Texas State Park

Road Trip to Mustang Island

“No matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you.” – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

The greatness of the world is never more obvious to me than when the ocean is in sight. I took a three-day weekend to see the beach for the first time in a few years. I wanted to camp on the beach and I wanted to go alone – both first-times for me. While I didn’t mind the solo trip, I don’t think I would go camping by myself without at least a furry four-legged friend to tag along.

So I left Dallas around 8 a.m. with a car full of camping gear and a hungry stomach because every Texan knows to swing by the Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery on any travels through West. After chowing down on both a savory and a sweet kolache, it was just me, the open road and my iTunes library.

I was ready to stretch my legs again in San Antonio and stopped at the Japanese Tea Garden. It was nice, but much of the park was under construction and the waterfall was not running. You shouldn’t go out of your way to visit here until the construction is complete.

Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio

Path through the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio

Then, about two and half hours later, I was driving on a freeway over the ocean on my way to Mustang Island State Park to set up camp! I paid for primitive camping right on the beach and drove my little sedan down to pick out a spot. I saw a soft sand sign and knew I had to turn around and settle on a spot among the crowd. In my efforts, I was stuck in the sand. Fortunately, after a frantic call to the office just before it closed, a park ranger helped tow my car back to more compacted sand. I was so embarrassed, but he was not at all disapproving like I expected. In fact, he was very kind and came back to check on me a couple times after finding out I was camping alone.

DSC_0004Finally back to business, I pitched my tent and headed straight for the water. It was then, playing in the waves and watching the pelicans, that I knew this was all worth it. Getting stuck in the sand, driving more than six hours, getting sand all inside my car and tent – none of it mattered. The ocean was a refreshing temperature in contrast to the hot Texas sun and despite the crowd of campers, there weren’t many people in the water. I definitely prefer Mustang Island over some other coastal areas I’ve visited.

After sunset, I cooked myself a DELICIOUS Ahi Tuna steak and some fresh shrimp I picked up from Port A Seafood Co. They have a great variety of fresh seafood at decent prices and it’s only a 15 minute drive from the state park.

Then I went to sleep to the sound of waves and scent of salty sea air. The next day, I didn’t have much food left in the cooler and I wasn’t sure if I could spend another night alone with the sand and the wind so I packed up camp a day early.

Before heading back to Dallas, I booked a tour with Kohootz Dolphin Encounters and it was very much worth the $25. The small two-deck boat cruised around for a couple hours, providing wonderful views of jumping dolphins and the Lydia Ann Lighthouse. My favorite was watching the dolphins surf and play on the waves a large ship made. If you’re ever in the Port Aransas area, you have to do this! It was my favorite part of the trip.

While I have no desire to go camping alone again, this trip was very worthwhile. I had both some much needed relaxation and fun adventures along the way.