The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Spring Flowers

Spring has definitely sprung here in central Texas. In fact, it started a while ago and is building momentum every day.  It started the end of February with the Mountain Laurels.

Next came the Red Bud blooms.

And then.....and then......the Bluebonnets started their parade. On our way back from Corpus Christi for Spring Break, we saw them along the roadsides. Now they are breaking out all over San Antonio.

Don't worry, they are just starting. There will be more.


Now please don't start with the "lupines" comments....in Texas, they are bluebonnets, a very well recognized version of the lupines you may see elsewhere. They are the Texas State Flower.....Bluebonnets.






The tips start out white and may turn purple as they age.
 

This field near Cibolo will be totally carpeted in blue in a matter of days.

If you are heading to the Hill Country, have patience. The bluebonnets will arrive in a week or two. This promises to be a really good year. I'll be back.....there will be more!

Spring Break Continues in Corpus Christi

Friday morning we were off to take in the sites in Corpus Christi....to us, that means the water!  The drive along the bay is always interesting. The architecture of the houses is so diverse and ranges from smaller, less expensive homes to ones that probably cost quite a bit.  And the city has wisely spaced parks all along the route so everyone can enjoy views of the bay....not just those in the uber-expensive mansions.  The Naval Air Station used to have a gate open almost as an extension of Ocean Drive but these days that gate is open so seldom that you might as well forget about it and plan a different route out the front gate, down the highway, and then taking one of the roads angling back to the bay.

One of the largest and nicest parks along Ocean Drive is Cole Park closer to downtown.

The guys were immediately interested in the large skateboard park.  Some boarders were having a great time.  Of course, a couple of bicyclists had to get in on the act even though they are not "allowed".  These are not young kids either....late teens on those little bikes.

There is also a great playground that lots of people were enjoying.  The smell of grilling hamburgers filled the air as there were also lots of picnickers taking advantage of the picnic tables scattered around. And there were fishermen out on the pier.  You can see back to the windsurfers park but there was only one windsurfer there today.  It's a great park to relax and people watch.

We had a surprise in store for the kids....a boat ride.  Helen and I did the last time we came down but the weather was awful and rainy. Today was beautiful. I can remember taking my kids years ago on Capt Bill's boat which was much larger but it hasn't been here for years. They also have a harbor ferry but it only runs in the summer.

Out on the boat taking a look back at the harbor. If you aren't familiar with Corpus Christ, they have three "T" head piers you can drive out on with lots of boats tied up....you can see the masts in the background.  The tour boat is tied up at the People's T Head. There are also a couple of restaurants out on the T Heads. We opted to take the grandkids to a huge Whataburger right across Ocean Drive before we headed out for our tour as grandma knew they would enjoy that more.

Many years ago, replicas of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Marina were built in Europe, sailed across the Atlantic, toured many cities on the East Coast, and ended up at the museum in Corpus Christi.  DH and I were down here with our kids when they first arrived. Over the years, two of them were taken out of the water (not good for wooden ships). The Nina stayed in the water and was recently refurbished where needed and is now anchored downtown at the one of the T-Heads. It is hard to believe that 32 men sailed across the ocean on the original Nina back when they thought the world was flat. It seems so tiny. And those openings along the side are not that far above the water line. I guess they might have been for rowers when that was necessary.

Now this little beauty anchored nearby costs several, several million dollars. It actually took $20,000 in fuel costs to sail from the Atlantic to her birth here in Corpus Christi.

The kids were really enjoying their tour and we were still in the T-Head marina area.

We saw boats from San Antonio, Kerrville, and lots of other landlocked cities further north in Texas so I guess those owners make the trip down here real often to go out sailing.

The Captain and his "crew" standing just left of Morgan graciously offered every kid on the tour a chance to pilot the boat once we were out in more open water. Steve got a picture of both kids but I somehow missed Cameron doing his stint and he actually got to pilot through the channel markers.

You get some great views of the Lexington from a distance.

And again from right up close.

Again we were fortunate enough to see dolphins swimming around us. The Captain slowed right down and was really good at telling the passengers where to look for the dolphins coming up.

This is the Corpus Christi Aquarium which the Captain told us was a great place to visit. I think we might have to do that on another trip.

Before 9/11, the boat tour used to take you up the actual harbor which is beyond the bridge. Now there is an enormous fine for anyone who goes beyond the bridge who does not have a specific reason for being there.  I understand, of course, but it is a big disappointment for me because I love seeing the big ships.  My Dad was one of the original pilots for foreign ships coming through the Great Lakes and I miss those days. This is one of the ships tied up at a pier just past the bridge.

Looking up at the port harbor which actually goes back for 12 miles.

 
This is the Corpus Christ Convention Center. There are also several museums right behind it.

