Lovely South Padre Island!

CAMPGROUND:  Isla Blanca County Park.  In section next to Dirty Al’s, right on the water.  They supposedly have upgraded their bathrooms, but it doesn’t appear much better than before.  Sites are OK, but no picnic table or fire pit.  The alternative is the next-door KOA at $90-$110/night.  Location, location, location!  With electricity and water, $40/night.  2 stars out of 5.
LOCATION:  South Padre Island, in southeast Texas, on the Gulf
WEATHER:  Fine and dandy!  Mostly sunny.  Windy.  High 80

Wild deer roam freely all over Port Mansfield.  This guy came into our RV park to check it out this morning before we departed…..

Since we are flexible and have no schedule, we decided to head down to South Padre Island, to extend our little get-away.  We couldn’t get through to reserve a campsite at the county park, so just gambled that there would be availability.  It was a 2-hour drive, and we found a backroads route to avoid Harlingen and the Interstate. 

We were in luck, and snagged two sites next to each other. Since we are right next to Dirty Al’s restaurant, we walked over there for lunch.  George and I split a yummy grilled fish po-boy. 

Then, we took Trix for a long walk on the beach.  She loved it!

Of course, she got sandy and Rob gave her a little wash

Later, we enjoyed my (now) world-famous margaritas while we enjoyed the sun set. 

One great thing about South Padre Island is its free shuttle bus service.  We picked up a shuttle right in front of the RV park, and it took us to the Painted Marlin restaurant.  We had heard it is a good place.  Wow – it was terrific.  We sat outside on the bay.  Since we had had a big lunch, we split the ahi tuna salad with ginger dressing.  Out of this world! 

Elon Musk has built his Space-X launching pad here, and a group of Space-X staff sat at a table near us.  Never a stranger, George had to go talk with them.

We only had to wait a minute or two in front of the restaurant to be picked up by the shuttle, which dropped us off in front of Isla Blanca.  How nice!

This Facebook memory popped up …what a coincidence!  Six years ago today, we were visiting South Padre Island and admired the many sand castles…..

The big catch!

LOCATION:  Port Mansfield, Texas
WEATHER:   Overcast again.  Very humid.  High 70

George and Rob got up early to meet the charter boat captain and off they went, in search of the “big fish”.

  Luck was with George when he caught this 20-pound 30-inch black drum.

Rob didn’t have such luck, only catching a small fish that he had to throw back.

They finished up about 1:00 and we joined them in town for a seafood lunch.  Drum was on the menu! 

We spent the afternoon relaxing, planning our next road trip,  and walking around the town.

DINNER:  My turn.  We started out with some shrimp cocktail on the picnic table.   We probably should have had the drum for dinner, but we were kind of tired of fish, and I had a refrigerator-ful of chicken to use up.  George grilled the chicken thighs while I made some farro.  It is supposed to be a healthy grain.  Side was a lettuce and tomato salad.  All quite nice.


On to more fishing towns…

CAMPGROUND:  The Park at Port Mansfield RV Park.  Full hook-ups.  Swimming pool, ok bathrooms, picnic tables.  A bit tight.  Many seasonals – fishermen.  $40/night.  3 stars out of 5

LOCATION:  Port Mansfield, Texas – east central Texas on the Gulf coast

WEATHER:  Mostly sunny.  High 74

The sun came out and it was much prettier than it has been..  The fog has lifted and you can see the bridge from our campsite….

A community with canals leading out to the Gulf is near the campground…

As we left, we saw several airboats come in to the pier, full of duck hunters, dead ducks, and hunting dogs.

We drove about 3 hours south to Port Mansfield.  Its only claim to fame is fishing.  Even though the town is fairly large –  perhaps 1000, there is not much here – no grocery store, gas station, bank, or school.  There is a marina and a few bars.  It is a good thing we went grocery shopping before we left.  There are a LOT of wild (tame) deer that roam the neighborhoods..

After we got settled in, we drove around the town.  We stopped to watch a party boat come in, and the crew cleaning the fish.

The seagulls and pelicans watch anxiously for scraps. 

and Rob got lined up to go fishing again tomorrow.  We will stay here two nights.  Not having any itinerary or obligations, we are thinking about extending our little trip a few more days, perhaps to South Padre Island. 

DINNER:  It was Irene’s turn to cook.  She made some delicious chicken cacciatore. 

A foggy day on the Gulf

LOCATION:  Goose Island State Park in east central Texas
WEATHER:  Dreary with drizzle and dense fog.  High 67

We awoke to a foggy but mild morning.  It was good weather for a book.  We walked to the pier to see what the fishermen were bringing in.  One boat just came in having shot their quota of duck for the day.  The bay seems to be full of fishermen pulling up oysters, crabs, and shrimp; fishing; and hunting.  We watched this big bird drying his feathers.  You can see Joy in the background.

We returned to cute Fulton for lunch. We sat in a second story enclosed patio with a view of the dock.  We watched the fishermen haul in their oysters.  They slung about 25 huge bushels of oysters from the boat to the awaiting pallets.  Hard work!

