This weekend, we took a family vacation to Corpus Christi, Texas. It isn’t much of a drive compared to our usual trips, but we had an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Mark needed to drop off some boxes to a group he works with in Houston on Friday, and then he needed to pick up some new boxes from two different groups on Monday. Since he was heading that way anyway, we decided to spend the weekend at the beach.

Originally, we were going to Galveston. I don’t know if you’ve heard in the news lately, but Galveston and a lot of other coastal cities in Texas are having issues with high bacteria counts on their beaches. With all of the rain we’ve had this year, flooding has washed sewage out into the bays and spoiled the water. It won’t last for long, as the ocean will eventually wash it all away, but Galveston was especially troubled this last weekend, so we decided to go to Corpus Christi instead.

Since Mark needed a lot of room for the boxes we took to Houston, he rented what he thought was going to be a minivan for the weekend. When we got to the rental agency, however, we ended up with a Ford Transit Van. By the end of our trip, Mark wanted one. I can’t say I disagree. The van was incredibly roomy, got decent gas mileage, had comfortable seats, and was just overall a wonderful road trip vehicle. Mark is already trying to convince me that we need three cars: his SUV, my car, and a road trip van. I guess we will see if he can convince me.


Our rented Ford Transit Van

On the way to Corpus Christi on Friday, we took photographs of courthouses in Waller County and Grimes County. Mark has a goal to photograph all of the county courthouse in Texas. He has already finished Oklahoma. Ripley and I don’t mind. It gives us a reason to visit places we might never otherwise see, and it gives us an excuse to get out of the car. We should actually finish up this year, if everything goes according to plan. I think New Mexico or maybe Arkansas will be the next state we try to tackle. I don’t think Mark has decided.

In any event, we spent Friday dropping off boxes and driving to courthouses. We rolled into Corpus Christi pretty late and checked into the Corpus Christi South La Quinta for the weekend. We actually really like La Quintas. Since Mark works for the state, and La Quinta is based here in Texas, we frequently get a discounted motel rate. In addition, they serve breakfast and they always take pets. We stay at La Quintas so much on most of our vacations that we do really well with their rewards program. Sometimes we even drive further in a day just to make it to a La Quinta. I guess that’s how you know they’ve gotten us.

Saturday we went for a run on the campus of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. (Go Islanders!) It’s a really pretty campus, and it has a great little running trail. The only thing I can really find to complain about is all of the cats. We see five or six every time we visit. Ripley goes nuts when she sees those cats dart into the trees while we are out running. I’m not sure my shoulder will ever bee the same.

We had breakfast at My Favorite Muffin, which has several locations in Corpus Christi. It’s pretty good, and makes a much better meal than Starbucks or some other fast food place. Once we grabbed some groceries for a beach picnic, we headed out to Padre Island National Seashore. A seven-day pass for the park is $10, which is a steal. Since you have to pay to visit, however, this makes the national seashore a quieter and more family-friendly place to visit. Mark and I used our annual pass to get into the park, so we didn’t actually pay anything at all. It is definitely one of my favorite places in Corpus Christi. The beach is clean, the water is nice, and the crowds are typically smaller than a free public beach.

The national seashore has a small visitor center with a gift shop, changing rooms, bathrooms, showers, camping, boat ramps, and a small restaurant for its visitors. It is pet-friendly, which is a must for us so Ripley can go. It has really great picnic tables, too.


Mark could not even see these at first.
A nemesis for Ripley: one of the many sand crabs out at dusk at Padre Island National Seashore

We spent all of Saturday afternoon at the national seashore. We went back to the hotel for a while when it got really hot, and then later in the evening we returned to the beach to take some pictures of the park at dusk. It is beautiful at night.

Normally, during the day, you don’t see many of the sand crabs that inhabit the beach. You know they are there, of course, because the beach is covered in little holes, but they don’t come out. Let me tell you, they come out at dusk. And they are tiny and fast. Once she saw them, Ripley wanted to murder every last one. We spent a lot of our time chasing after itty-bitty, sand-colored crabs on the beach, rather than getting good pictures. I had a lot of fun indulging her urge to chase them, until she finally caught one and maimed it.

