Thursday, May 9, 2013

The End is Near!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013
Pioneer RV Resort
Port Aransas/Mustang Island, TX
Weather, sunny, upper 70s

Wahhh, it's a whiny day, LOL, why can't Mr. C be retired already?  Today is our last day of being "beach bums".  Today is clean up and pack up day, as we prepare to return home from our month long stay along the Gulf Coast of Texas.  Our time here on Mustang Island and Corpus Christi area has been wonderful.  Full of sunshine.  Not horribly warm--in fact, this entire month, I have not had my swim suit on a single time and I'm going back to Illinois as pasty white as I left a month ago, LOL.  Oh well, I'll have all summer to try to get a tiny bit of color.  I happen to have a vitamin D deficiency, so it's okay for me to be out in the sun getting a tiny bit of color.  I don't make any effort to get burned, that's no fun, but I don't wear Sunscreen much as I need the sunshine and ultraviolet light.  (If I were going to be out in the sun all day long in the middle of the summer I would take precautions and wear sunscreen, I'm not stupid, just have to try to reach a happy medium, as the Vit D foods and supplement just don't do the job).  Ok, enough whining, what do I have to blog about today.  Some interesting finds this past day or two, and another new accidental polymer clay cane finished.

I'll start with the Polymer Clay Cane.  A month or so ago, I was trying to make a particular flower cane that didn't end up being what I had planned, it ended up looking just like a beautiful Dahlia.  Funny thing  is (to me anyway), I've been trying to repeat it ever since, and although I've been close, can't seem to reproduce it.  So I tried again this week.  It's not a Dahlia, but I've been trying to figure out a way to do a mini Carnation (or large carnation) for a long, long time, and this Dahlia try came out looking just like a beautiful red mini Carnation.  Don't ask me how or why, but I have 7 more Dahlia/Carnation canes, in various
colors, started and we'll see what they end up being, LOL.  At least I have beautiful accidents.

Last night, we finally made a low tide while it was still fairly light out. Our entire trip the low tide has always been in the middle of the night.  Since low tide is the best time for finding sea shells, and since we have not had much luck finding sea shells along the Texas Gulf Coast, we wanted to try during a low tide.  Last night, low tide was at 8:46 pm and sunset was at 8:07 p.m.  There is a short amount of dusk or twilight between sunset and dark.  We tried the first beach around 7:45 and, nope, no luck, no shells to be found.  You can see, Mr. C was even in on the hunt this time.  We knew this would be our last night on the beach, as Thursday would be our clean up and pack up day to get ready to head for home on Friday morning, bright and early.  We will disconnect our water mid day on Thursday, so we won't want to get sandy or salty, as there won't be water for showers Thursday night.
One of the Heron's was watching us closely.  

So we jumped back in the truck and traveled up the beach a ways (remember, in Texas, the hard part of the beaches are considered roads).  You can see in a couple of these pictures where we went from the sandy beach road to the pavement.  No luck there, either.  We left the beach and drove up the main road to a beach further to the West/South, I'm not sure what to call it when the beach/road curves to the south as it's going west.  

 Anyway, we finally made it all the way to Packery Pass Beach again (the furthest West/South beach on Mustang Island) just before dark and hit the Sand Dollar Jackpot.  Lots of WHOLE little tiny sand dollars and some other common clam type shells, but we  haven't even found any of those this trip, so I was happy.

So, what else did we do yesterday or the day before?  We saw a sign on the side of the road shortly before our campground that said, Own your own RV site and a very pretty looking RV Park.  They also rent out sites, for slightly more than we usually spend.  It has full hook-ups, mostly back in sites (although a few were pull-ins), a pool, and beach access.  We decided to go find out what this was all about.  
We've read a little about this kind of thing, where you purchase your RV lot/site, pay a monthly or yearly upkeep fee (like a condo fee) and the park rents your space out for you when you're not there.  We are not sure exactly how this works (and maybe someone reading this can fill us in a bit more, I hope) but we assume the "rental fees" are applied towards your upkeep fee or you split them with the park or something like that.  
So we decided to drive through the park "to see what we could see".  It was lovely, I said to  Mr. C, "Oh, I could so live here."  Here are a whole bunch of pictures of some of the RV sites at this Park, starting with their office and welcome center.  These pictures are all of completed landscaped etc. sites, there were also a few "unimproved/undecorated" ones, too.  There were beautifully decorated sites, lots of plants and fences and privacy and decorative things as well as practical ones, like nice outside seating areas and brick bbq/ovens.  It was really nice, something we've never seen before for RVs.  I really liked what I saw, during the drive through, we didn't go talk to anybody because they listed a website and we decided to look there first, to see if we could find any details.  Unfortunately, the website did not answer our many questions, but it did answer the most important one, price, LOL.

