Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Day at The Beach (Padre Island National Seashore)

February 25, 2011. Shields Park NAS Recreation Area.
Today the wind was calmer than usual although still windy. We decided to take advantage of the relative  calm and head over to the beach on Padre Island.
Our daughter, Ashley joined us so we decided to take her to the Padre Island National Seashore and take a drive on the beach.
We set up near the surf as it appeared the high tide was going down. It was still windy and the air was cool so we took shelter behind the Jeep.
While we all got sun, we watched the visitors up and down the beach to include...
several small flocks of pelicans..
other vehicles and a pair of equestrians.
After enjoying our lunch and a couple hours on the beach, we packed up and headed home but, not before stopping with Ashley at the visitor center.
Back home we were told by several of the campers that the price of fuel had just gone up. In fact, gasoline had spiked to $3.20 and diesel to $3.60. Unrest in the Middle East and particularly Libya has created instability in the markets. Let's pray for peace and "drill baby drill!" here in North America.
We plan to move on March 1.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

USS lexington CV-16, Corpus Christi

February 22, 2011, Shields Park, NAS Recreation Area.
Yesterday, I went with my daughter, Ashley and son-in-law, Andrew for the self-guided tour of the USS Lexington CV-16 Museum moored in Corpus Christi. Joyce decided to stay home due to a headache. After arriving, we paid the $12 each entry fee along with the $3 parking. Our first stop was the small IMAX Theater on board the ship. We watched an interesting film on the United States Air Force's Red Flag exercise. We thought it interesting that a USAF film would be playing on the Navy ship.
The USS LEXINGTON, CV-16, is a World War II-vintage aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 1943, she served the United States longer and set more records than any other carrier in the history of naval aviation.

The ship was the oldest working carrier in the United States Navy when decommissioned in 1991. Lexington, an Essex-class carrier, was originally named the USS CABOT. During World War II, the final work on it was being completed at Massachusetts' Fore River Shipyard when word was received that the original carrier named USS LEXINGTON, CV-2, had been sunk in the Coral Sea. A campaign was launched to change the new carrier's name to Lexington, and the rest is history. The USS LEXINGTON, CV-16, was commissioned on February 17, 1943.

Pilot Briefing Room on board
After training maneuvers and a shakedown cruise, Lexington joined the Fifth Fleet at Pearl Harbor. During World War II, the carrier participated in nearly every major operation in the Pacific Theater and spent a total of 21 months in combat. Her planes destroyed 372 enemy aircraft in the air and 475 more on the ground. She sank or destroyed 300,000 tons of enemy cargo and damaged an additional 600,000 tons. The ship's guns shot down 15 planes and assisted in downing five more.

Andrew and I in front of a anti-aircraft deck gun.
After the war, Lexington was briefly decommissioned (1947-1955). When reactivated, she operated primarily with the Seventh Fleet out of San Diego, California. Although not involved in actual combat, Lexington kept an offshore vigil during tensions in Formosa, Laos, and Cuba. In 1962, she sailed into Pensacola, Florida, and began training operations, eventually being officially designated CVT-16, Navy Training Carrier.
The USS LEXINGTON CV-16 was decommissioned on November 26, 1991. Corpus Christi is the permanent home to this national treasure.

Andrew and Ashley

We enjoyed the self-guided tour which involved climbing up and down a series of metal stairs to reach the various decks. There were plenty of exhibits to occupy our time and before long we heard the announcements throughout the ship that the museum would be closing at 1700 hrs. We had been there for at least 4 hours and thoroughly enjoyed the USS Lexington CV-16 Museum

Friday, February 18, 2011

Padre Island

February 18, 2011 Shields Park NAS Recreation Area, NAS Corpus Christi, Tx.
It's been a while since my last post. We are still on the Navy base. The winds here are almost constant and it's really a bit daunting at times to do anything outside. However the other day, I did manage to wash our fifth wheel to include the roof. I used Dawn dishwashing soap. It looked brand new when I was done! Washing rigs seems to be a past time here in the park. There's no prohibition against washing so everyone seems to take advantage of it. Especially since the high winds carry the salt spray which seems to cover everything.
We've kept busy visiting with our daughter and son-in-law. We celebrated Ashley's birthday a few days ago and as part of the celebration we attended the Cirque Du Soleil show Alegria in downtown Corpus Christi. It was a thrilling acrobatic exhibition. I'm not sure if there is a story line, but if there was it completely escaped all of us. It's worth a visit if you get the chance to see it.
Today, we took a ride out to Padre Island. 
Extending 113 miles along the Texas Gulf coast, Padre Island is comprised of stunning dunes of fine white sand, thriving grasslands, saltwater marshes, and myriad wildlife. With 70 miles of natural beaches, 133,918 acres of which are protected in the National Seashore, Padre Island is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the United States.

