Ahhhh! We finally made it to Galveston Island State Park where we are camping just steps from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The campground is a narrow strip behind the sand dunes, yet very close to the sand beach and water. There are three loops with water, electric, shelter with picnic table, and fire ring at each site, and flush toilets and showers at the first and third loop.
We left the Rainbow’s End Escapee Park on Friday morning and headed to Houston to visit our daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. It was an easy ride through Houston this time and we got to their driveway in record time where we set up the coach. They had a 50 amp outlet installed to make our stays on the driveway comfortable. We prefer to stay in our own little house so that we can stay with the pets some of the time because our daughter has some serious allergies to them. The grandkids love coming into the trailer, however, because it’s like a little playhouse to them. It has lots of fun buttons to turn lights on and off, a big TV to watch movies on, and of course pets to play with.
We met a wonderful couple last year while we were in Oregon. They are full timers and have been on the road for 18 years. We were hoping that we could meet up with them somewhere and sometime again. It turns out that they were scheduled to arrive at Escapee’s Rainbow’s End in Livingston, TX as we were heading down to Houston. Bingo!
I’m in Paradise! It is January 31st and I’m sitting in my outdoor recliner, in my campsite, in a t-shirt and capris, adoring the view of the lake and trees only steps in front of me. We’re in the premium loop which only consists of 10 sites, pull through, near the water, with full hook ups and no one else is here but us! Peace, quiet, and nature at it’s finest; who could ask for more?
We pulled into Gulpha Gorge Campground, the Hot Springs National Park Campground, and what a surprise. It was Tuesday and there were only three other campers there. The campground is beautiful and spacious with full hookups for only $30 a night. I’ve never heard of national park campgrounds with full hookups!
The other campers were all huddled together by the river, so we opted to go to the empty side of the campground with a long driveway and easy backup. What a beautiful place (although being near a busy road, the traffic is a bit noisy).
Hot Springs National Park was historically known for its healing waters. Doctors had actually prescribed their patients to bathe there. The water is odorless, colorless and flavorless. It is not in a volcanic region and so the natural process is different leaving the water very pleasant.
Wednesday morning, we had a nice slow start and then headed into town to the visitor center and to check out “Bath House Row”. Although there are only two functioning bath houses now, the Buckstaff (for a traditional bath) and the Quapaw (modern pools), what an impressive place this must have been in the day. Fantastic architecture and some of the remnant of the interiors was amazing too. The visitor center is located inside one of the old bath houses and serves as a museum. You can take a self- guided tour through it. Then off to lunch at the oldest restaurant, The Ohio Club, for some tasty burgers. And finally a stroll down The Grand Promenade and back to the Beast and the campground for some more relaxation.
Wednesday seemed to bring more campers into the campground. Four arrived in the morning, and of course, parked down by the others at the river. But then another two arrived later, one in between us and the river group, and then one next to us. Oh my. I really cherished being alone.
We took a long time to get started on Thursday. I think that we’ve been pushing so hard that some R&R was in order and this was not a bad place to get started. The temperatures were warm, the campground lovely and comfortable, and lots of good trails to walk. We planned to walk a long and more strenuous trail today and then soak in the hot pool for a while. Good plan. So we registered for another night. We hiked the Gulpha Gorge Trail (very steep) up to the junction of the North Mountain Loop Drive, and then backtracked and walked a short trail over to Goat Rock. It was a good and strenuous hike. Back to Annie and then head into town to the modern Quapaw Bathhouse.
The pools are wonderful, super clean, and well attended to, but not cheap. It costs $20 per person, plus if you don’t have your own flip-flops, you have to buy their cheap but functional ones for $3 each. There are four big pools, all at different temperatures with waterfalls and jets. We of course, tried them all. After a nice long soak, we wandered back to our campsite, made dinner, and were too relaxed to do any planning for travel the next day.
So the next morning, we woke up, and enjoyed another slow morning with a big breakfast and ample chill time. Okay, it’s Friday. I started looking at possibilities of where to travel tomorrow and realized that the campgrounds we wanted to head to were full for the weekend. Best plan is to stay put for the weekend. After all, it’s a great campground, it’s warm outside, and there is good hiking. We registered for the rest of the weekend.
After lunch, we took a nice long hike along the West Mountain Trail. Our dog has been very happy with the walks. Only problem was that I did find a tick, on his nose! But it is t- shirt weather and we’re in the woods. Perfect! After our wonderful hike, we headed to a grocery store and back to the campsite. There were more campers now, but nowhere near full.
On Saturday, our last full day, we had a relaxing start, then headed out for one last beautiful hike. We walked the Hot Springs Mountain Trail this time. I can’t get over how beautifully developed these trails are. Of course, Coda was in heaven with so many new smells to check out. After our walk, we headed back to our campground. The picnic area and creek area were busy with people out to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Late afternoon we headed back into town to enjoy the fabulous hot pools for one last time. It was a great day!
We enjoyed our stay at Gulpha Gorge Campground and Hot Springs National Park immensely. What a wonderful getaway!
I love snow especially when it’s falling slowly from the sky in big crystals. I love going out for a walk or to cross country ski and then sit in front of a warm cozy fire sipping hot cocoa. But when the snow turns to hard ice and the wind tries to rip your nose off your face, I’d rather be someplace warmer! And I can! So we got Annie packed and watched the weather. Sunday was an overcast sky but no precipitation and it looked like a clear route going south. Off we went. We’re headed to Houston to spend some time with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids and then wander west.
On our first day, we finally stopped just south of Springfield, Ill. We stopped at the Double J Campground. It was perfect. Just off the interstate and with full hookups. There was still snow on the ground but less than at home. We will not dewinterize the coach yet. It was very peaceful and quiet. We took the dog for a walk, microwaved our dinner, watched a show, and snuggled under the covers for a good night’s rest. Got up in the morning, fixed breakfast, and on the road again.
The second night, we made it to Forrest City, Ark, (just west of Memphis, TN). We stayed at Delta Ridge RV Park which again was right off the interstate, full hookups, and convenient to restaurants and grocery stores, etc. Finally no snow and the temperatures reached 60′ during the day. Now we were able to dewinterized Annie. Then, we walked over to the Ole Sawmill Cafe for a nice “grandma style” meal and back for a good nights sleep. The next morning, a well earned shower, and off down the road.
But we decided to make this a short day. We have driven past Hot Springs National Park a few times in the past and this time we had some time with no snow on the ground, so I wanted to check it out. The adventures begin ….
After our granddaughter’s birthday, we’ll tackle something new for us – being snowbirds. We’ve never had a trailer/rv out in true winter (January/February) before, and getting safely from the cold and ice of the upper-midwest to the relative warmth of the south introduces new complications.
Unlike last time, for this trip we are mostly winging it. We have two reservations for the entire trip (and one is for our daughter’s driveway). We’ve given ourselves almost two weeks to get from home to Houston, but we won’t be able to leave until we have at least two days of decent traveling weather. That basically gives us one week of buffer before we start falling behind plan.