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YEAR #3 - STOP #10

For the first time in nearly a year we are camping at the overnight rate of FREE. Sure we had 4 nights in and Airstream dealership parking lot for free and we were fortunate enough to spend 7 nights in Tricia's mother's driveway last Memorial Day for free.

But this is camping, on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, for FREE. We even have bathrooms with flushing toilets and garbage cans at this location. Did I mention it's all for FREE?

TUESDAY - Today while Tricia does her work thing I'm heading into the town of Port Lavaca, TX to gas up the truck and pickup some groceries. If all goes according to plan our new friends John and Katherine will be joining us here on Magnolia Beach tomorrow afternoon.

Since they were so kind as to share their dinner with us Sunday were are returning the favor. I'm making my Green and White Chili recipe for us all so when they arrive there is no need for them to worry about making dinner. I hope they enjoy my cooking as much as we enjoyed theirs.

While traveling to Magnolia Beach yesterday we saw a street sign that brought a smile to both our faces. When I moved in with Tricia back in 2010 she had two cats. One was mean as could be and the other just as sweet as could be. Their names were Jack and Jill.

Jack and Jill Road just outside of Magnolia Beach, TX

Jill was the sweet one. She would hang out on our bed in the afternoon sunlight until I got home from work. Then as soon as I sat down on the couch she would snuggle up next to me. She also had a talent for sneaking under your hand while you were watching TV and without even realizing it you were soon petting her.

Jill enjoying the Florida sunshine.

A closeup of the little cutie pie.

Time for a snuggle.

Jack on the other hand was just the opposite. When I got home from work I'd have to go looking for him. He would hide behind the couch or under the bed. If you tried to pick him up you'd be met with snarls and growls with a little swatting thrown in. I don't think he liked people much, until it was time to eat, then he was almost normal.

Jack and Jill were both rescued from previous owners. Tricia adopted them both, at two separate times, from animal shelters. Most rescued animals will eventually recover from their abusive treatment, but some like Jack have a bit more struggle dealing with people.

Jack and Jill both passed away within a year of each other. This occurred a few years before we left to live in our Airstream. When they passed we decided not to try and replace them with other pets to travel with us on the road.

Sorry, but try as we might we were unable to find a single picture with Jack in it, not surprising since he was always hiding. We do have photos of him, but just unable to locate them in time for making it into this post.

You also may be wondering what all that smoke in the street sign picture is about. Well that is part of a controlled burn that is occurring in the fields of a nearby farm. Here's another shot closer up.

Don't worry the house is in no danger from the fire.

WEDNESDAY - When it comes to our weather here on Magnolia Beach what a difference a day makes! Yesterday afternoon with temperatures near 80°F and a slight breeze blowing in off the water we opened up our rear hatch door to help cool off the inside of THE POD.

By dinner time the winds were increasing and like normal the temperature began to drop. At 5:00AM this morning the temperature was 45°F and the winds were at a constant 30MPH with gusts up to 40MPH. The whole trailer was rocking (not in a good way) and the waves were kicking a lot further up onto the shore than yesterday.

We knew this weather was coming and were well prepared for it. The winds will most likely be gone by dinnertime tonight, but Thursday morning (the day we are moving again) temperatures are forecast to drop another ten degrees to near freezing. That's going to be a fun morning!

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YEAR #3 - STOP #9

We've been setting all kinds of personal records this week. First it was finding gasoline for $1.91, which dropped our average below $2.50 for the first time in a long while. Next was finishing off our Top 15 Hamburger Chains list. Now it's a towing record.

Today we towed THE POD a whopping 4.4 miles down the road to our home for the next week. The Malaquite Campground is also within the Padre Island National Seashore and has the most sought after sites. Mostly because the Gulf of Mexico waves crash on the beach just a 30 yards behind the sites and here they have flush toilets and showers. We still don't have electricity or water at our campsite, but it's only $7 a night with our Lifetime Senior Pass.

It's much harder to obtain a campsite at this campground, as compared to the one we just left, which was never more than half full all week. Bird Island Basin Campground has 34 campsites and every one of them backs up to within a few feet of the Laguna Madre, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway here in southern Texas. The Malaquite Campground has 48 sites, 24 of them back up to the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico and 24 of them back up to the sand dunes across the street. The more desirable sites are of course the Gulf of Mexico sites.

Our beachfront property for the week.

