Walking along the beach for the first time, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Another 2 weeks overlooking the Gulf of Mexico! I thought I’d be able to see the ocean from my camping spot…which was more like a giant parking lot with picnic tables… but I couldn’t see it over the sand dunes and vegetation.
Vegetation that holds the sand dunes in place; something I’d learned from my years living in Wasaga Beach and writing freelance articles about the local Provincial Park for the Georgian Triangle newspapers.
I still sucked at backing up my fifth wheel, but this location had lots of space, and I learned it was best to let people know I was solo and not adept at this task.
I knocked on the camper beside me.
“Excuse me, sorry to bother you. I just wanted to let you know I am a solo RVer and I’ll be backing up my camper next to you. Since I am by myself, I’ll be getting out frequently to check my progress. I didn’t want you to worry that something was wrong if I was taking a long time.”
As expected, my neighbor offered to be a spotter and I was backed up in my space in no time.
I don’t know whether people offer out of the goodness of their hearts or out of concern for their RVs! Either way, it’s nice to have help, especially after a long drive… which this was not. Although only a couple of hours from my previous destination, it’s always stressful driving somewhere you’ve never been before when you are 50 feet long from tip to toe. The traffic through the city of Corpus Christi and over the bridge onto Mustang Island had been heavy but moving.
Mustang Island is a barrier island and like most in and around the southern and eastern United States was a haven for pirates at one time. Jean Lafitte purportedly stopped here often during his rounds.
I didn’t see any pirates but there were a few restaurants and businesses I passed on my way to the state park.
Mustang Island State Park is relatively young since it’s only been in operation since 1979. Parts of the 5-mile beachfront are used for primitive camping but not this visit, the ocean water was high on the beachfront, and the weather was stormy giving it a petulant look as I wandered the beach with the wind whipping my hair.
I felt alone, for the most part. Just me, empty picnic tables, shelters, and further down the beach, a shoreline dotted with portapotties waiting for beachfront campers to return.
As usual, I worked during the week and explored weekends, but at this location, it was nice to take a break, walk on the beach and return to work. I tried to do this when the sun broke through the clouds and even managed to work on the beach for a couple of hours one day. With the unpredictable weather, I didn’t do that often.
The campground has 50 Amp electricity with water. There’s no sewer at the site, but they do have a dump station available on the way out. I hadn’t camped two weeks without sewer hookups before so I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to last the entire time without dumping. Since I prefer to avoid backing up, I was dreading having go through that & setup again.
It was here I saw portable RV dump tanks for the first time. I didn’t need one because I took several showers at the campground facilities to save space in my grey tank, but it was good to know an easier solution is available.
The morning of my first shower, I walked around back of the camper facility and into the open door. The room seemed large and dark, but with enough light to see what I was doing. Being a solo female, I was uncomfortable with the open door and only a shower curtain for privacy. By my third shower, I was much more relaxed. I got dressed and undressed as quickly as possible, but that was because the area was not heated and it was damp and cool outside.
(The shower facilities have hopefully been improved since I was there. A hurricane hit Mustang Island afterward, and repairs are being made to the facilities. On the other hand, maybe they are simple facilities because they are easier to repair post-hurricane!)
Mid-weekday I took a break from work to attend a ranger-led walk along the beach. I learned about local wildlife and their beachfront habitat. It was more like a private tour since it was just myself, another woman, and the ranger.
Earlier in the week, I happened upon a beautiful blue jellyfish that seemed to be begging me to put it back in the water. It slowly lifted the tip of its jelly head and pointed at me. Seriously! It didn’t matter which side of it I stood, it changed direction and pointed its blue tip at me.
Was it asking for help?
I stood and debated. Do I pick it up and throw it back in the ocean? Do I leave it there to possibly die? Self-preservation won the day because I wasn’t sure if it could sting me.
The ranger identified my desperate friend as a Portuguese man o’ war, a marine animal that can kill a fish and, in rare instances, a human! Man-o-wars are not true jellyfish because they aren’t single-cell organisms, they are colonial organisms which are made up of specialized individual animals (zooids/polyps) that live in a symbiotic relationship and cannot survive independently. Also known as a blue bottle in Australia, these guys have been known to close beaches upon arrival. Even a single piece of their tentacles, long broken off from the body, can cause stings!
Migrating birds often stop in this area, especially when bad or cold weather forces them to stay for a time. Spring or fall is the best time to view them!
I didn’t see any sea turtles, but two species can be found on Mustang Island. Since the area permits shoreline driving, even for a couple of miles inside the state park and within the nearby Padre Island National Seashore, the poor turtles must be challenged when it comes time to lay their eggs.
Can we talk about rain? There was so much rain, areas of the campground flooded.
On the plus side, my spot was not flooded. On the negative side, I discovered the huge back window in my 5th wheel leaked.
When the weather cleared, I tried to caulk it, but my step ladder did not allow me to see the area I was caulking, so I did it by feel. The window continued to leak when the next rainstorm came through. I discovered it was leaking through the weep hole. I don’t know whether it’s an issue with the manufacturing of the window or whether it’s been installed wrong. That determination I’ll leave to the next dealer I can get into for service… when I have time to wait 2-3 months to be seen. Meanwhile, a towel on the back of the sofa will suffice.
The end of February was a peaceful time to visit this area, not too many beachgoers, no partiers and I pretty much had the beach to myself most days. That all changed the weekend I planned to leave, but I’ll save that story for another blog post!