Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, totally worn out, shouting "Wow...What a Ride!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Time Flies When Having Fun

Hard to believe we been here at Gulf Waters Beachfront RV Resort a little over a week already, a week ago last Friday we left Goose Island State Park for the short 35 mile drive to Port Aransas. A short wait for the ferry and we were on the island by noon and pulling into Gulf Waters shortly thereafter, after checking in at the office we headed to our lot. Our friends Kathy and Jay must have been keeping an eye out for us, set up was abandoned for a bit while hugs and a quick catch up were exchanged. Since we are here for 4 months we took our time getting the rig in just the right place, giving us as much outside living space as possible.

Once we were set up we took a walk around to see what had changed and who was around. We found Mui of Two To Travel's Phaeton Journeys outside washing their motorhome, with water restrictions in affect Friday is the only day washing of the rigs is allowed. Erin soon came out and we spent a short time catching up and wishing them well on their winter overseas adventure. They'll be getting back about the time we're heading north, since we're both owners here I'm sure our paths will cross again.

Our walk took quite awhile since we kept seeing folks we hadn't seen in 10 months, while we were only here 6 weeks we made good friends whom we've kept up with on Facebook. So while we'd only spent a short time here last year it has felt like we've come home, we are looking forward to our winter here. Kathy invited us over for a chili dinner and we spent a nice evening catching up with her and Jay, thanks again for dinner guys.

The rest of the week flew by, dinners with friends, walks on the beach, chores and of course meeting new friends.

Our first Saturday here we went out with a group of folks, old and new friends. It seems there's a younger group who have bought some sites just down from us, most of them are still busy working full time and they use Gulf Waters as a weekend getaway. Many of them are from the San Antonio area so their section of the park has been fondly named San Antonio Row. Dinner out was at a place we'd been before, Stingrays is a sports bar so the local TX teams were on the big screens. Food there was once again good and we enjoyed our time there, afterwards we made a stop at a local watering hole, the Coastal Club where the music was so loud it was hard to hear the person talking next to you. 

We've been into Corpus Christi a few times for a variety of things, a trip to Lowe's resulted in a variety of lights for a Christmas display. We have a shed here where we can keep things so the excess lights will stay here for our use when ever we stay here. We thought we'd turn off the lights until after Thanksgiving but everyone wants us to keep them lit every night so guess we will, most are LED so they are cheap to run.

Dave's new smoker, test run on one rack of ribs turned out great.

Getting ready for the holidays, we were going to turn them off until after Thanksgiving but due to popular demand we've kept them on.

 Our neighbors last week were Ron and Rose from Australia, they have been at Gulf Waters before and had made friends with Jay & Kathy. Between the happy hours, fish fry and a dinner out we got to know them well, what fun they are we just wished they could have stayed longer. Ron and Rose toured the US for a year just a few years ago, Ron writes a blog about their travels Aussie's Travelling the USA in a Fifth Wheeler and it seems we've enjoyed some of the same places. From Ron Dave has learned a few new phrases some that could get him into trouble :) We sure hope our paths cross when they are stateside next time.

The weather has been all over the place, with lows in the 30's and high in the 80's, with calm days and then days where the winds had us rockin' but at least we weren't rollin'.

My brother and family have made it down, they have a house they rent when they are not using it, we haven't celebrated a holiday with Andy since '87. Our son David and daughter in law Laura are due in tonight for a few days, they will be staying with us. Looks like it'll be a good Thanksgiving with lots of family.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Houston & A Few More State Parks

We moved around Houston on Sunday, Sunday is one of the better days to get around that crazy town. We headed to Brazos Bend State Park, one we've been to before and really like. Fortunately Dave's uncle Ray had the afternoon free and we spent it catching up. Too bad we forgot to take pictures, we are going to be getting together again when he has more free time since Houston is not that far from Port Aransas. While at Brazos Bend we also met Connie and Dave, they are local astronomers and put on some of the Saturday evening functions at the on site observatory at the state park. Connie and Dave had actually toured out rig when it was at the Houston show, small world sometimes.

On Monday we headed over to Space Center Houston, I had been there in the late 60's, I don't much from that trip but I do remember viewing the mission control room. If you'd like to read an in depth post about what is there please check out Travelbug Susan's post of her Level 9 VIP tour. We enjoyed a couple of hours there.

We spent the afternoon around Brazos Bend State Park, Dave tried fishing but instead drowned a few worms, though maybe the alligator that was under the pier got a snack-too bad we didn't take a camera with us.

Brazos Bend State Park is a beautiful state park with lots of multi use trails, a Nature Center and an the George Observatory just wish we had more time so we could take advantage of the park. We are always busy or the weather isn't cooperating. Sites are large and there are many that will fit a large rig, can't wait till we can get back and have the time to stay for awhile

Our next stop was at Goose Island State Park, once again a repeat state park. Goose Island has bayfront and Dave wanted to spend some time fishing. With the weather changing for the worse we decided it was time to get as far south as possible. We were there for a few nights and then move on to Gulf Waters RV Resort where we own a site, we'll be there until sometime in March.

 Crazy man but now our freezer now has some fish in it.

