Sunday, April 20, 2008

Egrets. I've had a few.

We are at Mustang Island State Park, near Corpus Christi (map).

We had an uneventful ferry crossing yesterday, especially since, this time, we were prepared for the fact that Odyssey's 24 tons would tilt the whole boat as we drove on board. Our first clue that things would be crowded here on the island was the fact that we waited in a 45 minute line to board the ferry, and that was with four boats running.

As it turns out, the Texas Sandfest is going on at the beach in Port Aransas. We did not even try to get out to that part of the island, where beach camping is available after buying a permit in town or from a ranger. Now that we know the Sandfest is running, we're glad we did not fight our way through the traffic, as I am certain the beach was cheek-by-jowl with campers.

We instead headed directly here, hoping to get a nice primitive spot on the beach. After flashing our state park pass at the gate, we were somewhat relieved to find several spaces in the developed campground still available as a backup. We parked in the day use area and walked to the beach camping.

OMG, the beach was packed. Primitive camping ($8 per night) is allowed for a 1.5 mile stretch, and from the north end, the beach was chockablock with campers for literally as far as the eye could see. While it looked like Odyssey could easily make it onto the firm beach sand, it was not the secluded camping experience for which we were hoping. On top of that, the beach is, at this moment, absolutely covered with seaweed (although the Portugese Man-of-War count is low, according to the sign in the office).

Knowing our other camping options for a weekend night would be fading fast, we hustled back to the office and snagged one of the last remaining spots in the developed campground, where $16 gets you 50 amps and a water spigot, along with a little ramada over the picnic table and a charcoal grill (no wood fires in this campground, although they are allowed on the beach). We paid for two nights, reasoning that we'll have many more options come Monday.

While we're a good 75 yards from the beach here (although a much longer walk, since one must walk around the campground and to the day use area on the paved road), we can see the gulf over the dunes from our deck. The seagulls have unionized here, and have staked out various regions of the campground to hunt for the wily camper-droppings (or the occasional unlawful handout). There's no shortage of other birds here, either, and an egret was strutting around outside the window when I started typing.

Apparently my post here yesterday struck some nerves, causing me to clarify some of the remarks in the comments. Not to beat it to death, but perhaps some further clarification here is warranted:

I tend to look at every situation as different, and I don't like to use absolutes like "never" and "always" when it comes to appropriate boondocking behavior. What's appropriate back by the loading dock is different from what's appropriate by the main entrance, and what may work in rural Texas may not fly in suburban Chicago. The keys are discretion and judgment, and my issue yesterday is that the three rigs I discussed exercised neither, given the particular location and circumstances.

In over three and a half years of full-timing, I can say we've now easily been in a dozen or more places where overnight stays were once allowed but are no longer permitted. In some cases, the decision to prohibit the stays was made by the property owner, and in other cases it came down to ordinances passed by municipalities, counties, or even a whole state. And while some of these closures can, no doubt, be traced to activism or lobbying on the part of one or more commercial campground owners who saw it as a revenue opportunity, the vast majority of cases can be traced directly to the behavior of certain RVers (read about two such spots, here and here).

I can't say that I blame them -- in our travels, we've seen holes in asphalt several inches deep from leveling jacks, pet waste where people walk, trash strewn about, and, yes, I've even had the displeasure to see where some RV's chose to dump their gray or even black water tanks (yuck). I know in my heart that this represents a small minority of RV owners, most of whom are very responsible. Yet these are the folks who cause these overnight opportunities to be lost forever.

So please don't take what I wrote to mean that you shouldn't ever put your slides out, or that you should never take up more spaces than the absolute minimum, or whatever. Just that you should consider carefully how everything you do will look to the business's regular customers, or passers-by on the street. It really does not take many customer complaints (one or two might be sufficient) for a store to prohibit overnights, or many calls to city hall (or police blotter entries) for a municipality to ban it.

Tomorrow we might head down to the Padre Island National Recreation Area, to see if the beach camping is any more appealing there.

Photo by CatDancing

1 comment:

  1. What you have been describing is exactly what we have been seeing re the overnight spots where we used to enjoy a short night before moving on.
    For myself, I tend to move on to a place that is a bit more friendly. I always spent some money in the places where they allowed overnight parking.
    It's just too bad that people are so dumb that they ruin situations for themselves and everyone else.


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