But for the rain along the way, our route to Texas was relatively uneventful. We drove past Eureka Springs, my favorite city in Arkansas, and crossed the border into Oklahoma. We stayed in a very small town by the name of Poteau, pronounced Po-toe in Oklahoma, at a campground we shared with bison, deer, and Shetland ponies.
From Poteau we traveled to Grapeland, TX at a campground recently purchased by a couple with nine adorable children, all ranging in ages from 1 to 14. The way I saw it, they were going to need all those little hands to take care of the 100 acres they now owned. The older ones cared for the younger ones, while others were painting and yet others were mowing the lawn, mom worked in the office and dad did all the outside repairs, etc. From the outside looking in, they gave the appearance of a well-oiled machine, I just wonder what meal times look like!
The previous owner was an artist who collected western style buildings and had them positioned throughout the property giving the semblance of a western town. Within it was a large swimming lake with a floating platform for sunning, various rental cabins and a very large stage, a perfect place for music festivals.
From Grapeland to Katy, and a quick stop over in Navasota, yet again another rainy travel day. Apparently, a tree branch must have struck the skylight over the shower at some point because when we arrived in Navasota, we realized we had a hole the size of a golf ball.
Because of the rain, water and pine needles made their way inside the shower, but fortunately nowhere else. We patched up the hole temporarily and immediately ordered the skylight and inside dome from the manufacturer and had both delivered to Galveston where we were going to be anchored for a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, we arrived in Katy, Texas. Our youngest daughter, Ashley, prior to leaving Alaska, shipped us fresh Alaskan salmon, rockfish, black cod and halibut. After picking this delicious gift from the airport, we left Katy and drove into Galveston.
Upon our arrival in Galveston we quickly made arrangements to have the bathroom skylight repaired. We had not realized how discolored it had become and how dull the lighting in the bathroom actually was. For the first time in years it was now light and bright. Natural light is amazing!
We took a drive westward to Surfside and came across many beach camping. Although this may not be foreign to some, to us it was certainly a novelty. We are used to soft sand so with the exception of Daytona Beach, vehicles on sand are positively out of the question. Seeing RVs parked on the beach was intriguing for sure. We took a closer look and yippee!! we actually got to drive on the beach ourselves. Now, that was special! “Big Bertha,” our truck, had never been on such an excursion.
There were even directional signals right on the beach! Sure enough, both vehicles and RVs were parked right on the sand. While vehicles park as close to the shore as possible, RVs were parked alongside the grassy dunes, but nevertheless still on the beach. Amazing, was all we could say! Imagine turning off your A/C, opening all your windows and hearing the waves crashing on the shore, all day and night. Sleeping under the stars! Ahhhh!!! Now, that’s boondocking! On the flip side, salty air sticks to your RV and because it is always incredibly windy, you would definitely get a lot of sand inside. Oh, well – I guess that’s what a vacuum cleaner and patience are for anyway.
Another day, we took a ride in the opposite direction and came across East Beach, where one can ride horseback on the beach. I had the opportunity of walking miles and feeling the warm sand on the bottom of my feet, while hearing the sound of the crashing waves, without actually getting into the water, as it is very murky.
Apparently, because the Mississippi and Red Rivers empty out onto the Gulf, (and we all know how filthy they are) sediment gets carried by the counterclockwise currents and all the beaches from Louisiana westward are brown.
We learned from the local news that a man had caught a 6′ shark a few days ago less than a mile away from where we stayed. He had no clue what he had caught. Families actually swim and play in that water. It’s so murky, you cannot see your feet, let alone any creatures lurking nearby. On a good note, there are tons of seashells near the shoreline. So to those who enjoy shelling, this place could provide hours of fun.
Galveston has undergone massive beach expansions and continues to do so, the newest of which is Babe’s Beach.
We took a day trip around Galveston Bay and returned via the Bolivar peninsula and rode the ferry into Galveston. We even crossed over the Intracoastal Waterway, which was actually pretty neat. I had never actually seen any oil refineries and was in awe with the vast number of oil plants and drills dressing the landscape.
What was most amazing was the vast number of donut stores. From chains to mom and pop establishments, everywhere you look you would find one, we couldn’t keep track. There must be almost as many donut shops in this area as there are churches in South Carolina, without exaggeration. Not only do they sell donuts, they sell Kolaches, pastries filled with either cheese, meat or fruit. We decided on the meat kolache. It was shaped like hotdog filled with sausage and it was actually pretty tasty.
Loading up into the ferry was easy and we were queued and positioned in the very front row. Because it was so windy, large waves crashed onto the ferry totally soaking everyone in the front row. (Us!) I had gotten back in Big Bertha just in the nick of time and had I delayed one more second, I would have needed a change of clothes. Poor Jackson froze in place. Some guard dog he is!
We visited Murdoch’s, a souvenir shop and restaurant which is feet above the Gulf of Mexico surf. The original Murdoch’s opened in 1910 as a swimsuit rental store for island visitors. It has been rebuilt four times, the most recent of which as a result of Hurricane Ike in 2008. This building, if nothing else, symbolizes Galveston’s resilience.
The Pier, the seawall, the sculptures, the Strand, which is where most of the boutique shops are located, and the many mansions and historic buildings make Galveston the city it is.
We made reservations at a steakhouse for the Fourth of July. It was our 33rd Wedding Anniversary and we like to choose lively spots to celebrate the continuation of our wonderful journey. After dinner we picked up Jackson and the three of us went to see the parade and fireworks by the seawall. He got beads and wore them well!
This was Jackson’s first ever experience watching fireworks and I’m not real sure it was a hit. Although his eyes were as large as flying saucers and was shaking enough to warrant John holding him for the duration, he never took his eyes off the fireworks. Poor guy, he was probably saying – Do not do that again! I truly don’t mind staying home by myself for a while. That was insane and I didn’t like it!
Note to self – No more fireworks for Jackson.
We had a great time in Galveston and it’s time to move on. So, on to San Antonio we go!