Goose Island SP May 2018

Tuesday, May 28, 2018, 7:30 PM

I am currently at Goose Island State Park for a three-night stay. This is my first time here. That means there are a lot of new things for me to see and do. I like to write about this kind of trip, because it is refreshing to write about a new adventure. Writing about a trip to a park I have been to 50 times gets kind of old.

I got here yesterday at about 2:30 pm, after what seemed like a long and exhausting trip. I don’t know why I was so tired. I actually made a stop near Three Rivers to get one of those energy drinks that are so bad for you. It was either that or fall asleep behind the wheel and end up dead on the highway. The traffic was awful. I honestly thought that, since it was Monday and Memorial Day weekend was winding down, all the traffic would be coming from the coast. Wrong! Although the traffic headed back to San Antonio was much worse (at one time I thought maybe the coast was being evacuated or something. I mean- it was nearly bumper to bumper), there was a constant flow of speeding vehicles whooshing by me and giving me that creepy feeling that the trailer is wobbling.

Getting that drink wasn’t easy to do. I stopped at a very busy (almost Buccee’s crowded) Love station. I couldn’t find anywhere to park the trailer. Then I noticed another trailer had parked in a big empty lot around the corner. I joined him and hiked to the store. Once back on the road, I never felt tired again. That was probably more due to the walk than the energy drink.

Once I got off of the highway and on to smaller country roads for the last third of the trip, traffic was lighter. I had to move to the shoulder slowly a few times to let some vehicles go by. You are never supposed to have more than three cars built up behind you. Sometimes you can’t help it, but usually there is a shoulder good enough to be courteous. I was amazed how almost all of them bumped their brake lights to say thanks.

Actually getting to Rockport/Fulton was exciting. There was still so much damage to see from the hurricane. I had to concentrate on the road, but it was still a lot to take in. Then all of a sudden, you see the causeway ahead of you surrounded by the prettiest green/blue water. It takes your breath away. I’m going to try and stop somewhere tomorrow to get some photos as part of my sightseeing trip.

The park is nice. They run it a little differently from others. You actually get a map with all the unavailable sites marked off. Then you drive the loop to pick the one you want and drive back to headquarters, still towing the trailer, to check in officially. I saw two sights that I thought I would like. 140 won because you literally can not see any other campers from it. I like privacy.

I need to go walk around the park once to get some extra steps. Damned fried oysters!!! Okay… that was actually kind of pleasant. It is still really humid, but it isn’t as hot, and there is a nice breeze blowing. It was about a mile around the park road- just enough to give me enough calories to enjoy my scotch and diet ginger in a little while.

So, the area I am in is the wooded loop. Everywhere you look you see these nightmarishly mangled oak trees. I don’t know how much is from the hurricane and how much is just the life of a seaside oak tree. It is really cool to look at, especially when you see branches growing at impossible angles against the sky. Reviews for the park talked about monstrous attacking hordes of misquitoes, but I have not see any so far. It is pretty dry here right now. That probably explains it. There are some marsh areas along the trails with alligator warning signs, but they are all dried up. All I have seen are some beautiful deer and one tiny little snake. The deer here are more reddish and bigger than the ones around San Antonio.

After I got the camper set up, I decided to go into Rockport for a seafood dinner while it cooled down. It did cool down, and has maintained 70 - 74 degrees ever since. I chose Charlotte Plummer’s for dinner. It had the best reviews. A lot of the formerly great places seem not to have recovered from the hurricane. Many didn’t even open back up. I had a grilled platter that was very good.

I stopped at a Stripes gas station and got their largest drink size. I filled it with ice and skipped the drink. I didn’t feel like running the ice maker, and that huge container gave me enough ice until the trays in the freezer were ready today.

