We were headed to southwest Texas to help with a marriage conference in Carrizo Springs. While we were in that area, we decided to visit a couple of NPS locations – Padre Island National Seashore and Palo Alto Historic Battlefield.
Padre Island National Seashore is located on the Gulf Coast just southeast of Corpus Christi, TX. The site offers RV camping with hookups at the Malaquite campground for $14 per night. However, once we paid our entrance fee, beach camping was free at both North Beach and South Beach. We found the sand to be well packed and driving along the beach area at North Beach was not a problem for the van. We picked a spot along the mile or so beach area and pulled in for the night. There were about 10 other campers there spending the night. The ocean breeze and sound of the waves made for a very pleasant evening and restful night. There are no hookups or even fresh water at the beach location, but we were able to dump and fill our water tank at the campground further south in the park.
After spending the night at Padre Island and walking along the beach the next morning, we headed further south to Palo Alto Historic Battlefield near Brownsville, Texas. The location was the site of one of the battles between Mexico and the US. The visitor center was closed on Mondays (the day we visited), but the staff had graciously left the passport stamp available outside the front doors. We walked the path around the battlefield and learned about the event from information signage.
Our return trip home was hurried due to incoming bad weather forecast for Oklahoma, but we did take some time to stop in Mineral Wells, TX. We unloaded the folding bikes from the WanderVan and rode several miles along the Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway. This is about a 20 mile rail to trail path between Mineral Wells and Weatherford. Unfortunately, we found the path to be in poor condition near Mineral Wells. The paved portion in town was uneven and had some road crossing with poor visibility. Once we left the paved portion just east of town, the gravel trail bed was in terrible shape. The hard packed limestone was washed away and large sharp rocks were all over the trail. We had to walk our bikes for several hundred yards to get beyond this obstacle. The trail did improve, although much of the gravel was not packed well and was soft. However, less than a mile after the fee station (yes, they charge a day use fee for this) the trail was blocked by a locked gate and a sign on the fence said “Bridge Out”. We were not warned of this back at the trailhead. We wish the trail could have been a more enjoyable experience, more like the Katy Trail in Missouri.
It was a good trip overall with the WanderVan getting 17 mpg over the 1700 mile trip.