We wanted to visit the Nueces county park, Padre Balli Park and check out the rv facilities. We took a quick drive through the RV park noting that it's basically a paved parking lot with water and electric hook-ups. It's situated behind some tall sand dunes and thus protected somewhat from the winds. We did notice a few empty sites. Driving on the beach is permitted within the county park so we took the opportunity to try it out in the Jeep.
The sand was flat and brownish not the awesome white sand we are familiar with in Florida. A permit is required to actually park on the beach within the county park.
For those not wanting to risk getting stuck. There is paved access to the beach along with paved parking that doesn't require a permit or any fees.
We left  Padre Balli Park and continued south towards the national park, Padre Island National Seashore. It was an 8 mile paved drive along the relatively flat grassland of the island to the toll gate.
Padre Island National Seashore protects the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world. Experience the wonder of the National Seashore by enjoying the beach, launching your boat and fishing, windsurfing or watching wildlife.
We showed the attendant at the toll gate our National Parks Volunteer pass and we were promptly admitted without having to pay the $10 entry fee. We then drove another 4 miles to the visitor center.

The visitor center had a nice boardwalk down to the shore. We walked out to the beach and spent some time relaxing in the sun and listening to the rough surf.
Another mile or so from the visitor center the paved road ends. Beach driving is the only way to get further south. The information I read is that one could drive 55 miles on the beach as far south as Brownsville Texas. 
The route is considered a Texas highway and traffic laws are enforced.
The section we traveled on was flat and the sand was very compact. There were a few small RVs parked on the beach. However, a few miles further on down the beach access is restricted to four wheel drive vehicles.

We felt comfortable in the Jeep on the sand even though the BFG Mud/Terrain tires are really not suited for sand.
The surf and wind were active. Like I said before, the wind seems to constantly blow around here, just somedays it blows harder than others!
We will be staying put till the end of the month. Hopefully we will figure out where we are going next before then. We don't want to get too far away as we have to be back on June 10th for our son-in-law's "Winging Ceremony" at the completion of his multi-engine training. Regardless, I'm anxious to move on away from the wind and high humidity.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas

February 10, 2011. NAS Corpus Christi, Shields Park NAS Recreation Area.
We see a lot of the aircraft below flying and circling over the base and Corpus. Our son-in-law is currently training on this multi-engine aircraft for his multi-engine certification.
Beachcraft T-44C
We got a bit of good news yesterday in that we were told we could keep our site till March 1st and thus, we won't have to move again. The last few days have seen a brief warming trend from the frigid arctic front that passed through here last week. However, the last couple of days brought another subfreezing front that literally blew through. Yesterday the winds were making it uncomfortable inside and outside. Wind chills were in the single digits. Our Carriage Cameo shook all day in the wind. I stayed home with the dogs as Joyce took Ashley shopping for her birthday. I noticed a lot of rigs had pulled their slides in, particularly those with slide awnings. Fortunately, our Carriage Cameo doesn't need or have slide awnings. In the campground wind gusts were up to 50 mph. In fact, the wind blew over my satellite dish that I had staked out on a tripod and weighted down with gallon water jugs. Later I discovered that the fall broke the LNB housing on the satellite dish.
Today was the start of the recovery from the cold temps but with subfreezing temps expected tonight. Our son-in-law didn't have any training scheduled for today, so we decided to take a trip to the Texas State Aquarium in downtown Corpus Christi hoping to stay indoors. 
Joyce and A2
It cost about $15 each for admission with Ashley and Andrew (A2) enjoying a small military discount. Below A2 pose at a fountain by the entrance with the Harbor Bridge in the background.

Joyce in front of the Main Aquarium.


Outside at the rear of the aquarium Andrew took this picture of us with our daughter, Ashley. In the background is the USS Lexington
The aircraft carrier is now a museum. We plan to come back to this area and visit the popular war ship and take the self-guided tour.
My opinion of the aquarium is based on my comparison with the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. As I recall the Florida Aquarium was the same price with frequent discounts. The Texas State Aquarium pales in comparison to the Florida Aquarium in size, number of exhibits and grandeur. Thus jaded, I'm not sure if the Texas State Aquarium is worth the cost as we were in and out in about 1.5 hrs.
Back at home, I had called around trying to find a replacement satellite dish. I kept getting referred back to Dish customer service. Of course I kept getting connected to whom, I could only assume was a foreigner, who had as much trouble understanding me as I did them. They wanted to charge me $95 just to have a technician come out. I didn't need a technician, I know what the problem is, the broken LNB! After I managed to explain that their arrangement wasn't acceptable, I got across that all I wanted was a satellite dish that I could replace on my own. So they gave me a phone number to an installer 78 miles away! Dish customer service is really a disservice.
So I ended up gluing the broken LNB back together with superglue and put it back together on the satellite dish. Surprisingly, I got it to work. However, it may just be a temporary fix as the structural integrity of the LNB is weakened and the breaks held together with Gorilla glue.
I did find an installer in Corpus Christi who offered to sell me a used dish for $50. I may take him up on the offer.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Freezing in Corpus Christi

Friday, February 4, 2011 NAS Corpus Christi, Shields Park NAS Recreation Area.
The last few days, actually since Tuesday have been extremely cold and windy with temps in the 30's during the day and below freezing at night. Our water spicket in the campsite has been frozen since Tuesday. Fortunately, I have water in our Cameo's tank. However, the tank was only a third full. So we've been rationing the water use. Last night Joyce spent the night at our daughter and son-in-law's home which would help in conserving the water. I wanted to stay with the rig to monitor and address any freezing concerns.
Overnight we had freezing "wintery mix". I stayed in the campground in our Cameo with Maggie and Rico and we awoke this morning at 7:30 to ice on the windows. We have dual pane windows and I feel they are worth the extra weight and expense. We've never experienced a condensation issue and they seem well insulated in comparison to other rigs I've been inside.
In fact, as I took the dogs outside we discovered ice all over the side of our rig and the ground!

