Now in Rockport, Texas
Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - We left League City, Texas near Galveston around 8am this morning and headed southwest for the Corpus Christi, Texas area.
I didn't have a clear idea exactly where we were going to stay, but we'd found quite a number of campgrounds listed as having wi-fi internet access in and near Rockport and Portland which are across the bay from Corpus Christie so I wasn't concerned we could find a campsite with wi-fi.
So five hours later after a very pleasant drive once we got clear of the Houston morning rush hour traffic we crossed the causeway north of Rockport into town and stopped at the first campground we came to and were told they were full, which wasn't a surprise since they honor the Passport America program which made them half price but still a disappointment we couldn't stay there, however the next campground just down the road (Rockport 35 RV Park) had pull-through spots available and wi-fi as well and that was that. So for now we are signed up here until Saturday morning.
After setting up camp and scoping out the campground for laundry, hot tub, and such, we drove around Rockport itself for a bit and were greeted by the above egret who posed most cooperatively for me down at the local marina. Good taste forbids me describe what those white streaks are running down the piling.
Rockport is rather small but interesting for its size, however the big attraction for me in this area are the barrier islands that run along the coast, like Mustang Island and Padre Island, both of which I want to see at some length.
Although I shot quite a few photos in Galveston, I hardly scratched the surface of seeing what was all available around there and look forward to returning there some day when we can spend more time. The Moody Gardens alone deserve a longer look.
More Galveston Impressions
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - We are still near Galveston but will be heading further south tomorrow, probably stopping at Rockport, Texas where Sandra has found a campground that offers wi-fi internet access.
Lack of such has been a problem in this area, which is rather an irony since NASA's Houston Space Center is only a few miles from here so you'd expect this to be a real hotbed of the latest technologies.
In fact, it's so behind the times technologically around here we drove for several hours yesterday afternoon trying to find a good open wi-fi hotspot and only found one that could be considered as reasonably good because where we had to park to reach it made us too conspicuous for comfort.
Anyway, back to Galveston, we extended our stay here by one more day so I could go back there last night and shoot some dusk and night photos which always makes me tired the following day and you don't want to be tired when hauling this rig around, so today will be a day of R&R.
The photo above from last night's shooting session shows 'The Strand' in downtown Galveston and is easy walking distance from the cruise ship terminals, no coincidence I'm sure. Two of the big cruise ships were in port Sunday when Sandra and I were walking around The Strand and it was crawling with people. Last night though, no cruise ships and I almost had the place to myself.
The thing that first impressed me about The Strand was the covered sidewalks in front of many of the buildings (more easily seen by clicking on the image for its larger view), which are like many in New Orleans' French Quarter, but here without the French Quarters' wrought ironwork and shutters the covered sidewalks give it a western look which is an interesting difference in perception.
However, I've only taken photos of the areas of Galveston that appeal to me which percentagewise is only a small part of the city. Overall, this is a large and very busy shipping and industrial area, neither of which hold the slightest interest for me so I've been, uhh, focusing on Galveston's more esthetically pleasing aspects, another of which in addition to The Strand and East Beach are the Moody Gardens.
These are unique, to me anyway since I've never seen anything like them, in that the gardens' main attractions are housed in 3 very large glass pyramids and with the palm trees all around them the overall effect is decidedly Egyptian-looking. I've photographed these only from the outside because it costs USD$31 to get into them which is more than I care to spend right now on something that would take several days to do justice to, but maybe another time. The second photo above is one I took there yesterday morning.
Monday, January 17, 2005 - We've made the trip into Galveston a couple of times now, yesterday afternoon and again this morning for the early light and parts of it strike me as rather a combination of Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans' French Quarter with a bit of Texas flavoring mixed in.
We had no trouble getting around and finding places. Like the beach (East Beach, I think) which we liked quite a lot, primarily because the road along it has a very good layout, parking on the beach side and businesses across from it. It works quite well.
The photo here shows one of many houses that have this Victorian style and then downtown is 'The Strand' which is a historical business district sort of thing.
But I expect we'll be leaving here tomorrow and heading further south. We still have a lot of places left in North America we want to see and only 3 months left to do so on this trip.
Now in the Houston-Galveston, Texas area
Sunday, January 16, 2005 - Yesterday as planned, we left News Orleans at dawn (7:15am actually) and managed to escape (as I tend to think of it) before traffic built to terrifying levels and we were soon traveling peacefully on I10 westbound through mile after mile of swamps and bayous, the freeway at that point being essentially one incredibly long bridge (or causeway) just above the swamp water.
I10 west of New Orleans was much smoother than it was on the east and generally wasn't as bad a road as I'd expected until we neared the border where it again stretched for miles as some of the roughest road we've encountered. We were obviously spoiled by the good roads in North Carolina and Florida.
We entered Texas around noon and just inside the state we dallied at the I10 Visitor Center for about an hour, looking through the pamphlets for attractions and campgrounds, getting a map, walking the boardwalk through the Blue Elbow Swamp the Visitor Center is located in, and having lunch at one of the center's picnic tables. The day was generally sunny, but not what you'd call warm, thanks to an Arctic air-mass that's lost its way and meandered south. It was pleasant in the sun, but only because there was no wind. Temps were in the mid-50s F (low teens C) but we consoled ourselves with the knowledge it was a lot colder farther north.
