A&A Review Of 'Island Life' In Texas
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
End of Week #33
Mustang Island State Park, Corpus Christi TX
Miles traveled since last week's post = 0
Total miles traveled to date = 5,114 with trailer
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Today is my half birthday! Ha. I grew up only being able to celebrate my half birthday in school, so it's something that is always on my radar come January. I'm now halfway through 30 and officially on my way to 31 - oofta! & silly me thought today would be my LAST post on this website, as I'm launching my new one - BUT I had no idea that it can take up to 48 hours for a domain to transfer... and well let's just say that I submitted the transfer at like 4 PM this afternoon... so now we wait again! But I did spend like a solid 12 out of 24 of the last hours working on my new website so my hope is when it is launched it will be amazing!
We are reaching our last few days at Mustang Island State Park, and our last few days of the 'island life' in Texas before we move inland and start really traveling for the next month. I'd say we are soaking up what's left of the ocean air and the beach life, but to be honest right now we are both quite ready to move on to what's next. :) The humidity has been killing us lately and I'm starting to go stir crazy in this parking lot set up we have. I'm ready to explore, move on, and maybe even go hiking again!
On Wednesday we move north, in between San Antonio and Austin to an area called New Braunfels. Funny story - we will be staying at another Yogi Bear Jellystone Park, as it was one of the best options left this time of year. (Apparently it's a very popular time to go to that area of Texas and I admittedly did not plan ahead here far enough.) I originally wanted to stay at one of the Texas State Parks a little closer to Austin but I am feeling a relieving sense of comfort to know we are going back to a Yogi Bear - a place we have been before and where we know what to expect.
In honor of us heading north, today's post reviews what the 'island life' has been like for us the past month and a half - going over the places we have been and what they have had to offer. Full honestly on my reviews - you'll know what I mean as you keep reading.
A&A Review 'Island Life' In Texas
What a change of pace it's been, to have reached the ocean just in time for Christmas and the closing out on what has been the most impactful year of our lives. After mountains, and deserts, and red rocks all fall it was really great to spend so much quality time down in the Gulf of Mexico, experiencing what coastal 'island life' in Texas is all about.
Our experiences have been incredible, but the islands we have traveled to have not all been created equal! Keep reading to find out more.
The first stop on the island tour - the town of Galveston, TX, directly south of Houston. Galveston was not originally in our travel plans, but Houston was! Upon doing research one random day I realized we COULD add the island life to our travel history and I remember just how absolutely excited we were when we booked our RV park for the whole month of December.
Driving to the island was a fun experience, zig-zagging through areas that turned residential - first getting glimpses of the "bay" and then finally the coast itself. I was so awestruck by all the houses on stilts, everything on stilts - churches, restaurants, all of it. And they were beautiful with their pastel colors and huge mansions with windows and gates. It was wonderful! We drove through downtown Galveston to then get to our RV park further on the island and there are a lot of amenities you would need on the island life including grocery stores, fast food, restaurants, a MARSHALLS, UPS, ets. We had everything we needed.
The entire island was just SO CUTE, there were really no other words to describe it. So many different kinds of palm trees. SO many cute communities of colorful houses on stilts. Houses that were named fun paradise names, likely rented out as airbnb's. I loved driving along the main road anytime we would go somewhere just so I could gawk at everything!
The main road through downtown had the "city" on one side, and the ocean on the other side. The beach is broken into differently named sections and overall it is pretty expansive. Everyday there were a lot of people along the coastline, checking out the beach or just hanging out for the day. It was so nice to see the ocean again, even if there were a lot of oil rigs out there in eyesight...
The section of Galveston island that we actually stayed at was called Jamaica Beach - an adorable beach vibe community with a few RV parks too. We stayed at Jamaica Beach RV Resort and found it to be the very best RV resort down there (as we drove through a few of the others to check them out). They had everything you could want in an entertaining place to stay - an indoor hot tub, mini golf, activities, a pool with a "shoreline", games, a clubhouse, a mini store, laundry, etc. We had palm trees in our site and we were happy as clams. It will likely go down as one of my top favorite RV parks we have stayed at!
Behind the park was a walkway to get to the bay area, a nice jaunt down but overall not much to look at. There were cows and horses on the land next door that I would admire from afar too.
