Sorry for the delay in updates. Life gets in the way sometimes and with moving to a new park, starting a new online job and back issues, we are starting to get back on track. More on all that later.
Back in December we started researching things to do in the Galveston area while we were in the area in January. Looking around on Trip Advisor, one thing that caught my eye was taking a cruise out of Galveston. I completely forgot that Galveston is a cruise ship port. It was an ad for last minute, cheap cruises, so I looked a bit further and found that there were some serious deals happening in January. It looked like mid-January was a slow time and they were looking to fill cabins. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean have cruises out of Galveston and since we knew Carnival was more of a party type atmosphere, we looked further into Royal Caribbean.
A couple years ago we went on a Disney cruise out of FL and knew that it would be hard to beat that level of service and amazement but for a deep discount price of $188pp for a 5 day/4 night Royal Caribbean cruise, we couldn't go wrong! Merry Christmas to us!!!
We set sail on Jan 20th and were amazed by the smooth process getting to the ship and boarding! We started with an informal Uber ride from the Bolivar Peninsula, where we were dropped at the terminal front door. Steps from drop off, we left our bags with the porter and proceeded to check-in. I had already completed the online check-in, complete with pictures of our passports, so checkin was a quick verification and we were sent to the priority boarding line. From door to being onboard the ship was about 45 minutes...and that included stopping for the goofy boarding photo. We were on the Enchantment of the Seas, which is a smaller ship with 1,142 staterooms compared to some of the monsters out there today with almost triple. This ship was just the right size for us and we never waited in line for anything, except maybe a time or two at the buffet. We enjoyed our time onboard and took in a couple shows, late night adult comedy shows, bingo, trivia and lots of food and drink.
We even booked a behind the scenes tour. It was really interesting and we got to see the engine control room, staff quarters, laundry, the busy I-95 corridor, which is the main corridor front to back or bow to stern...ahoy matey! :-) We also got to tour the main kitchen and the bridge. So very cool. We were able to take pictures as we went along the tour so enjoy. No pictures of the kitchen though. I think Rick was so intrigued he forgot to take pictures.
Of course, being out on the water brought plenty of beautiful sunrise and sunset pictures!
Our port of call was Cozumel, which turned out to be a beautiful day on a beautiful island. We booked a dune buggy excursion through Shore Trips on the recommendation of our travel agent Tom Golden. If you ever need a travel agent, Tom is the guy! He and his wife Melanie are also full time RV'ers that run a travel agency from the road. They have been on numerous cruises and are very knowledgeable on not only cruise choices but excursions outside of what the cruise ship offers. Most of the times, they are less expensive and it is a smaller group. They can also help with any other travel needs you may have. We highly recommend them!
Our dune buggy tour included us and 2 girls from Paris. They had a dune buggy with one of the guides, we had a dune buggy to ourselves and the other guide led in his dune buggy. They were cool, open air VW bugs with big tires. This tour had several stops around the islands, which is why it appealed to us. We started off with a drive to the other, quiet side of the island, where we stopped at a small beach bar and cabanas where we took a dip in the water.
We then were off to a little "locals" vacation area to see some island history and Mayan ruins. Our guides took us through what an original islander hut would have been like, talked to us about some cultural history and then guided us into the cooking area where a lady was making tortillas, which we were able to try with some delicious salsas and pickled red onions. YUMMM!
Next door was a beautiful, little historic church dating back to the colonization of the island and an even older Mayan ruins next to that.
We then walked across the courtyard to the local, family run tequila facilities to sample some of their finest. They walked us through the process of making tequila, why the locally grown Mexican blue agave tequila is soo much better than the store bought popular brands and then we sampled some of the various aged tequilas. Yes, that's right, aged. They purchase used whiskey barrels from Kentucky to age their tequila for multiple years and as it ages, it gets darker because of the barrels. The 12 year tequila that we tasted was sooo smooth with no after kick. Wow!! They also had tequila and fruit mixtures and a tequila coffee liqueur, which we purchased, which is delicious in the morning coffee!
From there we boogied over to a small resort closer to the cruise ship area where we had lunch and tried snorkeling. Let's just say that it was a windy day, which made the water a bit rough. My claustrophobia kicked in and it took me a bit of time to feel comfortable to swim along with my head under the water and breath through the snorkel in the rough water. Our guide was very accomodating and had me hold onto a boogie board while he pulled me around. He pointed out lots of different fish and coral and it was amazing! I would love to try it again in calmer waters. We then changed and had lunch with the girls from Paris.
Our time on board Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas went by quickly and we really did enjoy ourselves. I would say our only complaint was that the windows were not clean and it took away from viewing the beautiful ocean, sunrises, etc. Other than that, we did not have any complaints. Our trip back home went smoothly and the RV and truck were still where we parked them. Success!