I took a nice hot hike on the trails when I got back. Then I cooled down for a while before hiking around the park roads for a while. I have been lax about getting my steps in since St. Louis, and am really trying to get back on track during this trip. I have lost 26 pounds over the last 7 weeks. I won’t say I am on a diet. I can eat whatever I want, but have to stay inside my calorie budget. Any extra means more walking to earn back calories. That usually is no problem at all, because the whole premise behind the program I am on is “smart eating". It depends on me to make “low caloric density" foods a main part of my eating. As long as I can feel full, it really doesn’t matter what I eat, so it is working well for me. No foods are off limits. I can eat anything I want, as long as I have the calories to “pay for them".

When It was finally later in the evening, I watched a movie with my iPad connected to the TV. Since the last iPhone update, my phone will no longer show Netflix on the TV with the Apple VGA adapter. I can buy the new HDMI one, but since my iPad is no longer updatable, I can at least use it for this purpose. I cleared all those teacher apps off and can now download about 20 movies with no problem. That is, if I watch them before they expire. I got burned by that at South Llano River SP.

I slept really well as usual in the Colby 2.0. Just the same, when the alarm went off at 7:00 am, I wasn’t ready to get up. I reset it for 7:30 and relaxed. After all, I am retired. I wanted to be up early enough to get to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge before the heat set in too bad. I almost blew it off to do it tomorrow instead, but I’m glad I didn’t. I had a really nice time there. I hiked some trails, stopped at all the viewing areas, and took lots of pictures, many of which have a white spot because a drop of sweat got on the lens unnoticed.

When I first arrived at the refuge, I discovered that the office was closed on Tuesdays. I hadn’t seen that online when I made my plans. But, since I had driven all that way, I hiked down to the alligator viewing area for a peak, before heading back to Goose Island. While I was there, I suddenly heard a bunch of little kid voices. It was a group of 5 preschoolers with their teacher headed to see the gators. I asked the teacher if she were local. She said that she lived on the refuge, and the kids all belonged to others who worked and lived there. She told me that the park was open, even though the office wasn’t and told me how to register and pay my $3.00. Unfortunately, there were no self-help envelopes at the kiosk, so I went back to my truck and got a piece of paper. I folded the money into it and wrote a note of explanation. Just as I was about to drive on, a ranger pulled up in front of the office. He went inside and found me the slip I needed to hang on my rear view mirror.

As I said, I pretty much explored the park. It is pretty amazing. We are so lucky in this country to have places like it. You can look at my pictures to see it all. I will mention how, on one of the trails, I followed a young couple. At one point about a mile into the trail, it was so overgrown and blocked by downed trees that I wasn’t sure it was the trail. They told me they had hiked it before the Hurricane, but it looked like the park service hadn’t cleaned it up. I told them my bushwhacking days were over and said my goodbyes. When I got back to the truck, sure enough, they had made it through. They were in their twenties and thin. That makes it easier.

I decided that I wanted lunch, even though I had already eaten my seafood dinner. I made the mistake of looking at other places on the way back last night and saw a seafood market called Alby’s. They supposedly had the best oyster po boys on the planet. I couldn’t get that off my mind, so that’s where I headed. Unfortunately, they don’t make them anymore. I ended up buying a pound of the biggest shrimp I have ever seen. The lady asked if I wanted them packed in ice, which was good, since I still planned on hunting down a seafood (pronounce that “fried oyster") lunch.

I remembered seeing a sign the night before bragging about the biggest shrimp in town. I couldn’t remember the name of the place, so I drove around until I found the sign. It was Moon Doggy’s. When I got there, it was closed. I don’t know if the storm got it, or it was just closed on Tuesdays like some of the other places in town. Instead, I decided to try Doug Shudde’s recommendation, Paradise Key. It was great! I had 3 huge fried shrimp and 6 huge fried oysters. It totally satisfied my craving. Of course, I had to walk a few extra miles today to pay for it calorie wise. (You saw that I did one of them just a few moments ago.)

