It had been 30 years since he’d last seen the place, but my husband Nico insisted on taking Baby and I on a family adventure to see Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River. I was a bit skeptical; picturing a run down, or shut down, remnant of what once had been a fun party place on the bend of the river. Boy…! Was I ever surprised! –In a very good way.
I had already found myself quite charmed by the tiny ferry boat that had carried our crew of three across the ship channel, quite a ways inland and up the waterway from Galveston Island. Able to carry not even 20 cars at a time, The Lynchburg Ferry was like stepping back in time, in a way. Unlike the Bolivar Ferry — which we’ve ridden often — The Lynchburg Ferry looked a bit unstable at times, and traveled much slower than its much larger neighboring ferry (Bolivar Ferry).
So I snapped one-after-another photos of our crossing, and we were on our way…yet-again, down the road, searching for that place Nico had left in his past…until this day. Bumping down the two lane road in our old VW Camper Bus, we stayed on the look-out for a sign…any sign, to let us know we’re heading in the right direction. Then…we spotted it! —Banana Bend…Just Ahead. The sign said, in a nutshell; though Nico was going too fast for me to read the small print.
A fewmiles down the road, we came to an overpass that Nico didn’t remember ever seeing decades ago when he last visited Banana Bend. So…we turned around and went back to the sign he’d sped past in such a hurry at last pass. Sure enough, in small print, it had listed the street where we should have turned before.
Making our turn onto a much smaller road — a Farm to Market road — we continued on our adventure, searching…searching. Then…there we were: facing two yellow kayaks planted vertically in the ground, reaching up into the sky, with a sign in the middle telling us we had arrived.
A nice little man was working the entrance gate, and let us in to look around since they were soon to close down for the day. I felt like we had entered an island hide-away…on the river! Palm trees everywhere, along with tiki palapas style cabanas and picnic tables. And it was all so secluded, you’d never know it was there…unless someone told you. I was thankful to Nico, for bringing us to such a charming island escape as Banana Bend.
And even though we were only able to stay for a short time before dark was beginning to fall and we had to head back and try to catch the last ferry, we had already began to plan a day trip to our new island escape (or escape from the island). Having recent bouts of island fever, I know Banana Bend is just the place I’ve been needing all along.
*Here’s to new adventures, inland…and beyond!*
**NOTE to Families** Recommended Family Days – Saturday/Sunday Afternoons & Weekdays (off-season): After careful research, it seems that BB is quite the party place during summer months and on weekends. We visited late on a Saturday during the off-season, and all was peaceful and quiet. It’s best to do your homework before visiting, to know of which events are taking place on any particular day or weekend. Visit Banana Bend on Facebook.
Sharing the latest reviews of my debut children’s book Monday… Super-Fun Day. On Sale Now at various online book sellers such as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Lybrary.com (ebook). Pick up your copy today, and help your young reader learn the days of the week with fun and adventure!
The hardest thing about sitting still for long, is being at-odds with two sides of myself. To plant…or not to plant a garden. With Spring in the air, it’s impossible to resist sprinkling a few seeds about…just to watch them grow…for as long as I am here in this one place.
No, I realize, I cannot take a garden with me when we do actually pull our Mermaid Mansion on down the road. But I can at least enjoy the fruits of my labor while enjoying this island life for a little while longer. –Or until our old vintage relic-of-a-tiny-home-on-wheels is ready to roll. She still has a ways to go, and her tires are pretty lifeless; so new rubber is tops on our list of To-Do’s…when it comes to setting ournomadic spirits free once again.
For now…here I sit, writing a few words and thoughts; struggling still with two extremely different sides of me. In the meant-time, when I’m not writing, chances are I’ll be out back…digging and planting the ‘bit of earth’ I’ve been Blessed to call mine…for now. Never mind that it is only borrowed.
Do any of us ever really own the land on-which we sit…live…or garden? I know we cannot take it with us when we go. But we can sure enjoy the smell of soil on our hands, sifting through our fingers, and the scent of sweet blossoms before they bear fruit. I can only live in the moment and enjoy what life has brought my way. And when we do ‘set sail’, and Mermaid Mansion is bumping down the highway…to destinations unknown, I’ll gaze out the window…with the scenery zipping by, and I’ll embrace that moment with every ounce of my being. –Ever-so grateful for the change it will bring.
