February 12, 2017
After the heat in San Antonio, we were super motivated to get to the beach! We woke early (we did it!) and drove to Corpus Christi, Texas. Amazingly, we were able to secure a spot at Mustang Island State Park, a first come first serve, no reservations accepted campground. It is located just south of Port Aransas. Mustang Island got its name from the wild mustangs that used to roam it’s shores. It is a coastal barrier island boasting a 5 mile beachfront. Our risk to land a site at this small beach front state park paid off, we had some choices and ended up in site 38, the dunes side! We finally had made to the ocean! We were eager to get our swimsuits on and walk across those dunes to set up for a beach day! Now it wasn’t the hottest weather I have ever experienced at the beach and it was the coldest either, but we didn’t care – it was perfect! We spent the afternoon alone along this 5 mile beachfront, with the dunes to our backs and the Gulf of Mexico at our feet, playing in the sand, soaking up the warm sun, building many a sand castle.
I spent a decent amount of time jumping in the waves with the kids. (I grew up in Southern California and never have surfed a day in my life. I have boogie boarded a little here and there. But my absolute favorite thing to do at the ocean is jump and splash around the waves – so to introduce my kids to one my favorite pastimes was a joy) Fun times!
February 13, 2017
In the morning after a quick breakfast we went for a walk on the beach. Keeping with Cortney & the kid’s morning hike routine but this time I had to join them, too hard to resist walking along such a beautiful shoreline. Nolan, our adventure man – walking is not exciting enough – brought along his bike and rode in the water and in the sand.
In the afternoon we ventured into downtown Corpus Christi to visit the Texas Surf Museum – the ONLY surf museum in the state of Texas! (Cortney was born and raised in Surf City a.k.a. Huntington Beach, CA, so this stop was on her list of must see places) Yes – people surf in Texas, they refer to the Gulf as the Third Coast!
It was a small museum but it was very well done for the location, it made our Southern California hearts feel like we were home. The kids enjoyed incorporating a little bit of school into our visit, making this a verified “field trip!’
Sadly the downtown streets of Corpus Christi seemed like a ghost town, it was a bit underwhelming for a big city located in such a beautiful area. (We noticed this throughout our time there. I don’t think the city ever really recovered from their last hurricane, something happened in the local economy down there). We enjoyed sushi dinner near the museum – in Denver we are always a bit hesitant regarding sushi living so far from the ocean – we are very close to the ocean now and it was delicious!
February 14, 2017
We are not too big on Valentines Day, but we do enjoy the concept of Love and taking the day to remind our kids of how great God’s love is for us. The weather was a bit in-climate today, we’ve been under a tornado watch since last night very gusty winds and rain. We hunkered down this morning, waiting for the storm to pass and enjoyed FaceTime with Nana and Poppy.
Once the weather settled, Cortney and the kids headed into town to do laundry and get donuts – because who doesn’t love donuts?!
Took a while for them to find donuts, no store had anything left that late in the morning. They ended up at a Dunkin’ Donuts instead because it was open 24 hours and it’s Dunkin and they always have donuts.
They took the donuts to laundromat – I am convinced this is how Cortney bribed the kids to help with the chore – where they caught up on school between the loads, and got the laundry done! (which by the way, when set off on this adventure was a concern – laundromats, not always the cleanest or most desirable places. We quickly fell in love with laundromats to our surprise, washing clothes at laundromat gives you access to so many machines at one time – it gets done quickly! One of our favorite things on the road – as it turned out was how quick we get laundry done. At home we struggle – we throw a load in – get busy and forget about it – it sits for 2 days or more – needs to be washed again because it sat for 2 days damp in the washer. But when at a laundromat – all you want is to be done and get out of there, we were so diligent about getting the loads sorted, washed, hung, dried and folded and getting on with life! Now Cortney dreams of a laundry room at home with multiple stackable machines!)
Following the laundry, they visited the USS Lexington Museum on the bay. It is an old World War II Aircraft Carrier. The forward aircraft elevator space was converted into and IMAX Theater, were they learned more about these guardians of the sea, helping the kids to understand these incredible ships, their purpose and place in history.
They explored the carriers many decks as well as the flight deck where they took an up close look at landing gears and anti-aircrafts guns, an incredible way to experience naval history. Another road-schooling field trip added to the books!
And the best part of their day out for me was that they came home with pizza! They know how to treat their daddy on Valentines Day – pizza might be my love language!
Tonight we spent a great deal of time and effort working on the #GetLivingAdventure schedule. Besides a small window in March we have figured out our trip until the end of April.
