A Trip Up the Texas Coast with the Bretts

Texas is one of the states that RVers flock to in the wintertime. They even have a name for these folks… In Florida or Arizona they refer to them as snowbirds, but in Texas they are proudly labeled “Winter Texans”. Because of the popularity of Texas as a winter destination any of the parks have taken advantage of this and many people return year after year and develop a real sense of community. (Not so different than Arizona or Florida by the way). Although we had been to Texas before the Texas coast was a stretch we had neglected in the past.

We started out out month on the Texas coast in Brownsville at a 55 plus community that was a delight! This is where people come to wait out the winter and play!

Four Seasons RV resort – Brownsville : South Texas Coast

We wanted to see the scene at South Padre Island.. see what the hype was about. But we were staying most of a month and the rates in South Padre were too high so we ended up in Brownsville at the Four Seasons RV Resort not technically the Texas coast but close enough to count.

I’m sure glad we did. As 55 plus parks go, they had as much activity as any resort we have been to. We didn’t anymore drive through the gate before people were introducing themselves and welcoming us to the park. Within 2 weeks of being there we were welcomed into the pickleball group like family. I was playing cards and dominos, shuffleboard, corn hole, and of course pickleball. Not to mention the potlucks and other social activities. Super fun place to be.

John and Donna Brett (friends from Tucson) joined us here for our final week at the park and traveled with us up the Texas coast to culminate at the Eclipse Viewing Party we held at a Stuart Self’s Ranch. (See the following Post)

South Padre

We had heard the buzz about South Padre many years ago because some friends wintered there every year. I had been curious plus it was just a part of the country Mike nor I had never explored. Where we were staying in Brownsville was about 40 minutes from South Padre. We did make the trip a number of times. The beach was nice, but generally the town felt like a tourist trap. Not my favorite.

Coincidentally, this month the gulf of Mexico brought in a bunch of sea creatures that made the beach a little unpleasant. These were Valella (also known as “By the Wind Sailors”), Blue Buttons, and Portuguese Man-of-War. They littered the beach, and stung you if you touched them. I didn’t touch the water because they were floating on the water everywhere!

Then I discovered this Blue Dragon that travels with the above pests. Although the Blue Dragon is about the size of a quarter, it eats the other 3 and concentrates the man-of-war poison so that if you touch this beautiful sea slug it can delver a sting 3 times stronger than the Man-of-War which I have heard is pretty painful. We opened our eyes and on our next beach walk found a bunch of these little creatures too!

Yep. I stayed out of the Water.

Space X and Boca Chica

Before the Brett’s arrival, Mike and I drove out to Boca Chica Beach, which is where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It shocked me how narrow the river was there and guys were fishing from both the US side and Mexico side, wading to the center of the river. It made me wonder how they controlled illegal migration at this point.

Immigration Information

There was a Border Patrol Officer (24-7) patrolling there, so I chatted with him. He did say it’s a real problem, but that point was not a real “hot-spot” at the moment. The mass crossings changes frequently, I’m sure to keep the border patrol on their toes. It was very interesting.


But even more interesting at that spot is the SpaceX launch site. The first time Mike and I went they were getting ready for a launch to come in the next couple of weeks. There was a lot of activity. Unfortunately, they did not have a visitor center or anything for non-SpaceX personnel. But it was still very interesting.

We went back after the Brett’s arrival, but the tide was too high to get to the mouth of the Rio Grande. Bummer, but still fun to see SpaceX again.

Parrot Park

Being at the Bird Observatory did peak our interest in birds, and we discovered the Merlin app that listens and tells you what birds are in your vicinity. Donna Brett had found it on her own previously to coming to Texas and so we both had fun exploring the birds.

Someone mentioned a fun destination was Joe and Tony Oliveira Park, a park well known for the hundreds of parrot that come roost there every evening. You can see them at Dawn and at Dusk. Day 1 with John and Donna Brett there, we headed for the park at dusk… It was fascinating, and indeed the birds did come. It was very difficult to take pictures of them in the fading light, but I did manage to find a few lighting in a tree under a street light. Gave me enough to snap a couple of these.

