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.    

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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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Family Road Trip

Walking to Texas

Walking to Texas

 

— Free Camping at Rest Stops —

It’s funny how scenes, places, conversations, and miles-traveled can all turn into one big blur after a full day on the road. Leaving Natchez Trace Parkway and Rocky Springs Campground was the highlight of this particular stretch for home. Booking it as fast as our old VW Van could travel; topping speeds of 60 mph at times, we made it across the Mississippi state line to Louisiana in one jaunt, and many miles and hours later we found ourselves once again on Texas soil…just barely.

After surrendering my former belief that folks just shouldn’t sleep at Travel Stops or Rest Stops, we bunkered down for the night in our camper van; exhausted and glad to be so close to home. Even if we hadn’t wanted to leave the Florida Keys, the one’s we’d left behind back home insured our return. One thing we know, looking back on it all, is that we knew the place to where we were returning…was surely not where we’d stay.

*Let your heart roam, let your spirit be…like the child you used to see*

Camping Along The Natchez Trace Parkway

Mississippi Alabama Stateline

Mississippi Bi-Way

Entrance to Natchez Trace

Natchez Trace Pkwy

Bridge Over Natchez Trace

Native American History

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Building Campfire

Rocky Springs Campground, Miss

Rocky Springs Campground, Miss

Key West Road Trip — Natchez Trace Parkway

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{Journal Entry}

Day 5:

‘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!!!

Sunday Mornings at the Club…

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. 

Blessings to all this Sunday. 

.V..