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Day 21, Camp 10 - Galveston Island State Park, Galveston, TX

Posted 12-12-2009 at 01:11 PM by Phantom

2009/12/06 - (1 night @ $25!)
Day 21, Camp 10
Galveston Island State Park
Galveston, TX.
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We pulled out of Sam Houston and headed west on I-10 past Beaumont, then south on SR 124, down to Galveston Island. Stopped and ate our first Mexican lunch at a nice place just south of Winnie. Made a side trip into the Anahuac Wildlife Reguge. Our 'Cheap and Free' Campgrounds book told us we could primitive camp in there, right on the bay. Not! Got refused. Only overnight camping is in tent IF you are overnight fishing. Guess even small trailers are not accepted to be in the realm of 'no footprint' camping. We drove the 20 miles back out to 124! Got a ride on the free ferry to Galveston Island and saw dolphins playing in the rolling waters of the bay. The swells were around six feet, with cargo ships passing in front of the ferry... a rocky-rolly ride. We got in about 4:30 pm after six hours and only 165 miles! Our leisurely lunch at that good Mexican restaurant, stopping at the main Texas visitor center and a gas stop, ate up some time.
Texas State Parks are pretty expensive. They charge an entry fee of $3 to $5 per day per person, plus the camping fee! $15 for no electric, $20 for 20 amp, $25 for 30 amp, etc. We paid $25 for a 'primitive' site on the beach. The entire Galveston area was hit hard by Hurricane Ike in 2008. [Galveston Island State Park was pretty much destroyed, still re-building... as is much of the area].
It rained like crazy all night. Woke up with the trailer in a puddle 3" deep! I felt like a shore bird wading around with my pants rolled up, hitching up the Bambi. Took some photos of the campground and the beach in the gray fog of morning. Sometimes the day doesn't dawn bright and clear... but gray, foggy and misty... and we have to thankful for the dawn at all. We headed out around 10 am.Arrived at the empty city park in the little town of Austwell around 2 pm. Nobody around, sign said $12 per night with 20 amp electric. The sites all had water and sewer also! Total of nine sites... We mailed some letters and got info from the post master/fire chief 'Gator'... who also owned the little RV park down the road. The 'guy in the yellow corner house' handles the campground fees... )... Went and knocked on his door... no-body home. Toured around the town, No gas, restaurant or services of any sort. We drove down into the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge for a quick reconnoiter. What a beautiful place! Seven very short hiking trails, 40' observation tower, 16 mile loop road. It was refreshing to finally see what the 'natural' landscape once looked like! A beautiful place. Made a plan to go back next day for a more thorough exploration. Later Mark & Sue arrived. Quite the contrast in our rigs... theirs is the biggest I've ever seen!
Next day was very wet and foggy... went to Seadrift instead, had lunch. Couldn't see the harbor for the fog. Lazy day.
Next day (Wed.) we did the refuge. Hiked every trail. Seven trails, all under 1.3 miles. 40' observation tower. Saw no Whooping Cranes! They were down to 15 birds in the 40's, the population is now about 200. Aransas has the largest wild migrating flock in the world. They fly to Wood Buffalo Provincial Park in the Northwest Territories, Canada, to breed in the summer. It was a wonderful treat to see how the land once looked.. after so many miles of development and industry. The coastal grasslands are beautiful. Wish we had been able to see more birds. The 'neotropical migrants' winter further south and, I believe, were already gone. Texas has 75% of all bird species in the country! We saw a few herons and egrets, gators, a coon, and our first Javelina (Collared Peccary!). [Looks like a pig but ain't]
We pulled out on Thrus. morning for Padre Island National Seashore.
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