Family Adventures

Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River —

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 few miles 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.    

To Plant…or Not To Plant! –A Nomad in Limbo

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 our nomadic 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.

*Embrace every moment*  **Live for today!**

 

Reaching That Fork in the Road

Home on the Beach -- Galveston Island

Home on the Beach — Galveston Island

Today, I’m thoroughly enjoying the first Saturday Nico has had off in about a year or so.  Yes…we’ve somehow fallen back into a life of being ‘wage slaves’!  –Not what we had planned when we moved to the island.  Somewhere, we took a wrong turn, and…here we are.  Stuck in the mud…again!

So we’re once again standing at a fork in the road that will lead us to ‘the rest of our lives’.  –I rewind to 2010; back when we sold everything (save a few personal items that went to storage), bought our 71 VW Camper Van ‘Peniki’, and stepped out of the rat race.

Those were the times we cherish, to this day!  We wonder how did we get burdened down again, with bills, too much stuff.  Even though we no longer keep a storage, and live in less than 200 sq.ft of space.  I know we live small by most folks’ need for ‘necessities’.  I still feel we are ‘trapped’ in an endless…useless cycle of monotony.

On one hand, we have to earn a living.  The earnings from which go to endless expenses that get us nowhere.  The time I spend throughout the day is for Baby, teaching her…guiding her, cooking breakfast…lunch…dinner, cleaning, and a ton of piddle-y things that seemingly go unnoticed…for the most part.  Time with Baby and Hubby, is the best part of my day.  Though it isn’t always time well-enough spent.

My meaning of this, you ask?  Well, often times we’ll be side by side with someone, in the same room, the same dwelling, but we are not engaged with them.  We are all doing our own thing.  –Like right now…this very moment:  I sit writing, Baby is watching cartoons, and Nico is putting his time-in piddling around outside.  We are not together, but we are still so close.

Which brings me back to our vagabond days in Peniki.  We were so close in many ways–watching the world passing by at 55 mph, as we sat gazing (holding hands…Nico and I)…talking about everything we wanted to do and the things we had already done, the miles we’d covered.  I’d look back at our babyyounger then, and she’d be sleeping or looking around at everything that needed to be discovered.  –And, all was right with where we were, where we were headed.

Back then, if anyone had asked if I’d like to be anywhere else, I’d have truthfully, and quickly, answered “No.  This is where I’ve always wanted to be!  –On the road to discovery, bumping down the highway from place to place, seeing new faces, and experiencing new adventures.  My family by my side.”

These days, if someone were to ask the same question, I would undoubtedly have my answer as-to which fork in the road we should take.  Getting there, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.  The secret of life is that one thing, something different for everyone (from City Slickers).  It’s so simple, yet…it is so very difficult (to paraphrase a passage in Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit).  The fork we should choose in our road, I know, will be a very bumpy one.  The journey begins today.

Many Blessings & .V..

GVR

Hippie Van Travels: Camping on St. George Island

Remembering a wonderful stop along our Hippie Van Road Trip — St. George Island in the Florida panhandle!

Click on Pic for more…

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Ringing in the New Year…on the Sands of Time

Memories of one New Year, spent on the Sands of Time.

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A Place To Call Home

Cozumel Caravan

Cozumel Caravan

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! 

.V.. (Peace),

GVR    

THE BIG MOVE TO G-TOWN– Week 1

Peniki & Uhaul Ready to go

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.