Since Austin, we have been struggling with an slight odor in the motorhome. We have mostly dismissed it not knowing where it is coming from, if it is coming from our surroundings or our rig. Not knowing much about RVs has made diagnosing issues tricky, mostly out of our naïvity of all the working parts. Well, by this afternoon, the odor has finally grown from subtle and not a big issue to the point that diagnosing it is no longer guess work…it’s coming from our bathroom, the toilet to be specific.
Yuck! So Google and YouTube here we come to resolve the issue with our black tank.
February 15, 2017
I worked in the morning while the kids worked on school. Following lunch in the early afternoon we visited Padre Island National Seashore – the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world, boasting 70 miles of seashore along The Gulf of Mexico. To say the least, it was pretty cool. This is the first National Seashore any of us have every experienced. We naively didn’t know this type of National Park Service existed. (Later in our trip we visited a couple more National Seashores – we really like them)
Went and checked in at the Ranger Station to pick up Junior Ranger literature before heading to explore the seashore. We learned this seashore is nesting ground to the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, sadly we are a bit early in the year to see any ourselves.
We found many interesting items that have washed ashore: shoes, shelves, wood, trash, barnacled coconuts, bright yellow sea straw and dead jellyfish. Many pelicans and birds were perched along the water’s edge or flying overhead – it is a major migratory route for 380 species of bird (45% of all bird species documented within North America), there was no shortage of birds to see! I think if the sun were not setting we might have kept walking forever.
On our way home we had to make another Walmart stop (we knew there would be plenty of Walmart’s on the road!) again for food, more underwear for me (I miscalculated before we left) and some the suggested supplies yielded from our extensive YouTube and Google searches. It’s time to get serious and attempt at solving our black water issue.
We spent the evening desperately attempting to fix our black tank issue – the odor is terrible, like so bad we are not going to be able to sleep if we don’t get to the bottom of it (no pun intended). The recommended product to solve our problem, wait for it…Master Blaster Tank Wand was not sold nearby and as mentioned we could not wait! So we had to get really resourceful and improvise the best we could with the resources we had (Dawn soap, hot water and ice cubes). So here is the deal – if you ever purchase a used RV, please be sure to add to your list of questions for the previous owner THIS ONE, “When was the last time the black tank was cleaned out? Not dumped, but CLEANED OUT and drained for storage?”
There exists an area between your RV toilet bowl and the black water tank that apparently can clog / harden / etc. over time. After dislodging what was lodged in that area (the RV awning stick is very useful and found it’s second purpose after rolling up and unfurling the awning when needed) we washed and dumped the black tank a few times before filling the black tank about half way full of hot water and Dawn soap (insert clothes pin on the nose, foul odor!).
Once the Dawn soap and water was in we took the RV for a joy ride. We drove to Port Aransas and around the town, then back south past the State Park and back around again, taking as many curves, turns and speed bumps as we could to slosh and swish that tank and it’s soapy *contents* around. Back to the State Park dump station for another dump and a tank rinse, this time filling the black tank 3/4 of the way with water and 10lbs of cubed ice. Then back to the roads driving from here to there, taking every curve, turn and bump we could. The kids must have thought that we’ve lost our minds! We finished our last tour around town in the dark, made one final dump at the dump station before pulling back into our site. She back in working order and smells great now too! Problem solved, thank you Google and YouTube!
February 16th, 2017
We woke up to a lake of water under our RV this morning. There was water coming out of the water heater on the side of the RV by the front door. I quickly turned off the supply of water outside and came back into the RV and began pulling out the manuals and searching YouTube for answers…Again!
Honestly, felling a bit defeated and overwhelmed, what have we got ourselves into. I need to be getting work done so we can get on the road, I was not planning to start my day with yet another repair.
A short while later, our neighbor knocked at the door, “You got a problem out here!” he said. “I know.” I said, “trying to figure it out – thank you.” I talked to him further, told him we were new to this. He asked to take a quick look. It was something with the pressure valve on the water heater he said. His experience and expertise was welcomed (we have no idea what we are doing!!), he was a friendly semi-retired Doctor. After some more conversation I learned that he and his wife travel to Africa several times a year helping people with their vision issues. I don’t remember where they lived exactly, but somewhere in the midwest. Every time they come back from a long missions trip, they get in the RV and come down Mustang Island State Park and stay for a couple of weeks to decompress. Interesting fellow and very helpful with the RV repair.
We were set to leave today, and upon his advice, on our way out of town we stopped at the local Ace Hardware store for replacement parts. We bought the new pressure temperature valve for the water heater. Upon trying to remove the old one I discovered I needed a different sized wrench that I did not own (of course!). Second visit into Ace procured me one (to this day – haven’t used that size again yet).
