Goose Island State Park – Part 1

For our Memorial Day Weekend trip we chose Goose Island State Park on the Texas Gulf Coast. There was the threat of rain all weekend, but we decided to go anyway. The other option being to sit around the house and find maintenance tasks to occupy our time. As is often the case, we pack up in the morning and head out around 10:30, so we don’t get very far before it’s time for a lunch stop. Today we stopped at Black’s Barbecue, a Texas legend in Lockhart.

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Oldest BBQ joint in Texas, since 1932. Open 8 days a week!

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While the food was excellent, there are so many great BBQ places in central Texas it’s hard to tell the best from the really good. As we left Lockhart we drove by the Caldwell County Courthouse, built in 1894 in the Second Empire architectural style.

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Caldwell County Courthouse

It’s just under 200 miles from our house to the gulf and we made good time until the low tire warning came up on the dash.   We were about 5 miles from Victoria TX and had 26 lbs left, losing about a lb per mile.  We figured we could find a tire shop, get it fixed and be on our way again quickly.

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Flat tire

Wrong again.  We found a tire shop but after two hours of unsuccessful patch attempts they pronounced the tire unpatchable. So they mounted the spare and we resumed our journey.

We arrived at Goose Island State Park about 4:00 in a light rain. We were surprised when the park attendant came out to our rig under an umbrella to check us in. We were further surprised when the first thing he said was “the mosquitoes are really thick”.  We could see them landing all over him and had to roll the window up and down as we checked in to keep the little buggers out of the Jeep. We found our spot and backed in. Note spare on left rear.

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Lantana Loop #114

The next morning, after thoroughly spraying with insect repellent, we ventured out. The weather was great.  It was a beautiful campsite with shade from large oaks and large grassy spaces between the campsites.

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Big Tree

Near, but not actually in, the park is the simply named Big Tree.   It is over 1000 years old.   We drove over to see it and were the only ones there.  Well, except for 1,000,000 mosquitoes.  The wildflowers were pretty amazing.

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It was a brief visit due to mosquitoes getting in your nose and ears and buzzing around.  They managed to find places to land and bite that were either missed during the spraying or they just didn’t care.  We drove over the bridge on Highway 35 into Rockport and then on towards Port Aransas.  We’ve been there before in our pre-RV days and weren’t surprised by the ferry crossing.

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Mike and Chloe wait for the ferry

It’s a short ride and it’s free. It just crosses the deep-water ship channel. You can easily see the shore of Mustang Island across the channel.

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Ferry Crossing

Mustang Island is a resort-y kind of place with restaurants, shops, beach condos and a beach you can drive along and/or camp on. Due to the recent heavy rains, a sign posted declared Beach Driving Conditions: Poor.  You can see why below.

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Beach Driving Conditions: Poor

But the Jeep has 4 wheel drive so off we went.  We slipped and slid in the wet sand but just enough to make it fun.

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4 wheeling

Although the wind was blowing a good 15-20 mph right off of the water, there were brave souls out on the beach.

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Braving the winds

There are posts that separate the driving area from the camping/day use area and folks have taken to decorating them.

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We also came upon this row of brightly painted houses

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Painted Houses

We returned to Goose Island by the same route and had no issue getting on the return ferry quickly, but due to the 3 day weekend, the line to take the ferry onto the island, as we had done in the morning, stretched out 5 miles. We guessed those people had at least a two hour wait to get to across.

We’d done our auto hike, so the next day we decided we needed to hang by the beach.  We went over to the picnic area in the park and set up a day camp. We were right on the water in a grassy site.  The wind was coming off the water,  but it was pleasant and we had a great view into St. Charles Bay.

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We watched the birds as they fished and had the place to ourselves.  Here are some wildlife shots.

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There were also a few fan boats taking customers out to fish. We hadn’t seen any of those since we were in Florida in 2013.

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Fan boats, noisy but cool
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Yes, Chloe got to go.  She loves/hates birds.

Farther out tankers and other large ships would pass from time to time. Check out the people, standing in the shallows, fishing.

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It was a pleasant day and after we’d had enough wind we headed back to the campsite. On either side of us, kids were playing outside, but we found the mosquitoes so annoying we hid in the RV and enjoyed dinner and a movie. We were watching the weather as there were warnings of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes overnight.  More on that in Part 2……


Emma Long Metropolitan Park

On Monday, when everyone else was at work, we took the Passport for a visit to Emma Long Metro Park. Emma Long Park is an Austin city park on Lake Austin. It has about 20 water and electric campsites, about half of which are lakefront, a large group camping area and a day use area. During warm summer weekend days, the day use area is packed with swimmers, but not today. There were maybe 5 campsites occupied and no one in the day use area.

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Lake Austin

Lake Austin is created by a dam on the Texas Colorado river (not the Colorado river). For most of the lake, it’s not any wider than the river was before the dam. Across the lake are beautiful mansions. We had a great spot right on the water. Two days before there was a big hailstorm in the area. Because of that storm, we’re getting a new roof on our house. Whoever was camping in the next spot had a rough night, too. Looks like they just abandoned what was left of their tent and dining canopy and ran for safety. A free standing truck camper was knocked off of its stand as well.

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Storm damage

But the storm is long gone and it was a beautiful day. We rented a campsite for the night, but the plan was to do lunch, dinner and campfire by lake and then go home.  The plan worked out well. First, we needed lunch. Nick, Lindsey and Miss P ate in the trailer.

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Lunch in the trailer

We brought along the inflatable kayak and we all did a little paddling.

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Chloe, Mary Lou and Nick

I watched Miss P so Nick and Lindsey could go out. My only job was to keep her on the blanket.

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Nick and Lindsey

Mary Lou is happy as long as she’s holding Penelope.

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As the day turned to evening, Nick tended the campfire while we started thinking about dinner. It proved difficult to sustain until Nick came up with some dry firewood.

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Nick and Lindsey

We were treated to nice sunset.

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Sunset on Lake Austin
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The camp

It was a great day at the lake.   That’s all until next time.

Jacob’s Well Natural Area

During a visit to Austin by my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter we took a trip to Jacob’s Well Natural Area, just north of the village of Wimberley. Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring. The water is pushed up from the Trinity Aquifer roughly 140 feet below the surface. In former days when the water table was higher, the spring actually gushed above the water surface.

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Jacob’s Well

During the off season, which was when we were there, the area is unattended and swimming and diving are prohibited.  However, these other visitors were sure that this rule didn’t apply to them and they took turns jumping from rocks into the spring.  It is about 30 feet deep at the mouth, which is about 12 feet wide, before it takes a lateral turn, so there’s plenty of depth for jumping as long as you hit the center.  I’ve heard there are lots of jumping accidents but there were none today.

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Lindsey, who’s an accomplished amateur photographer, ventured down to water level through a slot in the rocks to get some great shots.

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The spring flows into Cypress Creek.

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Cypress Creek

We took the opportunity to  take some baby photos there, as we did everywhere.

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Miss P
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Mom and Grandma

We were about half way back to the car when thunder started and the sky opened up, but we had a nice visit to Jacob’s Well.

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