One things for sure–us Nomadic Spirits rarely enjoy sitting still for long. There’s always someplace else calling us there…anywhere…any time of day, night…year. Sitting still is really getting this little ‘woman with wanderlust‘ to feeling low. But I keep telling myself, it’s for the good of remodeling our caravan home–Mermaid Mansion. She’s coming about quite nicely, I must admit to myself. Being stationary has had its ups; that’s for sure!
Though, on the other hand, it’s had its ‘downs’ as well. Such is life! And I know I’m babbling like a flooded brook, but sometimes this is my only outlet to shake the thoughts out of my crowded head: releasing it all out into the world for complete strangers–perhaps some friends–to read.
I write…! That’s what I do, And lately, I’ve been seriously working on photography. This month, I was ecstatic to have one of my nature shots featured in Galveston Monthly Magazine. I’ve since submitted more photos for consideration; I enjoyed it so much! It’s kinda got me hooked now, on sharing my photos and taking new and interesting photos of whatever I feel might be eye-catching.
So, I guess sitting still isn’t so bad after all! There are so many things I love about living on an island, but the seaweed is getting quite old; mounded up as high as the seawall, and smoldering to a terrible stink for locals and visitors (Poor visitors who actually spent money to get here!) to smell when we get anywhere near the beach. : / Though, on the bright side, I know it is just Mother Nature’s and Mother Ocean’s way of teaming up to cure all that man has made sick about the earth and ocean. I’m hoping we all don’t get burped right off the globe some day! It could happen!
And my garden, thanks to the very earth-friendly seaweed, has never been better! I swear–I’ve yet to see taller, healthier tomato plants…ever! Especially not in my own garden. But this year, after having lavished plenty of seaweed and compost on my bare garden patch last winter, my little caravan kitchen garden is super productive.
So, like any Gypsy-at-heart, Nomadic wanderer, I am beginning to preserve my Blessings from Mother Earth…and Mother Ocean (seaweed). After all, I must be ready with an abundance of provisions, for the day we hit the road. To where we go, could be anyone’s guess! The journey is always the best part.
But that leaves us with one more dilemma–whether to go by land…or by sea. I think I hear the ‘clanking of the mast’, the whipping of the sails, and a whisper from the wind…calling my name from somewhere afar!
*Where does a woman with Wanderlust go…? Everywhere her heart leads.*
So…we went inland for the Easter holiday, to see family in La Porte. Funny how we’ve blended into the weave of fellow IBC’s (Islanders by Choice) here on our Gulf Coastal Island home. Even still, we long for the water, the rocking back and forth of our sailboat, the clinking of the masts in the wind. We visited with a local marina the day after Easter, after we got back to the island from a second trip to La Porte in two days because Nico left his phone at his Mom’s the day before. I have to admit, that day was a good one: lunching with Nico’s dad (the baby’s only living Grandpa), the lolly-gag-of-a-drive back to the island, the visit to the marina…and the smell of the water…down along the slips.
My wanderlust is really getting to me these days, and I miss our sailboat more and more. If not this year, since we just can’t bring ourselves to sell our old girl, I think next year we’ll certainly be bringing our boat to her new island home. For now, Nico and I are still working on new tunes for Gypsy Vin Rose, and getting ready to start touring…again. Gigs…? Well, that’s another story. If only we could get around the little problem of ‘no sitter’ and no room for another passenger (Grandma) in the Peniki van, we’d be good to go.
For now, I continue to write songs, and work on getting my voice back after a long battle with the crud. Honing my mandolin skills, while continuing to remodel our old Gypsy Caravan and Island home Mermaid Mansion is the way I’ve been spending my days lately. That…and going to the beach almost every day, if we’re not biking to Nixi’s favorite play park, has become our Island way-of-life. I can’t complain, though I sure do miss the smell of our boat, and the cold spray of water splashing up onto the deck as we cut through the waves…sailing into the sunset.
