Here Comes the Sun

 We had a long drive ahead of us, said good-bye to Big Bend NP and were on the road by 9, coffees in our travel mugs! Stopped in Marathon for gas and breakfast….burritos with eggs and bacon.

We made pretty good time. Stopped along the way in Seminole State Park to have a look. Mike bought a seasons pass to Texas State Parks for $70 – good for a year. Walked the nature trail which was nice. Marley got pretty hot and tired. We had to remember to be careful with him and heat….he still was wearing his winter coat.

Overnighted in Carizo Springs.

Got ourselves to the Gulf Coast!!!! Crossed the huge causeway from Corpus Cristi to Padre Island.

Continued north on Padre to Mustang Island. Mustang Island State Park was full but we could do primitive camping on the beach for $10. They said the sand was a bit soft but we decided to go for it.

Spectacular with pelicans flying in formation above us, row after row, sandpipers following the waves in and out, the sun shining, wind blowing, waves crashing….we were in our element!!

Went for a long walk to introduce Marley to the seaside. He was ecstatic with the scents, sounds, and sights of coastal life. He particularly liked sniffing at the foam each wave brought up…..and….always digging…digging….digging!

We’d backed up with the trailer back bumper right up against the dunes at an angle making quick evacuation a possibility, with the truck angled back right beside it. Later in the afternoon though, two ladies in a class C parked between us and the exit, but farther away from the dunes, kind of blocking us from getting out fast if needed. We didn’t realize that until the next morning….we’d been surrounded by some of the higher waves washing up on the beach as we’d slept. That was when we saw that the ladies class C had been surrounded by  a greater degree than us. We were worried that they might become stuck and then… would we get out? All the worry was for nought. All we could do was go for a long walk and wait for the tide to go down, which was slow in happening because of the high winds. Came back and soon started to see people driving on the beach which reassured us that we’d be able to get out. The ladies slept through the whole thing, got up, wandered around their vehicle checking out the damage, went for a walk, came back, and calmly drove out. LOL LOL. There we were, worrying about if the tide would rise more – although Mike checked it out on his app and saw it was on its way down – and all was well. However, we didn’t want to spend another night worrying about tides and winds, getting covered in sand and salt, and being buffeted by the wind.

Couldn’t decide if we wanted to go south to the National Seashore on Padre Island or northeast to Goose Island State Park. After a few calls we found a spot at Hidden Oaks RV, the closest with availability to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and neighbors with Goose Lake State Park. When we stopped at the dump station we met another couple who strongly suggested we take the ferry from Port Aransas to Aransas Pass, a short trip of no more than five minutes. It’s just the wait that makes it take longer. That way, we didn’t have to fight the traffic of Corpus Cristi hauling a trailer. So that’s what we did and what an experience that was. There are at least 4 – 5 ferries going back and forth constantly. It’s free. But it’s also a route for bigger boats and huge oil tankers. When they appear, all traffic halts until they are through which happened to us every time we crossed there. But even then, the wait’s not too long and it’s fun to watch all the activity.

Went to check out Goose Lake State Park – our neighbor here at the RV Park. First we walked to the end of a huge long pier – lots of fisher people on it. Marley wasn’t too sure about the fishing poles, stairs from the pier to the water with waves splashing and creating a commotion, people, other dogs….and of course, the hated wooden boardwalk-like planks of the pier, reminiscent of the bridge over the river at the county park. After that, we walked the nature hike. Totally lovely walk with two quiet, serene bird-watching areas where sat and watched the birds. We were captivated by the brilliant red cardinals feeding at the feeders.

After that, we decided “what the hell”….let’s go see the Aransas NWR so off we went. At the Rail Trail bridge we saw alligators…..9 babies and a momma. Went a ways along the trail but got nervous when we saw all the alligator trails crossing the path. It was when we were returning over the bridge that we saw momma swimming to check on her babies. Quite something to see!!!

Originally, we wanted to go to Aransas NWR to see the whoopers. Didn’t see them there but saw lots of them as well as spoonbills right next door to our RV park so every day we were there, we checked on them.

We went back to spend most of the next day at Aransas NWR. Walked most of the trails but turned back on the Heron Trail (which is the best birding trail) because of alligators again. We’d been warned about them being aggressive because it’s mating season so the males are travelling to find females. We saw lots of their tracks crossing our path! After we’d turned back and were back by the observation deck, I looked on the other side of the trail and spotted an alligator swimming our way. There was a duck we thought the alligator was after. It swam parallel behind the duck, then made a U turn and swam parallel in front of the duck….I held my breath expecting to be a witness to death and destruction but….NOT. It swam right by and clambered clumsily out of the marsh and onto the bank. I guess it wasn’t hungry. It was HUGE!!!! The grand-daddy of all alligators I think!

The couple we’d met told us about “pup cups” at DQ so after we finished the auto tour we went to Tivoli where there is a DQ and there, Marley had his first “pup cup.” He loved it!

I wanted to see the Fulton waterfront so that’s what we did. It was fun to see all the deserted piers and mansions along the coast. Then, on the spur of the moment, decided to go and see the National Seashore on Padre Island. Back to take the ferry and drive down the island. Went for a long salty, sandy, and windy walk along the gulf. Marley started to get comfortable with the waves and water and actually playing with the waves. The only downside was that he lapped up a lot of salt water, threw it (and the biscuit I’d given him) up, on the beach (and later squirted out a large amount of liquid poop here at the campground-not too surprising I guess).

We went to check out “The Big Tree” (an 1100 year old Live Oak) and to take Marley for a good long walk. All he was interested in were the fish heads and tails and skeletons discarded by the many fisher people using the area. But it was nice to walk in the cool of the daysince it’s been quite hot and muggy.

Watched Don Day (Wyoming meteorologist) first thing this morning. So far, weather conditions are not conducive to returning home any time soon!!

I was a bit worried about Marley having heat exhaustion so we turned the AC in the trailer on full blast. He cooled down but it took him a while. Went to Moondog and out on the patio overlooking the gulf, which was delightful. I had a grilled prawn salad which was delicious and Mike had shrimp tacos. Marley was tied to a pole and stayed close by in the grass, nibbling new grass shoots. Yes, he’s become a grazer, a digger, and a chewer of stcks.

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