That evening we looked up the website, and although it didn't give us any details of "how" it works, it did give us some prices.  The unimproved sites are $42,000.00.  The already improved sites that some people are selling range in price from $59,000 to $149,000.00.  WOW!!!  The funny thing is, just up the road a bit (or would that be down the road, if it's south west?) there are signs for house lots "starting at $30,000".

So, we came back home and drove through our park.  Supposedly you can't live here full time, you can only rent and only up to 8 months, but we saw many sites with fences, and plants and other things that make it obvious "some" people live here full time.  It's not nearly as fancy as the other place, but I could easily spend 8 months here, especially during the winter, LOL.

So I took a few pictures of our park, too, including our campsite.  The one with the Big Sky on the front is our 5th wheel.  It's not bad, not nearly as decorated with trees etc. But it has 2 pools, a recreation hall, and a pond.  This is the first day we've driven around our park and from our campsite, you can only see the cat tails around our pond and can't see much else.

When we drove around, we could see the open part of the pond and found a campsite we'd like to request someday in the future, with a clear view of the pond.

Look at what we saw at the pond:   Our own Roseate Spoonbill.  He/she is beautiful, and I think the pictures are pretty good.


 I guess that's all I have to report today, and obviously the next couple days will not have much of interest going on.  We'll be in Waco, TX tomorrow night, which will be a new campground for us, then back to Little Rock, AR (where we stayed before) and Sikeston, MO (where we stayed before), and then home on Monday.

We'll be on the road for Mother's Day and for our 24th anniversary (we can't believe it's been 24 years already, where does the time go?), and then Mr. C returns to work on Wednesday and we've been told we already need to mow, so guess I'll be doing that and unpacking the trailer the rest of the week.  I know sometime next week we plan to see the new Star Trek movie, but other than that, it's back to business as usual.

Oh, one other thing we've discussed.  After much thought and discussion, we've decided we should give Galveston another chance.  Mr. C actually liked Galveston as much or maybe even better than Mustang Island, TX.  He reminded me of how much I liked it when we drove out of the city to the more "country side" end of the island.  We decided part of our problem with Galveston was the awful weather while we were there kept us from actually experiencing anything in Galveston.  Although Galveston itself does not have all the stores we frequent, Houston is just a freeway drive away and since most of our shopping is done on-line anyway, that doesn't really matter, either.  We still don't know where we will live after retirement.  We figure we will travel a couple of years (as long as health and "youth" hold out) and keep looking.  Mr. C does say he believes we'll end up along the coast somewhere as my allergies don't bother me when we're on the coast, and when my allergies are under control, my Fibro is more under control, too.  For me personally, my Fibromyalgia seems to be quite connected to my allergies and sleep, so those are the things we focus on to keep the symptoms to a dull roar.  So, that's our story and we're sticking to it.  I suspect we'll take a quick trip to town today and have dinner at Golden Corral so we can go ahead and get the trailer packed up early.  We have a fairly long drive tomorrow and we'll be up and on the road by 6 am.  So, thanks for joining us on our travels. We hope to find you "Chasin' Rainbows" with us another day, until then. . . Smiles, Sue C

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nothing important, but still some fun in the sun.

Monday, May 6, 2013
Mustang Island, TX
Pioneer RV Resort
Sunny day, mid to upper 70s windy.

The past couple of days haven't been horribly exciting, but we've still had some fun.  The weather has been nice, sunny, fairly warm, with some wind, but not blowing us over or anything.  Saturday, we took a drive down to Port Aransas, a small town at the end of Mustang Island.  A big fishing town, with a Ferry across to the "mainland" and lots of teeny, tiny, winding, busy streets and not  much room for our big butt truck, to drive or to park.  It was pretty hair raising and frustrating in parts, but it was still interesting.  We found we needed a parking permit to park on the beach, so we finally found our way to the place to get the parking pass.  Yes, I said to park on the beach.  Down  here on Mustang Island and Padre National Seashore, people actually drive on the beach, park on the beach and even camp on the beach.  It's very interesting, I never knew you "COULD" drive on the beach, but the sand near the water on most beaches and up towards the dunes is packed hard enough to drive on.  More on this later.  We also walked a mile on one beach and then walked our mile and 2/3 that evening here on our beach area.  We saw some interesting things during our walk:  These guys are so funny looking.  I call them the Beatles Gulls because of their funky top knots, but they are really Elegant Terns or Royal Terns.
They look so funny.

