We’re now in Texas and this blog will cover 3 State Parks that we visited in February of 2017, but we will also be visiting several (new to us) State Parks in the next blog. Our first repeat park was Sea Rim SP, however the last time we didn’t have a reservation, so we just camped on the beach and this time we had made a reservation. We’ve changed our pattern from 2017 where we just showed up at SP’s and usually got in and typically stayed 2 nights. This time we are trying to stay 4 nights at each park and have reserved in advance especially with the holiday season coming up. The Texas SP annual pass really helps you save money on camping and day use fees at each park, so it only cost us $17.50 per night at Sea Rim for a water and electric site. It was a short walk to the beach so went to see the sunset every night of our stay. We saw several wild hogs dug holes on the beach and apparently there are about 1.5 million wild hogs in Texas. We just saw their holes as we assume they dig at night. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were extremely bad! We saw a news interview with the Director of Mosquito Control (yes, a real job title) talking about the issue. We were getting high 70’s in the daytime and 60’s at night which was abnormally warm for this time of year, so the mosquitoes were having a hay day. It was so bad I couldn’t BBQ at night, nor could we sit outside.
On our first day at Sea Rim SP, we went to do the Gambusia Nature Trail and there was a worker fixing the board walk so we asked him if it was ok if we walked on it and he directed us that it was ok. After we realized he didn’t speak English and we shouldn’t have bothered because the board walk was being replaced and we could only walk about 100 metres down and then it was open water😉 We walked back and then went to the beach to see the place we had camped 5 years earlier. In the afternoon we walked west on the beach until we could see the sunset, so total of 11 kms on day one. On day two we rode 14 kms east on the beach and on day three we rode 17 kms west on the beach. This last ride was cool because it was really remote, and you could see sections of where the road that got washed away used to be and we also saw our second fog bow! The shell collecting wasn’t as good as at Holly Beach, mostly small shells, and some sea glass.
When we left Sea Rim SP, we had to return to Port Arthur due to the road west still being closed. We followed the I10 west and then dropped back down to the coast so we could take the ferry to Galveston Island. The wait for the ferry was long because 4 of the 6 ferries were broken down. The security guard saw we were from Ontario and came over to chat with us. He told us about the Black Pearl Restaurant on Galveston Island as a great place that locals went, and it seemed familiar to Sharon. She checked back through our blogs, and it turns out 5 years ago another local told us to go there so we had dinner there in 2017. We decided after the ferry crossing, we would revisit the restaurant and go there for lunch. We did some shopping at Kroger’s and then checked in at Galveston Island SP and walked to the beach for sunset, but it turns out it does not set in the water here like it did at Sea Rim.
Over the next 3 days at Galveston Island SP, we did a 9 km walk along the beach towards Galveston Island town, we did a 16 km muddy mosquito invested trail ride on the bay side, and we did a 23 km beach ride to Isla Del Sol and back (tough coming back in heavy wind). This beach has very few shells to find, especially in comparison to Holly Beach in Louisiana. We met our neighbours Cheryl and Henry from Huntsville Ontario and shared travel stories with them. We tried doing some hand washing of clothes and hung them in our cabana (every campsite had one), but the heavy wind didn’t seem to dry them, I guess due to the humidity level. We really liked the beach side campground better than the bayside that we stayed in the last time due to the proximity to the beach, but also because they did the camping rows on an angle, so you really didn’t feel like you were close to the campsites beside you.
When we left Galveston Island SP we back tracked a little in order to see some of the displays from the Washed Ashore: Art to Save The Sea exhibits. The sculptures were constructed entirely of plastic debris that had washed up onto the beaches in America and demonstrated the scale of the plastic pollution found in the oceans and waterways. We saw the Flip Flop Fish, Seamore the Seahorse, and Sylvia the Silvertip Shark. It really made you think about plastic products you might buy and what alternative you could use instead. Website: Washed Ashore Exhibits
It was a long tiring drive from Galveston Island to Goose Island SP (4.5 hours) because the wind was very strong which makes driving the RV very physical. The RV GPS took us on a lot of backroads (shortest distance) so at least there was less traffic to worry about. Some of these backroads even had 75 mph (121 kph) speed limits which I wasn’t about to do with the winds. This same day there were tornados touching down in Louisiana where we had been 2 weeks earlier, so we were lucky we had missed that part of the storm! We also saw a propane distribution office, so we took advantage of the lower price and filled up our tank. We stopped at the Colorado River roadside park for lunch and stocked up on groceries in Port Lavaca before checking in at Goose Island. Our campsite was right along the water like the last time we stayed here, but in a different section. It was a little tricky trying to find a level spot and we were glad to have our long 30-amp electrical extension and 2 hoses so we could park with the front window to the bay and inline with the sunset. The following morning at 5:30 am we discovered this might not be the best time of year to come to the park. It’s duck hunting season in December and January and the incredibly loud air boats leave to hunt at 5:30 am!!! Impossible to sleep when they take off. The first day we did a 6km walk around the park and out to see the Schoenstatt Shrine and chapel. The shrine was dedicated in October of 1959 and is a replica of one built in Germany. The shrine is a refuge of spiritual help and guidance. That afternoon we did an 8 km bike ride to see the Big Tree. The Big Tree is one of the most famous live oaks in the world and was named the Texas State Champion Virginia Live Oak in 1969 and held that title until 2003 when a larger oak was was discovered in Brazoria County, Texas. Recent estimates show the tree is close to 2,000 years old and it has a circumference of over 35 feet, a height of 45 feet and the crown’s spread is 90 feet! We got very lucky when we were riding back to the park as 3 of the Whopping Cranes flew overhead quite close to where we were.
The following morning, we did an 11 km ride in the morning to try to see the Whopping Cranes again and then rode through the wooded section of the campground and did the Turk’s Cap nature trail. This time we could only see the Whooping Cranes in the distance, so the photo is not that great. The Cranes migrate from Wood Buffalo NP in Canada to this site, and we had tried to go there on our Alaska-Yukon-NWT trip, but the forest fires stopped us from getting there.
In the afternoon we did a guided nature walk. One of the park rangers had invited 2 Master Naturalists to come and do a talk on plants. The husband was an expert in grasses and the wife was an expert in flowering shrubs and trees. There were only 2 other tourists, and the other 5 attendees were rangers who worked at the park and wanted to learn more about the plants. We were both blown away by the naturalist’s knowledge. It was like they were walking botanist books😉 Needless to say it was impossible to retain all the information they provided. It was interesting to note that in order to distinguish the grasses you should try to see them when they are flowering, and you need a magnifying glass to see the tiny flowers. The Naturalists were telling the rangers which plants were native versus evasive because one of the young rangers had been hired to eradicate the evasive plants from the park. After we enjoyed the sunset view from our campsite.
This concludes our 3 repeat Texas State Parks. We were happy to return to each as we did see and learn new things at each park. The next blog will likely be in the new year and cover 4 new to us State Parks. Sharon and I would like to wish y’all a very Happy Holiday season and we’ll look forward to an adventurous New Year.