Saturday 7th March
Departed West Houston this morning to make our way to Corpus Christi. The route took us along farm roads to Simonton through what looked liked a prosperous area with white fences and horses in the fields which I guess are stud farms. There were also cattle farms and some substantial looking properties with large houses. Then onto Wallis where we picked up the US-60 on our way down to the 59. Wallis had a rail crossing where we waited for a long slow cargo train to pass. There were some old buildings along the tracks which I guessed was Main Street shops back in the day. The landscape had become flatter and more featureless with big crop fields many with the large fertiliser systems on wheels ready to roll across the fields. At Hungerford we picked up the 59. On the approach to town we saw cattle ranches that seemed well heeled with what looked like pedigree Brahman cattle ( just showing off my knowledge of Texas cattle after my visit to the Houston livestock and Rodeo Show). On the 59 we had 145 miles to go passing Wharton, El Campo, Edna and Victoria where we picked up the 77. Just before Victoria we stopped off at a rest area for lunch. It had a rest room, plenty of parking and was nicely planted with trees and lots of space to picnic. All the rest areas we have seen to so far have been excellent and cater very well for larger vehicles. We came into Corpus Christi on the I37 And then took a wrong turn ending up in a suburb of interesting wooden houses where a helpful man out in the garden of his house was surprised to see such a large vehicle obviously out of place in this small street. He gave us directions and we soon found our destination Colonia Del Rey RV park in the Flour Bluff area. The park was nearly full and the vehicles were quite closely parked together. We settled into our parking spot and then went off to the local supermarket to get some supplies. After the long drive down country we were looking forward to a relaxing night in the RV. We now have cable tv hook up so I guess we will find a movie to watch.
Sunday 8th March
We did watch a movie last night, the Thomas Crown Affair. I had forgotten what a good film that was Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway gave great performances and what about the fab 60's clothes, Steve in his emaculate three piece suits and Faye in her mini suits and floppy hats. I loved her makeup the eye crease line, false lashes, the pale lipstick and of course the hair pieces. Oh it took me back. Anyway back to now, today we went off to the beach at Padre Island which is a barrier reef island that runs for miles from the south of Corpus. The sand is soft and white, backed by grassy sand dunes. Our RV site is in the Flour Bluff area and just a short drive to Park Road the over the water causeway to Padre Island. The area is very popular for fishing and most bays and estuaries are open to the public, just pull over and fish. Firstly, we stopped off at Padre Balli Park beach for Sandy to have a walk. Cars are allowed on the beaches and strictly speaking dogs are not allowed off the leash but there was a quiet stretch of beach so we let her off and she had a great time in and out of the waves, moving on the seagulls and the tiny sandpipers that were picking away at the sand. We then moved on to Padre Island National Seashore which belongs to the National Park Service and has 70 miles of wild and unspoilt beach on the island. To get there we travelled several miles along a deserted road with no buildings just grassland on both sides. We arrived at a barrier to the park and paid an annual fee that will allow us entry to all of the US national parks for a year. The weather was bad, very wet and windy but the visitor centre and shop were open and had a few visitors but no one was on the beautiful beach. The is also an important sea turtle nesting beach. The park had an RV parking area which would have been wonderful in better weather. The area is abundant in wild life of all sorts, particularly birds, we saw a lot of Pelicans.
Monday 9th March
The torrential rain continued all day yesterday and all night, it didn't stop until this afternoon when we ventured out to the local shopping malls. Coming out of the Las Palmera Mall we started talking to a guy that came out through the door at the same time as we did. We got talking about travel and it turned out he had done a lot of travelling in his time, although professionally he had been a head teacher. He said we should should go to the Big Bend national park which is over in the far west of Texas. We moved from subject to subject, American politics, music, (his son is a famous violinist) and where to go in Corpus Christi. Eventually his wife called to find out where he was, she was waiting inside. She came out to say hello and collect him. After this impromptu and interesting conversation we said goodbye and went on our way. It is easy just to strike up a conversation here and get to know people so quickly.
