Wednesday, January 30, 2019

#LeapFrogs on the Move: Rockport and Mathis

After our overnight at the Victoria Rest Stop (previous post), we made the decision to head south to the Goose Island State Park. The website said the rate would be $10 per night, so I thought three nights at the coast would be good. There are some free sites in the area, but most of them are on the beach, and I’m not yet confident enough about setting up a tent with all that blowing wind. (Ha – see post in a few paragraphs!) We thought the state park might offer more of a wind break and we wouldn’t have to drive on the sand.

But when we arrived, the gatekeeper told us the fees would be $10 a day for camping, plus $5 per person per day entry fee. No discounts, no passes. My budget just didn’t allow that, so I told her we’d have to go elsewhere. She told me to be sure and check out the Big Oak at the end of the road and gave us directions.

TIP: If you’re going to spend time at any of the Texas State Parks, I highly recommend buying a State Park Pass for $70. The pass is good for a carload of up to 8 people, instead of the per person per day fee so it will pay for itself quickly.

We followed the road around and around until we came to the end of it – at The Big
Tree. A 1,000-year old Big Coastal Oak tree that has withstood all those massive hurricanes through the years. It was gnarled and twisted and had been given support in some areas – and every inch of it was beautiful. I walked around it, snapping photos, and enjoying the way the sunlight poured through the branches leaving shadows. On one side, as I neared the full circle, I was greeted a frisky orange and black butterfly that landed in front of me on a railing, then on some grass, then landed on me for a few moments. I tried to snap a photo, but it was never quite still enough for me to get a good one.

Due to the high winds we were experiencing at the coast, we made the decision to head more inland. Tim was ready for “cowboy country” and that didn’t include coastal destinations.

We picked a road and started driving. Windmills as far as the eye could see on one stretch of road. And they were massive!

I stay in touch with my kids and prayer team as we travel. While we were driving, my son called and said we had a reservation for two nights at Lake Corpus Christi State Park, but that their reservation system wouldn’t allow for same day reservation, but they had room for us that night if we wanted.

The park is deserted and beautiful. Tiny yellow flowers cover most the land, and the moment we got out of the car, we could smell them.

But the wind. Oh my goodness, the wind.

Have you ever set up camp in the Texas wind?

Tim finally checked the weather and learned that this wind, 25-30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph, was something that should last only until midnight, and thankfully, it died down a few hours before that. But it was fierce. Our campsite has a covered picnic table, so we were able to wrap two sides of it with a tarp to block that wind. (The wind the next two days change directions, so while the tarp helped immensely the first day, it didn’t help as much the rest of the time.)

How strong is 25-30 mph winds with gusts up to 40? It broke every string we tried to use. It broke a tent pole. It even broke one strip of duct tape – but hadn’t broken any more since I started doubling it.

And yes, we even pulled out zip ties, but even our longest weren’t long enough and before Tim could join them together, I’d pulled out the duct tape.

The facilities here are very nice. The lake is gorgeous and overall the park is very clean. The bathrooms could be a bit cleaner, but after discovering someone used the restroom to dye her hair and smeared hair dye all over the walls just because – well, the bathrooms are in pretty good shape if that’s what they’re dealt regularly. Water is hot and pressure is great. Two sinks with a vanity top in the bathroom and a real mirror – things I don’t take for granted these days. The showers are large and have a small bench to put your belongings on while staying within site but out of water’s reach. Something else I don’t take for granted.

My only complaint about the bathhouse in our particular area is that the stall door locks aren’t operational. They’re in place, but don’t fit properly on any of the stalls.

The campground is divided into several sections: two water-only sections (where we camp), a full hook-ups section with pull-through sites for RVs, and some water & election sections that are back-in. Surrounding it all is the gorgeous Lake Corpus Christi.

I was so incredibly happy to see the sun at one point, I just snapped photos of the sun - so I could look at them later to be happy.

Old Pavilion built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933-34
We explored the park yesterday and found it quite beautiful. I even got to pull out my fly rod late afternoon but didn’t get a single nibble.

Tomorrow we head out to parts unknown again, #LeapFrogs on the Move.

I wrote all of the above in present tense, as we were sitting in camp. Right after I closed down the computer on that last sentence, the winds hit again.

Before it was over, the winds had destroyed our tent, breaking two tent poles and ripping one wall. The winds also pulled up and sent flying four of our 8" heavy-duty tent stakes. I'm so grateful no one was hurt as they flailed through the air. Some I was able to catch midair, others fell out of the whipping grommets and hit the ground without further damage.

With the tent caved in, we began packing the car as quickly as possible. I just thought setting up camp in the wind was bad - breaking down seems like it might have been worse.

We couldn't fold our tarps or sleeping bags properly, so our packing was a disaster. We managed to literally squeeze everything into the car - minus the tent - and we slept in the car overnight. We'll car camp our way for the next few days as we decide our next move.

We're considering a low-profile pop-up camper, but budget is our main concern at this point, so it won't be something we do right away. But we won't be getting a used tent again - that was a disaster from the beginning. Now we just have to decide what best fits our needs and our budget.

Have you ever had a pop-up? I'd love to hear your experiences.

So now we're on the road again, #LeapFrogs on the Move.

Recent Posts:

#LeapFrogs on the Move: Kemah, Houston, Wharton
#LeapFrogs on the Road: Fort Anahuac Texas
Technology on the Road
Crossing Louisiana
From Alabama through Mississippi
First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized

Recent Posts from TMP Books:

Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:

No comments: