Let’s talk campgrounds

I don’t normally do campground reviews or talk too much about the places we park.  First, there are a lot of great bloggers out there that do a much better job in that department than I could ever do.  Second, reviews are subjective.  I’d feel badly hurting anyone’s feelings or recommending a place only to have someone else sorely disappointed.

Brahma calf
Can we talk?

After our 3 month Texas Gulf Coast adventure, I’ve had a few bloggers express interest in the places we camped and would appreciate a little more information.  Thus, I’ve decided to do a quick and dirty on my Texas campground experience.

photographySo let’s grab a drink and I’ll tell you the where, why, and MY opinion.

I’m not always fond of making reservations because I like to keep our plans fluid.  What I mean is if we really enjoy a location and want to stay longer, I want that flexibility.  The opposite holds true as well, and yes, there have been plenty of places that were a total let down and I couldn’t wait to move on.

But alas, reservations are a necessity especially in popular places and during holiday weekends or special events.

Another tidbit that’s important to ME are views and space.  Therefore we prefer staying in State Parks, National Forests, or boondock in the backcountry.  I’ll gladly give up the convenience of hook-ups for nature and views.  But there is a time and place when a Private RV Park is the perfect venue, especially when near a large metropolitan area.

Knowing I wanted to spend a month on Galveston Island had me searching for Private RV Parks for that leg of our journey.  The Galveston Island State Park was already booked on the weekends during our time frame, plus you can only reserve a two-week stay. I liked the idea of staying near the state park so I could do some hiking and bird watching there and that was the main reason I chose the Jamaica Beach RV Resort.

Jamaica Beach RV Resort
checking in at the Jamaica Beach RV Resort, Galveston Island, Texas

It did not disappoint.  All sites are pull-thru, concrete, and level.  Each site offers a picnic table, full hook-ups, and are relatively nicely spaced.  A monthly stay in a private park is always the most economical rate versus the nightly rate with the exception of the discounted nightly rate with a Passport America or Escapees membership.  Do note: be informed and don’t assume, as discounts are not always applicable or honored and usually apply to a one or two night stay only and quite often not on weekends.Jamaica Beach

Jamaica Beach RV ResortThe Jamaica Beach RV Resort has two swimming pools, a mini golf course with a cute pirate theme, and a pond with ducks.

The on-site laundry facility was also convenient and rarely busy.

The one big negative is the beach is located across the street (a busy road) at a public access point.  Also, road noise can be heard within the RV park especially at those sites located closer to the busy road.

We did enjoy our month at this park. I would stay here again and even recommend it, but we did check out a few other options in the area for future reference.

Galveston Island State Park is ok and offers two different types of camping experiences.  They have a campground on the ocean side for those beach goers and another on the bayside for birders, kayakers, and anglers.  Our friends MonaLiza and Steve stayed on the bayside and wrote a review. Click here to read Steve’s review.  Do note; the state park does fill up on weekends.  Thus, I would highly recommend a reservation.Galveston Island State ParkI did visit the state park regularly during my stay on Galveston Island. I found the trails the majority of the time were too wet to navigate with tennis shoes.  Muck boots would be more appropriate, but I still managed to find plenty of  photographic opportunities.Galveston Texas

Here are a few other options of places to stay for a Galveston Island visit;
Dellanera RV Park is owned and managed by the county and is in a great location. There’s few amenities, the sites are gravel, and it’s on the ocean.  It looks ok.
Bayou Shores RV Park would probably be my last choice.  I didn’t like the location and it seemed a little unkempt.
Ron Hoover Oasis RV Park is connected with the RV retail store.  We found ourselves visiting their parts department several times.  The RV park looks nice and private. It’s even located next to a large county park (not visible from the RV park) with water access.  It’s actually located on the mainland and not the island near exit 10 thus it’s not that far from Galveston.  Anglers and Kayakers would like this place.
Tiki Tom’s looked like an interesting place and is definitely geared toward anglers and boaters.

Is there boondocking on Galveston Island?  I wouldn’t plan on it.  There’s no overnight camping allowed anywhere on the beach on Galveston Island – county ordinance.  I’m not sure they’ll even allow you to overnight in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  Sorry, I failed to confirm that tidbit.  Throughout the island we did notice lots of signs stating, “No overnight parking”.  So if there is boondocking, we didn’t find it.Galveston Island

Next up, we’ll move on down the coast.

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Smoking meat and sucking shrimp!

Padre Island National SeashoreOur ten minute ferry ride took us from the mainland near Aransas Pass onto Mustang Island and the town of Port Aransas, Texas, or as the locals call it; Port A.  Port A is a cute little beach town with plenty of restaurants, shops, lodging, and of course beaches.

After a couple of turns, we were headed south out-of-town about 10 miles to Mustang Island State Park where we quickly set up home for the next 2 weeks.

I wouldn’t put this campground high on the list as far as accommodations go, but the location is pretty sweet.

