I have long dreamed of Eden’s first ocean experience! How would she react? What would she think of all the sand? Would she notice the different birds?
This trip was waaay more than we bargained for – both in planning and execution. We began things a bit scattered…would this be a camping trip OR a beach trip? Well, we unwisely tried to make it both…why choose, right? Well, I’ll tell you why. The beach is like…ummm….like a decadently rich, sweet, chocolate cake…a little goes a looooooooooooong way. DO NOT do the beach for more than three hours a day…and for the love of Pete…well, really, that says it all…just don’t do it for more than three hours a day.
So, here is our adventure – in all its gory glory!
Plan A – travel to Goose Island State Park and enjoy the beach at Rockport. While Rockport is lovely and would have probably been a GREAT place to enjoy the beach, Goose Island State Park earned a goose egg on “beach camping.” It is great for people in RV’s…who like to fish…and perhaps are not so into the whole nature/land-loving aspect of camping. The “camp sites” were cement slabs with waist-high grills…nada for camp fires…nada. Really, nada for taking in the beauty of nature…very cold, cemented environment. Upon viewing the surroundings, Phil and I had a short consultation…Goose Island was a no go. But, we still wanted to camp…ha ha ha…so innocent…so Phil asked the park ranger about beach camping. We were sent to Mustang Island State Park – Plan B begins.
Plan B – try to soothe our girl, who has now traveled three hours in the cars seat…and is ready to DITCH THE CAR. We played lots of Pandora’s toddler station, provided snacks, and milk. This helped…Eden is a trooper! Bonus to plan B = travel to Port Aransas (a first for all of us), involving the ferry. The ferry was a hit! Plus we got to get out of the car. Ahhhh.
Driving through Port Aransas was fun. My friend, Mindy, had mentioned that it was a beach town. This did not make sense until we saw it. Visually exciting…set up for tourism, which means lots of kitschy souvenir shops. The town screams…”We have a beach here, and boy, is it fun!” The fun was beginning. We were excited and hopeful of what was just around the corner…camping on the beach. Wahooo.
So, we arrive at the ranger station. Phil goes it. Eden and I GET OUT OF THE CAR…where we went really didn’t matter. The girl wanted O-U-T. We wandered up to the ranger station while Phil was checking us in. The rangers had set up a “feel box,” full of shells, sand, etc. Eden was intrigued by the display…very promising.
This is also the location where Eden hears the term, “High tide.” Apparently, there would be no high tide, so we did not need to worry about being swept away by the water. Whew.
As Phil was wrapping up our accommodations, I noticed the guest book. Someone had left the comment, “Never again.” Curious. Why leave such a rude statement? Eh. Some people. Right?
Upon leaving the ranger station, we decide it would be cruel to put Eden back in the car seat. Phil and Eden would saunter to the site while I drove the van. Me: “Where’s our site, sweetie?” Phil: “Oh. No site. It’s just the beach. Pick a spot.” Me: giddy and gleeful and full of optimism, “You’re kidding. That is awesome!” (This is sooooooooooooo the experience I had imagined for Eden!!!!)
And so ensues the idealistic experience I had longed for with all my heart. Eden LOVED the ocean…and the sand…for a while. Phil loved the challenge of primitive camping…true primitive camping. He had never camped on the beach, so his McGyverism went into action, figuring out the best way to build a fire, place the tent, etc. Me? I just soaked it all in…my two loves…the nature…the sand…the surf.
Eden, adorably and ever the friendly girl, kept shouting, “Hi tide, hi tide!” How cute is that?
Heaven. It was heaven.
And then, it wasn’t. Sleep was okay. The sand did not bother me nor Eden nor Phil. But the wind picked up and destroyed our easy-up. Boo. The next morning, we were greeted by the pounding of the surf and the wind and the sand…and it all got a bit overwhelming, especially for Eden. The screaming commenced about 9:30 am…and concluded upon our packing up all the camping gear for plan C at about 10:30 am.
Plan C – back to Port Aransas for a HOTEL…for the love of God…a place out of the elements! We settled on a cute, touristy hotel rather than a chain. Bingo! We had all we needed…four walls, a pool, and a grill. After all, we were still on a camping trip and we still had two more meals to cook! Delightfully, Eden loved the pool, Phil loved the grill, I loved hanging out and talking to guests while eating outside…on a table, with an umbrella for shade, no wind, and no sand. (Did I mention how SOFT my skin was upon staying on the beach? Best microdermabrasion ever.)
We did not visit the beach again. Well, we did drive by, but we did not get out…we were done with the beach. Overall, we counted this trip as a delightful success! Happy for adventure, flexibility, and the wisdom to know when we’ve been beat! Next beach trip, we’ll do what MOST people recommended…a hotel near the beach = some beach, some pool, AND A BELOVED ESCAPE FROM THE ELEMENTS!
This made the whole trip worth it.