I guess you could say I’m kind of ‘sea sick’, though in an entirely different way. I miss the water, instead of being sick from it. : ) So for now, I’ll just remember-when, and continue to work on decorating Mermaid Mansion. This week…I’m sewing new couch cushions. And I must admit, I am so very proud of the way our old caravan is ‘coming about’! Next up…sewing a custom quilt for Nixi. I have the kewlest Hippie Van fabric I bought from Ebay, which I’ll pair with a flower child sort-of print. I can hardly wait to see how it turns out! I’ll post pics for anyone who wants to see how it all comes together.
For now, I think I’ll get back to my stitch-witchery, and making my vintage trailer a comfortable island home. Cheers to all who read my scribblings, and Blessings to those of you who comment. : ) And…Fair Winds to all you salty Sailors and deep-sea Pirates out there. May you find true happiness…just over the horizon.
Yesterday, we finally broke-away from the remodeling chaos, and took Baby down to the Strand District…here on Galveston Island. It was her very first ‘Claus Encounter’, and it went really well. But…I think Daddy might’ve embarrassed her just a little. ; )
It’s a rarity these days, for us to get out-and-about–I hate to admit–and just see the sites that our new hometown has to offer. The cost of such an afternoon? Nada! Which is about all we have to spend after Christmas shopping. Still, I have to say, our little tour of Downtown Galveston, and the Santa Claus photo shoot with Baby and Gypsy Vin Rose, was a huge success!
Next year, Santa…we’ll see ya again! Same time…same place! And we promise, we’ll be good in 2014.
Blessings to All this Christmas…New Years…and Always!
Sometimes we take the smallest things for granted in life, including ‘life’ itself. But in the end, if a lesson has been learned, we find that the simpleness of living is priceless. This is what I’ve come to find since we up-rooted from my hometown of Fort Worth, and relocated to Gulf-Coastal Texas. It has been a long road to plow (as my dear Mother used to put it), but I find now that our ‘garden’ (the garden that is life) is beginning to come-in quite nicely.
It all began the day we pulled out of Jamaica Beach RV Resort; happy to be leaving the paved-but-posh confines of the best RV park on Galveston Island. (Our opinions…and we’re sticking to it!) I have to admit, our past experiences with campgrounds has left us with a bitter taste for such surroundings. JBRV would have to be an exception…if you ask me.
Either way, and even though we would miss the hot tub, laundromat, pool…playground, and the charming little Seven Seas Grocery just across the road, we remained hopeful that we’d be well-on-our-way to actually gaining a semi-permanent address on Galveston Island. The Blessings we’ve been met with since that day have been abundant. We have been at our island home ever since; being lucky to have a very understanding landlord who knows what it means to start from the bottom and work your way up. He has become somewhat of a friend since we’ve gotten to know him better. He has also taken Nico under his wing by teaching him a trade that my husband had never-before learned. It brings to mind a saying I hold close to my thoughts: We never stop learning until we are no more.
So there we were– we had a place…but not entirely. Our very understanding landlord had taken a chance on us–renting us a lot, even though I know we appeared a rogue bunch. We had made a deal that if we could rent the place ‘temporarily’, and set up Camp Peniki, we’d be hard-at-it to find a better-suited living quarters…to keep up appearances mostly, since we’d live in our old Campervan full-time if society allowed. Had it just been us (Nico and I), we would still be out there…giving in to Wanderlust. But most vandwelling souls with little n’s find out the hard way–like we have–that we really aren’t free after all when it comes to the way we are ‘allowed’ to live or be.
So…we had a limited time to find a larger place to put on our really great lot…with a priceless view of the sunset…out over the bayou. I set to work searching and combing the internet, selling everything we didn’t need in storage to raise the money for our new home. Two weeks later, with half of our belongings sold and our storage half empty, we were on our way to get our new/old place: a vintage caravan in major need of some love. Perhaps it was the way I had called and called the man to see if our ‘home’ was still there (I had already claimed it in my mind). Maybe it was the desperation in my voice (I’ve never been very subtle with my emotions). I guess I’ll never truly know. All I do know is that he (the seller) took pity on us and ended up knocking $200 bucks off the price when we showed up with cash-in-hand. It’s a very good thing too, cause without that extra money…we wouldn’t have made it back to Galveston with our new place.
