“We have more fun than anyone” Texas road trip... September/October.2019

Day 1
This is probably the farthest out planning I’ve ever done for a trip.  Last January, the Sisters on the Fly announced the “20th Anniversary” camping event set for this weekend in Gonzales, Texas.  Jill & I signed up.  It seemed like so far into the future at the time, but now it’s time for the party!  This is my first Sisters-only event & I was both apprehensive & excited.  I decided to ‘go all in’ & make costumes for the themed events, signed up for the Parade & wanted to learn to do things the SOTF way.  

Packing “Camper” is always enjoyable for me & this time, because I was taking my bike, I had to pack it differently.  I couldn’t take my food box, but I was good with that & figured out something that would work… for the most part (eat out!). 

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I hit the highway early in the morning & landed in Dallas at Jills house around 3pm.  It’s Taco Tuesday & it’s custom to meet their neighbors at a local Taco place…so that’s what we did.  Then we chatted a little after we got back to the house, then called it a night.

Day 2
We tried out a new coffee shop recommended by a friend of Jills…they also sell all kinds of CBD oils & lotions, lip balms & essential oils.  We went to REI so I could buy an extra long Nalgene bottle to try to learn to pee-in-the-bottle (Jill is an expert at this).  While there Claire FaceTimed me, & together, we virtually shopped.  She found a tiny pair of black Chaco’s just like mine…how could I resist?  I hope she likes wearing hers as much as I do mine.  A favorite restaurant of Jill’s had just opened another location near her, so we stopped in to share some dessert…she loves the brownie & ice cream.  It was delicious & especially so because it’s all gluten & dairy free…yummy!  Jill got her new fold-up bike out to test out before she loaded it up to take to our event.

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The highlight was my visit with her three grandkids….they are adorable & I love to visit them at their house.  One always grabs my hand to whisk me away to see something, then the next kid does the same thing, then the last one after that…& I love it!  I got to read to them & look at their favorite toys & share their little joys.  Jill & I ate some good BBQ & hit up Bucee’s (hands down the best gas station—its way way more than that—in Texas), before calling it a day.  

Day 3
I was gone bright & early the next morning, freshly showered, so I could beat the crazy Ft. Worth traffic before rush hour.  It was time to go south…way way way south.I stopped just on the south side of Austin.  It’s definitely a cool town, but I’d looked for amazing breweries…didn’t find any & I knew I wouldn’t be there at night to listen to the town’s infamous music scene.  But I wanted to take a little hike & I found a trailhead right off the highway that boasted a short hike to a swimming hole & waterfall.  There’s a lot of info online about Austin’s Green Belt urban hiking & biking.  I began at the Gaines trailhead hiking to Barton Creek & the twin falls.  I hadn’t been on the trail very long, when I started to pass a hiker coming towards me.  He looked me up & down (I had on sandals & a hiking skirt & t-shirt) & said “I hope you’re not planning to swim (I was) because there’s no water down there”.  I said thanks & kept on the trail.  Soon I was headed down towards a creek bed that looked like it had never ever had water in it.  I looked up & down the dry bed & made the decision not to hike to the falls…what falls?  I hiked back to the car.  At least I got out of the car for a bit & stretched…I also negated any part of the shower I’d had earlier in the day…it was hot!

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I used to go to Corpus Christi when I was a little girl…my Mom had a cousin that lived in Brownsville.  But, I hadn’t been there for years.  By the time I drove through the town, I was ready for a break.  I discovered the Lorelei brewery tucked back in a small blue building right off the street.  It was a pretty charming little spot & I had a good beer!  The bartender & brewer were so friendly, as were the two other couples that filled up the place.  I had wanted to get to the Visitors Center at Padre Island National Seashore before they closed, but I decided I was going to slow it down sitting in that brewery.  I was hungry too but wanted to enjoy my beer.  As it turned out, all my questions were answered by everyone in the brewery with a few more suggestions thrown in…way better than the VC!

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I asked about a good place to eat & the bartender sent me to Padre Island Burger Company…I must look like all I eat is burgers (its too close to true!).  The burger & fries were really good, the bartender was nice but a few of the other customers were totally obnoxious.  One guy that had toooooo many drinks was giving the tiny young bartender all kinds of trouble…although he thought he was being cute & flirty.  She held her ground & refused to serve him any more alcohol.  I couldn’t believe his 4 buddies didn’t step up to stop him or shut him up.  Some people are just jack-asses…looks like I had found a few local ones on Padre.  I visited with the bartender, paid up & left.  The meal was very good, but the stupid men in the place were super annoying.

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I drove out to the National Seashore, used my National Park Pass (which expires in a few days), & drove to South Beach where there was some free dispersed camping.  

Note:  I have never really beach camped before so I was trying something new.  I have a tide chart on my phone & always try to know when high & low tide are whenever I’m near a coast.  Little did I know…there’s a learning curve to beach camping.  I parked fairly close to the entrance of Malaquite beach…4.5 miles of drivable beach went on past where I camped.   This section of beach is not very wideone side is the Gulf, the other side were lots of grassy dunes.  I pulled as close as I could to the dunes & tried to estimate how far the tide would rise.  In between my 4Runner & the water was the road or at least the path that the cars drove on.  I set up camp (I got my chair out), grabbed a book & a beer & enjoyed the sound of the waves, the gulls & the view of the Gulf & a big open sky.

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Sunset is always wonderful to watch when you’re on the beach.

