It's choice, not chance, that determines your destiny

This is my blog about life - travel - new experiences - growth.
Please join me in my journey.......

January 28, 2011

Del Rio, Texas

Where to start? I have a lot of catching up to do since I last posted. I must say that the weather finally warmed up some on Padre Island and I was able to enjoy a few really nice days of sun and sorta warm weather! Cooper and I walked and walked and walked! I found that each day presented something different, especially at the beach. It all depended on weather conditions and the tide. One day I found so many shells along the beach, a lot of them were fairly large ones. I filled my pockets with them. Then I ran out of pockets and had to hand carry them. I don't quite know 'why'....whatever will I do with all those shells? But they were just laying there, when they usually aren't, so I picked them up like I was finding great treasure! The next day there was nothing. The tide water had completely washed the beach clean!

I miss Padre Island in that it forced me to just 'be'. To live quite simply and to learn to enjoy it. To live with less, to be able to enjoy what the day has to offer and not be bogged down with computer, TV, phone, which I can allow to take up much more of my time than it should. I think maybe the soft lapping of the water against the shoreline has something to do with the tranquility aspect. It's meditative and soothing to your soul.

But, alas - everything must come to an end and so we left for Del Rio, Texas on Monday the 25th. We're staying at an RV Park about 8 miles west of Del Rio across the highway from Lake Amastad, which is Spanish for friendship.  Mom and dad have stayed here in the past and liked it so wanted to return - and I can see why! These folks have got to be the friendliest bunch of people I have ever met - seriously! You can't walk 10 feet outside  your door before someone says hi to you or asks you to join in on some upcoming function or to tell you about all the great happenings around town!

The park is a family owned business that was started about 48 years ago and is now run by the grand kids, who have followed the super helpful, friendly attitude instilled by their grandparents. There is a rec hall where they have line dancing, exercise classes, pot luck dinners, bingo, Bible Study, Women's coffees. They have a big screen TV (upcoming Superbowl party), exercise equipment, a commercial kitchen. Outside is a 'park' with play equipment, a fire pit, grills...

There are trees and birds and owls. (and ticks) Full hook-ups, cable TV, free WI-Fi. All this for $230/mo plus the cost of your electric. No wonder there are so many "Winter Texans" (what Texans call snowbirds).

So far I've participated in a hot dog roast by the campfire, exercise class, Bingo (I won twice and came away with five bucks), and a Mexican Pot luck dinner (I've never seen so many Mexican dishes!)....and I've only been here four days! Cooper and I have taken some nice walks but not like the ones at Padre Island. Win some, lose some....

We've signed up for some upcoming tours. The tour to Laughlin AFB was full so we're on the wait list for that one. We were disappointed so I hope a few people cancel or they decide to add another tour. We signed up for the tour of the prison - they even feed you prison food! We signed up for the Border Crossing & US Customs Tour, where I guess they tell you what their job duties are. There is a winery and a museum we want to go to. Lots to do - I have gone from one extreme to the other!!

In the front office they have shelves full of books. I exchanged the books I read on Padre Island for some new ones. I picked up a copy of Steven King's "The Stand", the complete and uncut edition with over 1100 pages. I figured what better time is there to read a book of that magnitude? Unfortunately, I don't seem to have the time I did a week ago - but I'm sure I'll plow through it non-the-less!

The weather here so far has been near perfect. Cool nights that dip into the low 40's - daytime temps that are sunny and mid to high 60's. Great for walking or washing the motor home or grilling or just reading in your lawn chair!

Aaahhhh...what a life!

January 12, 2011

Cold Front on PINS

What a difference a day makes - especially when you're dry camping! A cold front blew in from the north on Monday night and Tuesday hovered around 40 degrees outside and inside! Since I'm at the end of my allowed 14 day stay at PINS (Padre Island National Seashore) before I have to move out of the park for two days, I'm low on gas to run the generator and propane to run the stove/water heater/furnace. The holding tanks are full however! 

I stayed inside yesterday and bundled up until 4pm, when I couldn't stand it any longer and cranked on the generator. It was touch and go for awhile as she doesn't like the cold weather any more than I do but I finally got it going and left it running until 8pm. Then I went to bed to get warm. Up until 4pm, Cooper and I took a few 3 mile walks just to warm up. After the first mile I started to thaw out a bit and then by mile 2 it wasn't too bad! The hardest part is just opening the motor home door against the north wind!

Today, rather than spend another cold day bundled up inside the motor home, I opted to spend it at the laundromat again. I brought the computer and all my little devices to plug in and charge up while I'm here and I can easily spend 5-6 hours in air warmed by many large dryers! So far I haven't been kicked out from loitering! A fellow customer even saw Cooper sitting in the driver's seat of the car and brought me a Milk bone to give him. Someone else asked me if that was my morning snack!

Tomorrow we have to leave the park for a few days so I've made a 10:30 appt to meet mom and dad at the dump station where they're camped and we'll made a decision on weather to camp out close by and hit round two at PINS or rather to call it a day and head toward warmer climate.

Anyone know where that might be? Seems we're not alone with our cold front - much of the U.S. seems to be in far worse shape than here and for that I count my blessings that I am where I am!! But I must say, Arizona has been calling to me of late and I'm trying not to be impatient and just hitting the road with the thought that I might be able to make it there by tomorrow!

