“Carry On Camping”

by ESP on July 27, 2015 · 6 comments


A quick camping excursion to the Gulf – just me (my wife knows better), the kids, nature, and oh yes, a future sand storm.

North Padre Island

We exited society and the tarmac at North Padre Island, crunched the truck’s gearbox stubbornly into 4-wheel-drive and we were off, hurtling down the deserted coastline to look for a suitable camping spot.

Beach Camping

Attracted to the large log, we settled on this spot in the dunes – the beach was deserted as far as we could see in both directions…hmm, that should have been a clue.

Beach Life

They immediately got busy in the sand while I set up camp and erected the tent and an improvised tarp attached to the bed of the truck to store coolers (and other random camping stuff that was later to be buried in sand).


I settled uncomfortably into my newly purchased (and extremely cheap) Academy chair (pictured above) and poured a piña colada buzz ball over ice to get into the holiday mood.

hqdefault(Thanks L)

I was hoping for a more reclined and relaxing beach posture to enjoy my liquid libation but unfortunately I was ergonomically challenged by a Chinese manufacturer into a bolt upright position – knees pushed so high against my chest cavity that it hindered breathing.

You get what you pay for.


The chairs were a perfect size for them as it turned out.

The fire-pit was lit, we had chicken wings and marshmallows on the BBQ, the stars came out over the oil rigs,

I had another piña colada buzz ball…it was just about perfect…a quick torch-lit crab hunt then it was time for ‘bed’.

After a rather rough night comprised of:

a) Incessant wiggling, and an excess of irritating / abrasive sand in the tent,

b) An infestation of sand flies that chewed on us all…all night,


c) The gross misconception that sand is a soft medium to pitch a tent on (and sleep soundly on over the age of 10)…


…dawn could not come soon enough for me.

Luckily the coastguard gave us all an early start which initiated some post-breakfast beach-combing.


We found a plethora of beautiful / deadly and disgusting Gulf-Coast wash-ups on the morning tide.

Plenty of these,


Portuguese Man of War:

(Physalia physalis)



A little disconcerting considering they were dotted at regular intervals down the beach.

We found…


one of these,


a baby hammerhead who had met an unfortunate end,


and, lots and lots of these coquina clams…her favorite (over and above the other random dead and decapitated things).



This was the last image I took before the above-mentioned sand storm blew in and destroyed the camp, (you can see the storm clouds building in the distance), unfortunately I have no pictures of it as I was fully consumed:

a) Trying to control a rather large tarp that insisted on throwing even more sand in my face while slapping at me wildly. The tent was buckled over to the ex’tent’ ahem that through the haze of sand I could make out the silhouettes of two small people huddled together, the canvas contouring to their bodies, one was crying…having fun at the beach yet kids?


b) After giving up on the tarp and ultimately cutting it loose (the long metal sand spikes attempting to hold it down had become a legitimate concern / potential Darwin award at this point) and upon entering the now buckled-over tent for my own protection, I realized the temporary domicile was filling up with sand faster than one could say ‘what the King Tut is going on?’


It was time to evacuate before we were buried alive, buried alive I say.


We threw everything that was not yet buried into the back of the truck, jumped in and slammed the doors.

It was so quiet.


This is how I looked (after I had already brushed myself down) as I checked into a local Best Western Hotel.

Never has a shower felt so good…and never have I witnessed my kids wanting a shower so much that I had to take third place in line to get one.

That was a first.


The following morning we woke up to a great view and felt refreshed after finally getting some quality sleep.

After our experience we were only too happy to be tourists for a while.

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

They had a fine time exploring “The Blue Ghost” aircraft carrier (USS Lexington),

USS Lexington

which housed a display case containing an impressive amount of knots, yes knots. If you like knots, this display case is for you.


We returned home only to find Kumo in a spot of bother with a garden spider.

Argiope aurantia

It was a beauty, with a web spanning 7ft.


No shortage of foliage this year for web spinning.



Another less dramatic excursion took us recently to the Hill Country Water Gardens:



Even in 100 degree weather, this place with its shade trees and an abundance of water features makes it feel like 98.


The ponds are stunning and so well maintained, well worth a visit.

Looking at them reminded me that I had a decade worth of organic sludge burping and fizzing at the bottom of my pond,



These fish heads were still attached to their colorful bodies.

Hill Country Water Gardens

This was the star attraction for them and one I fear I will be roped into constructing in the not too distant future.

Hill Country Water Gardens

A living fairy garden.

Hill Country Water Gardens


Returning home, I just had to make a start:


Stay Tuned For:

“National Leveridge’s European Vacation”



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intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
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1 Anonymous July 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Hope your next trip is FAR less filled with the challenging adventures of the beach trip!

Thanks Gail and lets hope so.

2 Indie July 31, 2015 at 6:42 am

Ha! I laughed so much at this post, though that did seem like a rather unfortunate place in which to camp. I will certainly not show this post to my husband, as he has never been camping and I’ve been trying to convince him to give it a try. I think we’ll camp somewhere with less sand, though…

It was a great place to camp, well apart from the sand storm…so deserted, away from the masses…my sort of place.
Happy it made you laugh :-)

3 Pam/Digging July 31, 2015 at 10:58 pm

Yeah, beach camping — no thanks. Been there, done that. I too love Hill Country Water Gardens. Always well worth a visit.

I never learn.

4 TexasDeb August 8, 2015 at 8:00 am

I think if you took a rough poll, everybody who has ever tried to camp on a Texas beach would have their own sandstorm story to share. I’ll take my beaches during the daytime hours minus whipping winds, thankyouverymuch. Your kids are great sports and probably the best way to avoid paying for years (and years) of therapy for them later will be to construct a sandstorm memory erasing first-class living fairy garden. Spit-spot! Can’t wait to see it!

Oh no…not a fairy garden…the leaves, the maintenance, this is exactly what I do not need.
I am still finding sand in containers and other random places…the sand also ruined our dish washer!

5 debsgarden August 23, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Hello, I came here via recommendation of Indie’s. I am glad I came! As one who has vacationed on the Gulf many times, I could have warned you about the sand fleas, though maybe not the sand storm of such epic proportions. However, I wonder if your sand storm grows with the telling. :<) No matter! You are making lots of memories with your kids, who most likely will grow old recounting their adventures with their dad, and who will take their own children beach combing for fish heads and other treasures.

Happy you found the Patch Deb!
Are you accusing ME of EXAGGERATING about the sand storm?

6 katina September 6, 2015 at 8:58 pm

I’ve never done beach camping. Not sure if I want to after your experience. I loved the whole “ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?!?!” feel to the sand storm. Because, yes, that’s half of camping. <—says the woman who will be backpacking in 100-degree heat in the very near future.

Hi Katina.
I love beach camping…usually, don’t let me put you off, haha.
Hope your backpacking goes / went well.

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