, Padre Island National Seashore protects the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world, with nearly 70 miles of sand and shell beaches, windswept dunes and seemingly endless grasslands. And the majority of the 70 miles is roadless. But, you can drive on the beach (most of the time, except certain portions that are closed when sea turtle are nesting) and camp. Four-wheel drive is almost required to do this. There is an excellent campground there as well, but it’s total dry camping. The cool thing about this campground is that it is RIGHT on the beach. The surf seems to almost break into your campsite. This place is first-come-first-serve, and it was pretty full.
Due to the still crappy weather in the area, we opted to spend an additional day here and wait out the weather.
January 11, 2015 – Galveston Island, Texas
It’s been more than 2 weeks since we have seen the sun (well, it did manage to peak out for about 5 seconds one afternoon.) Our skin is taking on a bluish tint and our hands are now perpetually wrinkled due to the rain. One piece of good news is that finally, after more than 2 weeks, my case of the flu and cough seems to have almost totally dissipated.
Galveston is a very cool place. And, it’s really a ‘summer-time’ place as you can see by the multitude of tourist business that dominate the 14+ mile long Seawall Boulevard. It almost resembles Coney Island in many ways. As your drive down this long stretch, the city is on one side of the road and the Gulf of Mexico is on the other. We are staying at this very neat place called Dellanera RV Park, which is run by the County Parks. Our site is right on the beach – so close that we hear the Gulf of Mexico surf breaking, all the time. As we look out our back window, and especially at night, we can see a few off-shore oil rigs and several anchored tankers, waiting to be off-loaded at the several refineries in the area.
One issue we encountered, however, is that the beach immediately out front was being reconstructed because it was pretty much destroyed during the last hurricane. This is accomplished by essentially hauling tons and tons and tons of sand and re-positioning it on the beach. This is really a minor issue as we can walk about a block through the RV Park and take a small path down to portion of the frontage that is still in good condition. Once again, Charlie is very appreciative of the surf-and-sand environment we continue to provide for him. And, he now seems to spend an equal amount of time in the surf as he does chasing a tennis ball. We need to get him a board.
As we drove around exploring, we came across another of the FREE Texas ferries, off the north east side of Galveston Island. Very efficient operation. We counted 5 ferry docks at this location. Another thing we noticed is that almost all the houses on Galveston Island are built on ‘stilts’ – 12” X 12” pressure-treated timbers (or in some cases, telephone poles) driven into the ground. The actual house sits about 12 – 18 feet in the air. The reason is obvious – protection from flooding caused by hurricanes.
January 15 – still no sun! We depart here (Galveston Island) this morning, headed for Carencro, Louisiana, where we will be staying at the Bayou Wilderness RV Park. Stay tuned…