PINS really has been a nice place to stay and my days have fallen into a simple kind of rhythm. Without easy access to electronic devices I've had to come up with other ways to pass the time. When I have electricity it's way too easy to spend most of my day hooked up to the computer, the cell phone or the TV and then wonder why I don't get anything productive done or even have the time to do the relaxing things I enjoy, such as reading or knitting (or gardening when I'm at home) It's nice to step away from all that now and then and I hope to incorporate "no electronic device days" into my life once I return home!

I leave you with a few scenes from the past week:
Our afternoon walk on the Gulf

Cooper at play!

Gulls outside my MH window

My fresh caught Black Drum Fish dinner

Sunset fishing at Laguna Madre


Knitting when it's cold in the MH!

Cooper's way of passing time on a cold day!

January 07, 2011

Simplicity & Serenity

 Driving away from Corpus Christi out to Padre Island National Seashore is a lot of nothing, which is exactly what the National Park Service had in mind when they opened it for tourism in 1962 and it's remained largely an undeveloped wilderness since then,  which leads you to think you've stepped back into time.

There are approximately six beach areas within the park: North Beach,  Closed Beach, which includes Malaquite Beach, campground (where mom and dad are staying) & Malaquite Visitor's Center, South Beach, Little Shell Beach and Big Shell Beach. You can stay at North Beach and South Beach free of charge and you can drive South Beach for 5 miles before you even need 4-wheel drive. After that you can drive an additional 50+ miles before reaching Mansfield Channel, (at MP 60) which separates North Padre from South Padre Island.

Closed Beach, aptly named because it's closed off to vehicles allowing for tranquil walks along the beach is where Cooper and I spend our afternoons - but more about that later.

After being on the island for a few hours I settled on a place to stay which is Bird Island Basin on the western side of the Island. It's located on the shores of Laguna Madre, which offers fantastic opportunities for windsurfing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and bird watching. I've since learned about sail fishing, where you can drop 15-20 shrimp-baited lines into the water. Dan, the guy who moved in next to me yesterday, does a lot of sail fishing for Red and Black Drum Picture of Black drumFish. He mentioned that many people like to fish for the Red because they fight more but that the Black Drum taste better. Since I'd never heard of Drum Fish, he promised me the next one he catches!

Bird Island was a good place for me to stay since I can conceivably stay there for up to 56 days a year for $30.00. The only "amenities" are two chemical toilets and two trash bins! Other than that, I don't have use of my cell phone, computer, TV or hook-ups (elec, water, sewer) unless I drive 10-15 miles toward Corpus Christi (cell & computer) It's a very simple life on the Island, which has been good for me, despite my early misgivings and anxiety about being so "disconnected"!

Since I seem to be such a routine person, here's pretty much my daily routine:
  • 5:30 alarm goes off, usually prompting me out of bed by 5:45. (I'm also a "morning" person!)
  • 6-7am - a nice hot cup of strong black coffee and usually a muffin or two.
  • 7-8am- Cooper and I head out the door for a nice 6 mile walk along the road. First we head out of camp to the east, watching the sun rise as we walk to the marina.
After a walk around the marina we walk up to the main road (Park Rd 22) and across to what used to be ranching land back in the 1800's
They still have the old Novillo Line Camp and bunkhouse there.

To the east are the dunes and then Closed Beach, which I hoped I could reach on my first walk down that mile stretch, but there were too many stickers which get caught in Cooper's paws and you're not supposed to walk on the dunes anyway (something about preservation!) so back down the road, across the Park Rd and 1.5 miles back to camp.

Then we putter around until afternoon....I read, knit, pure laziness until about
  • 2-3pm - I drive the car about 2 miles or so to North Beach & Closed Beach where I arm myself with bright yellow trash bags that the visitor center provides, and while Cooper runs and plays in the surf I pick up trash along the beach and there is a LOT of it. I'd say 95% of it is plastic, which is obvious, I suppose, because plastic floats. It leads me to wonder what sinks to the bottom of the gulf and also vow never to buy another plastic bottle of water again! Predominant southeast winds drive the currents in the Gulf of Mexico to this location in the northwest corner. Anything that is tossed in or falls in usually ends up on these beaches. In 2005, approximately 1,000 volunteers from the general public removed almost 153 tons of trash from the National Seashore's beaches. That's a lot of trash. They rely on volunteer help and periodic "clean up" days to keep the beaches clean. 
  • 5pm - scrounge for something to eat for dinner. Quiet evening sitting outside with a glass of wine and watching the sun set -  then one more walk around camp, maybe talking to a fellow camper or two, and back in to knit for a few hours before reading myself to sleep around 9:30ish
  • and then get up and do it all over again the next day!
Yesterday, along with mom and dad, we drove into Corpus Christi to the H.E.B market to buy groceries. After frequenting Walmart's the H.E.B (whatever that stands for) was a pleasant surprise. I even picked up a sushi fix and something from the olive bar! Then we drove to the Laundromat to do our laundry and I checked email on my computer but obviously didn't spend enough time at it so I came back here today to work on updating my blog and make a few phone calls! I've left Cooper in the car however, so I really must give him some attention and let him do some more running on the beach so adios for today.

As the sun sets on your day, remember to keep on living the life you love.....