RV Life

A Week At Padre Balli RV Park in Corpus Christi Texas

Padre Balli Park in the Camper

I cannot express to you how good it actually felt to be in our camper again. It had definitely been way too long since we’d made a trip (3 months). I let it slide though because I knew we’d be staying for a week this time and I have a certain amount of nights I insist we spend in the camper each year to make paying the price worth our while.

This wasn’t really a traditional camping trip for us. It was one of those situations where the camper is basically a condo on wheels and an affordable way for us spend an entire week at the beach. We showered regularly, went souvenir shopping, ate some dinners out at restraunts, and civilization was at our doorstep… or close enough (Thank goodness because we needed it to be on Thursday night).


Why We Chose Padre Balli Park For This Trip

Morning walk on the beach before the crowds showed up

Morning walk on the beach before the crowds showed up

The main reason we chose Padre Balli Park was for the proximity to people we were going to the beach with. Yes there are nicer RV parks within 30 minutes of where we stayed, but those parks weren’t a 5 minute car ride to the family we were spending time with at the beach. Also we knew we weren’t going to spend a lot of time at the park so paying a higher price for one of those other nicer parks just didn’t make any sense. My parents ended up tagging on to the end of this vacation so we did end up driving 15-20 minutes each way to hang at the beach in front of their beach rental too, but we still weren’t hanging out at the RV Park so paying the price for a “nicer” one just didn’t make sense. In this way Padre Balli Park definitely seemed like a good choice.


My Thoughts on Padre Balli Park

Pros:

  • Park is on the Beach

  • There is a restaurant and gift shop on the fishing pier at the park

  • Easy drive to Dollar General, Gas Stations, and Restaurants

  • 50 Amp area is new

  • Shower Houses and Laundry onsite

  • Full Hookups in 50 AMP area

  • Concrete pads in new section

  • Friendly staff

  • Affordable (we paid $275 for an entire week in the 50 AMP area with full hookups and it’s on the beach. The 30 AMP area is $150 a week and doesn’t have sewer. There is a dump station.)

Cons:

  • No pool

  • Basic sites (not too close together, but not too far and zero landscaping)

  • Quiet hours not enforced and people like to party. Thank goodness for AC units being so loud.

  • Old 30 AMP area is run down and cramped (pot hole parking lot with hookups)

  • The beach at the park is very crowded

  • Lots of trash left behind on beach and at the campsites and the park doesn’t seem to prioritize cleaning it up.

Notes:

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They do things a little differently than most. They don’t actually take any payments from you until you show up. When you call to book, you get a reservation confirmation number and that’s basically it. Write it down and hang on to it. You don’t hear from them again until about a week before your trip when they call to confirm your stay. It was my first time experiencing this and it honestly made me a little nervous that we might not have somewhere to stay when it was time to show up. Fortunately that wasn’t the case. They seemed to have it together in this department.

Would I stay at Padre Balli Park again?

Yes, absolutely. We definitely want to try out Gulf Waters sometime in the future too, but we want to do that when we plan to stay there and not rush off each day to go see other people staying in other places. When we pay the price to stay at Gulf Waters, we want to take advantage of their scenery, pool, and easy access to a beach that’s clean and beautiful. Padre Balli Park is absolutely a great go to for situations similar to this trip we just had. And honestly, if you’re not a little beach spoiled like me and you want to save a few dollars, Padre Balli Park is really a great choice even if you plan on taking advantage of the beach without driving elsewhere.

The highlighted site is site 16 which is the site we stayed in.

The highlighted site is site 16 which is the site we stayed in.


What I Learned on This Trip

More than I was prepared to learn, that’s what. But seriously though, Tyler had to go back to work for a couple days so we spent night 2 with just me and the kids in the camper. I was laying in bed about 10 PM that night thinking it had all gone so smoothly without him when the power goes out in the camper. It’s July in Texas and I like AC. Saida is already passed out and Corbin is making every excuse to stay up just a little longer, but I finally have him laying down in Tyler’s spot in my bed when this all goes down. I check to make sure we didn’t trip the breaker, but the entire Park is out. Turns out a transformer blew and the estimated time of restoration is 3 AM. YES 3 AM. If we don’t get the generator going, we’re going to be hot as hell and lose the food in the fridge and we’re one of the lucky ones with a generator. Unfortunately there isn’t any gas in it so that means I’m hauling kids out of bed at 10:30 at night to go buy gas cans and gas so we can get through these next few hours in comfort. All of these things were new for me, but a momma’s gotta do what a momma’s got to do and I wanted AC for my kids and to save the milk I just bought for them that evening.