Tuesday 10th March
Today we went to Mustang Island which is a continuation of Padre Island to the north. This area is a state park and has some nice RV spots near the beach - if only the weather was better. It was also good because it had a section that did not let cars on the beach and we let Sandy have a sneaky run off the leash. On the inland side of the dunes is grassy wetland which abounds with wildlife, hawks, snakes, coyotes, bobcats, skunks, raccoones and deer and more. We carried on along the island road to Port Aransas a small beach town on the tip of the island. From here we crossed the ship canal on the vehicle ferry to Aransas pass and contiued up the coast to Rockport. This small town has historical buildings and the downtown area has shops and galleries. From here we circled back to Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff.
Wednesday 11th March
Went down to the beach again today for a walk. In the evening Tony was out walking Sandy and as he came past the RV park Recreation Hall he was stopped by a man who was cooking fish fillets in a large deep fast fryer and asked if we would like to come along for a fish supper, the cost is $3 and bring your own cutlery. The Recreation Hall was full of diners from the RV park. As this was a big fishing area many of the people at the park went fishing, hence lots of fresh red snapper. The fillets were done in light batter and fish was delicious. To go with it there was a choice of spicy beans and vegetables. We sat on a table with Martha and David and Sherie and Larry. Martha and David come down to Corpus Christi every winter from Minnesota to go fishin'. They were delightful people and we spent a pleasant hour or so talking about travelling.
Thursday 12th March
We went to have a look around the USS Lexington that is moored in North Beach, Corpus Christi. This World War 2 aircraft carrier is now a museum. In the war it was out in the Pacific and was the first ship into Tokyo at the end of the war. It is like a floating town and we had a fascinating few hours looking around and absorbing all the history. There were five self guided tours taking you to the flight and hanger decks, crew and living areas and engine room. It had all the facilities of a small town, restaurant, hospital, dentist, chapel, barbers, you name it.
There was also a 3D MEGA Theatre showing a film telling the story of today's US fighter pilot training. The film was breathtaking, it centred around one particular pilot whose grandfather was a second World War pilot and how he had followed in his foot steps. The action centred around a training exercise that took place with aircraft squads from several other countries. Obviously the ammunition was not real but it was a good simulation. The cameras were set in the aircrafts and filmed each combat exercise. There were two scenes that stuck in my mind, first, an exercise where the aircraft were flying under the radar. They were travelling so fast and so low across rugged terrain there was no margin for error. Secondly, the final exercise which concerned the identification of a convoy of enemy vehicles in the desert and how they were targeted. The cameras showed the awful power of these missiles with close up shots of the vehicles being blown up. When we left the Lexington the sun had at last come out. We crossed the Harbour Bridge into Corpus Christi and had a look around the town. We made our way back to the RV park along Ocean Drive and past some very fine properties indeed. When we got back we took the opportunity to get the sun beds out and catch a few rays.
Friday 13th March
Because the wifi signal on most RV parks is poor we decided to purchase an ariel and wifi booster. Today this piece of equipment arrived and now we had to decide how the antenne was going to be fitted to the roof. During the torrential rain on Sunday the RV opposite sprung a leak in the roof. Mid morning I spotted a pickup truck outside this RV with the name of an RV repair company on the side. I looked up to see a man scrambling around on the roof of the RV looking for the hole. I pointed this out to Tony and we kept a close eye on the situation and waited for him to come down off the RV. As soon as he did Tony pounced. He explained that we needed an antenna fitted to the roof and connected to a hub inside the RV. Hence the following morning Lupe arrived to scramble over the roof of our RV to fit the antenna. It was all a great success and Lupe had managed to hide the hub equipment behind the microwave with just the ariel sticking out to catch the signal. Now we had to decide how to get it working. This involved the laptop and the downloading of instructions. Lupe couldn't help in this department but he knew a man who could. He took Tony to meet Bill a resident in the park and the person who put the wifi system in the park and three other parks belonging to the owner. Bill was an ex police chief but had had a lot of experience in IT. He was very kind and really helpful but the outcome of the exercise was that we needed a wire with a usb fitting at both ends and the hub had got to come out from behind the microwave. Lupe came to see if we'd got it going. We explained and he together with his wife (who had come to bring his lunch) generously got the microwave out again to retrieve the hub. Best laid plans.