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Sketching the Texas Gulf Coast

April 22, 2016

We started our full-time RV life with a two week stay at Galveston Island State Park. Since then, we’ve spent two winters in Rockport, and made numerous weekend trips to Port Aransas. Here are a few images from time spent on the Gulf Coast.

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Galveston Island is a mix of old and new, the result of hurricanes that have wreaked havoc on the city. There are poor sections with houses that need rebuilding and areas, especially along the beach, with multistory colorful mansions. And then there are the restaurants and business establishments. Among the most colorful is El Gusto Restaurant on Broadway. We’ve never eaten in this place, but maybe someday we will. It’s been there for years.

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Further south, along what is called The Coastal Bend, near Corpus Christi, is Aransas Pass. Lots of shrimp boats, like this one we found moored at a bait shop along an inlet near a boat yard with some huge tugboats being repaired. From Aransas Pass, one can cross the car ferry to Port Aransas.

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Port Aransas is a true tourist town, with golf cart rental places on every corner, beachwear and souvenir shops, and specialty shops like Steve’s Custom Jewelers.

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In the mood for ice cream? Who isn’t in a beach town. Dessert Island Ice Cream is a definite stop during the summer. Or any other season.

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From the old fishing town of Fulton to Rockport, and to Mustang Island and Port Aransas, you can be as busy or as laid back as you want.

By the way, you can get to Port Aransas via Corpus Christi, but if you’re an RVer, you should know that we’ve seen everything from tractor trailers to huge motor coaches with a toad roll onto the ferry and make the short crossing from Aransas Pass to Port Aransas.

We love the Gulf Coast.

 

 

 

 

Laundry Day

April 12, 2016

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Every RVer’s favorite thing: laundry. We’ve seen some scary laundry rooms at RV parks and we’ve seen some really nice ones. The same has been true when we’ve gone into town wherever we were and found a Laundromat. They generally aren’t in the best locations in small towns, so you never know what you’ll find or who might be hanging around.

Nell normally does the laundry at one of the laundry rooms here at the RV park where we’re parked long-term. They’re nice and clean, and it’s usually not hard to get to a machine. This particular day was Monday, and Nell knew a couple of people who normally do their laundry on Monday. I usually help her get the stuff there and back. We had a pretty good load so, on a whim, we drove into the nearby town of Leander to a laundromat a neighbor had suggested.

I’ve started carrying my sketchbook and pens almost everywhere we go so, while waiting for the machines to do their work, I sat down and did this little sketch. The timing was perfect, and I was at a stopping point in time to help do the folding. We then had lunch at a nearby catfish restaurant, went grocery shopping, and got back home in time for a neighbor to see this sketch and buy it.

And the Laundromat itself? Clean, well-lit, and even though there were quite a few people there, we got machines easily and didn’t have to wait.

Not a bad day.

Art & Travel

April 10, 2016

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I’ve been experimenting with a  way to record our travels – and places we’ve been – by using sketches in addition to – and sometimes instead of – photographs.  The  Bakery Café is in Aransas Pass, Texas. We spent two winters just up the highway in Rockport, and on several occasions, had breakfast here. It’s a typical town square café with a few stools at a counter as well as tables and chairs. You may be sitting at a table next to a family of tourists or a couple of fishermen. The food was tasty with good portions, and the service was great.

I’d be curious to hear how you feel about seeing sketches such as this here on the blog.

 

Maine in Watercolor

March 21, 2016

chappies chowder houseI am experimenting with some ways to combine travel and art. Take a look at the images from Maine on my art blog at https://ralphparker.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/camden-harbor-2/

Be sure to go back a couple of posts to see everything.

 

January 9, 2016

We haven’t done much traveling recently. There are things going on in our Art world, however. Take a look at https://ralphparker.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/sherwin-goes-exploring/

 

The View From Home Base

October 8, 2015

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If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that, a year ago, we chose to create a home base with the 2008 36 foot Montana Mountaineer fifth wheel, and acquire a smaller Class C motorhome to travel in. We chose this small RV park about 15 miles west of Georgetown, Texas to park the Montana. Fulltime RV purists would say we are no longer fulltimers, but we’ve never much cared for purist attitudes anyway. We live fulltime in an RV and we travel in an RV, therefore we are fulltime RVers.

Since the Montana is parked “permanently”, we decided the small RV steps weren’t sufficient, so we’ve had a mini-porch and solid steps built. Carrying groceries up to the door is now much easier and safer. Nell loves her little “Juliet balcony”. It’s a nice place to step out in the morning and survey the world with a cup of coffee in your hand. Since we are so far undecided about having a deck, we acquired a 10 foot round, offset umbrella that adds a nice flair to the patio space. Many of our neighbors have the larger gazebo style patio canopies, but we chose not to block our view of the trees and sky and sunshine.

