Three weeks after the entire state of Texas went into a deep freeze, the above thorny tree halfway between San Antonio and Corpus Christi is staking a claim on spring by sending forth young green leaves.
And that makes this a perfect time to review our little winter experiment, where we’ve spent a month each in four different locations.
Altogether, it’s a big win. I mean, this is what an RV life is supposed to be about.
November was spent in the community of Sargent, a fishing town on the Gulf Coast. We enjoyed walks on the beach and down a dirt road neighboring the RV park. There was a national wildlife refuge nearby. It was quiet and Leah even harvested a good supply of pecans. We very much enjoyed it, but don’t foresee a strong probability of returning.
December was on the outskirts of Three Rivers, located halfway between San Antonio and Corpus Christi and where the above photo was taken today. Yes, that means we returned here for March, partially because it’s centrally located to judging jobs we have scheduled. Unlike the other three sites, this RV park hosts few winter escapees; most of the RVers here are who we refer to as worker bees, which generally translates into quiet neighbors. While this spot isn’t quite as dependable as some of the others in regard to avoiding cold weather, it’s not bad. It’s quite possible we’ll be here sometime in the future.
January took us deep south, to the bayside community of Port Mansfield. We were already familiar with this area due to flipping a house here some 14 years ago. The park is nice and far enough from the water to somewhat diminish salt concerns, but there’s not much going on. Plus, it’s at least 23 miles to anything else. We’ve been here enough that it appears unlikely we’ll feel the need to return, especially not for an entire month. But we could.
February was our greatest experiment, staying in a full-fledged Winter Texan (read “Snowbird”) haven in Los Fresnos, near Brownsville, the state’s southernmost city. This was a vastly different setting, but COVID-19 restrictions kept us from experiencing most of it. Almost everyone in the nearly full 200-space park was retired and many were fleeing winter weather, which was one of our objectives, too. Even with the constraints of the pandemic, people met to play cards and shuffleboard, partake in pool exercises, go out to eat, etc. Leah and I continued to stay pretty much to ourselves, mostly getting to meet a few folks while taking walks around the park. So, yes, we’re planning to return here, even making reservations for next January and February. It’s not really the RV park that interests us (though having freedom to interact with others should make it more fun). There are some good hiking areas that we hope to explore further, but the main thing is being able to enjoy the area, including traveling into Mexico.
Our biggest takeaway is how nice it is to have an extended stay. The easy reason is financial because most RV parks offer monthly rates much lower than the daily rate. Not pulling the trailer every few days also reduces cost.
A prolonged stay means not having to rush to do things. We can recover from traveling, wait for better weather, and choose to do things we wouldn’t likely get around to during a shorter stay.
The ultimate use of this line of thought would be to spend the entire season, like three to six months. Many people do just that and even more thoroughly become part of their winter community. That may be down the road for us, but not yet.
We’re even more sold on the concept than when we started. It looks likely we’ll be able to work summer jobs this year, returning to the theme park in western New York where we’ve worked in the past. We’ll probably spend a month or so at a spot on the way home next fall and then head south again before the heart of winter.
Speaking of winter, the reason for heading toward the Rio Grande Valley was to hedge our bets on avoiding winter weather. That certainly worked. Temperatures where we spent last winter in central Texas got as low as 5 degrees and stayed below freezing for days … something difficult to deal with in an RV. In the Valley, we dipped to about 24 degrees for two nights but got above freezing in between. We were lucky, too. There were places in the area that lost electricity, but we never did. Yes, we felt a little guilty about getting through the winter storm so easily.
Check back the next day or two for a new Travel Story.