Friday, March 31, 2023

A Beach Sunrise and Travel Day

 Location: Quintano County Beach Campground; Freeport, TX

Today was travel day to a campground that I've been to twice in the past. But before leaving Mustang Island, I was able to get a couple of sunrise pictures. The tides have been high in the early afternoon, and the strong winds have been blowing water farther up onto the beach. Sunrise is around 7:15  and since high tide was around 2:00 p.m., I thought I would catch the sunrise in between tides. I was wrong, that didn't happen. One morning I was headed to the beach, had shifted into 4 wheel drive and as I came out of the soft sand and onto the beach, bam!, there was water everywhere. I was lucky and was able to turn around. They said something about the wind and tide causing the problem. I didn't investigate any further and was slower at approaching the beach afterwards. I got lucky on the last day at Mustang Island and was able to creep out onto the beach to get some sunrise pictures. I was only able to stay about 15 minutes before the water began lapping at Freedoms tires. It was worth it because that is one of the reason I came here was to see some beach sunrises.

I was afraid the clouds were going to keep the sun from shining through.

The sun popped through a little opening in the clouds. It was nice.

The water getting close to Freedom broke the sunrise spell and I got off the beach while the getting was good.

Today's tow was a little less than 200 miles which about twice the distance I like to tow now-a-days. But, it was good weather, except for wind. I needed to find a place to stay for two days before my reservation at Galveston. I thought about going back to Magnolia Beach but wasn't thrilled about that due to the predicted high temperatures and humidity. I had looked into going back to Goose Island for those two day and hoped there would be a vacancy on the bay side. The campground showed full. But, I checked back a few hours later and there was a campsite, in the wooded area, at Goose. Apparently, someone had canceled. I jumped at the chance and made reservations. Afterwards, I decided to check the availability at Quintano County Campground. I figured they would be full up with it being a Friday and Saturday and Houston so close. But when I called, since they don't have online reservations, the nice lady said they had plenty of vacancies. Even though it is more expensive, I made the reservation and canceled the one at Goose Island.

With all of the natural beauty around the Gulf Coast area, there is also room for industry. 

Some people in Washington, DC needs to realize industry and nature can co-exist. 

The Coastal plains of the Texas Gulf Coast are as flat as Kansas, Nebraska or North Dakota. 

I haven't seen one of these in a while, and I'm always looking for them. It is an isolated tree in the middle of a field. To me, it always makes me wonder why it is still there. Why hasn't it been cut down over the years? There is a story to be told from every one of them.

Matagorda County Courthouse in Bay City, Texas while sitting at a red light. I've noticed the courthouse along the coast are more of a "plain Jane" style as opposed to the lavish architecture of the ones in and around the hill country.

Bay City is also where I introduced Liberty2 to Walmart. 

Those are some heavy duty, beaucoup big electrical transmission lines. At this point I was about 20 miles from the coast. If I remember to do so, I'll use Google Earth to see where they are coming from and going to. See what you think about when you travel alone. Decision may be easier, but your mind will wander.

Looking north, up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).

After you top over the ICW bridge, you get to see the Gulf of Mexico. To get to the campground, you turn left once you level out.

Another campsite picture.

Freeport is the town that has a diner (Sweet T's Diner) that made me a Reuben Sandwich several years ago. That sandwich is in the top 5 Reubens I've had from around the country. After getting Liberty2 set up, I went to see if they were still making it the right way. I thought about it for a long time before deciding to go because I was afraid of going for a second time may ruin a good memory if the sandwich wasn't as good. I was also concerned that it may be the same as kissing a woman; the first time is always the best.

I shouldn't have went. The corned beef was grisly, very little sour kraut which was bland. I was completely disappointed in the sandwich, however, the fries were really good. I'll have to think longer and harder before going for second helpings at some of my top places to eat.

This is inside the diner. I didn't take a picture of the Reuben because it wasn't worthy of having its picture taken.

Sweet T's Diner. If I go back, I'll get a burger instead of a Reuben. I didn't notice the "blessing box" until I was taking this picture. It has common items like soap, shampoo, socks, canned food, etc. I wish I had asked about its history but I didn't see it as I was entering. 