And let’s face it, it’s all about location.  Just on the other side of the dunes is the beach.

Mustang Island
Mustang Island State Park campground

PintailThe campground with electric and water hook-ups is pretty much a parking lot style layout.  The restrooms and showers are there, but leave a lot to be desired.  That said, we did enjoy our stay and even extended it another three days.

It wasn’t busy during our visit but that was over the Christmas holiday when most folks spend time with family.  The state park does seem to fill up over weekends.

RV socializing
Al, Ingrid (me), Steve, MonaLiza, Faye, Dave
smoking meat
Dave smoking meat

So while most folks were hanging with family, we spent our holiday season socializing with friends.  Shortly after our arrival to Mustang Island we enjoyed our first get together with fellow bloggers.

We were invited over to Faye and Dave’s place where we all watched Dave smoke his meat.  Nice job Dave!

A few days later, we had Faye and Dave over to our place to help us lighten the load in our freezer.  I needed to make room for Christmas cookies after all.  Awfully nice of them to be so accommodating and help us clear out some freezer space.

RV socializing
blogging pals – Faye, MonaLiza, Ingrid

They also had no problem being my guinea pigs for my Bananas Foster.  Although I’ve made Bananas Foster more times than I can count, it had been years since I last made it and never in the RV.  I needed a practice run before our Christmas guests.

Beach campingAnd speaking of Christmas guests, we had MonaLiza and Steve over for Christmas day.  Our RV is only big enough to entertain one couple at a time.  So we had to do our entertaining in stages since the weather was too inclement to hang outside.

As a side note; while we were camped at Mustang Island State Park,  our friends were camped just seven miles away at a beautiful RV Park – Gulf Waters RV Resort.  My folks used to winter at neighboring Pioneer RV Resort.  There’s also camping on the beach and slightly off the beach at I.B. Magee Beach Park which is right in the town of Port A.  We liked the idea of staying there in one of their electric sites, but before the cold snap the mosquitos were terrible and a paved parking lot at the state park was preferable over a mosquito invested grassy campsite.  However, the location looks quite fun… walking distance into town.  We’ll leave it as an option for a future visit.fishing on Mustang IslandBack to our cavorting….  Al joined Dave a couple of times fishing and Dave showed Al how to suck shrimp.  Thanks Dave for enlightening us on the ways of smoking meat and sucking shrimp.  The sucking of shrimp occurs on the beach at low tide using a contraption that exposes shrimp that the guys will then use as bait for fishing.  Sorry, no photos of the guys sucking shrimp 😦

birding Mustang Island
I know I said let’s go shooting…… I meant with cameras not guns !!!

Mustang Island photographybirding center Port AransasSo while Al was out fishing, MonaLiza and I managed to get in some birding.

We visited the Leonabella birding center and Charlie’s Pasture, both located in the town of Port Aransas, Texas.

Even if you’re not into birding, I still recommend a stop at these two places to take in the beauty of the area and enjoy a stroll on the boardwalks.

However, no trip to the Corpus Christi area would be complete without a visit to the Padre Island National Seashore.  Al and I scored a gorgeous day for our visit.

Padre Island National SeashorePadre Island National SeashoreWe checked out the two campgrounds to see if this is a place we’d have any interest in staying, and although we liked the campgrounds, we opted to extend our stay at the state park with electric hook-up during this particular trip.

It’s dry camping only in both campgrounds at the Padre Island National Seashore.

You can click here for more information on the Seashore.

Yep, our seventeen day stay on Mustang Island was over before we knew it.  But we have one more stop to share …. a stop down memory lane……fishing, hunting, birding Mustang Island

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We Join the Boy Scouts?

After our rainy stay in San Antonio, the weather cleared just in time for us to hit the road.  It was a Friday morning (Nov. 7th) and we managed to skirt around San Antonio with very little traffic, much to our pleasant surprise.Goliad Texas

Three hours later we arrived at Goliad State Park….. along with a line of yellow school buses.  Turns out this particular weekend had a lot of happenings going on.  “Oh, joy!”  Actually it’s nice to see the younger generation being taught history with a hands on experience.  Goliad, Texas, is the perfect place for this hands on experience considering the historical sites in the area…. history abounds.

The park was filled with middle school children from the nearby town of Victoria.  That Friday and Saturday reenactors would be present at the onsite Mission Espiritu Santo to help display and reenact life as it was so many years ago.

Mission Espiritu Santo
Mission Espiritu Santo – located on the state park property

I had made an online reservation in the Jacales Camping Area which offers electric and water only.  The full hook-up sites in the Karankawa Camping Area were already all booked up.  Pity, because that is a lovely loop with well spaced sites that I would highly recommend.

Texas state parksUpon check-in, the gal gives us the perfect site (#33) in the Jacales Camping area which is pretty much a parking lot with back-in sites.  The gal says, “I think you’ll be happy with that site and not bothered by the boy scouts”.  Brain fart – comment doesn’t register!