Photo above shows Sandra sitting on the Visitor Center's Lone Star sculpture. It isn't as grand as the St. Louis Arch, but it was still interesting. Click on the photo for a closeup of Sandra, dressed for the heat we found in Texas. At least we didn't need gloves.
Then it was back on the road and a bit later we drove through a section of highway construction where they'd lined the two westbound lanes with concrete barriers which left me with only about a foot's clearance on either side of the RV and white knuckles on the steering wheel because of it. This seemed to go on forever, but was probably only a few miles and wasn't as bad as a similar situation we drove through going around Raleigh, North Carolina back in November because that was after nightfall, but it was still a huge relief when we finally got through that never-ending construction zone. Fortunately we weren't hit in the side by any strong crosswinds and no 18-wheelers tried to pass us and beyond the barriers my nerves were rewarded with smooth road the rest of the day.
Anyway, a couple hours' drive into Texas found us pulling into the Safari RV Park (our site there pictured above), located in League City which is exactly halfway between Houston and Gaveston (as shown on the map below). We are here to see Galveston, which I've heard some good things about, but after our stay in New Orleans I doubt we'll go into Houston itself.
This RV park is not the nicest we've stayed in, although adequate, and it has no wi-fi network, so internet access will be spotty, but it honors the Passport America program which means it's half price and it's in a good location for us, being just a short and easy drive off I45 which goes to Galveston, 22 miles away.
I think for the foreseeable future, when possible we'll avoid spending time in any more major US urban areas like New Orleans. If that place is any indication, the urban problems in this country have not improved during my time living in Canada where I've grown accustomed to being free to move about major cities without fear and being treated with courtesy while navigating their streets. Such was certainly not the case in New Orleans except for the French Quarter and downtown core, which were the only two areas of the city I felt safe or at least comfortable walking around in.
Anyway, not to digress on that sordid topic, to the left is a map of our current location for the benefit and education of granddaughter Grace and anyone else who's never heard of League City, Texas. As usual, clicking on any of the images above will bring up a larger view.
Friday, January 14, 2005 - We are now pretty much packed and hitched up, ready to head out at dawn tomorrow, hopefully to avoid traffic as we are leaving. I've driven in most of the major cities in eastern North America and never seen traffic like they have here. New Orleans has proven to be the most frustrating and difficult city to get around in, even when you know where you're going, than any I've driven in. We can't wait to get out of here.
Anyway, we are heading for the Galveston, Texas area tomorrow and should be able to make the 360 miles in one day on the road since we'll be getting such an early start.
Change to Plans
Thursday, January 13, 2005 - We had planned to leave New Orleans before dawn tomorrow to avoid rush hour, but to do that we would have had to pack up this afternoon and it's rained since mid-morning and decamping in the rain is no fun, so we signed up to stay another day and will be leaving for Texas on Saturday morning instead.
Internet access will no doubt be sporadic until we settle into the next campground, so expect updates to this page to be less frequent until then.
New Orleans Impressions
Thursday, January 13, 2005 - Sandra and I went for a drive yesterday, in quest of a Wal-Mart primarily but also to see areas of New Orleans other than the French Quarter. We first went to a Wal-Mart off I10 we'd seen when we were arriving into the city but once there it didn't look like a safe place for people of our genetic lineage (i.e. we saw no other Caucasians and the store had quite visible security patrolling the parking lot), so we decided to drive across town to another Wal-Mart we had gotten directions to and found that even in mid-afternoon long before rush hour that the traffic around the city was incredibly heavy, to the point that having to change lanes in order to make a turn was often impossible, requiring us on numerous occasions to drive well beyond the turn before we could turn around and get back to it. I'm sure there's some charm to this place outside the French Quarter, but in daylight we're missing it.
So we were scheduled to leave here tomorrow and we will be, heading west for Texas and traveling along its Gulf coast.
Now in New Orleans, Louisiana
Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - We left Troy, Alabama early yesterday morning as planned, getting away around 7:45am and almost immediately ran into dense fog that lasted for about two hours and made driving very tense. Also, at the point where we entered I65 its surface was quite rough for many miles, so when the fog lifted and the road smoothed out I almost felt like celebrating.
From then on the trip went smoothly until we were close to New Orleans and I10 degraded into something resembling a rough rollercoaster ride and I was glad we had purchased heavy duty models of everything. We had been forewarned about this stretch of I10 and were mentally prepared for it, but we don't plan to come that way again.
Anyway, we arrived in New Orleans around 2:30pm and after having to make a tight U-turn because we missed the turn for the campground we'd selected, the Mardi Gras RV Park which is in the east end of the city itself, things started going considerably better.
For starters, we learned that unexpectedly this campground has wi-fi that covers the entire campground and since we had a wide choice of sites we could select from, we got one with a strong wi-fi signal in the RV so now I can recline and surf at the same time.
Then after getting camp set up, we both still felt up to heading for the French Quarter to shoot dusk and night photos even though the drive had been long and with its white-knuckle moments and it was rush hour by that point. Our first visit to New Orleans as a port on one of our cruises was less than stellar since it was cold and we arrived in the morning. Last night we discovered it is a very different place on a warm evening and we quite enjoyed it, despite the odor in places.
Pictured above we are enjoying dinner at the Cafe Pontalba (photo taken by our waiter) and for granddaughter Grace there's the map showing our location in Louisiana. Click on either to see larger images.
For Older News
To read news from our previous stops and camps, visit the News Archives.
Updated Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Copyright © 2005 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.