A Trip Along the Texas Coastal Bend
July 3: Our work schedules at Texas Lakeside RV Resort had us working on Independence Day, July 4th, so we decided to celebrate the Summer Holiday by taking a short, two night trip to the Corpus Christi area. We had previously passed thru Corpus Christi while traveling to points south, but never taken the time to explore the area. Well, the time had come. With a population of 325,000+, Corpus Christi is the 59th-largest United States city by population and at 161 square miles, it is the 51st-largest United States city by land area. Ok, after visiting Houston, which is the 4th-largest city by population, it seemed small by comparison, but still a sizable US city. Corpus Christi’s name means Body of Christ in Latin. The name was given to the settlement and surrounding bay by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda in 1519, as he discovered the lush semitropical bay on the Catholic feast day of Corpus Christi.
We were up early (well, early for us!, which is really not very early) and ready for our trip on Sunday morning. We packed for a couple of nights, which resembled a family of four heading out on their two week summer vacation. Ok, it wasn’t that bad but our packing skills have certainly deteriorated since we now travel most of the time with everything at the convenience of our home on wheels. But anyway, it fit in the Pilot and that’s really all that mattered. As we meandered South on Highway 35 along the coast we decided to make a pit stop in Rockport and walk around the downtown and waterfront. Now if you remember, Rockport was essentially ground zero, when Hurricane Harvey came ashore on August 25, 2017. The area was devastated by the storm. While the Houston area received much of the national coverage for receiving more than 50 inches of rainfall, the eye of the storm made landfall just north of Port Aransas, near Rockport. Betsy and I had driven through Rockport when we first arrived in the area to work last November and were shocked by the destruction the area had received. So now, 10 months after the storm, we wanted to stop again and walk around the commercial area downtown. There has definitely been progress made, but evidence of the storm’s destruction is still very much in full view. Now, it was Sunday morning so many of the small, local businesses were not open, but we enjoyed walking the streets anyway, stopping in any business that was open. We ate our picnic lunch in a shady spot before continuing our trek south.
We arrived at the outskirts of Corpus Christi a brief 40 minutes later and headed to our home for a couple of nights, the Courtyard by Marriott. Betsy’s shopping skills were once again on display, snagging a good nightly rate for the hotel on Priceline. She loves the bargain-finding challenge and is pretty good at it! After unloading the family’s, I mean OUR, stuff, we jumped back in the car and headed to downtown Corpus Christi to look around the Seawall. This waterfront wall and promenade is a sight unique to Corpus Christi. You can jog, bike or simply meander along the 1.5 miles of path while taking in some great views of the water. And as you might already know, we are always up for water views. Parking was plentiful and FREE, just the way we like it. As we wandered along the wall taking in the water and marina views, we also happened upon a beach soccer tournament, which we took in for a bit, and a windsurfer who was zipping around the water just in front of the Seawall and marina. Geez, that guy was good!
Since we were getting a little hungry for dinner, we decided to venture over to Landry’s Seafood House, which had a great view of the marina and harbor. The food was tasty, and yes, once again, Betsy ordered and enjoyed Fish & Chips. For a longtime, non-seafood eater, she has started to enjoy an occasional seafood dish. The food was good, the views were great, and the company, as always, was the best! We opted for no dessert at Landry’s, which left us room for an ice cream stop at Marble Slab Creamery. Now I wasn’t all that familiar with this marble slab concept, but I am now a fan!