When I got back to the camper, It was HOT AS BLAZES! I stripped down and laid on the bed for awhile until I cooled down. I decided that I would wait until about 5:00 to hike over to the bayside area of the park. Half of it is used for day use only. The pier and other half are closed since the hurricane. I just wanted to walk over to get some photos.

I cooked the shrimp in the microwave. DON’T roll your eyes at me. That’s how a lot of restaurants do it. They were cooked perfectly. I’m gonna say it- they were the best shrimp I have ever eaten!

5:00 rolled around, so I went outside to see how hot it was. It was even worse than before. I called that hike to the bayside area off. I’ll drive there tomorrow as part of my sightseeing day. Instead, I took the time to use my drill to help me with hammering the tiny nails in three commemorative plates on my walking stick. I also added a hook to both my rubber mallet and the walking stick. I’ll use the hook on the walking stick to help me drag things out of the camper basement when I can’t reach them by hand.

So, anyway, that’s it for now. I need that scotch and diet ginger. Time for another movie.

Wednesday, May 30, 6:05 PM

This has really been a great day. I woke up at 8:30 and just lounged around until about 9:30. Since this was my sightseeing day in Rockport, I wasn’t overly worried about beating the heat. The big problem was the humidity anyway.

I turned the hot water on so I could shave. Then I drank some coffee and ate my oatmeal while I waited for it to heat up. By 10:00 it was ready to go, so I shaved, sponge bathed, dressed and hit the road. I had a lot of places I wanted to see.

My first stop was right here in the park. I drove over to the area that it on the water to take some pictures. There was a strong wind coming off the bay, but I still got all sweaty from the humidity. After about fifteen minutes of walking around, I was a dripping mess.

I got back in the truck and drove over to see the Big Tree. It was pretty amazing. It makes me dizzy to think about it being somewhere around 1,000 years old. The hurricane evidently didn’t damage it much, if at all. That’s surprising because it is pretty close to the water.

I headed into town next. I was going to stop and take photos near the causeway, but the colors weren’t as nice as they had been on my other passes over the bridge. I decided to do that later and went on to the Maritime Museum.

I parked by a little seaside park and hiked out on a pier before going to the museum. The wind was keeping me cool, but that damned humidity had me soaked again. It was a lot like being in St. Louis in the summer. You cool off and dry up in the car. Then you get soaked again the second you start walking around. It was worth it though. I really enjoyed looking at the sculptures they had in that little park. You can see them in my photos.

The Maritime Museum was really nice. Unfortunately, even with the air conditioning, I just could not cool down. I dripped the whole time I was in there. The most comfortable part was the deck at the top of the lighthouse. I stood in the shade letting the ocean breeze dry my shirt for a while. Then, I found a spot on the stairs that had an icy cold AC vent blowing really hard, so I sat there for a few minutes. I was the only one in the museum, so it wasn’t as if I were blocking the stairs or anything. Before leaving, I had a nice chat with two of the workers about the hurricane, how it damaged the museum, and how Rockport was recovering in general.

My next stop was to a place I had seen that hundreds of stork-like birds in the tree tops. I was going to park and walk the little trail, but I found a pull off spot just across from it. I rolled my window down and took several pictures. It was just as good as it would have been had I gotten out and got all sweaty again.

I drove on down the road to the beautiful Fulton Mansion. I hiked around it to get to the visitor center, and you guessed it, I looked like I got caught in a rain storm. Fortunately, I am in the habit of carrying a thick wad of paper towels in my pocket. I was able to dry off a little before going in.

The mansion got damaged a lot by the hurricane. The roof blew off, and the rain got in everywhere. They had to remove all the carpets and drywall. Right now, they actually let you walk through the whole house. They call it a “hard hat tour". You wander around by yourself, but the rooms are all empty or have covered mounds of furniture in the middle of them. Even so, you can’t help but be amazed by the beauty of the mansion. I took a lot of pictures that can describe it better than I.