Once the transformer was fixed, they blew another one and the new estimated time of restoration was 5 AM. I didn’t buy that much gas so I dropped us down to 1 of 3 ACs and everyone still managed to sleep comfortably. Power was back on by 3 AM anyway and we still had enough gas to get us through another power outage (this time for the entire island) that happend a couple days later.

We’re buying a nice gas can and taking some with us on every trip going forward for situations like this. The other option is our camper does have a fuel station and we could keep some gas in there with a stabilizer to make it last a little longer. And I’m happy to say I now know how to start the generator and keep things going when things don’t go as expected.

I really hate to wake sleeping kids, but they did an awesome job hanging with me and holding the flashlight while I filled the generator.


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Places We Ate

Snoopy’s

13313 South Padre Island Drive

Corpus Christi, TX78418

A family favorite on Padre Island at the JFK Causeway. We’ve been going here for years and fish is always fried to perfection and the view is great. The secret is out though so go early or be prepared to wait in line to order.

A La Mode Gelateria

14254 S Padre Island Dr Ste 101

Corpus Christi, Texas 78418

Our friends introduced us to this place. It’s also on Padre Island and Saida and Tyler are obsessed with the banana pudding gelato. The staff is super friendly and welcoming and it’s definitely a new tradition for us.

La Playa Mexican grille

222 Beach Ave.

Port Aransas, TX 78373

Cash only in Port Aransas and this one isn’t a secret anymore either. The restaurant itself is super tiny so there is almost always a wait and then we show up with 16 people. I love it here because they actually know how to make a fish taco. I love cheese, but you don’t put cheese on fish tacos, you don’t put fruit salsa on fish tacos (IMO), and you don’t use flour tortillas on fish tacos. They do none of those things, thank goodness.

Brooklyn Pie Co.

15326 S Padre Island

Corpus Christi, TX 78418

We were first timers here. I wanted to just walk over to Mikel Mays on the pier at Padre Balli Park the night it was just me and the kids, but Saida insisted on Pizza and we had seen this place just up the road at the next stop light. We ordered their large cheese pizza, went and roamed around at ACE Hardware for about 15 minutes and then came back to pick up our pizza to go. The kids loved it and it came with one of those little plastic barbie tables… I mean pizza savers… which the kids have never seen before and Saida is excited to use it as a barbie table (as it was obviously meant to be).


Favorite Camping Hack of the Trip

I stole this hack idea from one of the RV Camping Facebook pages I’m on. As soon as I saw it I was on Amazon ordering these suction cup hooks to hang our beach towels and swimsuits on the outside of the camper. It was a great solution for not having to bring our wet and sandy towels into the camper.

Disclaimer: The link to Amazon below is an affiliate link. If you purhase from Amazon after clicking this link, I will receive a super teeny tiny commission at no additional cost to you. Also if you purchase these after clicking this link, THANK YOU! You doing this allows me to keep creating quality content for my readers and I think that’s pretty awesome.


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Drink of the Trip

Overall this trip was a family success, just not without drama because who would even know what that looks like. Lots of margaritas were had; spicy grapefruit ones. Click below to see the recipe I found on Pinterest. They were delicious. and I used lime juice from a bottle, HEB’s Rio Red Grapefruit juice, Espolon Silver tequila, and didn’t bother with garnish because we were taking it out to the beach.


Pictures From Our Trip Because I’m a Photographer

On Mustang Island near my parents’ beach rental

On Mustang Island near my parents’ beach rental

Mustang Island

Mustang Island

Mustang Island near my parents’ beach rental

Mustang Island near my parents’ beach rental

That’s how I feel about ice cream too. Shout out HEB.

That’s how I feel about ice cream too. Shout out HEB.