A super cute Hutterite/Amish family out birdwatching

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

And again, in search of birds we spent an afternoon driving out the to the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. This was a nice little side trip where we saw and identified (with the help of Merlin) a bunch of new birds. The one that definitely caught my eye was a Green Jay. What a beautiful little bird.

Mustang Island State Park – Port Aransas : Mid Texas Coast

We had a few nice days in Brownville but overall we had more rain and almost all were 100% humidity days! Ugh! We were not sorry to head on up to the middle coast, just over the bridge from Corpus Christi. On Mustang Island. We stayed at Mustang Island state park.

This time the beach was a short walk through the dunes away. I vowed to walk on the beach and get my fill every day.. I think I accomplished that. A few sunrise mornings, a few evening, sunset walks. A couple days of beach sitting. The weather aside from a bit of excess wind, was gorgeous. The Beach was gorgeous. The sand and water were super clean. It was a remarkable contrast from further South.

Port Aransas

One afternoon poking around Port Aransas.

Including one evening over the ferry from Port Aransas to a Local Square Dance.

Corpus Christie

One afternoon walking along the Seawall in downtown Corpus Christi. We visited a Farmers Market, and passed by the Selena Memorial (Selena, the musician featured in a movie of the same name, was raised in Lake Jackson but lived her adult life in Corpus Christi).

In Corpus, the birthplace of Whataburger, we had to stop at a large Whataburger. Of course!

Overall Corpus Christi exceeded our expectations. It’s a beautiful city on the coast of Texas.

Jamaica Beach RV Resort – Galveston : North Texas Coast

For the second time, We stopped at Jamaica Beach on Galveston Island. First time was in January 2019. We have always thought of this park, and the City of Galveston fondly. This time with John and Donna joining us, we had another nice visit to the Texas Coast. This time the lazy river was running! This time the weather was a little more conducive to time on the beach.

The three weeks traveling with John and Donna Brett has been great. Good times together. Card games, sharing food, exploring together etc. What a blessing to be able to spend so much time with dear friends!

Easter Weekend

We arrived in Jamaica Beach on Good Friday. We quickly decided not to try to go off the park during the weekend. We enjoyed the lazy River, Walked to the Bay side of the island and walked on the beach (Gulf side of the island) Played some Pickleball, played some cards, started a book, watched a couple of movies. Extreme leisure! Ah!!

Flying my kite at the beach

Galveston Tree Sculpture Tour

Looking around for a few things to do to help us explore Galveston without spending a bunch of money I stumbled over the Tree Sculpture tour. 27 wood carvings made from trees (most of them in their original location) that were destroyed in Hurricane Ike in 2008. What a cool way to bring some good out of the tragedy.

The self guided tour was free, and ran us all over Galveston neighborhoods. So it was perfect to see a bit of town. We saw most of the sculptures. And followed it up with a drive along the port and a visit to the East End Lagoon Nature Preserve. Perfect introduction to the town.

Our own personal Alligator

Our last day in the park, we were getting in a last pickleball game when Mike looked over to a nearby pond and stated, “I think that is an alligator!”. All game play screeched to a halt. I walked over to the pond and got a picture of 2 eyes and 2 nostrils poking out of the water.

When we finished playing pickleball we went back to see the alligator a little better this time. John suggested he and I take the parks paddleboat out to get a closer look. I quickly determined it was too mossy/slimy. So john went and got his brush and bleach and spent a good hour cleaning up the paddleboat. I no longer felt I could decline to go out.

Unfortunately the paddleboat had a bad rudder and steering the thing was impossible. But we managed to paddle around the pond a bit looking for the alligator. We did eventually see him and got as close as I wanted to get before we decided to get out of the alligators pond.

The workers cutting the lawn told us there were two alligators in the pond siblings about 4-5 foot long. They had been there for a couple of years and likely would not leave until the pond could no longer sustain them…. I suspect next year they will not be there.

Alas, time marches on…

Eventually our month on the Texas coast with the Brett’s came to an end as we headed off to Stuart’s ranch in Canton, TX, to watch the eclipse. That was special as well. Everything comes to an end, but we built a lot of memories that will last for many years… Or maybe we will repeat again next year! Time will tell.

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