texas 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

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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Think of Someplace Warm

So I love yoga partly because I sometimes get to have these day dreamy moments at the instruction of my yoga teacher and nobody gets to ruin them by asking for fruit snacks or milk. It’s not every time I go, but I hadn’t actually been in over two weeks and my body and mind were screaming for some me time on the mat.

It was 90 degrees yesterday. It’s 45 degrees today so during a pre-class child’s pose Maria (my yoga instructor) asked us to think of someplace warm. 10 times out of 10 when you ask me to think of someplace warm, I’m going to think of my toes in the sand, the sun on my face, and gentle waves slowly lulling me to sleep. It’s my go to. I tried to go there today and you know what? I didn’t want to be there.

Who am I? Why do I not want to be at the beach? What other warm place could I possibly want to go?

And then I had my most favorite day dream of someplace warm to date. It was cold outside in this day dream (much like today), but I was snuggled in close on the couch in our new to us camper in front of the TV and space heater fireplace with the three people who mean the most to me in all the world. Wrapped in blankets we’re happy and warm and just soaking in all the goodness that is family confined to a small space. We’re drinking hot chocolate, the kids are laughing (I can actually hear Corbin laughing in my head and it makes me smile), Tyler and I are beaming with pride for the family we created, and I literally can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

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I can’t wait to start sharing our camping adventures with you. I love that we’re calling them adventures. I was showing Saida all the places we’d go and instead of asking where we’d camp next, she asked me to tell her what the next adventure would be. It was painful actually signing the paperwork for the second most expensive thing we currently own, but hearing her put it that way makes me realize I would have gladly paid even more to make these adventures her reality. These are the moments we were absolutely meant to live together and I’m glad we get to start sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned.

- Monica