Welcome to Louisiana!

Welcome to Louisiana!

Not gonna lie. I was a little bit sad leaving the Galveston Island KOA Holiday on February 1, after a month. Especially in the winter. The only thing that made it better was knowing we would be boondocking on the beach in Bolivar after riding on the best free dolphin-watching tour we’ve experienced. Then it was off to explore the southeastern part of the United States. The Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry run by the Texas Department of Transportation is free, and out of the 6 or 8 times we’ve ridden it, there was only one time we didn’t see dolphins. Boarding in our 38′ class A motorhome gives us the best seats in the house. The ride is short. 15-20 minutes, and when we unloaded at Port Bolivar, we bee-lined for our beach spot from November/December. When we arrived, somewhere near barrel 28, the tide was higher than we remembered. After checking the tide charts, we determined my anxiety would be better suited for My Happy Place RV Camp. (side note: the barrel is a trash can. They exist hanging from a wooden stake at regular intervals and are numbered. Which is helpful for meeting your party on the beach.) Honestly, we probably would have been 100% fine on the beach, but sometimes my anxiety is not worth fighting. This was one of those times.

The beach in Bolivar

If you’ve never been to Bolivar/Crystal Beach, you should stay away because it is horrible, and it sucks! You should never go there. Seriously. I wanna live there. Without ever spending time in Texas, I said I would never live there. I wanna live in Bolivar. It is island-y while still being rural-ish with a small-town feel. There was freezing weather while we were there. That kinda turned me off, but really, the place is fantastic.

Hangin’ out with our friend, Joe, at Buckstin Brewing in Nederland, TX

After three nights, we headed back to Nederland, and our friend’s driveway, for two nights. We have discovered that we really like breaking our trips up by visiting people we know. It gives us a chance to socialize outside strangers and the four of us. While in Nederland, we had to visit our favorite family-friendly brewery, Buckstin Brewing Co. The beer is fantastic, the food is pretty darn good, and the company can’t be beat. After a couple of days, it was time to continue on our travels. We pointed our home east, and away we went. Next stop: Lake Charles, LA.

We pulled into White Oak Park, a Parish park on the Calcasieu River with an RV park with 8 or 9 sites, and tried to figure out the best way to park. We had site #3, and it is a bit strange. Pulling in with the picnic table and fire pit outside our door meant we needed a longer hose than we had. Turning around put the picnic table and fire pit on the wrong side, and our door opened onto our neighbor’s door. We opted for backward. We parked, set up, and went to check out the Visitor Center. At the Visitor Center, we learned about the existence of the Creole Nature Trail, discovered that we had to eat at Beaux Dine’s, bought a couple of 1/2 price souvenirs the Visitor Center was trying to get rid of and tried to find the alligator that used to live in the park adjacent. After a bit more exploration of Lake Charles, we went home and planned the things we wanted to see.

We started out the following day with coffee and breakfast sandwiches (not in my gluten-free diet) on a croissant from Coffee:30. The coffee was good, the sandwiches were delicious, and we were ready for a day of adventures. First stop, Adventure Point in Sulphur, LA, before beginning our trek of the Creole Nature Trail. Tom was on the phone doing business, so the girls and I walked in to get some information. We had no idea we would walk away with so much knowledge. Once inside, we met Sharon and Will. When we walked in, we were the only visitors, so our conversation started with both. Moments later, a couple walked in, so Will walked over to help them while Sharon took the lead with us. As a born and raised local, she was a wealth of knowledge. We learned that Lake Charles was hit by Hurricane Laura in August 2020, Hurricane Delta in October 2020, the freeze of February 2021, and flash floods in May 2021. They lost 50-ish% of their population because of the storms and are a community rebuilding. There is still a lot of storm damage they are trying to recover from. It helped us see the community in a whole new light.

Sharon grabbed a map, her red sharpie, and proceeded to draw our route with Xs for restrooms, underlines for free crabbin’, circles for walks, and a square for the best jalapeno poppers she’s ever had. After absorbing as much knowledge as we could, learning and practicing crabbin’, posing for a picture as a Creole band, and petting Sharon’s Mallard duck puppet, she sent us on our way with lagniappe, a little something extra, that turned out to be some of the coolest “little something extra” we’ve ever received.