Iphone Picture edited with Lightroom Mobile @ Padre Balli Park

Iphone Picture edited with Lightroom Mobile @ Padre Balli Park

Iphone photo unedited @ Port Aransas, Texas

Iphone photo unedited @ Port Aransas, Texas

Iphone Photo edited with Lightroom Mobile @ DQ in Pleasanton on the way home

Iphone Photo edited with Lightroom Mobile @ DQ in Pleasanton on the way home


Share with Me

As usual I have no idea how to wrap all of this up. That was all kind of random, but that’s just kind of our life right now so… it is what it is.

Feel free to share your favorite restaurants in the area in the comments, tell me where you’ve found fish tacos that don’t suck, or let me know if you tried that margarita recipe. Seriously they are so delicious, especially if you’re into spicy alcoholic beverages.

Happy Camping,

Monica

5 Tips for Your Very First Trip in Your New RV

Your first trip out in the new RV can seem overwhelming. It feels like stocking a second home, which it kind of is, and surely you’re going to forget at least one thing you really need. Just make sure it’s not the toilet paper. The rest can be worked out.

Tips for Surviving your First Trip in the New RV

Texas RV Camping McKinney Falls State Park
  1. Stay Close to Home and Camp Near a Walmart - Seriously. Luckily for us there wasn’t anything that we needed to go run and get in an emergency, but it happens all the time for first timers. You forget something you really need and the last thing you need is to be way out in the middle of nowhere and far from home. Our thoughts were that if something went terribly wrong, we could just hook up and be home in 30 minutes. No harm done. Also if we forgot something small that we actually needed like a can opener or bottle opener (if you’re me that’s important), you could just run up to the nearest Walmart and grab it real quick. Some people even choose to camp in their driveway for the first time. If you live somewhere where you can do this, it’s probably not a bad idea.

  2. Keep a Notebook or Start Notes in Your Phone - This is for those things you forgot that you got by without, but definitely want for next time. For me this was salt and pepper and also cooking spray. Although I’ll be totally honest with you, I left the cooking spray in the camper and I’m currently questioning that choice. It’s starting to get hot here and I’m afraid the next time I go in my camper it may have exploded. Fingers crossed my kitchen isn’t covered in cooking oil spray. Also this is great for keeping track of campsites. Drive around and find your favorites and write them down so you remember them for you next trip.

  3. Use your Phone To Communicate While Backing Up the Camper - If cell service is non existent, you could also use walkie talkies. Our camper is 39 ft. long. I tried the whole use hand signals to help my husband back it in thing and it was bad for our marriage. I was never in the right spot and we were both super frustrated. Cell phones allow me to be anywhere I think I need to be and moving regularly to check clearance and I can still direct my husband into the campsite. It’s so much less stressful this way and who wants to start their trip off with stress?

  4. Expect anything or expect nothing - Your first trip is likely going to be a shit show. Or at least peices of it. Expect nothing to go as planned. Expect anything to happen. Setting appropriate expectations can make a not so great trip no big deal at all. Just remember you’re learning and remember this first trip is all about working out the kinks.

  5. Just Enjoy!


Texas RV Camping First Time McKinney Falls State Park

Just before our first trip I polled a Facebook group I’m in to have them tell me that one thing they forgot on their first trip. I want to share the top responses with you before I wrap this post up just so you can make sure you have the most commonly forgotten things.

  • Can Opener

  • Cork Screw

  • Toilet Paper

  • Garbage Bags

  • Spices (Salt & Pepper)

  • Dish Soap

  • Pillows

  • Scissors

  • Table Cloth

If you have any great tips and tricks to add or want to share the thing your forgot on your first trip, please feel free to share in the comments.

Also if you want to check out my RV camping items on Amazon, click the button below. Maybe you’ll find something else you haven’t thought of yet.

Disclaimer: The Amazon link is an affiliate link and I do earn a tiny commission for any items purchased as a result of clicking this link. If you purchase, THANK YOU!! This allows me to keep bringing you quality content on a regular basis.

Happy Camping!!!

-Monica


Interested in more of my blog posts for Beginner RV Campers? Click the buttons below.


What To Do About That Terrible RV Mattress

If you’re reading this I’m guessing you just spent the night on quite possibly the worst mattress you’ve ever slept on (if you even slept at all). No worries, I’ve got you. Let’s talk about that horrible RV mattress and the best and most affordable way to upgrade it.