As we were walking down the beach, we saw a fairly big fish lying there.  At first I thought it had just washed up and gotten stuck in the sand, as it was half in the water and half out and it was upright, so I was going to go give it a push back into the water, but. . .Yes, it was a shark, about a foot and a half long.  It appeared it had been hooked by a fisherman and died as a result, as there was some blood at the side of the mouth.  There is a ton of fishing going on down here, seems like everybody and their brother and sister and daughter, and son and cousin ALL fish down here, LOL.  Anyway, it was interesting and I thought cool, but I didn't know Sharks have bright orange eyes.

Then we noticed a really large sand
castle some child/family had sculpted.  A closer look showed something really odd on the top center tower (look closely).  I asked Mr. C, is that a jelly fish?  He said, NO, they wouldn't/couldn't put a jelly fish there.  I got closer and took another picture and started laughing like mad:  it was, it really was a jelly fish.  Apparently they had picked it up with a stick and then stuck it on top of the tower.  Guess nobody will mess with THEIR sand castle, LOL.  I thought it was great, but then we all know I have a rather unique sense of humor.

Snuffles got to go with us on our walk yesterday.  We've been careful about taking her with us to the beach because of all the jellyfish lying around on the sand.  They are almost transparent blobs of jelly and are hard to see and we sure didn't want her being nosy about one.  She has been such a good traveler, though and we have left her alone a lot, so we took her with us yesterday.  Oops, didn't mean to cut the top off Mr. C's head, let's try that one again, LOL.  That's better, a little dark, but it was getting to be evening, look at that pink sky in the background.  
Afterwards we took Snuff to the K-9 Corral, here at the campground.  We saw some huge funny acting rabbits and figured out later they were probably jack rabbits, they have HUGE ears.  I didn't get a picture, they were too fast.  It never dawned on us we should be on the look out for snakes there; fortunately, we didn't find any.  We did find another problem though, as Snuffles wouldn't play or leave us, she was too busy sniffing around the chairs, so we finally said, if you aren't going to go run around and play, we'll just go back home (to the trailer).
  So we started walking back to the trailer and she started limping really badly.  I picked her up and found burrs not simple fuzzy cockleburrs, but big nasty sharp hard burrs.  So Verle held her while I carefully picked about 10 burrs from her feet.  Poor puppy, those were really nasty hurtful things, I could barely get hold of them to take them out they were so sharp.  So, no more walks on the "greenery" around here, she'll have to stick to the pavement and the sand.

Speaking of sand, you know we've been looking for shells, during our whole trip.  We find a few here and there, but none of the really fun, exciting ones you always see in the brochures.  There were none where we were camped in Galveston (although, remember, we did find some common ones on No Name Beach across the pass on the ferry).  We did find some small shells and sand dollars on South Padre Beach, but nothing really special or great, and now, here on Mustang Island, nothing.  It's a bit frustrating.  There are pieces of "good shells" so obviously they exist "off shore" but they just don't seem to make it to shore on the Texas Gulf Coast very much.
But today, we decided to do some driving around to see if we could find any other beach that might have some shells.  First we drove into town (Mr. C said, "after we go to Btown" (the nearest town to our actual home, LOL).  That is how comfortable we are down here, it feels like home.  After we ran our errands, we headed back to Mustang Island, but instead of turning left towards Port Aransas, we chose to go straight just to see where the road ended.  Mr. C said he had looked it up and he thought we should just drive until we ran out of road and check out various beaches along the

Ok, that sounded good to me.  So we started driving.  We arrived at Padre Island National Seashore, paid our $10.00 to drive on.  The pass is good for a week and we think we'll go back later this week to check out the wildlife conservation areas.  Anyway, you drive in a ways and then the road turns into sand.  You can drive for up to 60 miles. . . on sand, on the beach, just inches from the Gulf of Mexico.  The first 5 miles they say is okay for 2 wheel drive vehicles, and after that recommend 4 wheel drive and from what we read elsewhere, be careful after that. . .
 So we drove in for about 10 miles to "Little Seashell Beach".  See the beach road in front of the truck and the ocean just a few yards to the left?    Here are a few more pictures of us driving on the beach.  I know, I'm easily impressed, but there was something about driving on the beach that really did impress me, LOL.