Intracoastal Park – Sulphur, LA

Leaving Adventure Point, we headed south toward Intracoastal Park. The RV park was closed, and we were the only visitors to the park. We wandered for a moment before getting back in the car and heading for our next destination. We cruised down to Blue Goose Walking Trail. There was a short trail open, and we ventured out on that. The land was scorched on our left as we walked toward Calcasieu Lake, but we still saw quite a few little birds. 30-ish minutes and we were back on our way. Next stop: Wetland Walkway. We were hoping to see some alligators, but all we found was a child’s sock. Holly Beach was a great place for shelling, and in Louisiana, you are free to take all the shells you want. We hopped on the Cameron Ferry, much smaller than the Galveston Ferry, and made our way to the Pintail Wildlife Drive. We missed the pink dolphin that hangs out near the Cameron Ferry. We’ll have to go back and try to catch a glimpse.

The Pintail Wildlife Drive made up for all the alligators we didn’t see at Wetland Walkway. First, we drove past ibis, herons, ducks, and egrets. Then we hit alligator alley, and there were gators every 10 feet or less. Most were sunning in the grass on the canal’s banks; some were floating. I think I took a photo of every alligator we saw and took our sweet time meandering through. With our first day of exploring the Creole Nature Trail complete, we headed for home.

The next day we drove back to Nederland for a couple of packages we had delivered to our friend who lives there, including a new lens to replace my camera lens that zoomed in and never zoomed back out. The lens didn’t show up, but since we were down in the area, not really, we decided to check out the Pintail Wildlife Drive again. It was later in the afternoon, and we hardly saw any birds or any alligators. My lens showed up the next day, and we drove back to Nederland to pick it up.

On Friday, we started our day at the Lacassine Wildlife Refuge. Well, where Apple Maps told us the Lacassine Wildlife Refuge was. We were stopped by a man on a tractor working in his rice field. He was not happy we were driving on private land. We had no idea. We apologized, and in conversation, he became a very lovely man, just frustrated with the people coming down the road. He gave us directions to the real Lacassine Wildlife Refuge, told us where we could turn around, and said goodbye. When we found the real Lacassine Wildlife Refuge, we were greeted by an otter swimming in the canal. We spotted a whole flock of Roseate Spoonbills flying around a stand of trees as though they’d been disturbed. We saw just how many spoonbills there were when we reached the trees. As I took pictures, a man named Frank from the local birding club stopped and started telling us about different birds. He pointed out a Vermillion Flycatcher and clapped to spook the spoonbills for a photo opportunity. We saw a couple of alligators, but the spoonbills stole the show. While watching the spoonbills, we were also treated to a ginormous flock of snow geese landing a little way in the distance.

Snow geese – Pintail Wildlife Drive – Creole Nature Trail

We stopped for lunch at Comier Creole Kitchen in Gueydan, LA, and I had some mighty delicious fried chicken. We made our way to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and found it closed, so we headed for the Pintail Wildlife Drive since we had to pass by on our way home anyway. There wasn’t a lot to be seen, and we headed home. Saturday fibromyalgia knocked me on my ass, so I rested while Tom and the girls ran errands and washed, dried, folded, and put away the laundry. Sunday, we decided to give our hand at crabbin’ a go. The family started while I stayed warm in the car, then I walked over, grabbed a line, pulled up a too-small crab and an eel, and I was done. Crabbin’ is like fishin’, and I don’t have the patience to sit and wait. The girls didn’t last much longer before we were off for one last ride on the Cameron Ferry and one last drive through the Pintail Wildlife Drive. As we came down the bridge, we saw a white sea where the drive loop was. We couldn’t figure out what it could be. When we pulled in, we discovered they were snow geese. Thousands of them. A sea of white. We parked, and I got out of the car to get a little closer for photos. I snapped a bunch, and while walking on the road, I spooked the ones closest to me, setting off hundreds of geese taking flight and squawking before landing a bit farther from the road. The experience was reminiscent of the dolphin stampede Tom and I witnessed in the Pacific Ocean. Monday, we packed up and headed for Baton Rouge.

The Red Stick Sculpture

Follow along for our Baton Rouge adventure!

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Island Living

Island Living

January on an island? Why not? We spent the entire month of January next to the cabin on stilts at the Galveston Island KOA Holiday. It was more windy and stormy than we thought it would be, but we enjoyed every minute.

Our first field trip was to a bike shop in League City, TX. Everyone had a bike except me so that was my Christmas present. The girls are always wanting to go on family bike rides and we couldn’t. After a drive along the five-mile dike in Texas City, we wandered over to League City where my new bicycle was waiting.

Intercom system inside Moody Mansion.

