It’s been 16 days since we crossed over into the state of Texas. We came into the state through El Paso and spent our first night at a small gravel RV park next to a gas station in a town called Balmorhea. Funny thing is, it had the best, brand new ice and filtered water station. Super random, but we took advantage of it. Filled our 5- & 3-gallon containers right up! The next morning, we headed to a Harvest Host winery for another night to help break up the long drive. This portion of west Texas was pretty uneventful and reminded us a lot of the lower foothills of the western sierra in California. What was very different, was how much road kill we saw. Soo many deer, but also Javelinas (Peccaries) and cows. Not sure why they don’t seem to get cleaned up, but I suspect that their deaths are possibly due to the high speed limits have. Yikes! Back roads that we normally drive 55 mph on are marked as 70-75 mph. We have found that to be the case in each area so far. Interesting and a bit scary sometimes.
After spending the night (boondocking) in the winery’s grass lot and also spending a decent amount of money on wine, we headed to our first destination in Texas…the gulf coast. I got us a site at Goose Island SP. This park is actually close to a wildlife refuge, on a bay, and next to grassy marshes. Just further up the coast is Padre Island National Park. It is a mixture of sandy beaches and grassy marshes. What is unique about Texas is they allow you to just drive your cars or campers onto the beach (in certain locations) and you can camp there. In the national park, you can stay right on the sand for 14 nights for free (with a NP pass). In other cities, it is a small fee for a permit. We drove to all these areas and found some great camping locations! The downside to this beachside camping is the amount of corrosion that happens. And it happens fast. We hosed off our RV (underneath especially) and Jeep when we left there. The campground was close to a boat ramp that had hunters in air boats leaving as early as 4:30am and returning each evening. If you have not ever heard an air boat, they are LOUD!!! If sleeping past 5am is your thing, this can get annoying. We also had boats in the bay fishing for shrimp and oysters. We had Javelina tracks around the RV, but never actually saw one. And if you are a birder, you would be over the moon to be in this area. Soo many different varieties, so little time!
Whataburger and Dairy Queen seem to dominate the fast-food market in Texas. They are everywhere. We did eat at Whataburger on 2 occasions and it wasn’t bad for fast food. But I have to say, when we found a Chick-fil-A, we were very happy!! Eating out has not been something we have done much of during COVID-19. I cook most of our meals in the RV or we have the occasional fast-food lunch.
The one time we did eat out, was at a brewery (Family Business Beer Co) outside of Austin. Austin was our next stop and the location of McKinney Falls State park. Btw…we were the only people at the brewery that night. Social distancing at it’s finest. Haha! Great beer and good pizza!
Austin is an interesting place. It actually was a bit overwhelming as to how things are laid out. Its highways, frontage roads, and toll roads were confusing. Navigating was challenging for us and some days we were not up to the challenge. Staying at the park was nice as it had plenty of space between sites and good walking/biking trails. I can see why people would want to spend time swimming there in the summer. The landscape was still rolling hills, oaks, cedar, and cactus. A great place to get out into nature, but not too far of a drive from the city. I would like to go back someday post COVID-19 and experience some of the great restaurants the downtown area has to offer.
We are now in East Texas at an Army Corps of Engineers campground. The landscape has changed some, as it is a bit more “foresty”. Lots of lakes and rivers. Some of these contain alligators, so you need to be careful with pets, children, and swimming. There is another state park right next to us called Martin Dies Jr SP. We went for a short hike there today. They also rent out canoes and kayaks on Saturdays. That seems pretty cool. The state park and our campground are all situated on Lake Steinhagen. One of several lakes in this area.
We only have a few more days left in Texas and then we will be moving on into Louisiana. Texas is a big state! Soo much to see and experience. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, we just can’t explore some places like we would like to. But I am sure we will be back to explore more of what Texas has to offer in the future.