There is just something about the water, it brings me peace, it operates the dream factory, it grabs my glance and threatens to not let go. Arriving at Liberty Square to catch the boat to Fort Sumter I was already in love, a view of the harbor with the Ravenel bridge in the background will woo anyone, even a local. The thirty minute boat ride out to the fort is narrated with a historical overview and filed with pelicans diving for lunch and dolphins surfacing in the harbor. Once out at Fort Sumter the 360 degree view is just majestic, the harbor, the Ravenel bridge, Charleston, the Atlantic Ocean, sailboats, and massive cargo ships.
Moving around from one city to another and changing states always keeps life interesting. You get settled into routines and jobs while gathering favorite spots to hang out and meet good friends you hate to leave. Our first jobs at Amazon allowed us to meet travelers like ourselves so as you waved goodbye you hoped it was true when you said “until we meet again”. In August, with Charleston in the path of totality for the solar eclipse, we managed to make those parting goodbyes come true. We met Gary in Boyd, Texas, he was parked in the same campground just a few spaces up from ours. Gary was the guy who informed us about South Padre and we also became campground neighbors there. Having familiarity in a strange place is very comforting. Fast forward 15 months and Gary hopped on a plane to come visit.
Reflecting on the past year sends a tornado of thoughts and images through my mind. What a difference a year can make! I struggled to write our first year’s journey because we had just began to glimpse what this last year’s challenges would be. Our lives last year didn’t envolve shiny new campgrounds or multiple state road trips but it did test us in many ways and strongly reminded us that life is precious and we needed to enjoy it while we can.
“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.” ~Unknown
Over nine months ago we drove to South Carolina from South Padre Island, Texas, dragging our massive travel trailer behind us. You can in fact drive from one planet to another or so it might seem from destination to destination. I love the newness of it all. We are not full-time RV travelers but move from location to location and find jobs along the way. Six month stays were always the planned timeframe for each location so needless to say I have “hitch itch” as RVers like to say. I have failed on this blog with updates but before we begin a new adventure I feel like I should share our journey here.
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
A couple of years ago, I began to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up. As I grew up, I slowly shaped into something completely different than I had always imagined. I assume, in some of the opinions of friends and family, I have “grown down” not up. When we made a decision to live in a camper and leave our jobs, I’m sure all sorts of people thought we were crazy, irresponsible, running from things, etc. I spent a lot of time trying to think about what I could do for work and pay the bills, but also be happy. During this same time period we developed our love for the National Park Service and quickly I had a dream job, to be a park ranger. When the camper’s wheels rolled away from Asheville, NC, a little over a year ago, we planned all of our trips since around National Parks. At this moment, we are a one ranger, camper household and I don’t mind being Mrs. Ranger. Since my/our decision to embrace all things NPS, I have befriended on Facebook, twitted on Twitter, followed on Instagram, subscribed to email… all things NPS related. A couple of months ago I received an email talking about the National Christmas Tree Lighting. The what? I didn’t even know a such thing existed. After seeing the star-studded line up I quickly thought about how expensive those tickets must cost. I kept reading and was shocked to discover tickets were given out via a lottery. Well shucks, I never win anything, so click click and I entered the lottery. Checking my email one day, I was shocked to see the words, Congratulations you have been chosen to view the lighting ceremony of The National Christmas Tree. Well shit, oh shit, how am I suppose to get to D.C.?
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein
While working during the lunch shift at Blackbeard’s restaurant, on the island, it wasn’t a strange thing to see a table of four occupied by two humans, an impressive camera and a great set of binoculars. When we first arrived in January, the island was flooded by Winter Texans, people escaping the frigid cold of the north. Who can blame them? That’s how we ended up in South Padre Island. South Texas is a mecca for “snow birds”. I always envisioned our first winter in Florida, with all the other people running from the cold and snow. The type of weather which leaves you with a desire to hold up inside your camper until spring arrives. Turns out south Texas became that spot for us, while others were freezing I was wearing shorts and enjoying a nice cold beer at a beach bar. I spent a good bit of my time working to save money when it was available but when it came time to play there was a plethora of activities in the great outdoors. So “Getting Wild Around South Padre Island” is all about the wildlife! We will save the other “Gone Wild” for a discussion about Spring Break.
The Rio Grande Valley is a hot spot for birdwatching. On South Padre Island you can stroll the beach in the morning to watch the sun rise, bird watch by day, then be ready for dinner, live music and dancing by light fall. The nature center features 3,300 feet of boardwalk and will also give you an opportunity to see one of the many SPI sand castles. I bought a set of binoculars for my 35th birthday, own a decent camera but I am by no means a “birder”. Maybe one day… it seems like a super cool hobby. Yes, I said super cool. Flash forward 30 years and I’m an expert birder, having lunch with people I met on Facebook, and rendezvoused with, in SPI to bird watch. True story, just not mine, you hear great stories while waiting tables. A visit to South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is guaranteed to give you a front row seat to a variety of different birds, with glimpses of turtles, fish and alligators.