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The 28-foot 1995 Cobra Seven Seas Class C motorhome fits comfortably into the site when we want to load and unload for a trip, or to do any work that requires connecting it to the site’s electrical power.

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We couldn’t have planned it any better. We can get around the back of the motorhome without having to move anything in the patio area.

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And at the same time, we can walk comfortably up to the car, which is parked at the front of the Montana. This arrangement worked beautifully for us when we prepared for – and returned from – our recent trip to Houston.

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The patio space is a comfortable size. It’s a work in progress, of course. We still want to find some comfortable outdoor chairs, but for now, it’s perfectly fine. The offset umbrella can be rotated to cover seating or table as needed.

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And with the motorhome moved back to the RV park’s storage area, we have our wide driveway back, and we can wave and say hello to our neighbors, who range from working couples in their forties to retirees in their seventies and eighties.

Just your typical neighborhood.

To Market, To Market

October 6, 2015

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One of the uses we intended for the Class C motorhome was to have our own place to stay when we travel to art markets and festivals that require an overnight stay. We got to test that capability out this past weekend when we went to the October First Saturday Arts Market in Houston. And one of the things that drew us to Rio Bonito Cabin & RV Park in Liberty Hill, Texas as a home base was the oversized RV sites.

We were able to load all the show equipment and art directly into the Honda CR-V, and clothes and food into the motorhome with them parked close to the Montana fifth wheel.

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A neighbor here at the RV park is a carpenter and has all the necessary tools. Along with another project, he put together this wood rack for us that sits over the folding tables we use for shows. All of our show booth equipment is stored in the outside pass-through compartment, with the heavy stuff on the driveway side. The tables are the first things that have to go into the Honda, then everything else is stacked on top of them. Then, when we return, they are the first things to go back into the storage compartment. Now we no longer have to pull everything out and lay it on the ground while we transfer the tables. We simply slide the tables out from beneath the wood rack and slide them directly into the back of the car. Then the Light Dome canopy (the olive green bag on the left) comes out and slides in next to the tables. There are a couple of large items, like the tall director’s chairs that can be set aside without having to bend and stoop, then almost everything else gets transferred directly to the car without having to put it down on the ground. Reversing the process when we returned on Sunday, which is the last chore before being able to relax, was a real back saver.

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The three hour drive from near Georgetown, Texas to the northwest side of Houston was easy and uneventful. At 28 feet and towing a car, gas station stops still require some forethought before pulling in to avoid blocking driveways, which is one of the reasons we start thinking about it once the fuel gauge drops below halfway. In Houston, we stayed at the RV Park at Trader’s Village. It’s on Eldridge Road, not far off Hwy 290, and allows us to avoid driving the motorhome through Houston traffic, leaving a half hour drive in the Honda to the art market location. We were able to get a pull-through site, which made unhooking and connecting with the tow bar a convenient process. The restroom/shower facility nearby left a bit to be desired. Nell couldn’t get the outside door locked, and said the stalls in the ladies’ room didn’t have doors (the men’s room did). The showers only had curtains and no place to put down a bag. Even when most RVs have bathrooms and showers, one expects a bit more privacy in the park’s facilities. I suspect, if the ladies’ room door had been lockable, it would have been okay, especially since the restrooms were very clean.  The shower in our 20 year old motorhome needs some renovation, so we were a bit disappointed.  One thing we’ll have to plan for in the future at this park is the very short distance between the motorhome and our site’s sewer connection. My 10 foot hose was way too long and was a pain when it came time to dump. On the positive side, considering the size, we found the RV park to be very quiet, clean and otherwise well-maintained.

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Traders Village is actually a huge flea market that’s open on the weekend. The RV park has 287 sites with full hookups, and with our Good Sam discount we paid slightly over $59 for two nights. The RV park is separated from the flea market by a large parking lot. The pull thru sites don’t have a patio, but it was perfectly fine for our purposes, and would be a decent place to overnight or spend a few days sightseeing in Houston. On Saturday, we left before sunup and got back after dark, so we can’t speak to the traffic or noise, but when we left on Sunday between 9:30 and 10am, it was quiet, and we had no problem getting out at all.

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We arrived early enough to kick back and relax on Friday evening, and the easy access to the highway meant we didn’t have to rush on Sunday morning before heading back home.

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We can fit the entire booth, including all the artwork, into the Honda CR-V. We knew it would all fit, but this was the first time we towed it to another city fully loaded. It was kind of like towing a driveable trailer. The market itself wasn’t especially profitable for us this time, which was a surprise, because the October market is historically well attended and profitable for just about everyone. However, it did give us a chance to see some old friends and make some new ones, and make some art connections that could be interesting in the future.

While the trip wasn’t a long distance, it provided an opportunity to get out on the road, give the motorhome a workout, and to be reminded of a few things that have been left undone because of the summer heat. We still love our second home on wheels.

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