Our lunch was delish……George and I split a dozen raw oysters and a crab sandwich.

Rob and Irene shared a “tower of crab” and said it was terrific.

After lunch, the “boys” met up with the charter boat captain and were off for an afternoon of fishing.  Irene and I did some grocery shopping, then returned to await their arrival.  We were counting on fish for dinner.

Yay!  They did catch some fish – redfish, drum, and sheepshead. 

DINNER:  We grilled the redfish simply – with just salt, pepper, and butter.  Irene brought some steamed broccoli and cauliflower.  I sauteed the rest of some kale, mushrooms, and onions. A healthy and very fresh dinner!

Inauguration Day!

LOCATION:  Galveston Island State Park in east central Texas
WEATHER:  Overcast, but mild.  High 69

We watched the Inaugeral in our friends’ motor home.  It was mesmerizing and joyous.  Let’s hope our country can come together again.  As we watched TV,  this was the view from the front of the motorhome…

We drove into nearby Fulton which is a cute fishing village.  We found a bayfront restaurant where George and I split a delicious grilled grouper sandwich. 

We checked out the Fulton Mansion gardens and hope to tour it when it is open.

We stopped to buy some bait at this shop run by some Vietnamese women.  I marvel at how they squat for hours.  This lady was cleaning some fish and the birds were watching attentively for scraps.

This is the height of oyster season.  We stopped at this shop to buy some to shuck, but they don’t sell small quantities.  Someone must eat a lot of oysters….

We saw fishermen hauling in oysters in the bay and  this delivery truck next to another restaurant.  Maybe tomorrow we can find some…

Back at the campground, we took a hike around the park, scoping out other campsites for friends coming here later in the year.  Trix, their dog, enjoyed the walk.

Then, George and Rob fished right in front of our RVs.  Not even a nibble, they reported….

DINNER:  My turn to cook tonight…..Shrimp tacos.  We started with tortilla chips, guacamole, and pico de gallo.  Then, I grilled shrimp and onions for the tacos.  I topped them  with some cheese, tomatoes, arugula, and more pico de gallo.  Side was some sauteed leftover leeks and zucchini. 

George and Rob found a charter boat captain that will take them out tomorrow.  So, fish will probably be on tomorrow night’s menu!

BOOK:  “A Strange Affair” by Peter Robinson.  This is the series (quite long) that I go back to while waiting for other books to become available.  I like it as it takes place in North Yorkshire, England, where we enjoyed a housesitting assignment.  Two online books have now become available, so I must dig in!

Road trip to the Gulf!

LOCATION:  Galveston Island Park, near Rockport, TX.  On the Gulf of Mexico, about 4 hours NE of our house.

CAMPGROUND:  Great park!  Electricity and water at site.  Picnic table inside concrete shelter.  $22/night.  No fire pit.  Clean restrooms and showers.  5 stars out of 5

WEATHER:  Cloudy and windy.  High 75

Packing for a 5-night camping trip is almost the same as packing for a 5-month one.  Lots of stuff to haul into Joy.  After a very busy morning, we took off about 11:00.  We are traveling with our friends Irene and Rob.  We were a little caravan, with them following us. 

We stopped here for lunch.  A great little place with a large parking lot (very much needed and appreciated).  It is out in the middle of nowhere.  It is a BBQ and seafood place.  George and I split a brisket taco which was huge and yummy. 

We arrived at the campground around 4:00.  We are so lucky to have been able to reserve two sites together right on the bayfront.  During the summer, it is booked up way in advance. 

DINNER:  Since we had a big lunch, we scrapped the original menu and just had soup and salad.  Irene made a nice, warming lentil soup and I provided a Greek salad.  We ate in their motor home.  We will probably swap back and forth during this trip. 

Prepping for a road trip!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Another great day.  High 78

STEPS:  12,352
CLASSES:  Chair yoga, 2 water aerobics

It was like a London fog doing my morning hike.  I could only see a few feet ahead of me.  Kind of eerie. 

Even though it was warmer, the wind kept us chilly doing water aerobics.  There was only one other lady swimming with me.  I stuck it out for both classes. 

We are going on a 5 or 6-night camping trip with our friends from here.  So, today I was busy packing lists and moving things from the house to the trailer.  It takes just about the same amount of stuff to go for a few days as it takes for several months!  I’m sure I will forget something.

We are going to Goose Island State Park for 3 nights.  We have reservations for a site on the bayfront.  Should be nice.  Then we go to Port Mansfield where we will be 2 or 3 nights.  George hopes to go on a chartered  fishing trip. 

Here is our route….

The house behind us (that is exactly like ours) is finished and is for sale.  Today a couple came back to look at it.  They are really interested and seemed quite nice.  And….they have an Airstream, too!  The small coach house on the side of that house is also for sale.  We are hoping that nobody buys it before this winter when our friends from Ontario hope to arrive.  We have been spoiled with either no neighbors or fun neighbors. 