Worked in the parking lot and got the new pressure gauge installed (and learned something new! Handyman repairs do not come naturally to me). And since we were already wet from that project and already in the Ace Hardware parking lot, I entered the hardware store for the 3rd time and purchased the supplies we were wanting for a small outdoor shower. Why not install that too!?
After this minor detour we were ready to go. The only problem was there was no exit to the parking lot around the back like I thought! (Uh-Oh!) The only way out was the way in which we entered into lot. We are too big to turn around. Yikes!
Eventually had to take the car and the tow dolly off, perform about a 27 point turn in the RV (to the entertainment of this small town crowd, I think every employee in this tiny strip mall took turns to come out and watch this spectacle!). Eventually we got repositioned to reattach the tow dolly, then the car, then finally we were on our way! (I can assure you from this point forward we never entered another parking lot without looking at in satellite view on google maps – assessing all possible exits and ability to turn around! Did I mention we have no idea what we are doing?!)
We then headed to Padre Island National Seashore again for 2 reasons; we really liked the place – wanted to see it one more time and the kids had just 1 service project of picking up trash on the beach to complete their Junior Ranger program books and become a Junior Ranger! Very proud they were!
Ha! Funny story and something I would like to try one day myself – though might be tough to convince Cortney. We met a couple while the kids were picking up trash on the beach. They were older – retirement age traveling in an RV as well. We got to visiting with them and learned that when their kids were younger – middle school / high school age, they all lived on a sailboat and traveled around Florida and parts of the Caribbean for a few years! Gets me thinking about when we get done with this RV trip…sailboat?!!
We then drove to a lake about halfway between Corpus Christi and Galveston to a small campground near Edna, TX. Formerly Lake Texana State Park, it now exists and operates as Texana Park, a county campground.
We arrived at 6 PM and found a great site on the lake, number 105.
Walked the park a little and enjoyed the sunset.
The kids wanted to eat an outdoor dinner in the dark. They compiled their supplies: 2 camp chairs, a cooler to use as a table and a lantern, then they found their spot to get set up. Wait for it, they chose the one compartment on the backside of the RV that had a built in light; however I have my doubts about their final selection for that dinner; the compartment where the grey and black water tanks are dumped!
February 17, 2017
Woke up and it was a rainy day. Spent most of the day inside. Kids did schoolwork and I worked too. Later when the rain stopped Hadley and Nolan road bikes around the loop at the end of our campground loop. Today was a monumental day; Hadley’s training wheels finally came off! We are so proud of her and the work she has put in to keep up with Nolan!
Tonight, when Hadley and I were walking back from throwing trash away at the dumpster, we heard noises coming from the bushes near our site. It seemed to be a very large animal. The bush was moving and the leaves underneath were rustling loudly. Curious to learn what it was, we headed back to the RV for headlamps and to grab Nolan to help us explore and discover the identify of the enormous creature; hoping that it would not end up being a skunk! We examined the bushes from several different angles with our heads and lights in the bushes – we finally found the source of the ruckus – a very, very, tiny armadillo! Ha! the kids had a such a laugh on that one. They could not understand how such a tiny creature could make such a large sound as they rummaged for food.
February 18, 2017
Today was a Saturday; Hadley, Nolan and I had hatched a plan to get up early – eat breakfast burritos we made last night and go try to catch fish early in the morning.
We walked to the dock, baited our hooks and cast our lines.
No luck with fishing and the kids quickly grew restless. So back to the RV – I’m sure Cortney was looking forward to some quiet alone time, we were quick to foil that!
We had read that there was a Ranger Talk mid-morning, so Hadley, Nolan and I went to check it out. And we tried, we really tried, to sit through the Ranger Talk, however it wasn’t any good. The ranger was not exciting and most everyone (including us) carefully and with much effort to not being detected left the talk early.
So we did instead what we do best, just spent the afternoon hanging out at the camper relaxing, letting the kids climb the oversized trees on the waters edge and hang out in their hammock.
Soon boredom set in and we got the idea to try to fish again! This time from the back of our campsite – at the edge of the lake. So we sat there and well – caught nothing.
There was either nothing in that Texana Lake or we are not fisherman. Tonight we tried a campfire, however the wood was too wet. What is with the humidity in Texas!?
Tomorrow we set out for Galveston! Beach time again!
This post is part of our Live Like No One Else series, a retelling, through journal entries kept along the way, of all the sights and memories we made during our 2017 #getlivingadventure. We were so busy living the adventure we missed sharing many of the experiences with you. Just happy to have you along as we relive many of the great memories that we hope one day our kids will have to read and remember!