Our second field trip of the month was a tour of Moody Mansion. We started with a stop at Seawall Coffee and were highly disappointed with our experience. The coffee was the hottest coffee I’ve ever been handed. I couldn’t hold onto the cup even with a sleeve. Forget trying to take a sip. I tried a sip before walking into Moody Mansion, and it still burned my tongue. When we got back to the car after our tour, the coffee was finally at a temperature I could drink it. After two sips, I was getting sick in the parking lot. Our friend has had great experiences. Maybe it was just a one-off. I won’t go back to find out, though. I have a severe dairy allergy and believe they forgot to use the fake milk we ordered. Now, onto a little Moody family history. William Lewis Moody, Sr. moved his family to Galveston in 1866 and founded Galveston Cotton Exchange. A company that compresses cotton into bales making shipping easier. It appears to still be operating downtown today. He founded the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad and served as chairman of the Galveston Committee that persuaded Congress to dredge, making Galveston a deep water harbor. His son, W.L. Moody, Jr., purchased the mansion weeks after the Great Storm of 1900.

Moody Mansion selfie

The mansion was opened as a museum by W.L. Moody, Jr.’s daughter, Mary Moody Northen, after her death in 1991. Many of the family’s belongings are on display, and the self-guided audio tour shares much information about the family. The home, art, and architecture are all beautiful, and I always find it interesting to peek into the past. Liv liked how it had a lot of history and separately decorated rooms. She found it interesting that the youngest kid got a balcony off his room. Her favorite room was where the parents greeted the guests. M thought it was cool because they owned so many businesses, and it seems like they started the financial industry in Galveston.

Ocean Star Rig & Drilling Museum

Our field trip to the Ocean Star Drilling Rig & Museum was a fascinating peek into the oil world. Having spent time living on the beach in Bolivar, we watched what looked like floating cities. Being able to see up-close what those oil rigs look like is informative. Who knew a boat could be an oil rig?!? Not me! We were all hungry when we finished, so we walked over to The Strand.

The Strand – Galveston, TX

“Have you been here before? No? This is how it works. Here’s our menu, here’s our restaurant week. You order at the bar and sit anywhere you like.” The employee said as we walked into The Hubcap Grill on The Strand, downtown Galveston. We had some of the most delicious burgers we’ve ever had and had to try the pink champagne cake, our favorite from Madonna Inn. After lunch, we strolled up and down The Strand entering different shops to browse. “The little girl who haunts our shop likes to play with Jack Sparrow,” the shop owner tells my family as they were picking out a pirate figurine for our friend.

Family selfie on South Padre Island

We took a couple of days and ventured over to South Padre Island. We’d never been to South Padre Island and figured we needed to check it out since we were in the area-ish. And since we were going that direction, we might as well cruise through Corpus Christi and check that out too. It didn’t take us long to determine we were not fans of Corpus Christi. It was very city-like with tall buildings and a lot of people. We did stop for a delicious lunch at Catfish Charlies. Hushpuppies, fried shrimp, and fried catfish were all delicious. We would definitely stop back in if we were ever traveling through again. We had a room booked at La Copa Inn, which turned out to be an okay hotel. We checked in, and I was pretty toast. I love traveling and exploring, but my body that is affected by fibromyalgia isn’t always as accommodating. Often, my body will decide when we are done with our plans, which was the case after check-in. We ordered to-go food that was indescribable and went to bed.

Brunch view on South Padre Island

Tuesday was our day to explore, and Wednesday was our day to head home. We woke up Tuesday morning and found a delicious breakfast on the water at Lobo del Mar. Our server was convivial, and the atmosphere was very island-y. After breakfast, we strolled along the big beach Tom describes best, “expanse is incredible.” M pointed out the shells were old, weathered, and thick, while Liv noticed the sand was like a fine powder. After a stroll, we took a drive along the beach. We went a long way, discovering that the police were serious about speeding on the beach. We watched one officer pull over 8 cars and one electric bike. After our beach experience, we headed over to the Sea Turtle, Inc. A sea turtle sanctuary where we saw sea turtles and learned a lot. One thing that stood out to all of us was the video they had playing on repeat regarding the storm in February of 2021. Sea turtles are cold-blooded animals, and when the water temperature falls below 50 degrees, they suffer cold-stun. They become catatonic and cannot swim. Eventually, they will float on the surface, and that is where the sanctuary comes in. Of the 12,155 cold-stunned turtles rescued on the third coast, the Sea Turtle Sanctuary in South Padre Island rescued 5,300 of them. Of the 12,155 turtles rescued, only 35% of them survived. The most interesting turtle was born without a flipper who now has a prosthetic flipper that allows her to swim. Definitely worth a visit every time we are in the area. Bonus: it’s pet-friendly, and Coco could walk through with us.

