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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Texas and Louisiana

We just returned from a 16 day trip from NC to Texas - Austin & Corpus Christi, then along the coast of LA to Southern Lousiania (Acadiana.) So many folks on this forum helped with suggestions and info, I wanted to give a brief trip report.

We drove pretty hard over 2 1/2 days to get from NC to near Austin. We left home in NC Friday night after work, and on Sunday afternoon we pulled into Cottonwood Creek RV Park in Dripping Springs TX. This is a nice little park in the edge of hill country between Austin, Blanco, and Fredricksburg. The owners are on site and will do everything possible to make your stay perfect. It is a quiet place with a good laundry facility, nature trails, and each site is hard packed gravel and well maintained and beautifully landscaped. It was the perfect place to call home while we visited the area. By the way, the WiFi worked flawlessly the entire week providing an excellent high speed internet connection.

On the following Friday, we took a big loop drive through the Guadelupe River valley to Lost Maples State Park. This was very scenic drive that included a stop in Fredricksburg for lunch at a German bakery. We also made a stop in Luckenbach, just to see what it looked like. (We did not see Willy, Waylon, and the boys, but did see a motorcycle rally taking place.)

Saturday we made a day trip to San Antonio to take in the Riverwalk area and El Mercado. The Riverwalk is fun but rather expensive if you are going to try to have lunch there or shop. They have continued to expand it and you can easily spend a half day there just walking through the area.
El Mercado is another story. We walked from the south end of the Riverwalk area across the Old Town Plaza down a few blocks to where we heard the music. Several live stages, lots of import merchandise, and plenty of local street food vendors make for a very festive atmosphere. Next trip, we may just go there and spend a half day watching the activities, listening to the music, and sampling local cusine.

On Monday we left Cottonwood Creek after a full week there and drove all day through the pouring rain to the Corpus Christi area. Our next stop was Mustang Island State Park in Port Aransas. The beaches there are beautiful despite the recent Red Tide. Most of the beaches were clean. The most interesting thing about the area is the hard packed sand beach which is used just like a road. Mustand Island SP is a large paved parking lot on the island between the dunes and the road, but was good for us for a couple of days. Pioneer and Gulf Waters are in the same area and may be more suitable if you are looking for more aminities. Both looked nice from our ride by.

We also took the time to drive south to the North entrance to Padre Island National Seashore. What a beautiful and pristine Gulf Island that is. We stopped at the Malaquite Beach camping area overlooking the beach, and the nice visitors center. We continued to drive several miles down the beach after the road stopped. Even though this is a beautiful spot, we were disturbed by all the trash that had washed up on the beaches. I'm not sure if this is a seasonal thing due to the recent storms, or if it is always like that. But it was dissappointing, and worrisome to think that that much trash is floating around in our oceans.

After our stay at Mustang Island, we continued driving north, taking the Port Aransas free ferry, on through Fulton and Rockport, all the way to Bay City, and from there back to the beach town of Surfside Beach, Texas. The beach road from Surfside Beach to High Island through Galveston was quite an experience. The roads are in good shape along the beach and the 2 ferry was quick and easy and no problem for the motorhome and toad. We were not even the largest rig on the ferry with large 18 wheelers using the ferries too. The devastation left by Hurricane Ike 2 years ago is unbelievable!

There is a toll bridge going into the Galveston area on Hwy 87. It costs $2. What was a little wierd, was that it has a toll collection box like one of drawers you find on a bank drive through, that the toll taker pushes out for you to put your money in. From the drivers window of the motorhome it was about 5 feet down. With the wind blowing at about 20 knots, those 2 $1 bills would have still been going! Yet when the toll taker came out to get the 2 bucks from me, he fussed at me saying he was not supposed to come out and take the money. I'm still not sure what I was supposed to do other than park the MH in the lane blocking traffic, get out and go pay.

From several miles south of Galveston, and on the entire route north out of Galveston, the devastation from the recent hurricanes is still very evident, and pervasive. We stopped over in Port Arthur for the night before getting underway the next morning.

We took Highway 82 from Port Arthur all the way along the Lousiaina coast to Abbeville LA. Before getting on Hwy 82 in Port Arthur heading East along the beach, be sure you have enough fuel to get you to Abbeville LA. Again it was a very isloated coast road, and whatever business were there before Ike are now only clean cement pads and driveways. Entire subdivisions, stores, businesses have been blown or washed competely away. We saw many many mobile homes and RV type trailers that have been brought in, many of them sitting on the spot where a house was before the hurricane.

Finally in Acadiaina, we stayed at the Cypress Bayou Casino in Charenton LA. It was an outstanding bargin at $10 per night, and they give you $10 each credit for the casino. The park is very well maintained, paved sites with patios, picnic tables and a shuttle to the casino. We actually took the $10 credit (it is on a casino card that can only be used in the electronic gaming machines) into the Casino and walked out with $40! So the place was a real bargin!

On our day off, we toured around southern LA, driving all the way down to Cocodrie at the very end of Hwy 57 out of Houma LA. Down the bayous and lakes the road goes until it simply stops at the waters edge. So different from the east coast. It is truly a "working" coast with shrimp and fishing boats everywhere, oil riggers, barges, fabricators, and water everywhere.

Back at the casion we were ready to pack up and head back to NC. The only problem we had all week in any of the RV parks we stayed in was at the Cypress Bayou RV park. There was a group of construction workers staying there. Saturday morning at 2:00 AM the ruckus started. Fighting, drunken cursing, and profanity for about 2 hours before they passed out and got quiet...then started again at 9:00 AM Saturday morning. Security guards didn't do anything about it. When we left Sat morning we called the RV park office to let them know. We were promised a call back by the manager but they never called. Had it not been for that it was a nice place and I would consider it again betting that our experience was an isolated event.

In summary, Texas Hill country is awesome, can't wait to go back and really spend some time there. The Texas coast is a great place to visit, however it is different from Florida or the Atlantic beaches in SC. Cajun country is very interesting and a place you definitely want to see and sample the cusine, but the LA roads are bone jarring and have to be among the worst in the country.

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