It happens to the best of us. We buy our new or new to us camper, we buy all the things to go with it, and then set up our maiden camping trip just to find out ain’t nobody sleeping good on that poor excuse for a mattress that comes with the thing. You just spent all this money and a new mattress is the last thing you have room for in the budget. What do you do? Do you fork out the cash for a new one anyway? It’s a shame to spend all this money on something that’s supposed to bring you joy only to be sleep deprived with an achy back. We fixed this issue for under $100, which by comparison seemed like the perfect alternative to buying a new mattress.

This is NOT a sponsored post. I’m simply sharing what worked for us and helping out my fellow RVers.


What we bought

Lucid 3 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper

This particular mattress topper had great reviews everywhere I found it online and was available at many stores for so much less than comparable models. I ended up buying mine from Home Depot because at the time they had the best deal. I like to shop around. I’m going to link it below on several sites so you can find the best deal at the time you’re looking at this. I did see it on more sites (JC Penny, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc.), but those others had a much higher price point and I didn’t see the point of adding them here.

Disclaimer: The Amazon and Home Depot links are affiliate links and if you do purchase through one of those links, thank you! I will receive a super small commission, but that commission keeps me producing quality content for you. That being said, I’m a firm believer and finding the best price most of the time. If it’s not at Home Depot or Amazon, please choose the option that’s best for you.


What else you need to know before purchasing your mattress topper

mattress topper for the camper

I didn’t just purchase ours blind hoping it would work for us. I thought about our sleep needs and the level of firmness we typically prefer. If you like a super plush and soft bed, maybe the 4 inch model would be a better fit for you. If you love it super firm, you may consider the 2 inch model. We chose the 3 inch topper simply because we sunk into the super thin camper mattress directly down to the plywood below. We like it mostly firm, but felt for our needs that the 3 inch might provide a little bit more of what we were looking for. Check out this graphic from Lucid. Maybe it’ll help you decide which model will work best for you.


Hopefully you found this helpful and you can start getting a better night’s sleep on your next trip. This thing really has made a huge difference for us.

Interested in my other blog posts for beginner RVers? Check them out below.

Happy Camping,

Monica

24 Rainy Day Camping Activities for Kids

Rainy Day Camping Activities for Kids

I know I’ve talked about it before, but I’ve got a knack for planning camping trips on rainy or poor weather weekends. My talent for doing this is incredible actually. Just ask my family. You want to know when it’s going to rain? Just ask me for my camping schedule and you’ve got the answer. We’re headed to the coast in July and I’m already planning for hurricane weather because that would be my luck. You can bet I’ll be keeping a real close eye on the forcast during that time.

So since it’s obviously going to be raining for my next camping trip and the one after that and the one after that, here is the big question. What kind of rainy day activities can we do to keep the kids busy in the camper? I mean, we’ve watched every single movie in our camper at least 5 times and we haven’t even been camping for all that long. There are only so many times you can watch Sing or the Minions Movie over and over again. I’ve seen this question asked over and over again on camping forums so I’ve compiled the ultimate list of rainy day camping activities for your young kids.

The Ultimate List of Rainy Day Camping Activities For Your Kids

Markers and coloring books

Markers and coloring books

  1. Watch Movies - Yes it’s screen time and that’s not what camping is about, but for me camping is family time so if we’re all enjoying a movie together with a little popcorn, then I’m cool with that. Our camper favorites lately seem to be Sing, Minions, and The Lorax.

  2. Play Board Games - Candy Land, Monopoly, Guess Who, Battle Ship, Connect 4, Chutes and Ladders, Sorry, Trouble, Checkers, or any board game you already have hiding in a closet somewhere will do.

  3. Play Card Games - A whole family activiite sure to please. We love Uno and Go Fish. My almost 6 year old daughter would probably play all day. Don’t forget about games like Skip-Bo, Old Maid, War, Apples to Apples, Crazy 8, or Charades for Kids.

  4. Color - We prefer a couple of coloring books and some markers that stay in our camper. Both of my kids love to color. Crayons can melt if they get too hot so I wouldn’t suggest keeping them in the camper if it gets hot in storage.

