We left Austin April 3 to spend a bit more time on the Gulf Coast. This time we were in Corpus Christi about 200 miles west of our Galveston day trip a few weeks back. We had an Airbnb home on a Laguna Madre canal in what’s known as the Tropic Isles for 6 nights. The Tropic Isles Channel connects to the Inner Coastal Waterway and is six miles from the Gulf of Mexico through the Packery Channel. We were a 20-minute drive from the main downtown area of Corpus Christi which got us out of the busyness of town and more into the experience of living local.
We day tripped by taking our hosts suggested 4-5-hour drive around Corpus Christi Bay to the free car ferry at Port Aransas and onto the barrier islands of Mustang then west to Padre. At Padre Island National Seashore, D was able to proudly use his National Parks Golden Age Pass. At the visitor center we saw a birding tour scheduled the next morning, so that became one of our many experiences since we’ve hit the road houseless. We stopped in Corpus Christi on the way home from our big loop drive and enjoyed a Louisiana style meal. Yup, mostly deep-fried goodness. I could not stop eating the fried okra and the catfish was marvelous. D, on the other hand enjoyed the gumbo and fried catfish/oysters/shrimp. Later, I found that deep fried okra keeps expanding and I was stuffed!
Padre Island Birding Experience – rather than the big circle drive we’d taken the day before, we popped over the John F. Kennedy Memorial Causeway the next morning and were at the Padre Island National Seashore in 25 minutes. We joined the morning 2.5-hour ranger-lead birding tour. While we enjoy seeing birds, we are not what one would consider birders but thought we would get a good feel for what this seashore area was all about. We learned it is a major bird stopover/resting point for flocks heading north after wintering in South America. On any given day in the spring, new birds show up, and others head out. Also, these barrier islands of the Gulf of Mexico accumulate massive amounts of garbage along the beaches due to the swirling currents of the Gulf. There were huge garbage containers along the beaches and roads with signs asking visitors to help keep Padre Island clean by picking up garbage and depositing properly. While I’m sure most of us have heard about all the garbage floating around our planet, it really brought the reality of it home. Some of the photos of the beaches full of garbage were unreal.
We found Corpus Christi a difficult area to do the type of biking and running we like to do. Plus, the humidity was really hard on us even when we weren’t doing a thing – and humidity only gets worse as the months turn into summer.
We left our Gulf Coast home on April 9 to travel to Taos, New Mexico. While traveling north the first day we stopped in the German pioneer town of Fredericksburg, Texas (founded mid 1800s). Quite a few people had mentioned this place to us when we were in Austin and San Antonio as it’s only about 30 miles away from both, but we didn’t take the time on those stays. It worked out great to make an afternoon stop here while driving through the beautiful hill country of west Texas. We enjoyed the spring bloom at Wildseed Farms (largest wild seed farm in the US), and a dinner out before heading to our first overnight stop in Junction, Texas. We spent our last night of our Texas tour in Lubbock. Then onto Santa Rosa, New Mexico the 3rd of our mini-road trip overnights.
We enjoyed our 5-week visit to the BIG state of Texas. We were surprised by its beauty, loved the food, and enjoyed traveling the big wide highways through the small towns (staying off the Interstate where possible). We were disappointed we didn’t see an armadillo (9-banded in these parts) but found locals don’t often see those sneaky nocturnal varmints either! And, I thought I’d see a lot of men, women, and children wearing cowboy boots but that was not the case at all - unless we were in a tourist location or at a restaurant. The best thing about Texas - the people we met along the way! We’ll surely be back through here on future trips and know this won’t be the last sunset we see in the great state of Texas.
Thanks for joining our journey.