Portland, TX – Road to Recovery

Well, I’m now 4 weeks post surgery, and my recovery continues on track.  The stitch has been removed from the surgery, and my eye pressure has lowered significantly.  I’ve also had my first laser treatment to address the vessel growth, with my second treatment scheduled for next week.  My time here in Portland has been extended an additional month – with my new departure date now being set to April 1st.  That should allow for me to complete all the laser treatments and follow-up visits necessary.  I’ll still need to do some additional followups in the upcoming months, but I’ll do that from the road as I get back to a more nomadic lifestyle.  I’ll have been here for four months when this is all said and done, which is by far the longest I’ve been in one place since I began this adventure almost two years ago.  While I certainly have enjoyed the nice weather and water-front views that this area provides, I’m definitely getting a bit of cabin fever and I’m so ready for a scenery change.

Schedule Impact

I’m a planner at heart and pretty much know where I’m going to be staying, complete with reservations, for about a year in advance.  As you might imagine, the multiple month extensions here in Portland have had a significant impact on that pre-planned schedule.  What was supposed to have been a month in Bourne, TX followed by another six weeks spread across four subsequent stops in TX, OK and KS, has instead been drastically reduced.  Instead, I’ll only be spending a week in Bourne, and two days in each of the four locations that follow.  While this will get me back on my schedule by mid April, I’ll have little to no time to explore many of my near term upcoming stops.  But alas, this is what is necessary.  While its nice to have the schedule all worked out in advance, there has to be some flexibility and acceptance that things can and will come up that necessitate a change of plans.  So I’ll just have to chalk this up to lessons learned.  I’ve updated my “Where’s Bruce” page to reflect the schedule changes, and what can be found here at left is the now current view of my 2020 itinerary.

Playing Tourist

While much of my area tourism had slowed down just before and a while after the surgery, I’m now feeling like I’m able to start getting out and about a bit more.  There were a few places that I had visited in early Jan that I had not yet reported on, and a couple others that I’ve completed recently.  One of my early Jan adventures was a visit to Padre Island National Seashore – a National Park System treasure.  This is the fourth designated National Seashore in the park system, and is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world.  It is 70 miles long, and boasts over 65 miles of Gulf beach.  All but 4 miles are accessible by vehicle, but much of it is undeveloped and accessible only by 4-wheel drive.  It is largely a natural preserve for many animals such as sea turtles and numerous varieties of birds.  I checked out the visitor center, and walked along the mostly vacant shoreline.  There were picnic tables on the beach providing a really nice venue for a seaside lunch.

The national park has 5 areas for camping – including two established basic campgrounds (no hookups), and the remaining spread across 64 miles open to primitive beach camping.  You you can stay for up to two weeks on a first-come, first-serve basis.  At the main campground, each site has a covered picnic table and sits right on the waters edge for some pretty spectacular scenery.  The other areas of the beach that allows for direct, on the beach camping.  Just gotta pay attention to the tide, and the sand to make sure you don’t get stuck.  The two main campgrounds were pretty much occupied, with only a few openings that I noticed.  Having no hookups, this is what is considered boondocking or dry camping, and is not my kind of camping.  I like having my basic amenities such as water, sewer, and electricity.  Call me spoiled, but I like what I like.

I also got to visit a local park here in Portland called Sunset Lake Park. It is located on the shores of Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay between Portland and Corpus Christi.  The park features a two-mile hike and bike trail constructed on an old roadway that transects one of the most diverse coastal marsh and wetland habitats anywhere along the Texas Coast.  At the far end of the trail is a beautiful and vast pier that extends far into the water and is a perfect location for talking a walk and drowning some worms to catch some fish.  On a clear day you can see Corpus Christi across the water.  There is also supposedly some beautiful sunsets from this location, but I’ve not been back there yet to experience and enjoy it.  Hopefully I can get to do that before I leave the area.

So with the pier included, it was a nice 5-mile bike ride down and back along this nicely paved trail.  Along the way, I spotted this crazy looking tree that was decorated for the holidays.  I can only surmise that this is a Texas Christmas Tree.  It was definitely different looking.

