Currently in Lake Charles, LA sunny and 53 F with a very light breeze
Our time at the NAS Shields Campground between Corpus Christi and North Padre Island was idyllic, and yet it seemed to fly by much more quickly than I ever imagined it would. Except for the winds, our weather was perfect for exploring in a light jacket, and sadly for the drought-stricken Texas coast, we had no rain. Sometimes a cloud cover would pop up, just enough for making photos interesting, but never a drop did fall. At other times, we were shrouded in foggy mornings, but while we were there, the fog always seemed to lift just in time to give us views of whatever vista we had chosen for the day.
When I planned this trip, I had no clue what the weather might be, because as all Coastal Texans know, it is wildly unpredictable. I also didn’t know whether we would even like the area enough to want to spend more time here, or if we would be disappointed that our reservation didn’t run out sooner. I guess that is one of the delights of travel to new places. Wait and See.
None of it mattered, however, because I would have come to this area no matter what on my trip east for other reasons. Daughter Deborah lived near enough when she was in Texas that she fished for sheephead and even caught a Manta Ray on the beach at Port Aransas. She wanted me to see it. But the biggest draw for me was a meeting with a friend that I had looked forward to ever since I knew that we would be in the same area at the same time.
I archive email messages that I receive from fellow bloggers, and gmail just informed me this morning that I have 269 messages from EE. The first one was back in November of 2011, when I had been reading her blog and admiring her wonderful static maps that always work. Erin wrote back to me with detailed information about how to do it, and that began an online friendship that included comments of each other’s blogs, and private emails over the years.
Since Erin and Mui travel so much of the world, I treasure her writing and photography. She goes places I dream of and may never manage. Erin’s info guided Mo and I during several legs of our trip to Alaska and through some of Alberta, and I pay attention to the parks where they have stayed since full-timing. I won’t repeat the stories, but they are a great example of a couple who planned to go full time, planned it carefully and carried out the plans.
Yes, we clicked. Somehow that just happens. But it wasn’t just Erin that I clicked with, it was Erin and Mui as a couple that I so respected. Erin is the blogger and photographer, and Mui is the video king, fixit king, and cooking king superb. In their blog I saw that the two of them are a couple, not linked totally at the hip, but in a solid union of like-minded best friends. Through emails and comments, I learned that they were bright people, without being the least bit pretentious, and that they had a great sense of humor and an artistic eye.
Mo and I spent time both on Mustang Island, on the Padre Island National Seashore, and in downtown Corpus Christi while we were here, but before I write about those adventures, I wanted to share a bit about our visits with this truly delightful couple I was lucky enough to find through the magic of the internet.
We gave ourselves a day to get our bearings around the area before our planned lunch get together on Thursday the 16th. Thinking originally that we might kayak before lunch, the wind completely nixed those plans and I actually had enough time to write and catch up on bills and such before we drove the short distance back toward the city to an area along Highway 358 that has several big restaurants and box stores. Even though there are good chain restaurants nearby that we enjoy, we decided instead to go for the true Texas thing and met at Rudy’s BBQ.
Yes, it was the real Texas BBQ experience, the one my daughter talks about with nostalgia. We got there a bit early and had a few moments to try to get our bearings and figure out just how to manage a meal in this big barn like place with lots of people running around and no one paying a bit of attention to a couple of Yankees with wide eyes.
Erin and Mui showed up almost right away and the four of us negotiated the ordering counter and the big iced bin of adult beverages. We paid for our BBQ by the pound, with individual side dishes, and carried it all back to the table in what looked like a square laundry basket. Plates were large torn off sheets of butcher paper.
The bbq was fall off the bone fabulous, but the meeting with new friends was even more so. It is just so wonderful to have a real conversation with people who talk enough to be entertaining, who bring in fascinating subjects, and then ask real questions and actually wait for you to answer those questions with interest. My kind of conversation! I just hope I can do it as well as Mui and Erin.
Even before we met for lunch, the two of them had already invited Mo and I to their home the following Sunday for hamburgers. I guess Erin was optimistic that our meeting would go well and there would be no surprises. We parted after a reasonable time for a first visit, looking forward to the next time. Erin and Mui are great friends for us in many ways, especially since we have similar styles in the “togetherness” thing. We love a good time together, and then we each appreciate time to do our own thing. That works perfectly for people like us.
On Sunday, after our morning kayak on the bayside of Mustang Island, we were very excited to go to Gulf Waters Resort where Erin and Mui are staying. By then, I knew that “hamburgers” had morphed into a full fledged Turkish meal, with all the fixin’s and yes…all those great little bowls of veggies that go with any good Turkish meal.
Their home is as beautiful as they are, and Mui’s cooking skills were beyond description. Mui started our afternoon meal with homemade hummus, drizzled with a couple of kinds of olive oil and pita crackers. I think he mentioned that his Turkish mother said something about, “Did you peel the garbanzos”? You have to be kidding me! and no, he didn’t peel the garbanzos, but the hummus was the best I ever tasted.
It was coolish and breezy outside, so we were invited indoors to a beautifully set table and Mui poured a great bottle of red something or other that was perfect. While we ate, Mui talked about meals in Turkey, where eating goes on for hours, with many courses offered one at a time and often lasting until midnight. Erin told stories of their life and we talked about so many interesting subjects, not one of which had to do with politics, religion, other bloggers, or grandchildren. Such wonderful conversation. And yet I didn’t feel as though I had to be “smart” or “witty” or say the right things. How many times do you really get real conversations like that in your life from new friends?!
The meal was just so incredible, and I spent as much time swooning and ooh-ing and aah-ing as I did actually eating, but still managed to have seconds of everything except dessert. Mui bbq’d perfect little Turkish meatballs, flattened a bit, that tasted rich and just a tiny bit like falafel. We had köfte (meatballs) and domatesli pilav (rice made with tomatoes), cacık (cold cucumber soup with yogurt, piyaz (white bean salad), and zeytinyağlı taze fasulye (green beans cooked in olive oil). All but the soup was served at room temperature in the traditional Turkish style. Mui explained that this tradition accounts for the very long time spent actually eating the meal. Keeping food hot would be impossible.
After our extended afternoon meal, Erin, Mo and I opted for a long walk on the beach, just across the dunes from their beautiful site in the park. The sand was the perfect texture for long easy walking, and waves were gentle and musical, the skies were clear with just that little bit of mistiness that seems to hang around these beaches. Have I mentioned the conversation? I noticed the sun beginning to descend to the horizon before I realized just how far we had walked and we all decided to turn back.
We had a wonderful time during our stay in this lovely part of Texas, but this meeting and yes, this meal, were the highlight. Somehow Erin was exactly the person as I knew her to be. Isn’t it amazing how that can happen? Yes, the internet can be incredibly magical. In another life and another time I would have certainly missed out on these delightful friends.
Next: Visiting Padre Island National Seashore and Aransas Pass