  5. Paint - I’ve seen suggestions of painting rocks which looks like a ton of fun. Some people have also mentioned leaving them behind for the next set of campers to discover. I love that idea. Seems like a fun way to put a smile on someone’s face. Also some old school water colors and paper are easy to pack and always a fun activity for kids.

  6. Play outside (if it’s safe to do so) - Just make sure you have a couple of kid size ponchos on hand (or swimsuits if it’s warm enough) and pack their rain boots (or crocs) and you’re good to go for a little rainy day outdoor adventure. Of course if there is lightening near by or dangerous wind, don’t do this. Use common sense folks, but have fun.

  7. Play-Doh - cheap and easy to bring along.

  8. Fort Making in the Bunks - If you have bunks that is and plenty of blankets or sleeping bags, pillows or just anything that can be used for a fort. I haven’t met a kid that didn’t enjoy fort making yet.

  9. Learn Origami - Keep a stash of paper around and maybe grab an inexpensive book off Amazon for learning origami.

  10. Make Slime - You can buy a slime kit or just have the ingredients you need on hand. There are endless recipes for slime on the internet. Just google it and choose a recipe that looks interesting or easy or whatever you want it to be.

  11. Bake Cookies - Our favorite ones to make come from the Magnolia Cookbook. Oddly they’re better after they cool off which is unlike any cookie recipe I’ve ever tried. A premade dough works just fine as well, but from scratch will give you more to do and can be a great family activity for a rainy day.

  12. Legos - Bring a tub or just a small set. You’re never too old for legos.

  13. Read - Grab some books that your kids can read on their own or bring along some to read to them. I went to college to be an elementary school teacher so I’m a fan of reading to kids anytime, not just when it’s raining.

  14. Seek and Find Books - Think Where’s Waldo or the I Spy books. Both of my kids love these.

  15. Puzzles - I love that this can also be an individual thing or a family thing. Bring along all kinds of puzzles ranging from 24 pieces all the way to 500 pieces (depending on how rainy it’ll be or on ages and number of participants).

  16. Jenga - Because this one also never gets old.

  17. Tic-tac-toe - This is our go to at restaurants, but why not on a rainy day in the camper too.

  18. Visit Local Indoor Attractions in nearby city- Museums, Children’s Museums, Aquariums, Kid friendly brewery or winery, trampoline parks, bowling, etc. Just google indoor activities for whatever city you are near and get out and explore.

  19. Craft Kits - you can create your own kit or buy one ready to go. This can be as simple as beads and string or that super cool dream catcher kit in my Amazon list for rainy day activities.

  20. Science Experiments - Honestly even I’d have to just google this one. I wouldn’t know where to start, but I’ve seen it mentioned in forums so I thought I’d include it here.

  21. Dominos - I haven’t played dominos in years and would totally have to figure it all out again, but I do remember having fun. Seems like a great game for kids and adults alike.

  22. Paper Doll Books - I’ve never done paper dolls with my daughter, but I’d bet if I pulled this out on a rainy day, she’d be in heaven.

  23. Joke Books - This is for when you’re desperate and everyone is getting on each other’s last nerve. Hopefully a joke or two will get everyone smiling again.

  24. Magnatiles - We don’t have magnatiles, buy I’ve almost invested in them several times. Everyone who has them swears they’ll keep their kids busy creating for hours.


Just after the sun came back out, looking at birds on the water.

Just after the sun came back out, looking at birds on the water.

Get everything you need to entertain your kiddos on a rainy day in the RV on Amazon. Click the button below to go to my Rainy Day Shopping List created specifically for this blog post.

This link is an affiliate link and I may receive a small commission for any items purchased by clicking this link. If you choose to click and purchase, Thank you! This is how I can continue to bring you quality content on a regular basis.


A cold day spent inside at Moody Gardens Rain Forest Pyramid while camping in Galveston.

A cold day spent inside at Moody Gardens Rain Forest Pyramid while camping in Galveston.

Do you camp? What are some of your favorite rainy day camping activities? Share them with me in the comments for others to see.

Thanks for reading my post!


-Monica

Want to see more of my posts for beginner RV campers? Click the links below.

