Sunday, January 22, 2017

The difference between camping and RVing...


A sailing site friend retired recently and is trying a new adventure: traveling and tent camping.  He went to the Tampa "Super Show" RV Show - one of the biggest in the country.  He was appalled at the prices and construction of some of the RVs he looked at... then declared that, for him, tenting was the way to go.  For the record, he bought a ratty, used Class B a few years ago that turned into a money pit, so his perception of RVing was already a bit slanted.  I took a few minutes to respond...



This coming from a boat guy... 'cause we all know that boats never have problems or need maintenance!   I guess we have been lucky with the various RVs we have owned over the decades we have been RVing. Yes, there are a lot of cheaply made RVs; then, there are the nicer ones. Just like boats. Neither of which are good "investments." Both are lifestyle purchases. Just so happens that we truly enjoy traveling, and appreciate having our amenities with us... not having to schlep to a public showerhouse, being able make a meal without having to build a fire, having a fridge, heat and air conditioning, a comfortable bathroom, and convenient storage.

You are simply 40 years behind us with your camping. When we were first married, the only way we could afford to travel was by camping. We had tents, large and small. We were where you are right now, discovering the freedom of getting away. Inexpensively. Then, we "moved on up," when I converted a van: a comfortable bed, solid walls around us, Joan was ecstatic that she had a plug-in for her hair dryer! We could park *anywhere* - and still have our privacy. Over the years, we have had van conversions, motorhomes, a travel trailer, a toy hauler, a 5th wheel, and are back in a very nice compact motorhome. And, LOVE it! Once we moved from a tent to that van, there was no going back... and not wanting to.

Stay with it long enough, and you will eventually want more creature comforts. You are in the "this is cool" stage, and an introduction to getting away from it all. Easy to justify a motel when the weather is crappy or you just want to experience living civilized (Gee, this hot tub is sure nice).   "It's been a long day, I don't feel like setting up a tent, plus it's getting dark - I'll just get a motel."  We also did that for a time. These days, I don't want to sleep in someone else's bed; I want my own bathroom; I like my satellite TV.

I remember the days of sitting in our tent, looking at the people in RVs and thinking, "They don't know how to get away from it all. That isn't camping." Turns out, I was right - it is RVing. And SO worth it. Different strokes.

I truly hope you enjoy the tenting for a good long while. Key word in that sentence is "enjoy." When the novelty wears off and "setting up camp" becomes a chore, re-visit the RV lifestyle. Almost all of us doing this started where you are right now. Well, a lot of years ago.


 

---------------------

Starting to get our heads into heading out with the motorhome this next week.  Can you tell?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Joan proclaimed today: "Best Day On The Water, this season"...


I have to say, it was a fine day to be out and about: after the early morning fog lifted, it was one of those "Chamber of Commerce" days... blue sky, warm temps (got to 81ยบ here on the coast), and beautifully calm water.  Joan packed us a picnic lunch, and we shoved off...




Before we exited the canal, I asked, "Where do you want to go?"

"As calm as it is, let's go check out the jetties!"

OK, we have a plan.  The goal: just enjoy some time on the water.  And, check out that lovely water as we motored east in the ship channel...


It is not unusual to have some "rollers" at the entrance to the jetties.  Not today.  Gorgeous water, hardly any swells...



A shrimper inbound...


At the end of the jetties, and looking into the Gulf...


Well, look what we have here...


Yep - dolphins!  Today wasn't about dolphin watching, but... we're here, they're here, and the water is beautiful!  We hung out for a while...




Plenty of people fishing from the jetties, but no excursion boats, hardly any other small boats.  We enjoyed our time with the dolphins...



We had them all around the boat, including one that jumped out of the water about 10 feet in front of us (no, I didn't get a photo).



One other boat did come by and give us a close look...


Texas Game Warden.  It was pretty obvious that we weren't fishing, so he quickly moved on.