Here's Mr. C standing by the Big Butt Truck ON THE BEACH.  It is so interesting to see the people on the beach.  There are tents, trailers, motor homes etc., right there on the beach.  On Mustang Island you are supposedly limited to 3 nights of camping on the beach, but we've seen people here as long as we've been here with no sign of them leaving.  You aren't supposed to have open fires, but we saw two huge bonfires in large dug out areas on the beach today, I wanted to go join them, it looked so inviting.  At the Padre Island National Seashore, though, we didn't notice any "rules" posted anywhere and there were a few "campsites" that appeared permanent there.  People had everything from pup tents to large tents, from truck campers to trailers to fifth wheels to motorhomes.  One of the more interesting had a large SUV type vehicle and on the sand beside it was an elevated (about 12-15" off the ground) bed with a screened "box" around it also about 18" high.  You could see their sleeping bags in it.  Almost all these people had multiple fishing poles, some were using them, others weren't.  Remember, there are no facilities, no water, no electricity, no sewer or dumping station, they are just camping in the rough.  It was quite interesting to us.
Once we reached Little Seashell Beach, we decided we had gone far enough.  We aren't the most adventurous people in the world, and there wasn't any cell service and there are notices about the expense of having to have a tow truck come tow you out if you get stuck. . ., LOL.  So, Little Seashell Beach was aptly named:  yep, found lots and lots of little teeny tiny Coquina (open look like little angel wings) shells
and not much else.

We did find ONE teeny tiny whole sand dollar, though, and several Pen Shells, which have a very iridescent inside and are big and interesting looking.  We also found a bunch of barnacles, which I think are interesting and pretty in all their shades of pink and all their little ins and outs like little volcanoes.

We saw some more of the Beatles Gulls (Terns) and another Heron.  There was a new bird we hadn't seen before, I believe it was a Black Bellied Plover.

Then we headed back towards Mustang Island.  We started to discuss what we wanted for dinner.  We had a big lunch at Golden Corral before we went to Walmart for errands and fuel, so we figured it would be a light dinner, sliced meat, cheese, chips, and fruit.  But talking about it made us hungry and I said, "Of course, if there was a McD's up ahead, I'd ask you to stop there".  There was not a McD's, but there was a Sonic and that works just as well (not for my diet, but for a hungry belly, it works).  We decided to go for Sonic.  There were a ton of Laughing Gulls hanging around
hoping for a handout.  We held out until one showed up with only one leg.  Then I started trying to get food to the crippled one while Mr. C tried to distract the others.  They are so fast, they would grab a french fry or piece of bun right out of his hand.  They would also just hover beside the window flapping to stay in place and I managed to throw food directly to Mr. One Foot many times.  They finally started to get bold though and I was afraid they would fly right into the window (they were close enough to touch) so I rolled my window up most of the way.

This is how brave and forward they were:

this guy was right on the hood of the car glaring at us to give him some food.  He was also the boss or bully of the bunch and was the loudest and most demanding and chased everybody, but especially the hurt ones, away.

After eating, we headed back to camp, with many detours.  We knew it was getting close to low tide (not a  REALLY LOW tide, but low tide for today) and the best time for shell hunting is supposedly at low tide or right after low tide (note I said supposedly, you sure can't prove it by ME, LOL).  So we just turned in at every beach access road we found and checked out what we found.  The first place was a fishing area and only had rocks and no sand or beach or shells.  The second one, was pretty good, we found a second small whole sand dollar and several shells like this one.  The first two had hermit crabs in them, so we threw them back in the water.  I don't like to kill anything just to take its home.  If it's empty it's fair game, but if it's inhabited I return it to the water.  Then jackpot, I found one (the one in this picture that was empty).  I didn't have any like this, so I was so happy.  We didn't find anything else, so we headed for home.  We kept taking the various beach access roads and stopping to look for shells as we went along.  We finally reached Beach Access 3 and took it and started driving down the beach figuring we'd leave the beach at Access 2, but we never saw or found Access 2, and we passed our Campground.  We knew there was an Access 1A about a mile past our Campground, so we kept going and sure enough found Access 1A and left the beach and returned to Pioneer RV Resort.  I brought the shells inside and put them on the counter to wash off (sand and dirt or whatever).  We also brought in the groceries and other stuff from Walmart and came and sat down to check email.  I got a call from M (our Daughter-In-Law) and from B (our Daughter).  While talking to B, I heard something fall on the floor off the kitchen counter.  I thought the cat knocked one of my shells off the counter and asked Mr. C to go pick it up before we forgot about it and stepped on it or something.  He went over to pick it up and couldn't find anything.  I insisted there was something there, I heard it hit the floor (and you don't want anything on the floor that the slide might roll over when we bring them in, it ruins the slide and floor).  He looked a bit further and started to laugh.  He said, "You remember that empty shell you gave me?"  I said, "Yes."  He laughed more and said, while bringing it to me, "Well, it wasn't empty, it has a crab in it and he was heading for the door."  Oh no, as soon as I got off the phone, we grabbed jackets (it gets chilly in the evening on the beach) and put Snuff on her leash and headed for the beach to return the hermit crab to the ocean (remember, 2/3's of a mile to and from the beach from our trailer, but that's how important it is to me).  Apparently he was a small enough one he was able to squeeze so far into the shell that I didn't see any sign of him when I picked him up.  He showed up now, though (sorry it's a bit out of focus, but you can see his little feet in there).  