Since all campsites inside the park are First-Come-First-Serve (no reservations) you just have to be clever (or lucky) enough to be in the right place at the right time when someone vacates their site. Then you can pull in and claim the site by placing items in plain view (I used two chairs) and then registering and paying for the site at the check-in station.

Or you could do what I did. One day last week around sunset a camper couple (Greg and Lyn) approached THE POD and began asking questions about our cell phone booster antenna. We watched the sunset together and during the conversation he mentioned they were camping at Malaquite Campground. I mentioned we were hoping to move over there on Monday after our week at Bird Island Basin Campground was finished. One thing led to another and he mentioned that the campsite next to theirs would be opening up on Monday and that I should come over and talk to their neighbors. At first I didn't understand what he was getting at!

Then it hit me! On Sunday afternoon I drove over and sure enough the two couples were outside having a conversation, along with a few cocktails, so I stopped and got out of ROVER. Fifteen minutes later during a lull in the conversation I asked if the one couple were indeed planning on moving off the site the next day. They said yes and then I asked if they would mind if a put two chairs on top of their picnic table, along with the portable occupied sign the park makes available, so that when they left the next morning I could move onto their site. No problem was the answer I was hoping for and received.

They mentioned they would be leaving around 11:00AM. I placed my two chairs on the table, wished them safe travels in case I didn't see them the next day and thanked them once again.

The next morning around 10:30AM I drove over to the new campground just in time to say goodbye, put my payment into the pay station and return back to THE POD to prepare for the long 4.4 mile move. On the way into the campground we took the time to dump our tanks and fill our fresh water tank so we would be prepared for the next week long stay.

FRIDAY - Not a whole lot happening around here this week. The weather has been very windy, cold and even a few days of rain. We did get out a couple of times and drive along the beach so I thought I'd share a few pictures of that with everyone.

Tricia taking a picture while I'm driving!

Someone is having fish for dinner tonight!

SUNDAY - Another couple of quick campsite photos before we pack up and leave tomorrow.

Tonight the couple from the second Airstream in the photo (John and Katherine from Denver, CO) are coming over for dinner. We've been chatting back and forth with them all week, petting on their two adorable dogs and comparing notes on where we've been and where we're going next.

A view looking down the campground drive.

That's the Gulf of Mexico in our backyard.

We're going to miss this place!

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YEAR #3 - STOP #8

Today we are headed back to the seashore, but not just any seashore. This is one of our country's ten National Seashores, Padre Island National Seashore, to be more precise. This National Seashore has the longest stretch (70 miles) of undeveloped barrier island in the world. It's the ninth National Seashore we have visited, the tenth and final one is in California, so that one will just have to wait a bit before we come to visit.

We are going to be spending two weeks here in the park (the maximum allowed) and camping without water and electric the whole time. Now you know why we had the solar installed when we did! There a five places to camp within the park. One is off-road 4x4 access only (not for us), but the other four could possibly be worth a visit.

Of the other four, two involve free camping on the beach, literally on the sand, we'll see about those two. The others are campground like in the fact there are defined camping spaces with numbers, but they don't really amount to much more than a parking lot.

We chose to arrive first at Bird Island Basin Campground ($8 per night/$4 with senior pass) which is located right on the shoreline of the Laguna Madre, another name for the Intracoastal Gulf Waterway here in southern Texas.

Four dollars a night gives us access to 2 very clean vault toilets and 2 trash dumpsters. Also included is a free waste water dump station and fresh water fill located just 4.5 miles down the main road of the park.

Oh yeah, we also get to place the back bumper of THE POD just ten feet away from, and safely four feet above, the Laguna Madre shoreline. It also comes with outstanding sunset views and plenty of amateur windsurfers to keep us entertained.

Our campsite here at Bird Island Basin Campground

Our office view this week!

Windsurfers - constantly entertaining us!

Our wonderful sunset view!

It kind of reminds me of the beginning of our trip, back in the Florida Keys, at Bahia Honda and Curry Hammock State Parks, except there we were paying $38.50 per night.

WEDNESDAY - We have been unplugged now for three days testing out our new solar setup. I'm happy to say all is still going well. The weather here so far this week has been not so well. All three days have been cloudy, very windy, rainy and cold. I'm not complaining, just sharing what our stay here on the seashore has been like so far. With the outdoors being pretty much off limits Tricia has taken on a little extra work this week and I, well I'm becoming bored.

