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Along the Texas Coast (part 1) - catlinye_maker [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Along the Texas Coast (part 1) [Feb. 24th, 2014|07:23 pm]
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J and I are in Abbeville, LA, for a short stay on our way to the Mardi Gras celebration with friends in Baton Rouge.  We came by way of a couple of the shore towns in Texas: Port Aransas and Galveston.

Ever since we stayed at SKP Saguaro, the condo-style Escapees park in Arizona, J and I have been talking about the possibility of eventually buying or leasing a lot in one of these communities.  A lot of full-time RVers take this route, establishing a set location to spend a part of every year.  Some full-timers have two sites, one in the north for the warm months and one in the south for the cooler months, and their travel is twice a year between the two.  It’s one possibility for retiring from the road when constant travel becomes too demanding.

There are some advantages to this site-buying idea: depending on where your site is, the annual cost may be cheaper than paying for a campground for those months that you are in one place.  If you’re in one of the RV communities that are set up for owned sites, the campground will often rent your site for you and give you a percentage of the fees; how much of a percentage is highly variable, but that too offsets the cost of ownership without the hassle of renting it out yourself.  It’s a place to store stuff you want to keep, but don’t want to keep in the limited space in the RV (Christmas decorations leap to mind.)  And depending on the structures you put on your lot, it can double your living/craft/storage space when you’re onsite.

J’s been looking online at where these sites are and what they cost.  We both like the beach, so he was interested to find quite a few places on the Texas coast with prices ranging from “very affordable” to “what are they thinking!”  One problem; we don’t know that area at all, so we have no feel for whether we’d want to spend several months every year living there.

We’d seen the southernmost point of South Padre Island a few years ago on our trip with my cousin.  The area was decent, the campground (a county park, not one of the owner parks) was pretty, but the beach was notable mostly for the never-ending wind.  We didn’t get into the water that much because neither of us like being sandblasted while sunbathing.  That’s a feature for some folks; I found out later that the area is very popular among wind-surfers because the breeze is so reliable.
Fortunately our trip east from San Diego via San Antonio had enough time buffered to let us route via Port Aransas and Galveston.  Our first stop from San Antonio was Mustang Island State Park, just north of Padre Island and just east of Corpus Christi.  The Mustang Island campground was just ok.  It was laid out like a big parking lot; a wide gravel road with closely spaced sites on either side.  The sites were doubles.  That’s two RV sites butting up next to each other with utilities between them, and in this case each site had a small shelter and a picnic table on the other side.  This can be a really good way to double up with motorhomes and travel trailers.  If the motor homes pull in and the trailers back in, their entrances are on the sides facing their picnic tables and the service wall is toward the other rig.  It gets you a little extra room in tight campgrounds.

The beach was some distance beyond the dunes that edged the campground space; we walked there one gray day.  The sea was throwing up foam and I could just hear the faint echoes of a buoy horn.  Off-shore drilling platforms dotted the horizon.  On the weekend we drove up to Port Aransas, which came highly recommended as a great Texas coast town.  The scenery on the drive was mostly scrubby flatland; trees here on the barrier island are planted, not growing naturally, so you only see them when you start to get into settled areas.  Port Aransas looks like it is a hopping town during the summer season, but when we were there it just looked a little run down.  Every other corner had its bar or liquour store, and both of the recommended restaurants we’d wanted to check out were closed.  We took the ferry over to the mainland and ate at a nice little seafood joint at the edge of Rockport.

Overall, we decided, this section of the Texas coast wasn’t for us.  We want a place where we can stay during the winter months; that’s the most likely season for us to want to be in one place for some time.  Desolate, scrubby and mostly closed doesn’t work for that, especially since the one half-decent RV owner-park we saw was as expensive as places in the Florida Keys.