Steerburger Grill in Rockport, TX – near Aransas Pass

We ended the day back at the hotel in the hot tub that was nice and hot, where we made conversation with a gentleman from Michigan. Dinner was a night of burgers to-go and early to bed. We were headed home the next morning. On our way home, we drove through Port Aransas and had the bestest, most delicious burger I have had in a long time at Steerburger in Rockport, TX. We ordered outside at the food trailer went inside the building to the right for drinks and restrooms. There were a few tables inside, but we opted to eat on the porch.

Art studio in Bishop’s Palace

Our field trip to Bishop’s Palace was the most informative tour. We opted for the Basement-to-Attic tour and were not disappointed. We learned that the home was built in 1892 by the Gresham family at the cost of $250,000. In 1923, it was sold by the Gresham family to the Catholic Church for $34,700. The Catholic Church turned it into a home for the Bishop. It served as a home for the Bishop then the Catholic Church turned it into a museum. In 2008, the Catholic Church sold the house to the Galveston Historical Foundation for $3.4 million. Roughly.

Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens

One of our last field trips was to Moody Gardens. Moody Gardens seems to include many things. Like a hotel, restaurant, and other things we didn’t explore. We started with the aquarium pyramid. Tom called it an amazing aquarium and a must-see in Galveston. M thought it was super cool, and we all thought there could be more information on the fish. (We are sign readers.) After the aquarium, we walked over to the hotel for the coffee shop located in the lobby. We enjoyed our drinks as we leisurely walked back toward the rainforest pyramid. We were hit with a wall of heavy air as we entered the rainforest pyramid. The humid rainforest is almost a shock and takes a moment to adjust. Glasses fog, and breathing warm, wet air is weird. There are a ton of birds, plants, and animals. We were not lucky enough to see the sloth or monkeys, but we did get to see many birds and even some bats. Our last stop was the Discovery Center. Holy sensory overload. And there weren’t even that many people in there. It was cool because there were instruments to play, pipe rooms to communicate through pipes, many different hands-on activities. They even have the giant floor piano from the movie Big. There were a bunch of littles running around, everyone was playing instruments, talking, singing, screaming, and it quickly became too much. We had purchased a day pass that allowed us to watch a couple of the movies, also, but we decided we weren’t interested in those and skipped them.

Our last Sunday on the island, Tom and the girls went to Pleasure Pier while I rested/fought a bad fibromyalgia day. Liv says it was entertaining, 10 out of 10 would go again. She loved that all the rides had an ocean view and the lines weren’t long in the off-season. M said the rides were twisty-turny, there were not a lot of them, but it was fun. Tom said it was a great way to spend an afternoon having fun with the kids.

Overall, we enjoyed our month on Galveston Island. We didn’t explore as much as we would have liked because of the cool weather, but nothing was disappointing. We’re already planning future trips back to Galveston. Who knows maybe we’ll settle in the area.

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Gulf Coast Living

Gulf Coast Living

35,000 active duty, veterans, and their families served. 500,000 diapers were given out. 90% of the people who benefitted from VANC’s monthly food drive were active-duty. When COVID-19 shut the world down in 2020, 92% of active-duty spouses were furloughed. VANC (Veterans Association of North County) and American Legion 760 started a monthly food distribution as a response to COVID-19. After serving for 21 months, December was our last one. While I will not miss driving back to Oceanside, CA, each month for my volunteer problem, I am a little sad to not see these people monthly anymore. Not only did we volunteer alongside some incredible people, but we also got to know the beautiful families driving through each month. The day after our last food distribution, Tom and I attended the Army/Navy game at VANC. A rib cook-off fundraiser benefitting Walk for the Fallen. Wednesday, December 15th, we attended VANC’s Volunteer Christmas Party, our final commitment to VANC until June 2022. Leaving on December 20th was a little bittersweet. Not enough that we didn’t hit the road bright and early, but returning every month was a little like slowly peeling off a bandage. We are a part of a community in Oceanside and built really great friendships. It will be hard not seeing them, or having the opportunity to see them, every month.