Since the poor thing was flailing around, dying, I had to finish it off. I figured a slap from my shoe was better than letting Ripley continue to toy with the poor thing until it finally died. So Mark decided to take a picture of me doing the deed. Thanks ever so much, husband dear. You can see that Ripley wants very much to help me out. I’m pretty sure she wanted to eat it, actually. What can I say? That’s my girl.


Look how badly she wants to eat it.
I had to kill a sand crab at Padre Island National Seashore after Ripley tore it to pieces

For dinner on Saturday, we looked through a few lists on the internet of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Corpus Christi. As long as you like chain restaurants, they actually have a pretty good selection. Mark and I try not to eat dinner at chains when we are on vacation unless we have to, so we chose a local place, Bamboo Garden Restaurant, that served Chinese and Vietnamese food.

I would go back to this place in a heartbeat. The food was fantastic, the service was wonderful, and they had a decent selection of vegetarian options. Mark and I ordered a vermicelli bowl and some spring rolls, both with tofu. That’s right, we only ordered one vermicelli bowl, and it came with enough food that we barely finished it. And the spring rolls are the size of burritos. If you like Vietnamese, or you want to try it sometime, I say give this restaurant a shot when you visit Corpus Christi. I know we will go back when we visit again.


Makes me hungry just looking at it.
Delicious Vietnamese food from Bamboo Garden Restaurant in Corpus Christi

On Sunday, we went for a run again at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. We had breakfast at Corner Bakery, which has lovely pancakes, I must say. Once we finished up there, we headed to Mustang Island State Park for the day.

Mustang Island State Park also has a fee. It is $5 a day for each adult. This is a little higher than Padre Island National Seashore, but it is still well worth the price. This park is also pet-friendly, and it has picnic tables that are close to the beach. Its amenities include changing rooms, bathrooms, showers, and campsites.

We were pretty early on Sunday, so we managed to score a nice, shady table. I hooked Ripley to the picnic table with her tie-out line, and she spent her afternoon at the beach trying to get back into the plants in the sand dunes behind us. There were lizards hiding back there, you see, and Ripley had to point at them (like the bird dog she is), despite the fact that she couldn’t reach them. She wasn’t allowed back in the grass very far, as there are signs warning of snakes here. Mark actually saw a pretty big one disappear into the grass on Sunday. She had a lot of fun looking, even though she didn’t get to catch anything.

We went swimming several times. Ripley even did some real swimming, which is unusual for her. Normally she is a little nervous about the waves and only wades in about shoulder deep. Around lunchtime, we had egg salad sandwiches (and kibble) on the beach. The park is pretty breezy, so as long as you are in the shade, it isn’t too hot. We sat there for most of the afternoon. When we got too hot, we showered off and changed and hopped back into the van. Ripley collapsed in exhaustion and took a nap almost immediately. Lizard hunting is tiring work.

From Mustang Island State Park, it is pretty easy to drive over to Port Aransas. We looked around the town for a little while, but we’ve been before and we couldn’t go inside any of the shops this time, since it was too hot for Ripley to be left outside. Mark was disappointed that we missed the little candy shop there, as it is a neat place to visit. At the end of the day, we took the ferry from Port Aransas across to Aransas Pass and drove back around to our hotel in Corpus Christi. We enjoy the ferry trip, so we take it about once every visit, even though you can drive back the other way.


She does not look like a killer...
Ripley looks for lizards to murder at Mustang Island State Park

On Monday, we got up early to drive home. We had three county courthouses to photograph, and two towns to visit to pick up boxes for Mark’s work. We took photographs of the courthouses in Victoria County, Jackson County, and Wharton County. We picked up boxes in Bellaire and Livingston.

We also stopped for sweets and tea at the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana. If you ever see a sign for one of these while traveling through Texas, do yourself a favor and stop. They have delicious bakery treats, good tea and coffee, and even tasty sandwiches. Just a few doors down, Corsicana has a Russel Stover Outlet store. We didn’t visit this time, but if you ever see one, you should take a look. The candy may have packaging from the last holiday, but it still tastes the same, I promise.

We made it home around 7:30. I gave my stinky little darling (Ripley, not Mark) a bath, and ordered her a new collar. It looks like we forgot to take the old one off when she went into the ocean this weekend, and some of the metal has rusted. Look forward to some new Ripley bling photos coming soon to a blog near you.


I wish they were all this pretty.
Victoria County Courthouse in Victoria, Texas


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