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When darkness fell, I was the only one on the beach I could see.  Cars & Jeeps had been driving by earlier, so I knew others were somewhere down the beach, but no one near me.  It was, at first, a little un-nerving.  When that feeling happens to me, I turn on my twinkle lights & all is better…if only twinkle lights could fix everything!  It was warm down here in south Texas, but the breeze from the Gulf waters was blowing in my back window making it a nice evening.  It was also noisy…the wind was loud, the surf was loud & once in awhile a car would drive between my 4Runner & the water…which was a narrow path causing the car to drive just a couple of feet past my back window.  I pulled the 4Runner up as close to the dunes as possible & as far away from the shoreline as I could get.  The Ranger told me the tide would only come up about 1.5’, but the beach wasn’t very wide.  It took awhile to get to sleep, then the stars popped out in the dark skies & sleep found it’s way to me.

Day 4
I watched the sun come up & made coffee this morning with the wind blowing like crazy off the water (not too easy to get a backpacking stove going in the wind).  

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I decided to move to another beach for tonight, but wanted to run an errand first.  There was a Dollar Store right off the road as you exited the park & I had a short list:  a little rug for outside my 4Runner to wipe the sand off my feet before I popped into Camper at night; a little brush to sweep away the sand that’s accumulating everywhere; & a squirt bottle to shower my feet & legs at night.  

Then I drove to Port Aransas, or Port A as a bunch of people call it to find some other beach camping.  This is a huge beach that goes on for miles & miles, all of which you can drive.  

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And, you camp near the water & the ‘road’ is between where you camp & hotels, condos, etc. on the other side of the road.  It’s a much, much wider beach than Malaquite.  I found a spot, backed up to the shore, pulled out a book & my chair & enjoyed the beautiful day under blue skies.  

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The weather forecast said it might rain…every day this week.  But, for now, it was perfect.  I’ve never swam in the Gulf before…it’s always been off the coast of Florida & in winter, so too cold for me.  The temp of the water here was just right & you can walk a long way out into the surf & the water was clear & clean looking.

I went to lunch in this small tourist town at Fin & ate some yummy gulf shrimp.  

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Then back to camping on the beach, reading & had my weekly Face Time cocktail hour with Jill later in the afternoon.  I’d jump in & out of the water, read & repeat.  There were lots of people driving on the beach & more beginning to camp…it’s Friday & looking like a nice weekend to play at the beach.  I checked my tide chart, moved my car a little bit farther from the high tide line, set out my rug & laid my sandals on top & tucked into bed for the night.

Day 5
This beach was a little more quiet than yesterdays but much more populated.  But watching the morning sunrise is always special.

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I ran into town early & drove to the closest ice machine & filled my cooler, then headed back to the beach, parking in the same spot I was in last night.  Saturday brought lots of families & big groups to the beach & it was good people watching.  I spent the day in & out of the water, under more blue skies & bright sunshine.  No rain…yay!  Kids dug in the sand & built castles, people grilled, some ran & many walked, there was laughter & fun surrounding me.  I’d brought a bunch of books with me for this part of my trip.  My plan was simple & easy…read, sit & walk on the beach & play in the water.  I love the feeling of sitting in the water just waist deep & watching the waves & feeling the sand shift out from underneath your body…over & over & over!  My skin is more than sun-kissed by the sun, as I’ve practically lived outside all summer (Yay! Yay! & more Yay!)  But, I’ve worn hiking clothes & not a swimsuit.  So, where the suit cuts low, I’m bright pink.  The sunburn snuck up on me, so I’m going to be in the shade the rest of the day.

I finished one book & then another, had a couple of good beers too.  Soon the sun set & I popped into the water one last time.  I moved my car about 30’ back from the high tide line…farther away than any of my neighbors were.  I even said to myself “what a chicken you are…no one else is this far back”.  High tide would be around 12:30am.  I set out my rug & sandals & squirted off the sand.  I turned on my twinkly lights & read some more.  The night breeze was great & the sound of the surf & the low murmur of others conversations ended another good day….

but not quite…., but at 11:30 I woke up from a nightmare.  Once I was awake, I decided I’d go pee.  I could see out my window, some neighbors in a tent down the way from me had a flashlight & it looked like they were throwing things out of their tent.  But I figured it was their business & I just need to take care of mine.  I opened my door & jumped down…into water.  It covered my feet.  My rug & sandals were gone.  I was surprised & wondered what the hell had happened?  I looked over to my neighbors & realized their tent had been flooded.  I jumped in the front & started the 4Runner…that went good.  Then I grabbed a flashlight & looked for my stuff finding the rug & one sandal 20’ in FRONT of my car.  This meant the tide or whatever you called the water at that point had come up about 60’ from the high tide mark when I went to bed.  I found the other sandal stuck behind one tire.  Dragging all the wet stuff inside, I drove the 4Runner down the beach to a much wider spot that was dry.  As I drove down the beach, I could see so many other campers in tents & a few RV’s &, they had all been flooded.  I’d originally thought I was just a stupid traveler from a land-locked state, but as it turns out even all the Texans were surprised.  I stayed up a few more hours trying to figure out what had happened by Googling.  On my tide app, there was a place called “current” & in that section of the app, there was something called "current-flooding".  And tonights time on that was 11:10.  A few days before, there had been a big storm up in Houston along with a ton of flooding , so maybe this was a side effect of that???  I eventually fell back asleep.

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