I'm also going to try, for the third time, to do something that I've failed at in my past visits here. I'm not going to mention it, because I may jinx it.

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Padre Island and A Big Bridge

 Location: Mustang Island State Park; Corpus Christi, Texas

Today is day 4 of 5 here at Mustang Island. So far, the days have been mostly overcast and windy. The temperature dropped to the lower 60's last night which, to me, is perfect sleeping weather. The weather hasn't cooperated yet for any sunrise pictures although I hope it clears tomorrow or the next day. If not, there are possible sunrises at the next two campgrounds.

This is the campground here at Mustang Island State Park. It is a barebones, water/electric campground. It is basically, a large paved parking lot with 24 back-in campsites on each side. From end to end, it is a 1/4 mile so if you walk it, it is 1/2 round trip. The beach is a couple hundred yards away with driveable access. I like it a lot.

I took a slow drive on Ocean Drive in Corpus Christi. It is the city street that runs along the coast of Corpus Christi Bay. It eventually ends up at the construction project I wanted to see. The last time I was here, a few years ago, there was an ongoing construction project to replace the bridge over the ship channel of the bay. I could tell back then it was going to be a massive project. As I was driving here from Goose Island, I could see the progress that had been made. I could tell something was wrong, because the project should have been much farther along and almost completed. It wasn't. Just a quick look, which is what I got while driving on the adjacent bridge, the project was 2 to 3 years from completion. 

I came back for a better look from the city streets below the project. In a way, I wish I hadn't have seen anything and stayed away. Just parking on the city street and looking, I noticed several things that would have drawn must more attention from me had it have been a bridge I was responsible for in my previous career. But hey, I didn't write down my concerns or call TxDot to make a report. I calmly drove away. The problem though, I couldn't shut my mind down from thinking about the project. When I got back, I looked the project up online and found out it had been delayed due to multiple design and construction problems. The nearly one billion dollar project was a design-build project, which in my opinion, is a recipe for disaster one day, somewhere in the country. Maybe I'm just old fashioned and stuck in my old ways. Over the last few years, I've made great progress about putting my old career in the rear view mirror. This bridge project may have made me back-slide some. Oh well, I have enough memory demons to deal with on other subjects and really didn't need any more.

Ocean Drive in Corpus Christi. Lots of fancy homes and condos to the left. Very little bit of traffic when I was there on a weekday. As summer gets going, it will probably be bumper to bumper.

The contraption on top of the bridge is what lift pre-cast decks in place. Once a span is complete, it moves on to the next one. 

Looking out at the main cable support piers for the future Cable-Stayed Bridge. On the bottom left corner you can see a pre-cast deck segment waiting to be lifted in place in the future.  

Just a block away from the bridge is the Whataburger Field where the Astros AA team plays. They are called the Corpus Christi Hooks. I'm not sure about that name, it seems they could have come up with something better. 

I also drove down to the Padre Island National Seashore. I've been there before, but felt obligated to make the short drive to check it out again.

There isn't much on the way to Padre Island National Seashore (PINS). At one time, cattle roamed this area, but not much anymore.

Nice welcome center. The flag was flying at half staff due to the shooting in Tennessee.The wind was blowing steady about 20 mph or so with gusts easily in the mid 30's. 

Maybe better than a bench. Four rockers with a view of the Gulf of Mexico. 

This is first come, first serve, no campsite services, Malaquite Campground. It resembles a narrower version of Mustang Island State Park. The beach is just on the other side of the dunes. This is the place I thought about coming to instead of Magnolia Beach. I nixed that idea due to excessive temperatures, no cell service and possibly being full when I arrived. I'm glad I went to Magnolia instead.

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Goodbye Magnolia Beach, Hello Mustang Island

Location: Mustang Island State Park; Corpus Christi, Texas

This will be a short post just as a page keeper of campground arrivals.

I left Magnolia Beach yesterday around 11:00 with a 113 mile tow to Mustang Island State Park. I had a nice stop about half way at a Dairy Queen for lunch. Healthy, healthy.

