On Our Way (slowly)Toward Big Bend
After a break for the holidays (2019), we eagerly anticipated hitting the road again. The next leg of our journey across Texas is going to take us from Galveston (blue arrow) to Big Bend National Park (red arrow).
The route stretches over 700 miles and will give us the opportunity to visit San Antonio and Austin along with a detour to Fredericksburg to visit friends .
But being beach lovers, we wanted to stay as close to the coast for as long as possible. So the next decision is where to pivot northward. There are two cities that lie between us and the border, Corpus Christi and Brownsville. Since we knew little of either place, we turned to the most accurate source of detailed travel information.
No, not Google, not Travelocity, and not AAA. Our favorite source of accurate and timely information is: a campfire.
A campfire, one might ask? Do we peer into the flames looking for spiritual guidance or inspiration? Nope. It's "the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion", inside a simple fire ring that brings fellow campers around like.. well, moths. And campers love to share road stories and tidbits of travel information.
And the talk around the campfire was that Brownsville was experiencing trouble along the border and that the incidences of violence (while moderate) were spreading inland.
We rarely take this advice as gospel because each person's story is uniquely personal. One person's level of displeasure/discomfort may be different than ours. The storyteller may have gone into areas that we would be reluctant to visit, or they may have been out very late at night etc.. But "boots on the ground" experiences can't be ignored and needs to be weighed against the historical/touristy attractions each destination offers.
After further research, Brownsville lost; Corpus Christi won.
So we loaded up the truck and RV and headed to Corpus Christi!
Our next campground is at a state park just outside of the city of Corpus Christi.
LAKE CORPUS CHRISTI STATE PARK:
Texas has 84 state parks that allow overnight camping. We chose LCC State Park. Our site was in the older section of the park that was obviously designed back when pop-up campers were towed by dad's station wagon. This section had these pull-along sites. Great in theory, but our first spot had too much of a bend and we feared it would impair our ability to hook up and depart safely. Our second site turned out to be to be too unlevel. Finally, after three tries, we found one that was just right.
It was a pull-through spot with full hooks ups and a fire ring, so we were happy campers. The park also had many nice camping trails and we saw quite a bit of wildlife as we hiked around Lake Corpus Christi.
Here are some pictures we took during our various hikes:
One of the highlights to our stay here was the opportunity to meet Kristi. A fellow full-time RVer from Oklahoma. We spent the evening sharing stories around the campfire.
Kristi's journey began in 2018. After retiring she decided she wanted to see America. So she sold her home, purchased a Class C Motorhome, and hit the open road.
When I began writing this blogpost I contacted Kristi and asked her what inspired her to do such an audacious thing. And her reply is below:
"From the time I was little I loved the idea of traveling. I decided that when I retired that's what I would do for a while. There are always bumps in the road and [I'm always] trying to figure out which is the ideal setup. I still struggle with that with the kind of traveling I like to do. I think the best part has been reconnecting with people from my past and meeting extended family."
I also ask her when she might give up her bohemian lifestyle and she responded:
"Yes, I will probably settle down somewhere in the next couple years. Once I find that perfect spot, lol. I will probably still do extended excursions even after that."
We had a lot of fun getting to know Kristi and her dry sense of humor. It's comforting to know that there are so many nice people out there!
One of the more surprising things I've noticed since beginning our journey is the number of women who are traveling the country alone in an RV. We've probably encountered over a dozen, while I can only think of two men that we've met that were traveling solo. Given all the things that could go wrong while traveling the road, I greatly admire their courage and tenacity.
ON TO THE CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI:
Our first impression as we drove down Shoreline Drive was "what a beautiful city".
Sunshine, palm trees, sail boats, and walkways.
But once you move a little further inland, the curtain gets pulled back and you find a city that visually, seems to be struggling to survive. It's very industrial with many strip shopping centers and lots of boarded up shops.
There wasn't much to do here, so after driving around we stopped for a cup of coffee then headed back to camp.
The following day, I decided to visit the USS Lexington, a WWII aircraft carrier.
"THE BLUE GHOST":
It is located just north of the city and well worth a visit if you enjoy WWII history.
I toured this floating museum and found it very interesting and educational. One thing I learned was that she set more records than any other (Essex Class) carrier in the history of naval aviation. Pretty impressive. She participated in nearly every major naval operation in the Pacific Theater. The planes launched from her deck destroyed 372 enemy aircraft in the air, and 475 more on the ground. They also sank or destroyed 300,000 tons of enemy cargo and damaged an additional 600,000 tons. The ship’s guns shot down 15 planes and assisted in downing five more.
Her nickname came from Japan's leading radio propagandist, Tokyo Rose, who reported her sunk in battle on four separate occasions. When the ship reappeared again, Tokyo Rose exasperatedly named her the "Blue Ghost". It's a tribute to the resiliency and tenacity of the brave crew (and most were of teenage years!).
This warning sign on the flight deck of Lexington that made me chuckle:
If you need to be reminded of this, you might want to consider another branch of the military!
The ship was also the oldest working carrier in the United States Navy when officially decommissioned in 1991. The ship is filled with naval paraphernalia, historical videos, displays and docents eager to answer your questions. If you enjoy WWII history, you will definitely enjoy a visit here.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN CORPUS CHRISTI:
Take advantage of her long stretches of shoreline. It's a great place to nap!
After five days here, we up and moved again to Austin. I was eager to visit the Capital of the state, but were we ever disappointed! But more on that in my next blog post.
Hopefully, I'll see y'all down the road!