2007's a Wrap

Monday, December 31, 2007 -- Sandollar Resort near Rockport, TX

It's been a week since I last posted to this blog. Let's just chalk up the break to the "pause" I referred to in my last post. To be honest there's an element of laziness too. But it's time to update the blog with some thoughts and the events of the past few days.

Time passes so quickly and it's common to say "where'd the day go?" at this park. We have a great group of neighbors around us. I think I've written about this before, but most of them are here for the winter and most of them are from somewhere in the Midwest. Most of them have a home "up north" and are not fulltimers like us. Even though we're only here for a few weeks -- just passing through -- they've made us feel at home, as part of the group. We often attend the 4pm "happy hour" and we've gone out to lunch or dinner with some. We had a big Christmas pot-luck dinner together. Because we're all parked so close, it's hard to go outside without getting involved in a conversation or, because it's a lively group, shenanigans of some kind. The days just fly by.

Then there are the normal routine things: the laundry's got to get done; the camper's got to be cleaned; weekly or monthly system checks on the bus; small repairs that I can handle; our daily walk. I try to squeeze in some reading and writing. Of course, there are the places to tour or visit -- museums, parks, beaches, mansions, restaurants, and the like. It can all chew up a lot of time.

As the New Year breaks, Dar and I have been fulltiming for 6 months -- a half year. Neither of us feels we've even scratched the surface of the possibilities. If we were to ultimately do this for 5 years we would be 10% done. It doesn't feel like we're 10% done.

Over this time I've observed four broad classes of people who own an RV. This is only my observation and there are certainly variations and permutations of these four categories, but most RV owners fall cleanly into one of the four.

Vacationers: These are people who have jobs and homes and, often, kids. They use their RV during one long vacation during the summer and perhaps a few long weekends at other times of the year. For most of the year the old RV is in storage.

Snowbirds: This group usually has a regular house somewhere but they live in their RV for a portion of the year mostly to escape extreme weather. There are many of these people in South Texas during the winter (called "winter Texans"), but we've also run into the reverse -- people who have their home in the South and take their RV north for the summer.

Bouncers: These are people that live in their RV all year long but it's parked in one spot in the South all winter long, and one spot in the north all summer long. They just "bounce" from one spot to the next. They may take a few weeks moving from one spot to the other, but they're mostly in one of two parking spots. There's a variation of this group that has two RV's, one in the north and one in the south, and they simply bounce by car or plane from one to the other depending on the season.

Fulltimers: These are people like us that live fulltime in their RV, but are rarely in one spot longer than a week or two. They're almost always on the go. Some people in this group still have a house but they don't live in it. (Purist would demand that real Fulltimers do not have a house at all.) Our objective is to see and experience the USA. We get itchy when grass starts to grow under our feet.

In our limited experience it seems that many Fulltimers, those in the fourth group, tend to migrate to "Bouncers", the third group, after a few years. They find places they like and go back again and again. They grow tired of traveling so much and like the comfort of being in one spot for extended periods of time. As we grow tired to traveling so much, our objective is to ultimately move from "Fulltimer" to "Bouncer" to "Snowbird". We do see a real house in our future again -- at some point.

And after almost three weeks here at Sandollar we're getting that itch again. We've thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, but it's time to move on, and see what awaits over the next hill, across the next bridge, in the next state.


Other than fishing or going to the beach, there isn't a great abundance of things to do in this part of the world. We did visit the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which is now permanently parked in Corpus Christi. I just thoroughly enjoy big machinery like this, and the historic nature of the ship enriches the experience. This ship was started, "laid down", in 1941 as the USS Cabot, but was renamed the USS Lexington (CV16) after the first USS Lexington (CV2) was lost in the battle of the Coral Sea in 1942. Commissioned in 1943, The Lex eventually became the longest active serving aircraft carrier in the world. Decommissioned in 1991, most of it's later years were spent training and certifying Navy pilots in carrier operations. Large areas of the ship are open and set up as it was during WWII. From the Bridge, to the Captains Quarters, to the Engine Room, you can wander around and soak up the experience at your own pace. An IMAX Theatre has been installed on the forward hanger deck. There are a few pictures of our visit to The Lex in our online photo collection.

Paralleling the Gulf Coast of Texas, there's a long string of barrier islands. A common coastal phenomenon, barrier islands are formed when the washing action of the ocean build sandbars that grow into long narrow islands just offshore from the coast. Along this part of Texas, we have Matagorda Island, St. Joseph Island, Mustang Island, and Padre Island. On the north end of Mustang Island is the beach town of Port Aransas. It's at Port Aransas that the main shipping channel into Corpus Christi Bay opens to the sea. All large ships going in or out of the harbors in this area must go through this channel. It's possible to drive out to Port Aransas, but the short distance across this main shipping channel must be crossed on a ferry system run by the State of Texas. Apparently it's not practical to build a high enough bridge that would allow large ships to pass freely underneath. Once on the island, it's possible to drive on the beach -- right on the sand-- for miles. Campers are permitted to park on the beach overnight in some areas. It's a great uncongested place to get that "beach-fix". We've got a few photos of this excursion online too.

Texas Highway 35 crosses the strait between Compano Bay and Aransas Bay on a 2 mile long bridge built in 1966. Most of the old bridge was left in place and now serves as a fishing pier. It's an enjoyable walk too -- the long segment on the north is 1-1/4 miles long one way. There were two small commercial clam boats fishing right along the pier one day we walked it. Between watching the clamming operation and talking to old grizzled fishermen we learned a lot about fishing in these waters.

We did visit the "Big Tree". It's the largest known Southern Live Oak in Texas. A friend of ours told us the biggest one in the USA is in Louisiana. These trees are just spectacular. It isn't their height that's interesting, but the spread of their crown. The branches are twisted and gnarly and often grow sideways much further than they grow high. This tree is only 44 feet high, but 89 feet across at the spread. It's estimated to be about 1000 years old.

Many days, we drive down to Rockport beach for our walk. Shorebirds all over the place, each trying to eke out survival for as long as possible -- just like us I guess. We almost always see some bottlenose dolphins having lunch.

I'm sure I forgot things, but that's enough for today.

Happy New Year All!

Thom and Dar


Slightly Better than Most