We spent nearly an hour with them.  Joan was getting hoarse - she likes to call out to them... and I think they respond to that.  Sometimes, it is hard to not be giddy about getting to see this.  When two large excursion boats headed towards us, we decided to move on - back in through the jetties area and north into the Laguna Madre.  One of the excursion boats spent a grand total of about 5 minutes letting their guests see the dolphins, then moved on.  Must have a schedule to keep.

Lots of small fishing boats and other excursion boats in the Laguna...


I suggested we go north, under the causeway, then head around to the Fingers area.  The Fingers is a series of canals in Port Isabel proper.  It was originally dredged and developed to be "The New Venice."  Lots of homes along the canals, a couple businesses.

The entrance to the Fingers was dredged a year or two ago, but the north northeast opening makes it vulnerable to shoaling in when the northers blow in.  Last time we were here by water was on our kayaks, via a short cut under a low clearance bridge.  With this boat, we have to go "out and around" to get to the Fingers; today, we were already on the way there.

Out of the Laguna, into the Fingers...


The city put in some nice docks a few years ago...


The only occupants were the pelicans.  Before the dredging, it was tough to get a boat in here if it drafted more than 2 feet.  These dock could accommodate some decent size boats.  The parking lot area was full of vehicles with small boat trailers.  The ramp here is short, but works great for the flat bottom fishing boats that are more typical here.  Continuing through the jetties...


Some upscale homes and some much less so.  Here's a small RV park and marina...


Another canal...



The shot above is a sad old trimaran that hasn't had any attention in years.

Back out of the Fingers, and heading for home.  Under the "high bridge" (Queen Isabella Causeway)...


We radioed the swing bridge for an opening, heading west.  The sun behind Joan as we head that way...


She is especially fond of the sparkly water.  Back into the canals on Long Island, and almost home...


Once tied to the dock, I put the cover on Cool Change.  The weasels are predicting a windy day tomorrow (25 to 30 mph with higher gusts - could reach 50 mph!).  Quite a change from today.  This may be one of our last boat outings before we head west to see our kid.  We'll be watching for a decent weather window to pull the boat and get the motorhome out.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Foggy start to the day...


Thick fog this morning.  The weather weasels said it would burn off by mid-morning, making for a mostly sunny day.  Close.  It stayed foggy 'till about noon, not much in the way of sunshine.

We took the scoots out for lunch.  It was pretty gray looking, but the temp was in the mid-70s, very little wind.  Back from lunch, I asked Joan if she wanted to go out for a short boat ride... "Absolutely!"

Close to 4:00, it was still gray...


Before we got out of the canal, we came across Mike and MJ coming in as we were heading out.  Nice to visit with them.  MJ made a reach to keep the boats apart...


Whew!  That was close - we were approaching each other at about .000641 miles per hour.  ;-)  MJ was impressed that I have some voice today.  Yep, getting better each day.  I played some guitar this morning, but there wasn't much singing.

We agreed to get together now that Joan and (I think) I are not playing the part of Typhoid Mary.

Down the canal...



A pretty sky.  A bit more sun would be nice.  Well, a few sunbeams...


The other day, my buddy Marty let me know that I wasn't smiling in photos I posted.  Here ya go, Marty...


Yes, the Blonde has a prettier smile.

Something we don't see regularly in the turning basin...


SubSea 7.  Known by some as "the ferris wheel ship," those round things hold pipeline that they take out to the oil rigs in the Gulf.  They are loading more pipeline here.



More sky and some sparkly water.  In the distance...


... a ship heading out of the Brownsville Ship Channel towards the Gulf.  We missed a close up by a few minutes.  Joan sat facing the sun, while I kept a look-out for dolphins, facing east...




Joan took the two sky shots above; and another smiling shot of her Honey...


"Over there!"



Yep, dolphins...



A shrimper heading out of Port Isabel...


The name of the shrimper: Stormy Night.  I think I'd be looking for a job on "Sunny Days!" ;-)

Joan shooting some stills and video of the dolphins...



Time to head in.  This group of Great Blue Herons looks like tree stumps - always makes me chuckle...


They are frequently there in that bare patch late afternoons.  A better look at this one in the canal...


No sunset colors again today, thanks to the clouds.  Nice to be out and about.