If you are a fan of the COE campgrounds you'll probably like the Texas State Parks, we have found most of them to be great places with nice sized sites and generally well kept. If you'll be visiting more than three different parks be sure to check out their State Park pass.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Paddling and Eating

Our last few days on Sam Rayburn Lake were spent checking out some of the surrounding COE parks, we didn't find anything that we'd want to stay at. Martin Dies Jr State Park would be our preference if we find ourselves in the area again.

We did get back to Martin Dies Jr State Park-Walnut Ridge Unit (never did get to Hen House Ridge Unit) and got an awesome paddle in.

From the Texas State Park website:

"Martin Dies Jr. State Park is one of the best paddling destinations in Texas. The scenic sloughs that meander through the park combined with the lake, and the Angelina and Neches rivers provide endless opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Whether you are a beginner, or an expert paddler looking for an extreme back country tour, there is something here for everyone.

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park is a 705-acre recreational area nestled alongside B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir between Woodville and Jasper. The park is composed of three separate units located in both Jasper and Tyler counties. The land for the park was acquired under a long-term lease from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1964, and officially opened under the name of Dam B State Park in 1965.
Born and raised in East Texas, Martin Dies, Jr. spent many summers as a boy at his father’s farm near Bevilport (Jasper County).  Much of his childhood was spent riding horses through the forest and river bottoms on the future lands of the park. Dies graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1942. When the United States entered World War II, he volunteered to join the Navy. During the war, he served as an officer aboard the destroyer USS Richard Suessens. Dies saw combat in Leyte Gulf and Okinawa where he received multiple commendations for his actions. After the war, he completed his law degree from Southern Methodist University and joined the family practice in Lufkin. Later, Dies served as a Texas State Senator for eight years before becoming Secretary of State of Texas. In September of 1971, he became the Chief Justice of the Ninth Court of Appeals in Beaumont, until 1989 when he retired. Throughout his years of public service, he devoted much effort to improving the state park system, and therefore the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission honored him by renaming Dam B State Park to Martin Dies, Jr. State Park in 1965."
We would highly recommend Martin Dies Jr State Park if you are staying in the area over any of the COE parks. I imagine we'll try and stay there one of these days. We'd also like to do some hiking in the Big Thicket National Preserve or the Angelina National Forest when Dave's tendonitis is gone.

We did end up eating out twice while in the area, a delicious Mexican meal at El Lindo topped off an afternoon car ride-forgot to get pics of their awesome food. A stop at Smitty's Smokehouse -recommended by the local Sheriff who we met at a gas station-capped off our paddling day. Both restaurants were excellent and we wouldn't hesitate to return to either.
Before leaving the area we recieved word that Dave's uncle had to go on a business trip the weekend we were suppose to get together. Good thing our plans are made in Jello, we headed south to Brazos Bend State Park on Sunday.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wandering Our Way Through East Texas

Our last few days at Clear Spring COE in Texarkana TX were spent relaxing around the campground. We did quite a bit of walking, not as fast as we used to be but Dave's tendonitis is getting better so we are able to do longer walks. Every evening we enjoyed watching hundreds of pelicans land on the lake, we really enjoyed our stay at Clear Spring and would return, just make sure you follow the park's online directions for entering otherwise you might end up at a raised railroad crossing that could wreak havoc on your rig.

During one of our many walks we met Gordon and Lorrie from NY, they spend their summers on their 44' sailboat which if memory serves me is on Lake Ontario. They spend the winters these days in their rv in the south, they are on their way to Rockport TX, just an hour away from where we'll be in Port Aransas. We found our paths will cross in a few weeks so have planned dinner with them at Lake Sommerville State Park where we both will be.

On Sunday we moved 3 hours down the road to Mill Creek COE on Lake Sam Rayburn, this is an older park and is showing its age. The individual sites have metal rail around them which makes getting into the some sites difficult but we managed, just hope we manage to get out with out an issue. This is probably our least favorite COE park so far, it doesn't look like much money has been spent on it in awhile. Some of the asphalt pads have huge buckles in them from tree roots, the general feel is kind of sad, so much potential and probably no money to update instead they close some of the sites. I'm sure when I was here 40+ years ago it had a better feel since it was a fairly new campground then, yep I've was here back in the 60's. Back then our family lived about 80 miles south of here and we came here with my folks youth fellowship group, back then lots of arrowheads were being found just off shore and that's what brought us here then.

Tuesday we took a ride looking for a spot to do a little paddling, we had hoped to put in at Village Creek State Park. Village Creek does have campsites but none of them looked like it would be good fit for our rig, alas Village Creek is very low, lots of real shallow water and we would have had to do quite a bit of  "helping" the canoe, didn't sound like how we wanted to spend our paddle. After talking with the ranger who suggested another spot to put in, we headed there and ran into Joe Lopez a local who has canoed the river. He suggested it might be better after the forecasted rain, he also offered to pick us up and drive us back to our put in spot if we decided to run the river another day. Joe if you are reading this thank you so much for your offer, hope our paths cross again, if you get down to Port Aransas look us up Dave would enjoy going fishing with you.

On the way home we took a ride through Martin Dies Jr State Park, their campground had lots of sites that would have fit us nicely with room left over. We found a great short trail and enjoyed an hour in the park, hope to get back there later in the week with the canoe.

Rain has set in, we're here until Sunday, hoping it goes away so we can get out on the water.

Until next time...