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After spending just over two months in big city Austin, we were really looking forward to a quiet spot to relax and boy did we find it! We headed southeast to the Bolivar Peninsula and after a non eventful trip through busy Houston on I-10, we arrived around 2pm. The Bolivar Peninsula is across the Galveston Bay from touristy Galveston. There are a handful of local restaurants, small RV parks, an all in one grocery, beach and hardware store, a small Family Dollar, Dollar General and a couple gas stations. That is about it. No huge t-shirt shops, no chain restaurants and certainly not alot of tourists. There are some folks that come in for the weekend but that is about it. Peace and quiet is the name of the game and just what we wanted!
We are staying at The Lazy Pelican RV Park and what a wonderful hidden gem it is! The owner, Chris and his wife Bunny, live nearby and are always around to help you out but give you lots of space. They are wonderful hosts who are always bettering the park in some way. The park has 37 FHU sites with picnic tables and concrete pads, screaming free wifi and...wait for it...FREE LAUNDRY! Who does that? The laundry room is a little FEMA trailer that he has gutted out, but left the bathroom. There are 3 washers and 3 dryers, a folding table, and a hanging rod and even a little library with books and videos. There is also palm trees scattered throughout the park, grass at each site and a cute little tiki hut and pergola area to relax and watch the sun rise or set. The park is on the beach side of 87, the only main road on the peninsula and is on a dead end road, so really only local traffic. It is very quiet at night and peaceful during the day. We have enjoyed sitting outside and reading at our site. We really think we have one of the best sites since our sitting area borders the pergola area and is separated by 4 lovely palm trees.
Sunrises and sunsets here are pretty nice and Rick has been getting shots of both.
In order to get to civilization, as the locals here call it, or Galveston, you need to take a car ferry which is operated by the TX DOT. They operate 24/7, 365 days a year. There is always one ferry in operation, with at second ferry coming online at 6:30am and others as needed. Each ferry can hold up to 20 vehicles. Semis and larger vehicles are also permitted as long as they are under 13'6" tall and weigh less than 80,000 pds. We are actually going to take the RV on as we leave the peninsula. We just need to call ahead to let them know a vehicle of our size is coming on so they can arrange vehicles appropriately.
Our first ride on the ferry was a rainy and very foggy day, which made it a bit nerve wracking with the big dually and not knowing the process. We were fine though and enjoyed the ride. Our next ferry ride was a better day and we were able to see the sights and the dolphins jumping around the ferry. There always seems to be alot of large ships waiting in the gulf area to either be offloaded or led in with a tug. And then there are the birds. Lots of birds. This area has alot of bird sanctuaries as well as your normal gull flocks. They like to lead the ferry back and forth.
There is an interesting wreck left in the harbor area that you pass on the ferry. The SS Selma was an experimental concrete ship from the WW1 era and had a short stint as a oil tanker until it hit a jetty and cracked. It sits in that spot still today.
There is also the Seawolf Park as you come into Galveston. The museum features a WWII submarine, USS Cavalla, and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart. Unfortunately they are currently under restoration so we can't tour them.
Just before you get onto the ferry on the peninsula side, there is a neat park called Fort Travis Seashore Park. It dates back to 1819 when troops came to the area to liberate the Spanish Province. The Fort was in service from that time, through the Civil War when federal troops took possession of the Fort and again through WW1 and WW11. In 1949 the fort was closed and sold as surplus property. The 60 acre park was developed in 1976 and you can still see most of the batteries and some of the buildings used. Being situated right on the end of the peninsula, it is a great place to come and watch the big ships and enjoy the views of the water.
The peninsula also has a lighthouse that is privately owned and a cool jetty that runs out about 5 miles into the water. You can walk out about 2 miles out and the first 200 yards is paved. The day we visited, we saw alot of crabbers and fisherman out at this popular spot.
We have also spent our fair share of time on the beach searching for shells and shark teeth. We have found some cool shells but the shark teeth have eluded us. We will continue our quest to find at least one. The other cool thing about the peninsula is that you can drive your vehicle or gulf cart out on the beach, so of course we had to get some beach truck porn! We even saw a schoolie camping out, but on a very windy day!
We also continued our BBQ tour through Texas with the Texas BBQ Pit Stop in Galveston. These folks used to travel the BBQ competition circuit and have now opened a couple restaurants. Some good, moist brisket and pulled pork, but still Valentina's in Austin is our favorite!
Other than that, we have visited the Galveston Island State Park and expanded our RV'ing friend bank when we visited with Rick and Vonceil Cook, fellow Grand Design Solitude owners who are staying at Stella Mare RV Resort over in Galveston. We also spent a day in Houston while Rick renewed his ServSafe certification.
We have enjoyed just chillin, our daily beach walks and getting ready for our little side cruise excursion while we are here. Yep, we splurged and gave ourselves a cruise for Christmas. Well, if you call $188 each for a 5 day/4 night cruise on Royal Carribean a splurge. I call it a steal we couldn't pass up! More on that adventure in our next update! Stay tuned!
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