We've been running a ceramic heater in the living room and one in the bedroom along with the furnace to stay warm. The ceramic heaters supplement the furnace enough that it doesn't have to run very often. But I need to make sure the furnace runs periodically to warm the basement and the holding tanks. I have a thermometer transmitter in the basement so that I'm able to monitor the temperature of the basement to ensure it doesn't reach freezing temps. I've been maintaining it at 40-50 degrees.
From what I can see the roads here on base are iced over and I've seen only a couple of official vehicles on the streets with the exception of a pickup I saw purposefully sliding on the roads.
The sun is supposed to come out today around noon and break up this winter blast. The high should be in the mid 40's which will be a vast improvement. Tomorrow should be even better. Let's hope so, as we have to move to yet another site Saturday morning.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

February 1, 2011 Shields Park NAS,  NAS Corpus Christi.
Yesterday, we left Buckhorn Lake RV Resort just after 9:00. Our new friends, Mike, Leslie, Paul and Mary got up and out to see us off. That was so nice of them.
Soon we were on the road pushing towards NAS Corpus Christi. Our son-in-law had made arrangements for us to get on the Naval Air Station and stay at Shields Park NAS Recreation Area

View Larger Map

We made the trip with only a short stop for lunch. 240 miles and 5 hrs. later we had followed the GPS to the wrong gate! We were supposed to meet our daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Andrew at the Main Gate but, the trusty GPS took us to the back North Gate. I plead ignorance having relied on the GPS. They met us at the gate and took us to Shields Park NAS Recreation Area. We got checked into the campground for one night in site 65 near the water. A nice full hook-up site with a concrete drive and slab. However, we only had this site for one night. We would have to move in the morning to another site.
We spent the rest of the evening with Andrew, Ashley and their boxer Ava (A3). We also brought Maggie and Rico over to run around with Ava. Andrew is in Multi Engine flight certification training with the Navy. So, he filled us in on his training. They expect to only be stationed here for 6 months. In fact we will be returning in June to be at the ceremony for the presentation of his "wings". We had a delicious vegan dinner and before long it was time to head home and get to bed. 
The howling wind woke us early though we weren't inspired to get out of bed. The dreaded "massive storm of the season" and it's cold front was pushing in. The morning temperature was dropping from an early morning high of 64 degrees. Sea spray from the seawall a hundred yards away and carried by the strong wind was misting on our back window.
I left the truck hitched to the fifth wheel and had used the BigFoot levelers to manually level the rig. The point being that it would be easy to just pull in the slides and make our move this morning. I'm sure glad that we did because the wind was ferocious making it uncomfortable to be outside. 
We finally got moved to site 110. It became obvious that this is in the older section of the campground. There is no concrete drive and so the fifth wheel is parked on grass adjacent to a concrete patio. The sewer connection is about a foot high of the ground and 14 ft. away making it practically useless. However, it will do as we have to move again on Saturday to yet another site. It seems this park is very popular at this time of year! We want to stay in the area for a month. It remains to be seen if we will be able to stay at Shields Park NAS Recreation Area for the entire month. We are on "the waiting for a cancellation list" to extend our stay. None of the sites have trees, bushes or barriers just open grass fields with paved roads. 
After getting settled into the new site we met up with A3 at their home. I brought the truck over and after emptying the bed of the truck and removing the fifth wheel hitch, we had a clean bed to load up with cardboard boxes to haul to the recycler. One side of their garage was unusable due to all the (collapsed) boxes from their recent move from Pensacola. Once we got the boxes (cardboard) hauled off we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. Now we are back at A3's house making dinner.
Joyce, Ava and Ashley

Tonight and the next few days we are expecting subfreezing lows with highs in the 30's and 40's. I'm not looking forward to those frigid temps in the wind! I made sure we had water in our tank as I'll be disconnecting the water hose at night!

NWS is forecasting an arctic cold front that will blast through South Texas on Tuesday morning around noon and will usher in the coldest air of the season. Temperatures will plummet Tuesday afternoon and fall into the mid to upper 20s inland to lower 30s along coast by Wednesday morning. There is a potential for a mix of light rain, snow and sleet to develop as early as Thursday afternoon, continuing through Friday morning before ending. Several hours of freezing temperatures will also be possible across coastal locations, including the island, especially on Thursday and Friday mornings.