Sea Rim State Park – Gulf of Mexico in background on right

With all of our commitments completed, it was time to head East while staying below the snow line. Which seems to be getting farther South each year. Anyway, we booked it over to our friend’s in Nederland, TX. Rest areas became sleep areas on the road, and we made it to SETX. (Southeast Texas for all y’all who aren’t locals HAHAHA) Thursday, December 23rd. We slept one night in Joe’s driveway, then headed for Sea Rim State Park on Christmas Eve Day. “No wrestling the alligators,” we were told at check-in. Do people really try to wrestle alligators? Is that a thing? Sea Rim introduced us to the Texas state bird, the mosquito. I’m not sure we’ve ever killed so many mosquitoes in our home, just from entering and exiting. They feasted on us while we slept and bit us in places we didn’t realize they would go. M and Liv will forever remember getting eaten alive in Sea Rim State Park. Tips: remember to apply bug spray. It doesn’t work while sitting in your cabinet. Apply bug spray before bed.

Our Christmas morning gingerbread house creations

We spent Christmas morning creating gingerbread houses, then took a stroll along the beach where we had our first experience with Portuguese man-of-war. Their transparent bodies look like soap bubbles lying on the beach. Soap bubbles with bright blue fringe, and you want to scoop them up and put them back in the water. Those soap bubbles with the coolest blue fringe I’ve ever seen will also cause you the most pain you’ve likely ever experienced. I’m glad M had read up on these creatures, and we knew to keep our skin out of contact. After seeing these things, I had to Google them. I discovered that many genetically identical zooids all work together and create this fantastic creature. It has no control over where it is going, it just floats along on the surface because of the soap bubble, and its tentacles can be 165 feet long. The soap bubble is really gas-filled to help it float. Many people think it is a jellyfish, but it isn’t. It’s a whole different species. We also saw a beached ray and various shells. Tom called it a mini-seashell paradise. The day after Christmas, we wandered into McFaddin Wildlife Refuge. We were able to check seeing an alligator off our Christmas list.

Junk food extravaganza

It was time to move the day after Christmas, and we back-tracked to Bolivar Peninsula. When we spent time in the area in November, we ended up making so many side trips we didn’t feel like we’d really explored as much as we would have liked. We booked the week at My Happy Place RV Camp and pulled in. We love Bolivar; so much the girls have already moved there. They want to settle down in January and have chosen Bolivar as that place. So far. We have more Earth to explore before a decision is made. We were scheduled to leave Bolivar on New Year’s Eve day, but the owners of the RV camp talked us into staying for their beach bonfire. We started the day with a junk-food extravaganza. While visiting a friend, we realized the girls had never been introduced to Hostess treats aside from the cupcakes. We bought one package of cupcakes, one package Twinkies, one package Ding Dongs, and Ho Hos. We are typically a plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free family at home, and processed foods are not usually purchased. The girls determined they only liked the cupcakes but didn’t need to eat them ever again, either. Later, we mingled with a few other guests at the beach bonfire and supervised the children lighting fireworks. At midnight, the entire 27-mile stretch of beach lit up with fireworks. It was a magical moment of celebration. Not that I claim to understand why we must blow things up to celebrate. It looks cool, though. We are glad we stayed for the celebration.

Aboard the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry

On January 1, 2022, we waited in a long ass line to board the ferry on our way to Galveston Island KOA Holiday, where we were booked until February 1st. If you’ve never taken the Galveston/Port Bolivar ferry, you need to take it next time you are in the area. We travel in our 38′ class A with an Equinox tow vehicle, and we drive right on. I prefer riding in the RV because we sit so much higher, and there is typically an abundance of dolphins as you make your way across the bay. Walk-on passengers are also allowed. Work and school always come first, then we get to explore. On our list for January:

  • Moody Mansion
  • South Padre Island
  • Ocean Star Rig & Drilling Museum
  • Bishop’s Palace
  • Moody Gardens
  • Pleasure Pier

Unbeknownst to us at the time, painting the interior of our home was on the list for January, also. 

Portuguese Man-of-War

Follow our journey for January’s adventures!

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Beach Camping

Beach Camping

We pointed our home East on I-10 and left San Antonio behind. Next stop, Nederland, TX. (pronounced nee-der-land by the locals) We moochdocked with our friend Joe who showed us some of the coolest spots in town. Our first experience was a great local brewery he found, Buckstin Brewing. The people treat everyone like family when they walk in, the beer was delicious, and the food was pretty darn good too. We spent almost the entire next day exploring the area including Port Arthur and Pleasure Island. On Pleasure Island, we found the coolest playground I have ever seen in my life. It was huge, built like a castle, and meandered on forever. The girls and I took a break to explore the castle before moving along and finding the golf ball water tower I’d read about on Atlas Obscura (Thank you, Tom, for introducing me to Atlas Obscura). I had to get a picture of course.