DINNER:  George was hankering for goulash so I looked up a recipe and made it for him.  It turned out pretty well, but it was not like the goulash we remembered.  This one was more of an Italian casserole – with hambuger, tomatoes, macaroni, and cheese.  We have a TON left over! 

A very lazy Sunday

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 75

I was a lazy slug today.  The most activity I got was doing the laundry!  Other than that, I immersed myself in a good book for almost the entire day.

George did a bit more….He played chess with our friend and then went to a farmers’ market/street party with these same friends.

DINNER:  We started with a Greek salad, from a recipe that our friends Tony and Jenny shared with us.  They are our camping partners, and we hope to reunite with them this spring/summer. 

The main course was from Jacques Pepin.  He says this was inspired by a famous Italian dish veal in tuna sauce.  He makes it with chicken breasts.  The poaching broth turns into a soup to accompany the chicken.  It was a bit bland for our taste. 

CHICKEN TONNATO

For the chicken…
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup sliced leek
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
5 cups water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the tuna sauce…

1 can (2 oz) anchovy fillets in oil
1 can tuna in oil
1 large egg yolk
1 T Dijon
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/2 cup olive oil

4 cups arugala leaves
1 T drained capers
1 T minced chives

For the chicken – Combine the onion, leek, mushrooms, carrot, celery, salt, pepper, and water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken breasts and cook them about 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan from the heat, cover, and let the breasts stand in the broth for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the sauce – Set aside 4 of the anchovies for the g arnish.  Put the tuna and the remaining anchovies in a food processor along with the oil from both cans.  Add the egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, water, salt, and Tabasco and process for a few seconds.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream.

At serving time, divide the arugula among four plates.  Remove the chicken from the broth.  Cut each breast into 4 crosswise slices and arrange on top of the arugula.  Generously coat the chicken with the tuna sauce and top each serving with 1 of the anchovies.  Sprinkle on some capers and chives and serve at room temperature.  Reheat the broth and serve with the chicken. 

Lots of gardening

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very pleasant.  Sunny.  High 72

STEPS:  A record-breaking 14,723!
CLASS:  2 line-dancing

The weather was beautiful for a morning hike.  Lots of people were out and about, biking and walking, enjoying the great outdoors.

We had two fun line-dancing classes.  Since our teacher can’t dance (due to her fall last year), we sometimes watch a video.  It is interesting that most of the teachers/dancers are Asian. 

This fun Facebook memory popped up today.  So cute!  A salute to our Canadian family and friends.

Another Facebook memory appeared from 6 years ago, before we built our tiny house here in the Rio Grande Valley.  We visited South Padre Island, about an hour from here.  It was a chilly day.

We had two highlights today.  First was receiving a package from our daughter – a set of scales that I can sync to a pedometer on my phone.  I will be really high tech!  (once she comes to visit us and sets it up!!!)

The second highlight was a visit to a local nursery.  In an ongoing effort to hide the ugly electricity transformer in our backyard, we bought some plants and a flower pot.  These plants are supposed to be “cascading” when they mature, so hopefully they will hang down and hide the eyesore a bit.

George went to our village construction dump site to get some gravel for the flower pot.  While he was there, he spotted some decorative pavers and lined our peas/tomatoes/vines plantings.

DINNER:  British smoked fish pie.  This is something we enjoyed a lot when we did housesitting assignments in England.  It is a type of shepherd’s pie made with smoked fish.  I used the last of the trout that George caught and smoked.  I also layered on some smoked oysters and a few shrimp.  Then, a layer of white sauce with carrots, celery, and peas.  Topping it all was a layer of mashed potatoes with a touch of Parmesan.  It baked to a golden yellow.   It brought back memories from eating it in the Cotswolds.

BOOK:  “The Scent Keeper” by Erica Bauermesiter.  Very intriguing.  It reminded me a bit of “Where the Crawdads Sing”.  It is about the lives of a father and daughter, hidden on an island.  5 stars out of 5

Pickleball!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Sunny.  High 70

STEPS:  12,497
CLASSES:  Chair yoga and pickleball!

Last year a pickleball court was built in our village.  I’ve been wanting to try it.  Today, a friend asked me if I would like to join her to learn how to play.  Another lady, who is a real pro at it, taught us.  It was a lot of fun.  Of course, I am terrible, but it was good exercise.  I want to learn more….and improve!

Our pansies really are liking this cooler weather. 

Yesterday, for the Spanish class party, I moved the pansies and basil pots and used the stands for drinks and snacks.  It worked out well.

In the late afternoon, we went to some friends’ house for cocktails.  We made (and took) some smoked trout dip and some sangria (to use up some wine that isn’t that great on its own).  They live in a port home and have a beautiful outdoor kitchen and patio.

DINNER:  Leftovers on the menu tonight.  I needed to use up the gyoza filling (from Christmas dinner).  I added some mushrooms, rice,  and onions, and turned it into stir-fried rice.  Now I have more room in the freezer!