Sunrise on the last day at Magnolia Beach. Really peaceful way to enjoy morning coffee

The last sunset at Magnolia. 

Mustang Island was the destination I set back in February. When traveling, I set a destination point and slowly work my way to that point with many stops along the way. On this trip, there have been eleven intermediate stops before arriving here. This is my third time at Mustang Island and I'll be here for 5 days. If the weather and tides cooperate, I hope to get some sunrise pictures while driving on the beach like I've done before. 

From the first time I camped here, it has been one of the good vibe locations that I've found around the country. I need to post that list one day. It seems as though stress and worry doesn't exist here, at least not for me.

After getting Liberty2 set up on the outside and turning the A/C on (that I missed at Magnolia), I had to go check out the beach. Being Sunday, there were about a dozen people on the beach and a couple of tent campers. I was able to dive to a lonely spot to sit for a while before going back to finish setting up camp.

I'm camped next to an Rpod from Kentucky. I wonder what the odds of that happening.

My campsite.

Two Rpod's camped next to each. More of that "serendipity" that I've mentioned before. Kentucky on the left, Louisiana on the right. 

The weather is suppose to be overcast with an increasing chance of rain tomorrow. I may use one of this two days to take care of some shopping in Corpus Christi. Unless I get lost, I'll also try to get a good look at the major bridge construction going on downtown.

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road. 


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Free Beach Camping at Magnolia Beach

 Location: Magnolia Beach, Port Lavaca, Texas

When planning this trip, I had two days that I couldn't find reservations for in between the last campground at Goose Island and the next campground at Mustang Island. My original plan was to stay at the Padre Island National Seashore at Malaquite Campground for those two days. It is a first come, first serve, $7.00/night boondocking campground. It is about 20 miles from Corpus Christi and the last time I visited it I was camped at Mustang Island. It was worth the drive to spend the day and I put the campground on my list of future places to camp with an asterisk of "no cell service" and if you get there and they're full up, your screwed. So, that was the plan. Spend 5 days at Goose Island, then 2 days at Malaquite, then 5 days at Mustang Island. Big Ut oh, I checked the weather forecast for those two days and it said a high of 97 degrees on Friday and 95 for Saturday. Remember, boondocking means NO Air Conditioning. I'm not a hard core boondocker so I needed to reevaluate my plan. One of the common phrases some RV travelers use is their "plans are made in jell-o", meaning they can change quickly and easily. That phrase made a lot more sense many years ago when very few campgrounds ever reached 100% occupancy. Now-a-days though transient workers use RV's instead of apartments/motels and lots of people are using RV's as a regular place to live instead of renting or buying a house. This has been a boon for campgrounds because they are full most of the time. Other places, like State Parks, are mostly reserved about 6 weeks in advance. Times have changed, so we travelers have to adapt. 

Another campground that has been on my list for a while was Magnolia Beach, which is where I'm camped now. I had planned to stop here for two day in between Mustang Island and Galveston Island. That changed and I came here instead of Malquite. The weather forecast showed Magnoia being 13 degrees cooler than Malaquite and has strong cell phone/internet service. That cinched it for me. My plan officially changed.

Magnoglia beach is owned by Calhoun County and is opened to anyone, free of charge, on a first come, first serve basis. There is room for at least 100 RV's with most being able to camp within 15 feet of the water. The water is a huge bay, named Lavaca Bay. It got hotter than they predicted yesterday after the weather front moved through and the wind stopped blowing. Once the breeze picked back up it became tolerable. Today has been very comfortable with the outside temperature running in the mid to upper 70's and a nice breeze blowing. When I was sweating yesterday, I was thinking about hitching up and finding some electricity, but now I'm glad I didn't.

Once you get to the beach, you just drive along it until you find a spot to pull-in/back-in. There are everything from very large and fancy Class A motorhomes to home-made campers. 

I found a nice spot and although it was a very tight location, I was able to back in without hitting anything. 

This is looking south along the beach. It's not a nice sandy beach for playing or making sand castles, but it is nice for RV's.

You have to bring your own shade, ie. your RV or vehicle. Remember, Port Lavaca is an international port and receives ocean going ships.