Walking on the beach in Bolivar

After three days in Joe’s 70′ driveway, (he measured shortly after we pulled out) we made our way back to beach camping in Bolivar. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing beach camping in Bolivar in the winter is. We watched the sunrise from bed every morning. Some mornings we had a great blue heron join us on the shore. We were the only campers for a long way. It was peaceful, relaxing, perfect. Plus, we had service and I was able to get my work done without having to go anywhere. The only downside to beach camping is the sand. It gets EVERYWHERE. Including your food while cooking outdoors. A little sand never hurt anyone, though. My friend, Lauri and her girlfriend were able to get a beach house within eyesight of our beach spot for the last weekend we were in town. It was enjoyable to have the time to relax while enjoying the company and the scenery.

Great-blue heron that joined us for sunrise

We booked the Galveston Island KOA for our last night in town hoping the weather would be nice enough for the lazy river. It wasn’t. We all showered, filled the water tanks, and dumped the other tanks before our journey back to Oceanside for our final volunteer commitment. Til June.

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4 Things To Do in San Antonio Thanksgiving Weekend

4 Things To Do in San Antonio Thanksgiving Weekend

We were staying on Galveston Island at the KOA when our friends invited us to San Antonio for Thanksgiving. We met them when we all lived in Oceanside, CA. They had also moved from Colorado to California. 2021 brought about changes for everyone, and they moved to San Antonio. We’re always up for an adventure, so we booked a spot at Admiralty RV Resort in San Antonio for Thanksgiving weekend.

The drive from Bolivar Peninsula to San Antonio was long and tedious. I worked the entire time Tom drove. We were amazed at the traffic we experienced before we even hit San Antonio. We came to a standstill around Seguin then, stop-and-go until just outside of San Antonio.

Thanksgiving morning, we made our way to our friend’s house for a Thanksgiving breakfast of pineapple pancakes, breakfast tacos, and bacon. As a mom of older children, it is always fun having a toddler around. As long as they belong to someone else. We spent the day catching up and hanging out. Dinner was delicious, and before we knew it, it was time to go home. We hadn’t seen these friends since January. It was splendid to spend hours playing with their toddler and catching up. You don’t always realize what you are missing in life until you get to experience it. We were definitely missing some good times with even better friends.

San Antonio Boat Parade on the River Walk

Friday found us working and doing laundry at the Admiralty RV Resort before heading to the River Walk in downtown San Antonio for a boat parade. Our family showed up a little early and spent some time walking around downtown before meeting up with our friends. We didn’t explore the River Walk because a ticket was required, and our friends had the tickets. When we all found each other, we headed to our seats to await the beginning of the parade. There were not as many shops and restaurants as I was expecting. There weren’t any right near us. Such a fun night. There were carolers in kayaks, carolers on riverboat barge things, a comedian in a bumper boat, and Santa Claus to round it all out. Our friends surprised us with lighted swords, and we had marshmallows and miniature candy canes because the hot cocoa person didn’t show up to work the drinks boat. Life was good. The parade lasted roughly an hour, and after we attempted to eat at Bubba Gump’s, but they were closed. With a toddler, our friends headed out while we went in search of dinner away from the craziness of downtown. We ended up at Willie’s Icehouse on our way home, where we enjoyed a tasty dinner before home and bed.

The back of the church at The Alamo.

One cannot visit San Antonio without a visit to The Alamo. Saturday, we reserved tickets for entrance to the church and purchased the audio tour. We strolled the grounds of The Alamo, listening to the audio tour and reading the signs learning the history of The Alamo and Texas. The girls had an assignment earlier in the week to write a one-page essay on The Alamo. They were eager to share their knowledge as we came upon things they’d read about. History is always so fascinating. When you stop and think about what you are reading and how it happened upon the ground you are standing. We spent about two-and-a-half hours exploring and learning before heading off in search of a late lunch.

San Antonio River Walk

Tom searched for restaurants while I took photos of doorways and buildings. He found a Rainforest Cafe on the map, and being Liv’s newest favorite place, we headed there. The entrance was downstairs on the River Walk. As we walked down the stairs, we saw this area was much cuter than the area we’d sat for the parade. There were also a lot more restaurants and shops. More what I’d thought it would be. With a thirty-five to forty-five-minute wait for lunch, we chose to stroll along the River Walk, no destination in mind. What a cute little area they have created along the San Antonio River. Shops and restaurants galore hidden below the tall buildings blocking out the shadows above. We walked to the RiverCenter before turning back toward the Rainforest Cafe. While eating lunch, we decided to extend our stay by a day and check out the San Antonio Zoo. Who wants to be on the roads with all the other travelers anyway?!? We were disappointed by our Rainforest Cafe experience. We were seated on the second floor in a corner that didn’t have much going on. Tom and Liv ventured to the bathrooms upstairs and discovered that the third floor was the best floor. After lunch, I’d had enough of peopling, and we headed home for work, cleaning, and relaxing.