Just across the street and down a block was our public access to the beach. We would drive there a time or two and then also take turns riding the bike down. It was always a popular place with a lot of people fishing and hanging out. At first it was weird to me to see so many cars on the beach but I quickly got used to it. I would ride for a few miles on the bike in an area that turns to residential beach and just admire the waves, the sun, and the surf.
Jamaica Beach is what turned me onto ocean trash and pollution though... as one of our first beach days I noticed how many cigarette butts, plastic water bottle caps, and chunks of plastic there were everywhere. I started going down there frequently to pick up trash - and I made a YouTube video of it to spread awareness, that you can find here. It really broke my heart and opened up my eyes to see firsthand what humanity is doing to this planet and how we are destroying it with trash and garbage.
Things to do & overall thoughts
There was always something to do here! You could go into town and grab a snack and drink at happy hour. You could go to a restaurant with an ocean pier and walk to take a look around. There were shops, and even a huge pier amusement park that would be great entertainment for kids. You could just walk and hang out along the miles and miles of beach. On the other side of the city itself, on the bay, you could get fresh seafood from markets right on the water, or watch the huge cruise ships and other big boats that come through that port.
At the RV park there was pretty much something going on every single day, whether it was a social gathering or an event or an outing. We participated in a handful of things and got to know a few people in the park. I really enjoyed all the interaction they had there and how comfortable and homey it felt like. The family that owns and runs the park could not have been more nice and welcoming and involved in everything they do there.
10/10 I would definitely return to Galveston Island and specifically Jamaica Beach RV Resort.
The island life continued for the first 2 weeks of January! This was my way to avoid the winter cold longer, and basically postpone our movement inland. I was also not quite ready to say goodbye to the beach yet and wanted to check out one more coastal area of Texas before heading on.
The island itself isn't anything to write home about. It's pretty flat and "grassy" and you can't see the beach from the main road because the dunes near the beach are so high. The drive into the island from Corpus Christi is a bit more exciting and takes you on high bridges over the ocean where the water is a beautiful green-blue hue.
We have been camping at a state park on the island - Mustang Island State Park, which is basically a parking lot with water and electric and access to the beach. There is a very nice shower house facility onsite that we have been using to shower in and although it works, I'll be very excited to shower in the RV again. We have been cautiously trying to conserve in filling up our tanks since we do not have a sewer hookup and we did not want to have to pack up just to go dump and come back and set up again. This is the longest stretch we have gone in trying to conserve and I must say we have done a great job!
The beach is just a few minutes bike ride away, and allows you to access at 3 different points. The beach area itself is absolutely gorgeous and has a lot of covered picnic table areas to sit at and enjoy yourself. There was trash here, just like in Galveston, and I did my part to pick up what I found, but the beach area here did seem a bit cleaner overall. Most sunny days I would ride the bike down and take off on the beach for a few minutes each way - that is something I will definitely miss doing! #Bliss
I will make note and say that I imagine this area is seemingly more beautiful in the summer than it is in the "winter". In my mind there is more color - flowers and greens, and I assume it doesn't appear as brown and stale... just a thought?
Port Aransas, on Mustang Island
We heard a lot about Port Aransas from our RV group that we are apart of and it's only a few miles east of us so we took a day to drive down and explore. It's a small town, with a LOT of RV parks, a wildlife refuge, beach, fishing piers, an industrial area, and some bars and restaurants. But I do have to say that we were a bit disappointed by it overall - the beach wasn't any better than our beach at Mustang Island, and the "wildlife refuge" was next to a sewage treatment plant and didn't offer much area to explore.
We did walk out one of the long fishing piers, which was a neat experience as we saw a lot of pelicans and washed up items, and people fishing. It was awesome to watch the waves crash up on the pier and to just see the ocean from that viewpoint. But then we decided to try out a local establishment for a cheap happy hour and discovered that Texas is one of a handful of states that still allows you to smoke in the bars. When I walked in it immediately smelt like a bingo hall I remember my mom cleaning when I was a kid and it couldn't have been more dive-like if it tried.
10/10 I will say I will not be returning to Port Aransas. I'm good!