The last place I visited here in Texas is somewhat of a local institution.  Founded in 1950, Harmon Dobson had a bold idea: to serve a burger so big that it took two hands to hold, and so good that after a single bite customers couldn’t help but exclaim, “What a burger!” He named his humble burger stand, located on Ayers Street in Corpus Christi, Texas, “Whataburger.” By the company’s seventh decade, Whataburger had grown to an 800-restaurant chain that spanned every state from Arizona to Florida.  I very rarely frequent fast-food joints, but figured since this place was founded here locally some 70 years ago, I’d at least give it a try.  I had the mushroom/swiss burger meal.  The fries were ok and nothing special.  But the burger was actually quite good – juicy and very tasty.  What I did take away from my visit more notably than the actual meal, was the positive customer service that I experienced.  I’m not sure if this was just a local thing in this particular location, or more likely, a company wide practice, but I found the service to be the best I had ever experienced.  It started with a pleasant greeting I got when I was up to the counter, to then receiving a numbered tent-like thing that I was to display at my seating of choice to receive table-side delivery of my order.  A few short minutes later my order arrived.  But along with that, the employee brought a tray filled with various condiments and other supplies and asked if I needed anything.  In fact, I had forgotten to get catchup for the fries, so this saved me a subsequent trip back up to the drink and supplies area.  It was a small and mostly insignificant gesture, but left me feeling very much appreciated as a customer. Something you seldom if ever feel at other fast-food joints.  Well done Whataburger – I’m now a loyal customer!

Final Thoughts

The first thing I want to say is why are GirlScout cookies so darn good, and little GirlScouts so darn cute and impossible to say no to?  Well, I have no willpower when it comes to cookies, and young girls hanging out and working hard to sell their products.  So, 5 boxes and $20 later, I was hooked!

So, I’ve got just under five weeks left here, and look forward to getting my remaining laser treatments and final surgery follow-ups behind me so that I can get back on the road.  I’m gonna be doing a lot of moving, setting up, staying a short time, then packing and moving again for the first couple of weeks out.  But I look forward to then returning back to my regularly scheduled travel itinerary and getting back to my exploring.  I’ve got several friends and former workmates to spend time with in the coming months, and I truly look forward to that.  I”m also looking forward to being back on a more frequent blog schedule.  Till then, safe travels!


7 thoughts on “Portland, TX – Road to Recovery

  1. Glad you’re on the mend, Bruce! I enjoyed the Whataburger story. Now I have to find one and go LOL. If you’ve ever been to a Chic Fil-A, their customer service is similar. Extra friendly, Pleasant greeting, food brought to the table, they come out and ask to refill your drink, along with lots of “My Pleasures” every time you say thanks. I’ve never found a rude employee at a Chic Fil-A. And the chicken is amazing as is their new item….Mac & Cheese!!

    And I agree with the Girl Scout Cookies!! Can’t say no.

    Enjoy the rest of your stay there and hopefully you’re on the road soon!

  2. So glad that you are getting better and in almost final recovery. Can’t wait to you on 1st April. I will try to pack in as much as I can for you to visit. About the Whataburger – the service is the normal service for all of their Whataburger. Like Debbie Laiberte say about Chick-fil-a. It is my favorite place to eat. See ya soon.

  3. Glad you are on the mend and will be able to continue your journey soon. I guess your RV site reservations can be modified unlike some hotel reservations where to get the best price you have to pay up front and can not cancel.

  4. Glad to hear you are on the mend….hope you can adjust your schedule and come to Nick’s wedding and Paul’s service in June…stay safe

  5. Yea Girl Scout cookies are great. But I would have left out the thin mints and stayed all with peanut butter.
    Glad you are on the mend.

  6. Glad you’re doing better! And my daughters can confirm your love of Girl Scout cookies, as they made a point ever year “did you ask Mr. Bruce if he wants to buy any cookies?” They knew a good sale!

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