RV camping

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

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.

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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.

A Dreary Weekend at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park

So first things first, I’m just letting you know that if you’re showing up at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park after 4pm on a Friday with your camper, you need to call ahead and let them know. I’m not always the best at reading the fine print, but fortunately we knew our site number and the park host made sure we were good to go. In my defense, I originally planned on showing up at check in time, but life happens and it didn’t happen.

Lake Bastrop South Shore Park

Where’d we go camping?

Lake Bastrop South Shore Park (an LCRA Park)

Lake Bastrop South Shore Park is one of a collection of parks located along the Colorado River in Texas operated by the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority). We paid $22/night to stay in a water/electric RV site and then paid an entry of $5/day for just the adults. The park does have a dump station and I believe they also have just a few full hook up sites. If you don’t have an RV, cabins are also available for rent and of course you can bring your tent.

Site Number?

Site number 4. We made our reservations kind of late and I wasn’t actually excited about this site at the time of reservation. Turns out it’s (in my opinion) one of the best campsites in the park. It’s super spacious with a sufficient enough pad for our monster of a camper and it has a little trail right down to the water. You can actually see the water from the campsite when you’re looking down the trail. This site would be perfect for anyone planning to bring kayaks along as there is plenty of room and an area perfect for launching kayaks just at the end of the trail.

What did we do there?

So we have a running joke already in our household about my ability to choose camping weekends. This was only our 4th trip, but each trip has come with some kind of weather. The first one was cold and a little rainy, the second one was cold and super duper windy, the third was actually mostly okay, but it was a little cold in comparison to the weekends on either side of it, and this one came with the promise of legit storms, flash flooding, and potential for 2 inch hail. Yep, I sure know how to pick them. That being said we didn’t really get to take too much advantage of our time at the park this go around. I think we watched every movie in the camper at least once.

We spent some time down by the water near our campsite watching fish swim around, listening for and finding frogs, and just playing. We also explored the other community areas of the park which included fishing docks, a playground, boat rentals, and mini golf. Of course with the weather we didn’t get to do all of those things, but we were impressed with the amount of activities available. Hiking of course is also on the list of things you could do. You could even hike all the way to the North Shore of the park to the LCRA park there.

Campsite 4. This was our first night and the best weather and light of the entire trip.

Campsite 4. This was our first night and the best weather and light of the entire trip.

Pre bedtime exploration on night 1. This is the area just at the end of the trail from the campsite that would be great for launching a kayak or canoe.

Pre bedtime exploration on night 1. This is the area just at the end of the trail from the campsite that would be great for launching a kayak or canoe.

Camping at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park
Messy eater didn’t get cleaned up before setting off to explore.

Messy eater didn’t get cleaned up before setting off to explore.

Do you see the frog? This little guys were hanging out all over near the water. It was so fun to spot them.

Do you see the frog? This little guys were hanging out all over near the water. It was so fun to spot them.

Camping at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park
Looking for fish swimming around. There was actually a bass just off the shore. Would have been a great fishing spot.

Looking for fish swimming around. There was actually a bass just off the shore. Would have been a great fishing spot.

Next time bubba.

Next time bubba.

My heart.

My heart.

Fishing pier at the RV loop.

Fishing pier at the RV loop.

Part of the park playground.

Part of the park playground.

Swimming area. It was a little cold for swimming though.

Swimming area. It was a little cold for swimming though.

Love this quiet moment.

Love this quiet moment.

More from the swimming area at the main community area where the playground, mini golf, and boat rentals are located just off a large parking lot.

More from the swimming area at the main community area where the playground, mini golf, and boat rentals are located just off a large parking lot.

After this last photo we headed back to our campsite for lunch and Corbin’s nap. By the end of Corbin’s nap, the weather was starting to approach and any plans we had were out the window. We stayed inside the rest of the time and watched movies and waited on storms to pass.

Leaving the next morning was quite eventful. Check out is noon and all we saw on the radar was one storm after another. We packed up the inside of the camper and waited for a break and weather and then hooked up as fast was we could and hit up the dump station in the rain with thunder off in the distance not all that far away.

Ponchos are a definite must have to have on hand in your camper. If you don’t have them, go to the dollar store or jump on Amazon and order some now.

-Moninca


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