We were up on Monday morning well rested and ready to explore. We enjoyed an in-room breakfast (packed by Betsy, not from the hotel) before heading out for the day. So we made up for not having coffee at our in-room breakfast by making Starbucks our first stop. Ok, we all have our vices! As vices go we don’t think coffee is so bad. Since we were now caffeinated, we decided to make a couple of retail shopping stops. Since Port Lavaca is not exactly the center of the retail universe, we do enjoy wandering around stores when we get the chance. Our stops included Dick’s Sporting Goods, Homegoods, Dillards at the mall, and Ross. Now, the funny part is, we really aren’t very good shoppers by most people’s standards. You see, we covered a lot of ground, spent a couple of hours and didn’t spend a dime! With a little retail therapy, minimalist-style, out of the way, we headed for something we enjoy way more . . . THE BEACH. Yes, we were headed to Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS), just south of Corpus Christi. In contrast to South Padre Island, known for its beaches and vacationing college students, PAIS is located on North Padre Island and consists of a long beach where nature is preserved. Most of the park is primitive, but camping is available, and most of the beach is only accessible to four-wheel-drive vehicles. North Padre Island is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. The national seashore is 70 miles long with 65.5 miles of Gulf beach. We were more than happy to pay our $10 entrance fee to help preserve such a beautiful place.
The rest of our day was pretty similar to our typical beach days. Us sitting under our umbrella, reading, talking, snacking, listening to the waves, wading into the water occasionally (yes, it was warm . . . high 80’s), and being thankful that we have the opportunity to experience places like this together.
We eventually packed up our things and headed back to the hotel. We had put dinner in the crockpot (Yes, we brought our crockpot with us!) and took a dip in the pool while it finished cooking. A short time later we sat down in our room and enjoyed a yummy meal of sausage, peppers, onions and potatoes. Before taking our flip-flops off for the night we caved into temptation and ran out to Marble Slab Creamery for an evening treat. Ok, we may have another vice besides coffee, and it’s name is ice cream!
Tuesday was time to head home, but we had a couple of stops planned first. Betsy found a cool looking coffee shop, Island Joe’s Coffee (See, it’s not always Starbucks!), where we could get our coffee fix. From there we headed north up Mustang Island and had a couple of RV parks we wanted to take a look at. We enjoy exploring campgrounds because you never know when you might be in the area looking for a site or looking for a workamping job. It’s always insightful to put your own eyes on an RV park, as opposed to relying on websites or marketing material. Our first stop was Gulf Waters RV Resort in Port Aransas. This was a beautiful beachfront RV resort with manicured sites, all privately owned. The resort was very well kept and the location was hard to beat, just behind the sand dune from the waters of the Gulf. Our next stop was Pioneer Beach Resort, just up the road from Gulf Waters. The location was ideal, just like Gulf Waters, but wasn’t quite in the same league. The sites and roads were extremely tight, and definitely not as manicured. But camping at the beach is camping at the beach, both had short walks to the sand and would make most everyone smile.
As lunch time approached, Betsy already had me taken care of. Through the magic of iPhone apps she had found Port A Pizzeria. Now this wasn’t just any pizza shop. Nope, this was a pizza buffet for $10! And not just any pizza buffet. Nope, they offered an option for gluten free folk like me to order three 8-inch gluten free pizzas. Yep! An 8-inch cheesy bread pie, an 8-inch regular pizza with your choice of toppings, and an 8-inch dessert pizza of your choice. (I chose the cinnamon option!) Definitely a pleasant surprise in a small beach town, but much appreciated. I took half of it home and enjoyed it all again!
With our bellies full, we made a stop at the public beach in Port Aransas. We sat in the shade under the fishing pier and soaked in a little more ocean magic. Then it was across Aransas Pass on the Port Aransas Ferry. Now we had crossed the ferry before, so we weren’t quite as surprised this time when the total travel time was less than 60 seconds. Yep, just across the channel to the other side. Even though we had ridden it before, Betsy loved it just as much. We need to find her a little longer ferry ride somewhere!
We arrived back at Texas Lakeside RV Resort in time for Betsy to help our fellow workamping couple, Bob and Maria, set up for the Ice Cream Social at the park. We packed a lot into our two nights away from “home”, which we completely enjoyed. But we also both love getting back to our little home, closing all of the blinds and enjoying a quiet evening. Life is good!