With not much going on to talk about, let's talk about hamburgers! Whaaaat you say! Yeah hamburgers, specifically cheeseburgers. Since going on the road 19 months ago we have eaten cheeseburgers in many different burger joints. Here is a list (in alphabetical order) of the Top 15 Hamburger Chains in America. Can you guess which is the only one we haven't tried yet?

I consider only 3 of the 15 to be restaurants, where a person takes your food order while you're seated at a table!
The rest are Fast Food places, do you know which 3 are the restaurants?

Carl's Jr. & Hardee's
5812 locations
Founded in 1941
Los Angeles, CA

Checkers and Rally's
900 locations
Founded in 1985
Mobile, AL

740 locations
Founded in 1984
Sauk City, WI

Five Guys
1500 locations
Founded in 1986
Arlington, VA

156 locations
Founded in 1979
Houston, TX

In-N-Out Burger
347 locations
Founded in 1948
Baldwin Park, CA

Johnny Rockets
310 locations
Founded in 1986
Los Angeles, CA

37,855 locations
Founded in 1940
San Bernadino, CA

Red Robin
562 locations
Founded in 1969
Seattle, WA

Shake Shack
168 locations
Founded in 2004
New York City, NY

Sonic Drive-In
3585 locations
Founded in 1953
Shawnee, OK

Steak 'n Shake Founded in 1934
Normal, IL

6711 locations
Founded in 1969
Columbus, OH

824 locations
Founded in 1950
Corpis Christi, TX

White Castle
377 locations
Founded in 1921
Wichita, KS

How many of these burger joints have you tried? Which is your favorite?

FRIDAY - Today we went off island and into the big town of Corpus Christi,TX. We went into a Starbuck's for breakfast and Tricia was able to upload a large portion of her backlog of photographs to her Google storage and free up some much needed hard drive space on her laptop.

After my breakfast, while Tricia was doing her uploading using Starbuck's blazing fast free wifi, I went in search of gasoline. Valero seems to be the dominant gas station chain around Corpus Christi. I thought the Irving, TX (just outside of Dallas) based Exxon/Mobil chain would dominate here, but it's not.

I was searching my Gas Buddy app for the least expensive gas in the area because I needed about 30 gallons to fill our 36 gallon tank. There were about a dozen stations within three miles of Starbuck's advertising the lowest gasoline prices I have seen on this journey. After visiting the first four stations I found out that the advertised price on Gas Buddy was the cash only price.

I was just about to give up when the fifth station turned out to be the charm. I always use our Duck's Unlimited VISA card to purchase our gasoline because we receive a 5% rebate on all purchases. At $2 a gallon, that's a ten cent discount! Compare that to the 5-8 cent cash discounts offered at most stations.

At my fifth Valero Station of the day I purchased gasoline for $1.91 a gallon, beating our old record of $1.96 a gallon back in Ocala, FL last winter. For the first time in a long time our average gas price we've paid on this trip dipped below the $2.50 a gallon mark.

Snapshot taken from our STATS page

After my gasoline search was over I made a quick trip to Home Depot for a few project items. Next door was a Target where I picked up our favorite cheese flavored snack crackers and I was back at Starbuck's with time to spare.

Now for our Valentine Special Treat! We finished off our Top 15 Hamburger Joints list with a visit to Fuddrucker's for a juicy cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and onion rings. It was good, probably not our favorite, but still very good.


SATURDAY - Today is another work day for Tricia and by 10:00AM I was once again bored. I know, it's almost low tide, I'll go drive ROVER on the beach again. On my way down to the beach I passed the Visitor Center and saw a few kites up in the air. Nothing spectacular, some small ones, some with long tails. I took a couple of pictures with my cell phone to show Tricia when I returned to THE POD.

About an hour later, after driving 4.5 miles down the beach and back again, the whole kite flying thing had gotten out of control. They were everywhere! I had to go get Tricia and her good camera so she could see this first hand. We got back to the Visitor Center's beach and took all these photos to share with you guys. Enjoy!

10th Annual Kite Fly

The view from the Visitor Center parking lot.
This frog wasn't feeling so froggy.
Lots of different sizes and shapes to see.
Look! A flying fish.
Now that's a whale of a kite.
Very colorful.
Not sure what this creature is?
Now that's a cobra!
A paisley skeleton.
A beautiful butterfly.
Pretty foxy huh?
Nothing to see here! Just a guy walking his pet bald eagle on the beach.

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