A year in review: Our 2nd year, doing what we do…

Lake Greenwood, Cross Hill, S.C.

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.

New Belgium Brewery, Asheville, N.C.

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Throw All Plans Out the Window

Just remember I love you

And it will be alright~ Firefall

I struggle to know where to begin this part of our story for the simple fact I wish this wasn’t our story. I know there were good times but all in all, the pain dilutes those moments to a fuzzy grey. We arrived in Cross Hill, South Carolina two carefree kids out on a grand adventure to see the United States in our camper one move at a time. This was our third new place to call “home” for a brief stay and needless to say we left not quite the same.

Moving from an Island in Texas to a rural town in South Carolina would take some time getting adjusted to. I had looked forward to the lakefront campground only to be escorted to the “residential area” nowhere near the lake. We moved because this job was an opportunity to get in with the National Park Service and we were committed to making it work. Yes, we live in a camper so we didn’t have to stay in a place we weren’t happy, but it was temporary and we felt the pros outweighed the cons. When we move, there is always the challenge of work, bills still have to be paid and exploring new areas isn’t always cheap. I was offered a job at the campground while we were parking the camper so that obstacle was quickly out of the way.

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Getting Wild Around South Padre Island

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

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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.

thumb_DSC_6787_1024 South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

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.
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South Padre Island: Dolphin Cove Therapy for the Soul

I feel at ease and, in an indefinable way, at home, when dolphins are around. I now know when they are nearby before they appear. I dream after they leave.~ Virginia Colye

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It was just a normal day in April, on South Padre Island that three full time campers decided to play tourist, we had a great time but one of us was forever changed. Okay, it was me and honestly, typical me, but I fell for the dolphins at the cove. After the dolphin cruise I realized I could just walk over to the cove which was part of our campground at Isla Blanca.

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Celebrating… The Days of our Lives

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. ~ Oprah Winfrey

 

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Tabby out on the prowl. This cat is the energizer bunny of cats, she turns 17 this year. When I met my husband he had a Doberman and I had three cats, the story has always been interesting since Sadie, our Doberman, hates cats. We managed to survive living in a house and unfortunately over time lost two of our cats. Tabby the lone survivor and the oldest was blessed with the chance to go on the road and become a traveling cat with her beloved Doberman sister Sadie. To this day we still keep them separated which always keeps life interesting.

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Island Life

Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone. ~Unknown

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Moving to South Padre Island, Texas we quickly jumped into the work force but always tried to squeeze in a stroll on the beach before work or head to a great spot to watch the sunset and grab a beer on a day off. Our campground Isla Blanca Park offered great beach access and our sunset bar of choice was Laguna Bob’s. Continue reading

Tigers and Aliens and Beer, oh my!

Eschew the ordinary, disdain the commonplace. If you have a single-minded need for something, let it be the unusual, the esoteric, the bizarre, the unexpected. Chuck Jones

It would be easy to travel to this small town in Texas go to work, come home and sleep just to do it all over again the next day. In my opinion that would defeat a part of what this lifestyle means to us. We have worked some long hours and I have missed the first few weeks where I constantly felt like I was on vacation. That being said I try to balance rest and play during the time we do have.

On our way to work we pass the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary and I knew immediately I needed to check this place out. We waited for cooler day temperatures hoping for better animal visibility. We spent a little over 2 hours on our tour of the facility viewing lions, tiger, bears, lemurs and various other cats. Continue reading