The view out my back window.

Sunset on Day 1.

Sunrise on Day 2. Sipping coffee, made using my inverter.

The above is a video to remind me of the sound of the waves when I view it in the future. That sound is what will stick with me after leaving here. Very nice.

I started traveling nine years ago and during that time had only boondocked two times, both in Walmart parking lots on my way back to Louisiana from Idaho. The weather was perfect for it back then and my AGM batteries did just fine for such a short time. However, even after those two times, I never got bitten by the boondocking bug. It just didn't fit my way of traveling and exploring. These two days here at Magnolia still have not convinced me to do more boondocking although I will probably come back here for two more days before getting to Galveston. 

When I ordered Liberty2 back in May of 2022, I did not include the optional solar power package. Well, either good luck or bad luck, Liberty2 was built in the first week of the 2023 model year and the solar package  had become standard equipment. Liberty2 came with a 200 watt solar panel, 30 amp controller and a 2000 watt inverter at no additional cost. After learning that I had solar I thought, well, crap, now I have to learn a little bit about solar. So, I learned the minimum. To "shrinky dink" it down, in my simple mind, solar does two things. One, the panel and controller charges the battery and two, the inverter powers up the 120 volt receptacles so I can make a cup of coffee. So far, everything is working as it should. I have two fans that that helped during the temporary heat wave yesterday but so far today have not needed.  

These two days here at Magnolia have been very peaceful. As I'm writing this post, I can see and hear the waves through my back window as a cross-breeze is blowing through Liberty2. It is a good way to relax and review your life, even without a bench.

Tomorrow is moving day and I have to backtrack a little to get to Mustang Island State Park. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe, I'll Cya down the road.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Lunch with Fellow Traveler and another Dang Museum

 Location: Goose Island State Park; near Rockport, Texas

There are lots of RV travelers and bloggers on the roads now a days. Sometimes, our paths cross. My path crossed with Barney ( at a pretty good Mexican restaurant in Rockport yesterday. It was good food and good conversations. Barney has been on the road for a couple of decades now. Be safe in your travels Barney.

This picture was a surprise. I didn't know I had it until I was transferring pictures to my laptop. This was when we were talking about taking pictures with cell phones. 

After leaving the restaurant I went driving along the beach road to see what I could see. I came upon nice looking house and found out it was a State Historical place called the Fulton Mansion. It was originally built back in the late 1800's and you can take tours of it, for a price. I wasn't interested in touring a house, so I took some pictures from the side of road and continued on down the road. 

The Fulton Mansion from the late 1800's

This is the view from the mansion. At least from the street in front of it.

The road came to the marina and I was surprised by the amount of activities for a weekday. There were lots of people working on their boats and some just hanging out. Next door to the marina, was The Texas Maritime Museum. I haven't had good luck with museums lately so I figured I was overdue. Perhaps this museum would break my jaded view of these types of museums. There was a $6.00 entry fee and that was about $4.00 too much. I did learn something new, thus the two dollars I was willing to pay. The thing I learned was about the  Texas Navy back during the Texas War of Independence. Come to find out, Texas bought a few small ships at the beginning of the war to raid Mexican merchant ships and help with possible blockades. Whoever made the decision to buy the ships was right on the mark since the Texas Navy was instrumental in winning the war and the decisive Battle at San Jacinto that ended the war. One of the Texas ships captured a merchant ship full of ammunition and food that was headed to Santa Anna. Before the final battle, both Mexican and Texans were running short of ammunition and food. When the Texas Navy delivered the captured goods to Sam Houston and prevented it from reaching Santa Anna, it helped tilt the battle in favor of the Texans. After Texas became part of the United States, its Navy was absorbed into the U.S. Navy.

You can't have any kind of maritime museum without an anchor (I think it is federal law). By the way, that's Freedom in the background.

I liked this picture of part of the marina from under the tree

This was the best picture I could take from inside.

One good thing about the museum is it had a third floor observation platform. Here is the seaward entrance to the marina.

Nice wide view of area from the third floor.