My next stop was for seafood again. This time I went to Moondog’s. It took a while for my server to notice me. I was patiently checking email, etc., but started to wonder after about 20 minutes. I was really thirsty from sweating all over Rockport. When she came, she was very apologetic. I told her it really wasn’t a problem, as I was on retirement time. She took my order and brought me a nice big 22 ounce schooner of Apricot Hefeweizen. It really hit the spot! I ordered the fried oysters with three fried shrimp on the side. I also had Brussels sprouts and asparagus. (I have to hike a few extra miles when it cools down to pay the calories off.) In my opinion, this was the best seafood I had in Rockport. Everything was cooked to perfection.

My next stop was supposed to be the gas station, but I overshot it when I turned onto Texas 35 (not to be confused with I35.) I ended up all the way at the causeway, so I stopped and got my pictures. For those of you who have been there before, I have sad news. The old causeway, the Copano Pier, which was previously touted as being the longest pier in Texas was severely damaged by the hurricane and will not reopen. Part of it is totally missing, and the inspectors said it is no longer safe for any pedestrian or fishing use.

I went back to town and filled my gas tank up. I hope I can make it back to San Antonio without filling up on the way. I barely made it down here on a full tank on Monday. I heard another camper telling the same story when I walked by to the dumpster this morning. She got to the park just as her low gas light came on. Then you have to drive ten miles to the nearest gas station.

When I got back to the camper, I was struck by just how awfully hot it was here at the park. I quickly got inside to a comfortable 74 degrees and napped for a few minutes on the bed. I am going to start checking at 7:00 to see if it has cooled down enough to start my walking. I might even suck it up and hike to the bayside area and back. That should be about three miles round trip.

I’m not going to add this to the blog until I get back to town. Yesterday, all kinds of things went wrong with that. I had to delete it all from the blog site and repost it. It probably won’t be until Friday. I have a lot to do tomorrow.

As soon as I get back to town, I need to shower and get ready for a friend’s retirement party at NISD. Then I go from there to my Volunteer Ambassador training at Headwaters at Incarnate Word until 8:30. I have nothing on my calendar for Friday, so I hope I can sleep late and recuperate.

Friday, June 1, 2018, 11:33 am

On Wednesday evening, after I stopped writing what is up above, I did take a hike over to the bayside area, which I learned is actually called the bayfront area. It was not as far as I thought it would be. In actuality, it was only three miles round trip. The temperature had dropped to probably the mid 80s, but the humidity was still awful. There was an constant wind coming off the water that made it not only bearable, but actually pleasant. The evening coloration with the beautiful clouds and sunset was a great thing to see.

When I got back to the camper, I waited a few minutes for the water heater to do its job and my body to cool down. Then I took a really quick navy shower. My tanks were getting really close to full, since I didn’t dump them at South Llano SP when I was there for the birding festival. I was sure I had enough room in the grey tank for a shower, but only if I didn’t fun the water too long.

I spent the rest of the evening watching a movie called Spavic. At least, I think that was the name. I also finished the rest of the scotch bottle that I bought in Gonzales when I was camping at Palmetto State Park.

I got up at 6:00 am so that I could relax over coffee and breakfast before breaking camp, hitching up, and heading home. It was pleasant outdoors in the morning because the sun had not risen above the tree wall, yet. I got the air pump and topped off the tires. They were all within a pound of the preferred pressure, 50 lbs.

Break down went routinely. I stopped and dumped the tanks on the way out of the park and got on the road at about 8:45. The trip back to San Antonio was totally uneventful. The traffic was light until I got within 5 miles of San Antonio. Even then, it wasn’t bad. I used a lot less gas getting home. I had enough less to go 112 miles. On the way down, my low gas light came on just after I arrived at the park.

Well, that’s it. I uploaded all of the photos to a Google folder. You can see them all here:

I am sorry about the white spots on a lot of them. I evidently sweatted on the lens.