I know I’m just one of the numerous folks who believes that Blessings often come in disquise. This was so true for us when it came to getting our caravan-home…home. More than 24 hours later we finally pulled into our lot with what would become a full-time remodeling job. As that day before had gone, we’d suffered a major blow out in Liberty, Texas…right in front of a church, where the pastor had just arrived, on Memorial Day weekend. Due to the holiday and the late hour, no tire shops were open anywhere near the small town. The nice preacher man Blessed us with the offering of allowing us to park our travel trailer there…safely in the church parking lot for the evening. We all headed back to my Mother-in-law’s to stay the night, with hopes that we’d find a place to buy some spare trailer tires on a holiday Sunday. It’s great to know people when you are in a desperate state to do business when everyone else is on vacation or just off work.
Thank God we have good family to help us pull heavy things our old VW Van can’t; nice folks who know Nico’s family back in his home town; nice sellers on C List who don’t mind taking less and giving more to a family who was in need of a place to call home. And even though it has been a steady stream of remodeling our badly damaged and neglected caravan, I can honestly say…”It sure is a great feeling to actually ‘own’ our home. Bought and paid for; it may be small and not so pretty to some, but to us…it’s perfect!
It’s all in how you look at things. From where I’m sitting, this place is really coming around. I’ll gladly be sharing photos of our remod when the time is right. I hope it inspires some family…somewhere, to step off the crazy train of keeping up with the Jones’s, and live within (or below) their means. We are so-very glad we made that leap!
Blessings your way, from our Vagabond family to yours!
Just a few months ago…we pulled into Galveston with everything we owned in a 17 foot U-Haul truck, and Peniki (our old Hippie van) safely strapped on a car trailer. We were high on hope and full of dreams; we were. Arriving at around 3 am, we found an out-of-the-way spot on the seawall, crawled up into our old VW on the car-hauler…and fell in ‘til morning. We’d be heading over later to unload all of our stuff into our 10×15 storage unit that we’d pre-arranged weeks ahead of our move.
So there we were, soundly sleeping…exhausted and happy to finally be in Galveston. For several years we’d been trying to make a move. For several years we’d been locked in the rent-race and living paycheck to paycheck; never enough money to save or travel. Finally…we were really newbie transplants to the island—we were finally islanders.
“Yes…!” I said to myself as I awoke that morning to the sunrise out over the Gulf of Mexico. It hadn’t all just been a dream after-all. Baby was still soundly sleeping beside me. Nico was next to her, still snoring away. I knew he was road-weary after pulling such a rig for hundreds of miles. I let them both sleep while I sat there and watched the sun come up. It was beautiful! Just as I’ve always thought the sunrise is astounding, this one seemed even better than I’d ever witnessed. Perhaps it was because we had actually made the move and were trying to let it sink-in that we were in Galveston to stay and build our lives and a business; raise a child too. It was a dream…coming to reality.
So, for a while…I just sat there, mesmerized by the moment that was my here-and-now. I had no clue how it would all play-out: our establishing ourselves as islanders, our business launch, where we’d end up setting roots and living—in my father-in-law’s motorhome, was the initial plan—who we’d meet along the way, would we be met with success or failure. I had so many questions that would have to go unanswered…for the time-being. I wondered too if we’d find a way to get our music out there to the local music scene and start establishing ourselves as musicians more thoroughly in G-Town than we ever had in the city. I was left to wonder so many things. I would just have to wait and see.
Having enjoyed some quiet time to be alone with my thoughts, it wasn’t long before Nico was awake and back behind the wheel of the U-Haul truck; we had a busy day ahead of us…we knew. Me and Baby just stayed sleeping inside Peniki while Nico pulled us a little ways down Seawall and around the corner to Taco Cabana; we were starving and needed to carve out a plan for the day. Coffee…! That was all I cared about at the time. I needed some java-juice and I needed it quick!
A little while later, I was enjoying my black coffee…along with some really delicious bean and cheese tacos that tasted much better than I ever remembered them tasting before; even when we’d have them back in the Fort. We scoped out the goings-on of our first morning as islanders: noticing that for everyone else, it was just another day. The hustle and bustle—be-it at a slower pace—the tourists arriving or departing the island, the huge dinosaur-of-an-outdated-motorhome sitting a short distance away from us in the Randall’s parking lot. I wondered about the occupants of that motorhome for some crazy reason: were they new to the island, had they just gotten here or been here for a while? To this day, I still don’t know why I gave them a second thought.
