I despise the cold. So one of my biggest incentives in trading in the house for an RV was the ability to spend my winters basking in the sun. After months of deliberating, I finally decided on South Padre Island (Texas) as my winter home for December and January. So far, the stay has been pretty terrific, even with a COVID scare.
I wish I could tell you exactly why I chose South Padre Island, but the truth is that at some point, I became overwhelmed with all the options. And I was running out of time. I started my research by focusing on Florida, a very popular winter destination for RVers. I discovered that the majority of the RV resorts in Florida are age-restricted (55 and over). That’s not a draw for me; I like seeing families and younger people in the campgrounds. Then there was the issue of availability. Many of the resorts have returning guests who book their site a year in advance. Finally, nothing really jumped out at me and I didn’t feel enthusiastic about Florida.
I landed on Texas as a viable option, with its warmer climate in the south and generally more reasonable rates. And the idea of spending time on an island, surrounded by water and with access to beaches, sounded idyllic. So I reserved a site at the South Padre Island KOA for two months. I am not disappointed!
I spent October and November at a campground in “Hill Country” in Texas (between San Antonio and Austin), and it was a long two months. I couldn’t wait to leave. Unfortunately, the drive to South Padre Island was delayed by a day, as I spent seven hours parked alongside the freeway trying to get my tire fixed. Now that I know how precarious my tire situation was – bolts that had been stripped and three different sizes of nuts – I feel fortunate that I made it to the island at all! And I was thankful that I had two months ahead of me to get the wheel situation fixed and to take care of personal business. In the end, it took a month for the mechanic to finish the work on the tire. Unfortunately, the nuts he used are too large in diameter, which means I can’t put the nut caps or the hub cap cover back on. Merely cosmetics.
One of the challenges of full-time RVing is finding doctors, dentists, optometrists, veterinarians, and even hair stylists while on the road. So part of January was spent researching and taking care of my dental and eye needs. And I took Coco in to the vet (she had to be dewormed). Plus, I was able to receive packages, which meant new hiking shoes, soup mixes, a new iPad, and a replacement sensor for the tire.
Guess what? It’s not so easy focusing on work when the beach is right down the road. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that I have flexibility with my work schedule. When the weather is nice, I can spend large chunks of the day outside. Lousy weather makes for good work days. And so it was that the first night that I arrived was a restless night with winds so intense that they blew the shark off its mount at the restaurant on the pier. I’ve had plenty of windy and some chilly days to be productive on the work front.
Although it’s not always easy to focus on work, I managed to get quite a lot accomplished. I published the RV Superwoman Journal, the Camper Superwoman Journal, and the Gusty Woman Bullet Planner as print-on-demand books on Amazon. And I had a major breakthrough on rebuilding the Gutsy Women Club. In between, I recorded my journey and experiences in my YouTube channel. So I had plenty of “down days” to focus on work.
Traveling during the COVID outbreak has definitely impacted my lifestyle, especially as the number of hospitalizations and deaths have spiked this winter. But one of the wonderful benefits of RVing is that I can spend much of my time outdoors. This morning, for instance, I am writing this blog post from my catio as the sun warms my body. But yes, I was determined to have some fun, with safety measures in place.
The week before I was to arrive on the island, I caught wind of plans to launch SpaceX’s Starship SN8. I was vaguely familiar with SpaceX but I really didn’t grasp the scope of their efforts. After many failed attempts, Starship SN8 lifted off on December 9.
I found a great viewing spot in the local campground, along with hundreds of starship-watchers and SpaceX employees. Here’s one of the most awesome things about the Starship: it lands back on the launching pad in an upright position. While the video isn’t great, I captured the crowd reaction as we watched the Starship launch, fly, and crash land. To be surrounded by SpaceX staff who took obvious pride in their efforts left me with goosebumps. If only we could all be part of something great.
My sister, brother-in-law, and niece visited the island over Christmas week, and we had a great time. They stayed at a condo and we tried to keep our distance and masked up when in the car. We spent a lot of time outdoors – I especially loved the ziplining and horseback riding. It was so great to be with family again. While we took precautions, I was a bit anxious about the COVID factor. Overall, I think we did pretty well.
During the summer, I did not meet many solo women RVers in the campgrounds. I moved around every couple of weeks, making it difficult to make friendships. But here I’ve been able to meet some other solo women RVers, and it’s been fun spending time together. Some of the women I met are members of my Gutsy Women Facebook Group, which is pretty neat. In fact, I’m hoping to meet up with some of my RVing Facebook friends as I travel through the west later this year. Making new friends has been a welcome perk to my stay at South Padre Island.
I am in love with the skies over South Padre Island. Each night, I have a front row seat of a beautiful sunset. Here’s a video of some of my favorite scenes.
The cats have been terrific, but my biggest challenge is Coco, who has turned into Houdini. She is an escape artist. The major reason I upgraded my tent/catio was to have a floor, which would make it escape-proof. Right? Well, Coco can escape from anything. She managed to pull the velcro apart and sneak her head into a gap in the corner, and off she went. Twice I pursued her as she climbed into the underbellies of the RVs and headed to open space in the campground. Those tails come in handy when you have to capture them. I’ve added more velcro to the corners and am keeping a close eye on Coco. While she explores, her sister, Ginger, sits quietly in the catio, wondering what all the fuss is about.
Then there’s Dolly. What an amazing traveling cat she has turned out to be. She seems to have her own fan club, as people of all ages stop to pet the cat walking with a leash. Dolly is full of personality (and a bit chesty) and lives up to her namesake, Dolly Parton. The other day she walked over to the restaurant on the pier and visited with the patrons who were outside waiting for a table. She is quite the special lady.
Two weeks had passed after my family visited, and I breathed a sigh of relief that none of us reported symptoms of COVID. But last week, I began to feel poorly. The most bothersome concern was a killer headache that woke me up at 2 in the morning, combined with intestinal issues and fatigue. I drove an hour to get tested for COVID that very same morning. And then waited.
In the meantime, I rested. And I found some relief from the headache in the form of Petadolex (affiliate link), an extract of the herb butterburr. Years ago, I had suffered from some neurological issues that included headaches, and I it gave me some relief. According to the manufacturer, Petadolex supports healthy blood vessel relaxation in the brain. Once again, I found significant relief after taking Petadolex. Also, I began to take zinc (afililiate link), which is supposed to support the immune system.
Finally, after three and a half days, I was notified that results were in: NEGATIVE. While there is a small chance that this is a false negative, I feel that whatever I experienced was likely a seasonal bug. I did not develop a fever or lose sense of taste or smell. Still, this was a scary reminder of how vulnerable we all are to COVID and that you can’t run away from it. I feel thankful, and I hope the opportunity to get vaccinated comes sooner than later.
My big mission for January is relaunching the Gutsy Women Club. It will be a paid membership program with three tiers – starter, intermediate, and advanced. My mission remains the same: Help women realize their financial and personal dreams. I’ve joined forces with my business coach, who will spearhead the promotional and marketing aspects. I’m determined to turn the business around in 2021.
On February 1, I leave South Padre Island for Lake Corpus Christi State Park. After a two-week stay, I’ll head north to Austin, where I have another two-week stay at McKinney Falls State Park. I’m hoping the temperatures don’t get too chilly as I head north. I’ll be in Texas until the end of March, when it’s time to move west to the Grand Canyon and make my way into California. And next winter, I might just return to South Padre Island.
Dr. Brenda is a financial coach and full-time RVer. In addition to coaching, she creates and leads online courses at the Dream Big Money Academy and is the founder of the Gutsy Women Club. She blogs at The Five Journeys.