I’m awake now, it’s 4 am and I’m about as far from a beach as I can get but I’m going to talk about beach camping.
When I last wrote in my blog we were just ending our trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway. I was ready and eager to dip my toes in the water and every country song I could think of that made mention of beaches was running through my head. I needed it now. So we headed to Holly Beach. I had no wish to head for the Florida beaches although if we had been down there before New Years Eve the thought of fireworks on the beach in Pensacola was tempting. My beach goal was the Texas Gulf coast.
Holly Beach is actually in Louisiana, so we skirted around Lake Charles and headed to the coast. We drove through an area where the road was crowded with white unmarked busses that looked like school busses they were all coming back from the direction we were headed and turning into a large parking lot full of cars. A shuttle service of some kind. “Good lord” I thought, “I hope all those people had not been at Holly Beach!” Not too worry, about twenty miles from the beach the busses all turned into and out of a large refinery. Shift change for the employees and no parking space for cars at the refinery that hugged the bayou. We were soon passed it and as the sun was setting we traveled down a narrow spit of land that bordered bayou on both sides. Sunset reflected off the water and we were tempted to stop and shoot pictures but we needed to find a camping spot before it got too dark. We pulled on to the beach in front of the houses on stilts just as the sun was fading. The storm from the previous day had left the beach strewn with debris and the upper area near the dunes was a mass of deep puddles.
Not knowing the tide schedule, we chose a wide flat area near the dunes and parked without unhitching. There was not another RV to be seen on Holly Beach, one lone tent was set up father down the beach. Dave was feeling a bit uncomfortable about the lack of fellow campers so we did not unhook for the night. We made a light supper and went to sleep with the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore. It was not the peaceful lapping I had envisioned.
The next morning, Max and I walked the beach in search of shells. We were rewarded in our hunt with some beautiful whelk shells. We weren’t loving Holly Beach. Perhaps it was the cool cloudy weather, the lack of other campers or the mostly deserted feel of the off-season beach houses scowling down on us. After a quick breakfast and a short drive among the stilted beach houses we headed west down the coast toward Texas.
Our second beach destination was Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula. The Peninsula is a narrow strip of land that separates eastern part of Galveston Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. Camping is allowed anywhere along the 27 miles of beaches of Crystal Beach and Bolivar Peninsula. The only need for camping is a $10 beach pass that is available for sale at “The Big Store”. The hard part in January is catching the person that sells the passes when he is present. He drives out from Galveston and is at the store only for a few hours.
We were there camping for two days before we got our pass. The beach there is wide and firm and really fun to drive. Dave and I would opt for beach driving instead of taking the road. The hard part was trying to remember where along the 27 mile stretch we had parked the T@B. The weather still wasn’t being real friendly toward us “Winter Texans” as the people who flee the north during the winter are called. We were parked at the outlet of one of the beach access roads , named Magnolia Lane. Once we got our site firmly locked in our minds exploring was fun. We took a drive to the end of the Peninsula where there was an old fort, a lighthouse and a free ferry to Galveston.
What fun it was to take the ferry and explore the gulf shore of Galveston Island. Galveston is a tourist destination with lots of things to do but on a cold windy day we opted for lunch at Golden Corral and a drive out to the State Park.
Its main draw for travelers is a free city park that has gaudy pink cinder block picnic shelters, flush toilets and hot showers. the beach is full of shells, mostly oyster and the water is clear enough to see there is a sharp drop off quite near to shore. The bay is not affected by tides.We decided to take a drive and found a place where there was a paddling trail and a jetty that jutted out into the Gulf.
Max and I walked the uneven granite blocks almost to the end while Dave sat near the end and watched tugs pushing barges into the channel. We spent two days at Magnolia Beach and were rewarded the third morning with a hot shower. First I had since leaving Natchez. The showers are kept locked and you never know when they are going to have them open. As our next stop was going to be Padre Island where I knew they only had cold water showers.
I was giddy with the luxury of a long hot shower. I was looking forward to the goal of Padre Island National Seashore. My research had me ready for 60 miles of white sand beaches of the longest continuous barrier island in the world.
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