Funny…the things I wonder and think about! I scare myself at times. And while I couldn’t actually know about what was going on for other folks, I knew for us, it was the start of a different life; one we’d been trying to transition to for quite some time. We just sat there and enjoyed ourselves and the down-time we knew wouldn’t last once we got to storage. It was a morning that will forever stand-out in my memory as the day we arrived; when Galveston made islanders of former city folks. We so-welcomed the change.
Lunching With My Chitlins at Hollywood and Vine in Glen Rose, Texas.
I guess when you have no where to be at any given time, you lose all track of the hours, days, weeks…months. That’s pretty much how we had been until we drove back across the Texas state line. Even if we did enjoy our drive on the biways of Tejas, we realized with each mile we came closer to home, that our journey would soon be ending and we’d once again be back in the rat-race.
Some years back, I finally realized that me and the rat race…don’t mix. People are always in a hurry, they cut you off; even flip you off at times, and they really have no good reason to race to the finish line. We’ll all have our day at the finish line. I’m in no hurry to get there. Which is why our old girl Peniki is the perfect mode of transportation for our little family.
I swear, that old VW can get around town just fine, but she has to go at her own speed. Being a classic Volkswagen Westfalia, I’d like to think our van has earned seniority in mileage. Either way, she got us back home…safe and sound.
So many miles we had traveled, and by the end of the day…we were pulling into Fort Worth. I could hardly wait to see my kids, even though I was already missing the travel…and the next destination; knowing we’d no longer be spending our nights in Peniki. I was sad for that.
It wasn’t long after our return that we settled back into the old routine, but our journey was still fresh on our minds. We knew we would have to go again, but we didn’t know quite when.
Here we are, almost 2 years later, and the wanderlust is swelling up inside of us both, though we realize we have responsibilities and Baby is now older with a mind of her own. It was so easy when she was in her playpen. We could set up camp while she played safely in her space.
Now, she wanders everywhere and is like a little octopus with too many hands in too many things. But, she comes by that honestly. Nico and I are both exploring spirits with curious minds as well. And there is still so much more to explore.
‘Took off early–7:30 am–for once. Heading back to Hwy 84 from 65 Interstate; hoping to make it to Mississippi today. *NOTE * There are No places to camp along 84 East to West in Alabama! Only one State Park and one National Forest…that we’ve come across.
We managed to make it down to Natchez Trace Parkway to Rocky Springs Campground. This drive was one of the best of our trip! The speed limit was 55 all the way, no big trucks allowed, and the scenery left me in awe. I look forward to making this drive in it’s entirety someday.
Also, for the record, Rocky Springs Campground is one of the best, cleanest, most peaceful places we’ve camped. Besides being a FREE SPOT (Yes…I said Free) where you can stay put for up to 2 weeks, it is peaceful, roomy, and has plenty of room to set up camp, ride bikes, hike the rough terrain within the grounds, or just build a fire in the ring. Being surrounded by wilderness, it’s hard to believe the Ranger Station is within walking distance, and the restrooms provide showers and sufficient toilets. The water spigot by the restrooms might be the only place to draw water nearby (since there aren’t spigots by the campspots) but at least you can’t beat the price or the serenity of nature.
We loved, loved. LOVED Rocky Springs Campground on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Highly recommended!!!
It’s a beautiful Autumn morning here at the Sailing Club; I’ve been walking along the shore admiring all of nature’s bounty in the trees…filled with pinecones just waiting to fall; the shrubs brimming with berries of red…purple…blue.
I’ve already polished off my first cup o’ joe…and I’m hankering for another. Little Blanca, our bratty schnauzer, didn’t mind me sharing my cold tamale with her; we both like ’em that way.
I hear another dog—not qute as content as my little dog laying quietly beside my chair—barking off in the distance…over across the cove. I feel the breeze brushing my hair, the sun on my face. I hear the wind rustling the leaves on the half-bare trees, the waves lapping ashore. And all is right in my world.
Nico and Baby sleep soundly inside our old camper van, though I know I don’t have much longer to be alone with my thoughts. I think I hear a rustling inside…baby is now waking. My morning is fast-turning into day. I sigh a farewell to peaceful morning.