Spring Break at Inks Lake State Park

You know what Saida and I fought about just before heading out with the camper to Inks Lake State Park? She didn’t want to go and and kept telling me we should just stay home. Homegirl junior. Not that she cares, but I had to pull the “well mommy and daddy don’t spend too much money a month on this camper to not go anywhere so do you think we should go camping or do you want to sell the camper?”

Obviously we went camping. I won’t say she didn’t cry about it for an hour and half on the way there though because she totally did.

Where’d we go?

Inks Lake State Park (and Longhorn Cavern State Park for a couple hours)

Site number?

West Loop, Site 43. I’d highly recommend this site especially if you like being right on the water and you like having the park store nearby with boat rentals and such. It is very close to the park store though and when they did fishing with a park ranger, there was a lot of foot traffic on the trail between 42 and 43. We didn’t mind, but if you do, consider a different site. And also fair warning, someone did mention to me on the Texas RV Camping Facebook page that they had seen a rattlesnake and some water moccasins in this particular area. We kept and eye out, but never saw anything.

What we did while we were there

Camped, hiked, paddle boated, made memories with family, made s’mores and hamburgers, watched movies in the camper (we’re real people), fished, hit up the park store for ice cream, made a quick trip to Longhorn Cavern State Park to take a cave tour.

Other Things you can do there

They have at least 2 playgrounds, a Kona Ice truck, kayaks, canoes, more hiking trails, swimming in the lake & events depending on the day. Also I had my eye on a winery up Park Road 4 called Perissos Vinyard and Winery, but we didn’t actually go there.


Around the campsite

Campsite 43. You can see the canoes from the park store behind the camper.

Campsite 43. You can see the canoes from the park store behind the camper.

Golden hour behind our campsite looking towards the park store.

Golden hour behind our campsite looking towards the park store.

From our campsite (43) looking out over the cove.

From our campsite (43) looking out over the cove.

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas
Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas

Hiking

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas

My kids aren’t exactly experienced hikers so when picking out a hike, we went for something that appeared manageable. We chose Lower and Upper Fisherman’s Trail and essentially made a loop. We ended up on the dark green trail for a few minutes so we walked a little further than originally anticipated, but overall this was a great trail for them. They got to climb a little, see the lake, and it wasn’t too long or challenging for them (ages 3 and 5). Corbin fell a few times, but that’s mainly because he’s a little more clumsy than your average 3 year old.

Upper Fisherman’s Trail

Upper Fisherman’s Trail

Lower Fisherman’s Trail and they were only climbing because the wanted to. This is actually just above the trail.

Lower Fisherman’s Trail and they were only climbing because the wanted to. This is actually just above the trail.


Paddle Boats

Anyone curious what happens when I ask my kids to stand next to each other for a picture? THIS! This is what happens. This is why I don’t ask them to do it. Also the only reason I have this sad image is because we were about to buy ice cream and they weren’t taking a chance of not getting it. Also this was after getting off the paddle boats which ended up being a disaster because everyone was tired and both kids (who couldn’t even really reach the peddles) wanted to be able to peddle at the same time. We didn’t even use our full hour and then when I asked Saida what her favorite part of camping was after we’d been home a few days, she said the paddle boats. Blew my mind. I’m like you mean that thing we did where everyone whined the whole time. They really did have a great camping trip overall though.

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas and Longhorn Cavern

Longhorn Cavern State Park really wasn’t on our list of things to do on this trip, but when we realized it was literally down the street from Inks Lake State Park, we decided why not. To be honest I really wasn’t sure what we were getting into. I thought we could explore a cave on our own for like 20 minute and then go hit some trails (because from what I can tell they have some super easy and kid friendly trails), but turns out this cavern is much more expansive than I originally thought and it’s only accessible by a 90 minute guided tour. Obviously we took the tour and decided against any hiking trails since we were well into nap time by the time we finished. The kids absolutely loved it. Corbin was a litte over it about an hour in (because it was nap time) but overall he did really well (thank goodness).


We’re only three camping trips in, but so far we’ve really enjoyed each one. I think the kids are anxious to come back here again sometime soon. My final thought is that it’s a fantastic park for families and next time we look forward to bringing bikes for the kids as well. Maybe I’ll even hit up that winery and report back.

-Monica