The cops make a visit late morning/early afternoon for the drunk across the way.

Sunday morning was spent in bed reading and working. Late Sunday morning, we sat down to a lunch of ribs made in the Instant Pot and brussels sprouts made on the Blackstone. The guy across the street from us was a very angry drunk who was screaming and yelling, at one point kicking things around between two trailers. Apparently, the manager had spoken to him and only aggravated the situation. He continued his obscenity-laced yelling after she left. A cop rolled up and talked to him for a bit before leaving without him. A woman came walking from the side of his trailer, and he was yelling obscenities aimed at her. The park ended up moving her. We left for the zoo, and when we got back, things were quiet. Nothing like lunch and a show.

San Antonio Zoo Parking Garage

The San Antonio Zoo is a great way to spend the afternoon. They have Zoo Lights going right now, so we planned our visit to see the animals before they went to bed and enjoy the Zoo Lights. When we walked in, we asked about a map and were given a kid’s map with a QR code for the actual map. We scanned the QR code and gave the kid’s map back. Trying to figure out the map on my tiny phone screen was frustrating, so we didn’t use it. It was easy to miss things if you weren’t paying attention. Komodo Dragons are our favorite lizard, and we were lucky to see two babies hatched at the San Antonio Zoo between October 17 and October 27, 2021. We saw African Wild Dogs for the first time. They have enormous heads and ears. This zoo was nice, had some exotic animals we’d never seen, and was a great way to get steps in. We grabbed a bite to eat before walking part of the zoo again for the lights. The park got busier as the evening progressed, and a ton of screaming little enjoying the lights. My peopleometer hit sensory overload, and my anxiety kicked in. Which makes me snappy, and it’s best for everyone if we exit stage left. So we didn’t enjoy the lights as much as I would have liked, but we did make sure we got to see some. The pink section was our favorite. Or maybe the light tunnel was our favorite. Either way, we’d visit again.

San Antonio River Center

San Antonio has a lot to offer, and while I wish we had more time, I’m not entirely sad to see San Antonio in the rearview mirror.

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8-Month Road Trip to Galveston Island

8-Month Road Trip to Galveston Island

We can’t leave Moosey behind!! The girls stayed the last night with a friend, and M left Moosey. Moosey is a stuffed…moose, as you probably guessed, and we couldn’t leave the state without Moosey. M has had Moosey almost since birth. They were born 6.5 weeks early, spent 2.5 weeks in NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit), and three days after leaving the hospital, I found M dead in the back of the car. Later, after an ambulance ride to the hospital, 7 hours in the ER, and being admitted, I was told she had RSV. She spent another month and a week in the hospital. It was during this stay she received Moosey. They’ve spent every night together since.

Because we only have a month between Southern California commitments, we typically try to get to our destination as quickly as possible. Our first night was spent in a rest area East of Tucson. We rolled in late and rolled out early. We stopped for a photo with the recycled roadrunner in Las Cruces, NM. We missed visiting when we were staying in Las Cruces in February, our first try at Galveston, so we stopped and had lunch in the rest area before moving on. Our last overnight while traveling was spent in a crazy rest area. It was a narrow road with big trucks and a couple other RVers parked along the side. We parked in one spot that didn’t feel safe; we kept thinking someone would hit us. When someone ahead of us moved, we moved and tucked in for the night. We were woken up by someone knocking on our door. Somehow, trucks had rolled through all night long, but now we were in someone’s way. And when Tom went to put the car in neutral to pull forward, the car was dead, and the alarm was honking. After some grief, we started the car and moved our rig up. It was then I noticed we were in the wagon wheel rest area I read about on www.roadsideamerica.com. I was very excited, but I was the only one. It’s like that sometimes.

View from our site at the Galveston Island KOA

Almost eight months to the day after we started our trip to Galveston, we finally arrived. If you missed the beginning of this eight-month trip, check out A Mountain Retreat. We started out February 17, 2021, and finally arrived on November 16, 2021. We’d heard about beach camping, and we were ready. Another woman from the Facebook group of people I’d never met lives near Galveston, and gave us more reason to visit. We booked the Galveston Island KOA Holiday for the night we arrived and an extra night on our way. We typically do this as a way to dump and refill water when we’ve been traveling for a few days. The extra night gives us a chance to scope out a free place to stay for a while. We pulled into what looks like a newer KOA, checked in, and got set up. After three days of solid driving, we were done, didn’t want to drive anywhere, and had “fend for yourself” night for dinner. This means you eat what you can find to eat because nobody’s cooking unless it’s you. We didn’t have much, but there was enough. No one went hungry.