The kids like to take their turn at taking pictures and, Cameron especially, are pretty good.

Back on land again. I just love looking at the boats. Lots of pelicans around too.

It's our last day here and tomorrow we are headed back to San Antonio.  The grandkids will go back to Brownwood on Sunday. I think they had a great Spring Break even though the weather started out pretty iffy.  They are pretty open to new adventures and love going anywhere in the RV.
                          
 
Tomorrow we will just spend some time on the beach right at the CCNAS RV park and get ready to roll out right after lunch.

Shifting Spring Break to Corpus Christi

The original plan was to head out to Padre Island National Seashore while we were on the islands but we really wanted some nicer weather. We were scheduled to move back to the mainland to Shields RV Park on Corpus Christi Naval Air Station (CCNAS) on Wednesday. It looked like rain might be moving back in during the afternoon so we decided to get ready and head out late morning for the very short trip back across the causeway. CCNAS is close to the causeway on the mainland side. The trip through the gate can be rather intimidating with the huge concrete barriers set up in a snaking shape leading to the gate. Then the gate itself is a little scary because, while it is definitely tall enough for even tall RVs, it slopes in towards the top with a little trim piece sticking out into the lane. As evidenced by the battered look of the trim pieces, not everyone has good judgment as they come in.  The usually younger guards are very nice but definitely not RVers because, if you ask them whether you are clear, they immediately look down at the little plastic cone sticking out into the lane and tell you that you are fine while you are worried about the trim jutting into the space over your truck.

Anyway, this was not my first trip through so I knew I could make it without a problem if I was careful. The first time I came through, the young man looked at me and said "ma'am, that was some amazing driving" which actually did more to make me nervous when I had to head out through the concrete barriers on my way out. This is a popular military RV park so I know lots of RVers have come through here, most without incident.

After reminding Steve several times to have his rabies certificate for Angus, I had carefully packed up the certificates for The Traveling Longdogs and put them in my computer briefcase. Unfortunately, I brought my new Microsoft Surface tablet instead of my computer and left the briefcase at home. I sure had egg on my face. Fortunately, I was able to call my vet and they faxed the certificates to the RV park office. The website for Mustang Island actually said you need them too but, fortunately for me, they never asked. I am making copies and just leaving them in the RV from now on since the shots are good for three years.

We got a great spot with our large back window facing out onto a field and the bay beyond and got all set up before the rain hit. And it did hit again so we headed into town to the Barnes and Noble so Helen could work and we could relax with a coffee and some magazines. On our way home, we stopped at the Saltwater Grill for dinner. Steve and Helen love seafood and Helen always checks Yelp for restaurant ratings to be prepared.  Steve, Helen, and even Cameron had fish.




Morgan and I opted for other Texas favorites.  Steve and Helen treated...the food was good but I think Helen was just a little disappointed when she belatedly realized that Saltwater Grill is a chain.


Thursday was bright and sunshiny, the perfect day to head back out to Padre Island National Seashore.  There was a bit of a wait to get in as they process new passes at the gate as well as letting passholders and day visitors in but it wasn't too bad.

This is where I got my National Park Senior Pass three years ago.

Our first stop was the Visitor's Center. We knew the kids would want to get their Junior Rangers badges as this was their very first visit to Padre Island National Seashore. If you have kids or grandkids, do not miss out on the Junior Ranger program at National Parks. The kids learn a lot and love getting their badges.

We checked out the electronic presentations, exhibits, and touch and feel table inside before heading outside to look at info available there.

Then we headed to the beach. I didn't take a photo right at the beachfront directly in front of the Visitor's Center but there were people in the water and sunbathing. We were here to look for shells and to pick up trash as part of the Junior Ranger badge requirement.

Checking carefully to see if this was a piece of plastic or tar bit.

The beach was really pretty clean and, I'm happy to say, we saw no cigarette butts or litter that looked like it came directly from people on the beach. Most of it was small pieces that the waves brought in.

The kids were surprised to see all the vegetation growing on the sand dunes. There are more bare sand dunes in the part of Florida they are familiar with seeing. So we explained that the vegetation holds the sand dunes in place and keeps things from eroding from the waves and wind.

We walked a fairly long stretch of beach and they picked up a lot of small pieces. Their big find was a piece of huge rope that looked like a line from a large boat or ship.
 
 
The rangers were impressed with the kids work so they not only got their Junior Ranger badge, they also gave them each an "Adopt a Beach" patch.
 
 
We checked out the boondocking camping area which had a few places open and the area where people windsurf...no one out there before heading back to the RV.  I sent Steve and Helen off to Doc's Seafood Restaurant out on the causeway for an evening out with local seafood on the menu. They said it was great and the kids were very happy with their homemade tacos...a win, win situation.