Back at the campground I went for a walk on the newly rebuilt fishing pier. It is a pretty long pier at 2/3 of mile round trip. It was the middle of the afternoon and about a half a dozen people were fishing. As I walked by each of them, I asked how things were going if they caught anything. Every one of them said they hadn't had a single bite. When I reached the end of the pier, there was a man fishing and a woman was sitting under an umbrella reading a book. He also said he hadn't had any bites but, he said people were catching Black Drum like crazy last night. I asked if the woman was for moral support and he said she was his good luck charm. I mentioned he hadn't had any bites yet and he said he may need to re-think the good luck charm. She quit reading and gave him a jokingly mean look. We all laughed, I said goodbye and turned to walk back to Freedom. On the way back, I informed all of the other fishermen that the guy at the end hadn't had any bites either and they all said, they weren't surprised. Oh well, I played the messenger role the best I could.

Freedom looking out to the fishing pier. I just noticed something on the passenger side running board. I have no idea what that was but it isn't there this morning, I just checked.

Looking back from the end of the pier.

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be headed to Magnolia Beach for two days of free beach camping. I should be set up about 15 feet from the water. I just hope it won't be too hot since I'll be boondocking plus a weather front is suppose to pass through with possible wind and storms. I guess it's time to try out my solar setup that came with Liberty2 as standard equipment.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A Ferry, A Hike and Laundry

 Location: Goose Island State Park; near Rockport, Texas

Since I explored north the other day, today I went south. I needed to do some laundry so I loaded up and headed south to find a laundromat and see what I could see. As I was crossing the bridge into Rockport, I remembered a laundromat I went to years ago in Port Aransas when I was staying at Mustang Island State Park. I remembered, it had good vibes. Alright then, there was my destination. Of course, since I was exploring, I took the scenic route through the tourist area of Rockport. Lots of traffic and not very scenic.  

One of the benefits of going to Port Aransas was being able to cross the Corpus Christi Ship Channel by way of a TexDot Ferry. Texas Department of Transportation operates two ferry routes in the state and doesn't charge a toll on either of them. They operate around the clock with weather permitting. This one at Port Aransas is only a quarter of mile across the channel so it is quick. But while talking to some of the TexDot ferry workers at the landing, they said there are times during the day where there may be an hour or two wait time just to get on the ferry.

The ferry ride in both directions was nice and short since I crossed around noon. The laundromat was not busy and it still had that same peaceful vibe I remembered. I could say I didn't take a picture of the place so as to not jinx the vibe, but actually, I forgot. And also, I'm not crazy for driving 30+ miles to do laundry just to ride a ferry that I've ridden several times before. Well, not real crazy, but maybe a little "touched" or as the cajuns would say, I was being a "couyon". Anyway it was a nice scenic drive.

Before you get to the ferry you have to cross the Intracoastal Waterway bridge. The view from any ICW bridge is always good. 

On the ferry. I took this picture because the TexDot Ferry worker in my side mirror stood like that for the entire trip. If he had a rifle he would have seemed like a prison guard keeping an eye on us. Oh well, we all behaved. 

TexDot operates 6 ferry boats at this location. They are smaller than normal ferries and carry about 20 to 25 cars per trip.

Ships passing in the night day, with a seagull keeping watch.

This is the waiting lanes on the Port Aransas side. It's been built since I was here last and is a great improvement. They said it gets full almost everyday. I don't want to be there when that happens.

On the way back to the campground, I stopped at H-E-B for a few things. Man, I'm sure going to miss that store when I leave Texas. I'm not posting any pictures of my grocery haul because I don't want to get into a bad habit, but if I did, I would post a picture of the Italian Seafood Salad. It sure was good. After getting back to the campground and eating a little bit I felt like taking a walk before the rains came. Notice I said walk, not hike. I intended to walk on the road going around the campground. But, about half way around, I noticed a nice trail wandering off the road. I said, what the heck, and hit the trail and turned my walk into a hike. (hike means off road, uh?). 

A big Coastal Oak in the campground. I found the hiking path when I went to see the bench.

The hiking path with tree limbs reaching out to touch you.

This is a test. Two trees on each side of the road have became entangled. Are they like Romeo and Juliette or are they fighting each other?

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.