Day Forty One – Friday, September 30, 2016

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So this was our last morning at the Best Western in Corpus Christi. We awoke to a beautiful, sunny, cooler morning (temps in the high 70s), and when we went up to the 11th floor for breakfast, we were greeted with this sight when we got off the elevator!

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This morning’s breakfast variety substituted tortillas for biscuits, and re-fried beans for potatoes, so of course, we made breakfast burritos with eggs, sausage, cheese, salsa, and beans…and the beans have been with us all day.  Just saying.

Not being in a real hurry to get to Galveston, as it was really only 4 hours away, I asked Susie if she wanted to take a detour and go via Mustang Island and Port Aransas.  She said it looked good, so when we turned out of the Best Western’s driveway, we went right rather than turning left towards Galveston.  Kind of like what we know at home, just off Long Island’s South Shore, and where we live in Ocean City, NJ, Corpus Christi Bay is ringed by a series of Barrier Islands that separate it from the Gulf of Mexico.  Our path this morning, was to head south-west and loop around the bay, crossing the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway to Mustang Island, and then driving north along the island towards Port Aransas.  When you first come on the island, it’s very busy and commercial, but as we continued the drive on the Texas Tropical Trail, you first go through the Mustang Island State Park, which looks like it’s totally undeveloped. That, we figured, explained the big black stretch we saw at night from our hotel.  It was undeveloped, not a pass to the Gulf!  As you get past the park, you start to see more and more housing, including condos on the beach.  At Port Aransas, you’re in a cute beach village, and the whole look of the island was very laid back and not overly commercial.  We liked it!

Unlike when we got on the island, there is no bridge across the Intracoastal at this point, but a free car ferry run by the state of Texas.  It’s about a 5-8 minute run from the island back to the mainland, and they were just finishing unloading a boat as we pulled up, so in a few minutes we were on the water.

Susie tried her hand as a wildlife photographer, using a rather uncooperative Pelican, who was perched on one of the pilings as we docked.  He refused to pose for her, and frankly was a foul model!

After getting off the ferry, there were two things that looked like oil rig platforms, just off the road. We couldn’t tell if they were in the water, or on land, but they sure looked like oil rigs!

Back on the mainland, our trek to Galveston started on the water, and there were several bridges that we went over.  Even though we were on back roads, it wasn’t long before they didn’t run along the water anymore, and we were surrounded by Texas farms.  Long straight roads heading into the distance, with plowed fields, the occasional house, and animals of various kinds.  Not exciting, but probably better than the Interstate!

But, by going through these back roads, we got to know that it was the Bay City Rice Festival this weekend, with the Rice Festival Queen being crowned tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, 2016.  Below is a screen shot I took of the rules the Bay City Lions Club has for a candidate to be considered for the honor of spending 2016 as the Rice Queen!

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Had we not come this way, we also wouldn’t have seen our 5th accident of the trip.  A Camaro with a pretty smashed up front end, on the side of Texas 35, in Bay City. We don’t think it had anything to do with the Rice Festival or the Queen’s Coronation!

So, you know we’ve sung the praises of how our little Garmin GPS girl has done such a wonderful job almost everywhere.  We know that we never would have been able to figure out how to get to the USS Lexington yesterday without her, and although I read multiple times on the Internet about not trusting a GPS in the Southwest, she never once led us astray, and has been indispensable, even with our paper maps.  Well today, she pulled a fast one on us, and if a Garmin GPS had a sense of humor, I’d really think she was yanking our chain!  As we’re driving along Texas 35, she says, “In 5 tenths of a mile, make a right turn on Old Texas 35.”  Susie was driving at the time, and obeyed her instructions, and we found ourselves on a road that looked like it could double for a no longer used section of Route 66!  To top that off, she said that the speed limit was 70 MPH, when going more than 30 was tough.  About half a mile after we turned on it, she said, “In 5 tenths of a mile, make a right turn on Texas 35”, the same road we were on when we turned off!!  Susie did, and we were right back in the same pack of cars we’d been in when we turned off!  I tell you, she is getting back at us for not implicitly following her instructions!

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Oh, and more on the Monarch Butterfly Migration.  There were lots of big things flying around the air today, and we knew some of them were dining needles or dragon flies (or dining flies as I tend to call them).  But when we stopped to hit the bathroom at a Dairy Queen this afternoon, Susie found evidence on the ground that more of the Monarchs were not making the complete migration this year!

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We arrived at the Comfort Suites on Galveston Island about 5:30 tonight, and as we leave on this cruise in about 36 hours, Susie almost immediately started gathering laundry.  This necessitated getting the two suitcases out of the trunk that we almost never remove, but as she needed to see what needed washing and will have to repack tomorrow, it had to be done.  After the laundry was done, we had a quick pizza dinner and returned to the room.  We have a number of errands to attend to tomorrow (Kenny has given us a Target shopping list), so we will get up and out after breakfast tomorrow, and by nightfall will hopefully have everything in place, so we can get up Sunday and head to the pier.  It will be strange for 14 nights not to be in a different bed everyday, and we will surely miss the Sonata.  As of tonight, with today’s 240 miles,  our total trip mileage is around 8,000, and she has served us well, but for the next two weeks, we will have a designated driver AND she will have some rest!

Before I close tonight, I need to have a serious discussion with you about the next two weeks.  At this point, we have suffered together through 41 nights of hotel Internet Wi-Fi.  Some of it has been really excellent, some of it nonexistent (Yellowstone), and some of it came and went as I was trying to post, making things somewhat unpleasant in our room!  With the exception of the two nights in Yellowstone where it was impossible to get anything posted, and the two nights with our friends Nancy and Mike in El Paso, where we were just having too much fun to post, I have been pretty good about getting this blog posted before going to bed.  That is not going to happen from October 2nd to October 15th.

You see, on the Royal Caribbean Ship Liberty of the Seas, there is no such thing as free Wi-Fi.  If you want an Internet connection on the ship, you have to pay for it, to the tune of $30 a day, and that’s for just one device.  So for the 14 days of the cruise, that would come out to $420, and although I am so glad you are all traveling along with us, that is just too much money to spend, on top of everything else we’re spending.  So the iPads will get locked in the car, and the iPhones will go on Airplane Mode – unless we run into free Wi-Fi on one of the islands.  I’m going to take my Mac Book Air with me on the cruise, and I will try to write a brief summary each day of what’s happening, but the Wi-Fi will be turned off, until the 16th when we are back at a Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas.  I promise that on the 16th, I will give you as complete a recap of the two weeks of the cruise, of the time we’ll spend with Kenny and Chris, of the members of their Liberty of the Sea’s Family we’ve met, and of the wonderful places we’ve gone, and things we’ve done.  Honestly, I’d really love to be able to take you along with us, but if you think the backseat of the Sonata has been crowded, that’s nothing compared to what Stateroom 6580 on the LOS would be like!

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