Hugging the Coast

Our plan for the remainder of winter was to chase the weather along the Gulf Coast, working our way up into Louisiana in time for Mardi Gras. After a week on Padre Island we headed north, hugging the coastline up to Matagorda Beach, which supposedly had a beach where bums like us could park for free.

It did turn out to have just that, but it would have meant driving out on sand that was way too soft for the bus. We ended up at a rather pricey RV park for the night. Fortunately it was right by the beach, so we at least had a nice sunny afternoon playing on the sand.

matagorda beach, TX photographed by luxagraf

matagorda beach, TX photographed by luxagraf

matagorda beach, TX photographed by luxagraf

matagorda beach, TX photographed by luxagraf

matagorda beach, TX photographed by luxagraf

A couple people have asked how we find the places we go, and, after giving this some thought I think I finally have an answer. There are three ways we find stuff. The best is when Corrinne finds something. I don’t know how she does it, but she’ll sit there with her phone for a while researching things while we drive (I can only recount what I observed before we had the dingy) and next thing I know we’re at some really great, cheap campground. That’s about 40 percent of where we stay.

Another 20-30 percent of what we find is word of mouth. We meet someone, they say, oh you have to go to ______. So we do. The rest of what we find is pretty mundane, we look for green spots on maps, and sometimes we use freecampsites.net, wikicamp, guidebooks, etc. That’s about it.

Matagorda Beach was a green spot I had noticed halfway between Padre Island and Holly Beach, LA.

While we were there I met a couple on a beach who told me about a good county park up on Galveston Island. Under normal circumstances that would probably have become out next stop, but the weather forecast for Galveston was rain and wind for several days so we pressed on, up into Louisiana, to a place called Holly Beach.

The drive took us through Houston, which, like most cities, was largely forgettable except for one thing, the massive, ugly and rather ominous looking oil refineries and storage tanks the litter the coast for what feels like forever, but is probably only 20 miles or so.

refineries, houston, tx photographed by Ken Lund, Flickr
Photograph by Ken Lund, Flickr

Sometimes it gives me great pause to see what we humans have done to our world. I hate that we need oil to do this. I hate that without all that ugliness this would not be possible. I have all kinds of stats about how little energy we use, how 65 gallons of water can last us a week, but in the end, we feed those refineries as much as anyone. We need a boat.

I was thinking about energy, oil and the end of abundant cheap oil all the way to Holly Beach. I don’t know why I wanted to go to Holly Beach. I’d first read about it in Peter Jenkins book, Along the Edge of America, which is a good read if you have any interest in the Gulf Coast. But I have no idea why Holly Beach stuck out, it doesn’t really figure in the book much at all, but for whatever reason my brain latched onto it and I wanted to go.

It turned out to be a sad little place. Broken down houses, a few renovated as rentals, but hardly anyone around anymore. There was free camping on the sand, but again soft sand so we just pulled to the side of the road and spent one night. The dead dolphin washed up on the beach didn’t really make me want to fish and by the time the sun went down it was cold, raining and somewhat miserable. This is why Corrinne is usually in charge of where we stay.

Holly Beach, LA photographed by luxagraf

matagorda beach, TX photographed by luxagraf

Holly Beach, LA photographed by luxagraf

Holly Beach, LA photographed by luxagraf

Holly Beach, LA photographed by luxagraf
One thing Holly Beach had in spades was stop signs.

Of course, a cold, rainy day on the beach is still better than most days so it’s not that I’m complaining, I’m just saying, if you want to find the really good camping spots, hit my wife up for advice, not me.