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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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