We DID see our first ever alligator in Port Aransas though! It was HUGE. Adam was convinced it was fake until a guy at the wildlife place confirmed it was real. I never doubted, but I’ve also never seen one in real life before!
Padre Island National Seashore
The Padre Island National Seashore protects the world's longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island. There are over 70 miles of sand and shell beaches, sand dunes, grasslands and tidal flats. The nations prime nesting beach for endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles is here and it's also a vital stopover for migrating birds. The awesome part is that there is beach on both sides - so you can choose the Gulf of Mexico side to explore, or the shallow, extremely salty waters of the Laguna Madre to explore - one of only 6 hypersaline lagoons in the world.
One fun history fact is that in the 1800's, people in one coastal community struggled to survive by ranching so they harvested salt from the Laguna Madre and also built their homes out of remains from ships that washed on shore! Wow!
I was honestly pretty stoked to get to the Padre Island Seashore... I went to South Padre in college for spring break and I remember vividly being so surprised that Texas had such a beautiful beach area, ha! I knew that north Padre was protected and didn't have anything built up on it so I figured it would be a dream island.
The day we made the trip over was a bit chillier, but the sun was shining full force! Since it is a nationally protected area we had to use my Annual Parks Pass to get in. We stopped at the visitor center and looked around and the beach was already showing us her glory from the entrance.
Then it was time to drive right on it - yes, ON it! Beaches in Texas are considered "highways" and have speed limit signs and everything. The ONLY way to explore the Padre Island Seashore is to drive on the beach - and it goes on for 60 MILES down to the man made channel separating north from south. [They do however recommend 4 wheel drive after the first 5 miles though, so we only went 5 miles and stopped.]
It was truly a gorgeous area, the water does look a little more blue-green down here than in Galveston and the sand glistening in the sun with the dunes beyond the beach were a wonderful site. ... But the trash! My goodness was I completely stunned by the trash at a nationally protected area. It was everywhere! I could see large chunks of plastic and garbage as we were driving to the area we set up our chairs at, and then I cleaned up a perimeter around where we parked and had a full bag of garbage in just about 20 minutes. I can not believe that people would pollute such a beautiful area and that the park service does not do a better job monitoring and cleaning it up. It also does not help that the beaches are treated like highways because think of all the pollution that comes off of vehicles and all the trash people probably throw out the window too. UGH.
Beach cleanup is near and dear to my heart after spending so much time down here on the Texas coast and I must say I'm extremely disappointed in humanity and in beach crews that monitor the shoreline for the state in which they are in. It's been awhile since I've been to a beach in my own country and I can't think back to a time when I remember seeing SO MUCH trash. And now that I see it, I absolutely can not look past it.
Something needs to change.
Things to do & overall thoughts
I can however, on a more positive note, imagine that this area is FULL of life in the summertime. There really is so much to do here, and even while we have been here we have seen a lot of people fishing (everywhere!) and playing in the ocean. At Padre Island you can also hike in the grasslands (but must watch out for snakes, coyotes and other wildlife), you can go what's called birding (looking for the island's over 380 bird species), beachcombing (looking for seashells and other artifacts), windsurfing, boating, and more.
The nice thing about this area is that you also have the larger city of Corpus Christi just a few miles away, and that is also on the coast. The city has absolutely everything you would need - all the major kinds of grocery stores, fast food, retail, services, you name it. You can enjoy remote nature but at the same time be within minutes reach to anything you need. Convenient and beautiful!
But other than that there again is not much else to do here... aside from relax on the beach, which is more than fine with me, but I am ready to hike and explore again. I am also very ready to leave the humidity behind for awhile, as it has started to get the best of us the past few weeks.
5/10, I'd come back to Mustang Island/Padre Island, but I'm also okay with not.
For the past month and a half my biggest concern has been if I wanted to go to the beach in the morning or the afternoon, or both, and now I'm ready to spread my wings and move on to what else there is out there. I'm ready for our 2020 travels to begin in full force and in the coming weeks I'm ready to move on from Texas too!
It's that time again, to review challenges of living full-time in an RV! It's already been another 2 MONTHS since the last time I did so, and we are now approaching our 8 MONTH Nomadiversary - wow! Next week's post will be an update into what new challenges we face on the road and what we are doing to navigate them.
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