I direct hubby to our campsite.  “Oh yes, what a nice site”.  Our door opens to a grassy area with a picnic table and fire ring.  There’s only one other trailer in the far opposite corner of this rather large square parking area.  “Ah, peace and quiet amongst trees and nature”.  Al and I grabbed showers at the ‘comfort station’ and are rewarded with lots of hot water.  For those of you unfamiliar with living in a RV, LONG HOT showers are a luxury and not the norm for our lifestyle.  A six gallon water heater does not a long hot shower make!

Oh, how I miss my Rinnai tankless water heater (which our last two sticks and bricks homes had) and yes they do make them for RV’s and yes one is on our wish list. Ah, I digress ….

So after our hot showers, we relaxed around camp thinking this is the life.  No sooner said, the first of many vehicles started pulling in followed by the hammering of tent stakes that continued long after sunset.  Campfires were seen in all directions with the occasional sounds of children at play.Boy Scouts of America

We’ve already established in earlier posts that hubby and I are both morning people and are usually enjoying coffee by 6 or 6:30 every morning.  That said, Saturday morning I gazed out the window as I poured my second cup of coffee.  It was 7 a.m. and dozens of little boys were running around the campground playing hide n go seek while their dads were gathered around campstoves cooking up breakfast.Boy Scouts of America

We were surrounded ….. surrounded by tents in all directions.  This wasn’t just a Boy Scout outing, this was a local mini Boy Scout Jamboree which included several scout chapters from southern Texas and we were in the center of it all.Texas State ParksThey were gathered here to enjoy the Rio! Rio! event and learn the history of the area.  We too enjoyed the event as we strolled around the Mission Espiritu Santo grounds and talked to the reenactors.

Do you know the difference between a Cobbler and a Cordwainer?

Rio Rio event
this guy is a ‘cordwainer’ and he was making a pair of boots for himself. Interesting stuff!

A cordwainer makes shoes and a cobbler repairs them.  As a side note; try Googling ‘cobbler’ and you’ll find some amazing recipes LOL.

The cordwainer reenactor was interesting to talk to as he shared the process of boot making.  Then we were on to the spinning wheel.  This gal was making yarn from some Alpaca wool. Her table was loaded with wool from sheep, alpaca, and bunny rabbit angora.  Loved this touchy, feely event!spinning wheel

All the reenactors were gracious and enthusiastic about sharing and being photographed.historical artifactsspinning wheels loomsThe mission itself houses some interesting historical artifacts ….  items used for everyday life.  This was definitely a fun find and the Rio! Rio! event helped bring to light life on a mission 200 years ago.Texas missionsNext, we explore downtown Goliad…..

Texas missions
Hubby receives some much needed enlightenment!

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Texas journey continues…

It’s the 3rd of November we hit the road about 9 in the morning.  We only had about 3 hours to drive to our next destination and we didn’t want to get there too soon.   Al and I are both morning people and during our working days when we would go on vacation it wasn’t uncommon for us to hit the road between 5 and 6 a.m. especially if we had a long travel day in front of us.South Llano State Park Ah, the days of hurry up and get there are thankfully behind us.  But habits don’t break easily.  Now a days, we have to remind each other that we don’t need to get rolling so early.  We try to keep our travel days anywhere from an hour to four hours and keeping check-in times in mind we don’t necessarily want to arrive to our next destination too soon.Cardinal Deer hunting in TexasSo we meandered down the road taking in the countryside and it isn’t long before the land started to roll …… the Texas hill country near Junction, Texas.

We arrived at South Llano River State Park just in time for lunch.  Fortunately the park was only a quarter occupied and we were checked into a lovely site. This is a beautiful Texas State Park with an abundance of wildlife.  While driving into the park we passed turkey and deer. Texas State ParksThe most significant Rio Grande turkey roosts in Central Texas can be found here. There’s over 240 bird species that have been documented in the area.Texas State Park

Texas State Parks
our RV and campsite can be seen in the background

This 507 acre Texas State Park offers water, woods, and wildlife.  There’s 18 miles of hiking/biking trails, 58 campsites with electric and water, and 11 walk-in tent sites.  There are several blinds for birding, and access to the river for summer swimming, tubing, and canoeing.Texas State ParkTexas State ParksI was really excited and looked forward to spending a couple of nights at this state park, but without cell phone service we opted to spend just one night.  Yep, no cell phone service, no internet, no TV.  Sometimes it’s fun being without connection, but we needed that cell connection for a family member.Texas State ParksSo the next day we pulled out of South Llano River State Park…. reluctantly, I might add and drove to San Antonio. In San Antonio we stayed at an Elks Lodge and had hoped to see a few sights we missed during our stay last February.

Road runner
Beep Beep!

Such was not the case as the torrential rains did not let up for 2 whole days and we had a reservation for the weekend at Goliad State Park.  So onto Goliad, Texas….

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