Liv, Kim, M, Lauri, Tom, Dominic, & Renee meeting for the first time on Galveston Beach

The next morning was full of boring stuff like working, schooling, laundry. Mid-to-late afternoon we managed to escape for a drive and lunch. We found the Tipsy Turtle right on the beach and climbed the stairs to enter. I imagine in the summer months, this place is packed. It has a total island vibe and good drinks. The food is edible, not gourmet. Overlooking the water, we ate our lunches, then grabbed a cocktail and headed down to the beach. Something that never happens legally in North County San Diego. As we explored Galveston Island by car, I received a text that my friend was on the island. We met for sunset on the beach. A beach you can drive on. And it was spectacular. It was awesome meeting her, her son, and her sister. We hung out until it was chilly, we were hungry, and they had to get back and get ready for school the next day. We searched for Salsa’s for dinner before heading back to the KOA. The KOA is a bit of a drive from Galveston, and there isn’t much nearby.

Friday was Liv’s BEST DAY EVER. We have a frog on a shelf in our living room that I bought at the Rainforest Cafe in Denver when I was 19-ish. I’ve talked about how the Rainforest Cafe was fun because of the ambiance and decorations. When we found one in Galveston, we had to eat there. Commence Liv’s BEST DAY EVER. We started with lunch next to a large saltwater aquarium, across from a family of gorillas. After an exciting lunch of food that doesn’t have to be good because tourists will flock there anyway, we exited through the gift shop, of course. Inside the gift shop was a Build-A-Bear station. When the girls were 4 or 5, my cousin promised them a trip to Build-A-Bear. They’re still waiting for that trip, so we each built an animal. The excitement they shared was contagious. While checking out, the cashier said the river ride was a requirement. Well, if it’s a requirement, we’re in. It was a relaxing float after lunch. 10 out of 10 recommend. Upon exiting, we had to pose with the statues.

That evening, we met my friend and her peeps for dinner at Jimmy’s on the Pier in Galveston. The location is to die for, the food is pretty good, and the people are fantabulous. We watched the full moon rise over the ocean on one side and the setting sun paint the sky on the other side. We ate, we laughed, and we enjoyed the evening. They went their way, and we went ours with tentative future plans. On our way back to the KOA, we talked to our friends in San Antonio, and they invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. We decided to make the 6-hour drive and visit good friends we hadn’t seen in months.

We were supposed to check out of the KOA on Thursday, November 18, but we extended our stay two nights to take advantage of the lazy river and/or pool. It was chilly, cloudy, and not very pool friendly on Friday, so we extended our stay through Saturday afternoon. We discovered that we could pay $20 for a late (5:00 PM) check out. We were in and spent the afternoon floating along the lazy river. Luckily, we had our floats from our Montana days because they do not provide floats for the lazy river. Tom grabbed us a couple of frozen drinks from the store, and we were the only ones enjoying the lazy river. After an afternoon relaxing, we headed for Port Bolivar for beach camping and more relaxing.

To make our way to Port Bolivar, we had to take the Galveston – Port Bolivar Ferry. Before taking our RV on the ferry, we took the car on the ferry, and Tom asked one of the ferry employees about bringing the RV on. When it came time to go beach camping, we turned off the propane in our 38′ class A motorhome and boarded the ferry with our tow vehicle attached. The ferry is a part of the Texas Department of Transportation and is free to ride. We rode the ferry multiple times and often saw semi-trucks, class A motorhomes, and trucks pulling ginormous fifth wheels.

We pulled up on the beach in Port Bolivar and got to work setting up. There was one other camper on the first couple of nights, but they were a long way down the beach. We did see a couple of other campers a few different times the entire time we were there, but they were more than 100 yards from us. Even on the weekend, when the beach was busier than on weekdays, we didn’t have anyone nearby. They kept their distance, and there was plenty of space for everyone to not be on top of each other. Watching the sunrise over the Gulf from bed was an excellent way to wake up each morning. Some days we had a local bird hanging out and enjoying the sunrise with us. We walked the beach, and I found my first pieces of sea glass. M and Liv found more seashells than they knew what to do with. We spent four relaxing nights living, working, exploring on the beach in Port Bolivar before we packed up and headed off to an RV park in San Antonio.

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