Knowing that we would need to get an early start the next day for the long drive to New Orleans (made longer due to the closure of the I-10), we slept in and dawdled Friday morning. Once we got ready to move out we bandied about several options and decided to make it a day of low level activity, first a visit to the beach and then an afternoon of flea market type browsing.
Our first stop was Mustang Island State Park with its broad sandy beach (a portion of which can be driven on) and warm gulf waters. After parking we walked up the beach for a mile or so to one of the man made jetty’s that dot the shoreline, stopping to walk out to its end point, watch the birds, and then make the walk back to the car.
Nothing makes us miss the west coast and our former home as much as a slow walk down the beach, waves crashing nearby, birds soaring above, families basking in the sun and children doing what kids do at the shore, digging holes and making castles.
Next up was the Corpus Christi Trade Center, billed as the city’s largest indoor market to spend an interesting couple of hours walking the aisles of a place crammed with the largest assortment of flea market merchandise we’d seen in quite some time. Many of the stalls sold new product but others featured a mixture of new and used goods that defied imagination. Given that it was Friday, a number of the stalls were closed, but one could picture what the place would be like on a crowded Saturday.
Towards the end of our visit, while Stephanie and Joanna made a shopping stop at a purse vendor, Lee and I took advantage of the Trade Centers dimly lit bar to drink a cold Dos Equis (or two) and after the girls joined us, each couple devoured a large cup of roasted corn purchased from the food truck outside. This was like eating an ear of corn without the cob, smothered in a butter and cream mixture that invited a constant dipping of the spoon in order to keep one’s mouth filled with the savory goodness.
A short drive way was final browsing option of the afternoon, Half Price Books, a discount chain I’d not run across before. With a large inventory of new and used books, CD’s, and DVD’s, it is a shopping bottom feeder’s paradise. They have a nice coffee house attached to the retail section and thus a couple of hours or so passed by in pleasant pursuit of bargains and caffeine. Joanna and I picked up used copies of Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer and Jane Smiley’s Private Life, the two of them for just under ten dollars. Lee picked up a book we’d order later, 200 Skills Every Cook Must Have, filled with tips and pictures for the simple cooking skills that seem to evade us from time to time.
Parched from our afternoon’s activity, and having waited for the bewitching hour to arrive, we made our way over to Corpus Christi’s only brewery, Lazy Beach Brewing. Operated by a husband and wife (Cory and Jess) team, they brew in small batches and offer a constantly evolving array of beers. I started with their Texas Bock and would work my way through a couple more, including an interesting Pecan Porter.
A warm early evening, we sat outside, making sure to spray ourselves liberally with bug juice to ward of swarms of attacking mosquitos, and enjoyed our beers while playing Qwirkle, an interesting board game (whose name I can’t recall) that resembled dominos but used colors to differentiate the tiles. Ready to eat dinner, we bade adieu to Jess and Cory and drove to the downtown area for dinner at the Executive Surf Club.
Our only regret about visiting this joint was that our need to get up early the next morning precluded staying late, which the very good band, Matt Hole and the The Hot Rod Gang, would have compelled us to do in different circumstances. They are a Corpus Christi legend, enshrined out side by a star in the sidewalk and our seats in a side room were perfect, the music in the background not inhibiting our conversation, but rocking when you walked to the bar to get a drink.
Having eaten plenty of fish of late, we ordered burgers and they were all one could ask of this American classic, big, juicy and yet well constructed such that it didn’t fall apart as you worked your way through it. We’d ordered sides of fries which were completely disappointing, limp and warm noodle like sticks of potato. I like mine crisp, almost double fried if possible and so could only muster the enthusiasm to eat a marginal amount.
Still planning on the need to leave the house by six in the morning with the long drive in mind, we got into bed early by the standards we’d established that week and made our preparations for an pre-dawn start. Stephanie told us she’d say farewell in the morning and knowing Lee would be sleeping through our departure said our goodbyes and closed out the evening.
With the alarm going off at 5:00am we quickly showered, packed up and were ready for the road as planned at 6:00. Stephanie came out to meet us and mentioned that Lee had heard late on the news that the I-10 had been reopened, this information confirmed by his voice coming from the bedroom. What a bonus, our drive significantly shortened.
We hit the road as planned and three hours later made the turn in Houston to get on the I-10. We kept on the lookout for the highway notice signs that a few days earlier had advised of the closure, but no such messages appeared. Relieved, we continued east bound and soon enough made it to the Sabine River where we could see how the flooding had closed the highway,
The bridge that crosses the river is high enough to not be impacted by the rising waters but the flooding had pushed up the on and off ramps and covered the highway on either side of the bridge. Indeed, water still crept up the ramps almost all the way to the road. Crossing over into Louisiana with some time on our hands, we stopped at a Denny’s for breakfast. Not a chain we’ve been particularly enamored of in the past, we found this location to be a step above, with reasonably priced breakfast items. Joanna ordered a delicious stack of pancakes with a pecan cinnamon glazing while I enjoyed a nicely done vegetable omelet.
Fueled up and on the road, we eventually arrived in New Orleans mid afternoon, setting up camp at our home (or Joanna’s while I spent time at the conference) for the next few days New Orleans KOA West. Still full from our large breakfast, we made a dinner of crackers, cheese, and apples, glad to have been able to make an easy drive instead of a hard one.
The next week would bring a lot of activity so after reading in the car we crawled into the tent for a good night’s rest. It had been a very full week, a great way to start the trip. Conference in New Orleans would mean more of the same. How would we fare? Only time would tell.
Mustang Island State Park: http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/mustang-island
Corpus Christi Trade Center: http://www.corpuschristitradecenter.com/index.html
Half Price Books: http://b.hpb.com/
Lazy Beach Brewing: http://lazybeachbrewing.com/
Executive Surf Club: http://www.waterstmarketcc.com/executive-surf-club/#surf-about