So that's our exciting day, in a nutshell, and here are the sum total of the shells we've found in Padre National Seashore and/or Mustang Island:  
That's the end of my tale for today.  The next couple days probably won't be too exciting either, we don't have any special plans.  Just our walks and some polymer clay cane work for me and computer games for Mr. C.  We'll also have to start preparing for our return to Illinois soon.  Our last day at the Gulf Coast is Friday and then we start the 4 day journey home.  I'm sad to go.  I'm really enjoying it here on Mustang Island.

Aside from seeing our great country, part of the reason for our extended trips is that we are trying to find a place to possibly retire to in the future.  We do not want to live in IL during the winter once we retire.  We plan to travel seeing the US for the first couple years after Mr. C retires (I'm already basically retired and am a self employed polymer clay artist on the side).  I've been giving it a lot of thought as to how our trip this time has gone and how we feel about the various places we've gone in the past couple years.  I've already mentioned in a previous post some of our "wants" in a retirement location.  We definitely do not want snow and COLD (chilly is acceptable, LOL).  We definitely do not want BIG CITY.  We're used to living in the middle of nowhere with the closest small town and small grocery store 5 miles away and the nearest good sized town 30 miles away.  We would like to find somewhere with our most used stores and restaurants within a 30 mile distance (as we're used to driving that distance for our needed supplies, groceries, Drs, etc.).  Ideally, that means Walmart, Michael's, Golden Corral, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, Lowe's or Home Depot will be within 30 miles.  Mr. C would really like to be in a place of very low humidity, but realizes he can always go into air conditioning to get out of humidity.  I would really prefer someplace with flowing water and with my allergies Mr. C says we "should" pick somewhere near an ocean with the prevailing wind coming off the water.  (I once had a Dr. tell me I should live on an island so that I would always have breezes off the water and that way I probably wouldn't have any allergy problems.  I asked if she would write me a prescription for that, and she just laughed.)  I love the Florida Gulf Coast, but Florida is basically ONE LARGE city up and down the Gulf Coast.  We really enjoyed our time at Gulf Shores, AL last spring, but had to drive closer to an hour to get to any of the stores we use, except for Walmart and to the restaurants we favor.  Which brings us to this year.  Our impressions are "gut feelings" and obviously based on just one week, and the weather that particular week, this year was not good, LOL.  We loved the particular campground we were in at Galveston, TX.  The view was outstanding to be right in the trailer and still see and hear the ocean.  I wasn't as fond of the city of Galveston.  It "felt" like a "College Party Town", for the most part and just wasn't relaxing for me, although there was a Golden Corral and a Walmart right in town and Houston isn't that far away for the rest of the shopping etc.  South Padre Island felt like being in Tijuana to us.  We felt we just didn't fit, we couldn't speak the language (even the signs were mostly in Spanish first and then English below the Spanish), the island itself had huge fancy hotels etc. but everywhere else was so run down and decrepit, reminded me of a "shanty town", although there was shopping etc. within 40 miles.  Then we came to Mustang Island, and it feels like home.  I don't know any other way to explain it, it just "FEELS" like home.  We are comfortable here.  The only thing I'd like is to actually be able to SEE the ocean from our campground, but with the dunes, it just isn't possible and that's a protective thing, to protect the campground from the sand and water and it's that way all up and down the coast.  But, when you can go to the water quickly and easily, that's a pretty small thing to be fussing about.  There is an RV place just down the road from us that sells the campsites and we're going to check out the prices and the details of just how that works.  It appears you own your site and when you aren't here using it they will rent it out for you (like a campground) but it is yours when you want it.  We aren't ready to do anything like this, but for future information, we'd like to know how it works.  So we are going to go talk to them later in the week.

So, with that all off my chest and mind, I think I'm ready to go to bed.  I'm not sure if there will be much to blog about for the next couple days, but if anything happens I'll write about it.  Hope you'll keep an eye out, and join us for our further adventures, no matter how mild they may be.  Smiles, Sue C