Portland, TX: Our First Month-long Reservation!

After our rustic Hill Country experience, we headed south to the Gulf Coast. We chose a park in Portland, Texas, just 8 miles from Corpus Christi, which was on our list for over a year, since we’d always been curious about that corner of the world.

The park was very nice looking, with many amenities and nice folks (and stray cats) we came across during our walks. The location was convenient and the office staff were friendly. What was unfortunate was that as new folks we were assigned a site in a “worker” area – and here’s where we learned the biggest lesson for reservations so far.

For the first 2 days or so, we had no idea we’d been placed in a “worker” area, but we pieced it together by day 4 (geniuses that we are, haha) – – we’d gone all that time, and neither seen nor spoken to anyone. However, we DID hear about 6 departing diesel engines in the land of the Huge Pickup Truck, every morning around 5:50 – 6:10 am (eventually we could identify who was departing for work from which site, without ever meeting them), and their returns every evening between 5:20 and 6:50 pm. These were all men who were hard-working, making a living, either as high-rise crane operators or at oil refineries – NOT vacationers. They have to live somewhere during their temporary assignments, of course, but at the start, we were so curious when no one was out and about.

It isn’t fun to feel lonely! Sure, we waved to anyone who walked by and had arms, and we knew the names of all the dogs who happened to pass by even though their owners sped up after a cursory “howdy”. I even asked John if I smell and people were staying away! Plus we didn’t have wifi, so we went to Starbucks every other day, in part to see other humans.

Eventually, although feeling shy, we went to the “other side”- retirees, full-timers, 6-monthers.

We finally did join weekly events such as card bingo one evening a week (cue memory of grade 9, entering the cafeteria on a lunch hour none of your friends shared), ladies’ crafts and men’s woodworking the first three weeks, but we were unable to shake this feeling of not belonging to the large group of regulars/snow birds, simply due to our location.

Week 1, 2 and 3 we tried as best we knew to slip into activities and even made some nice connections with nice folks, always during a pre-planned activity on the calendar. I’ve said this before but we learn something new each day about this RV thing.

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During the first week, we had poked around and saw a Texas-shaped hot tub, Activity Centre, $4 breakfast on Saturdays, and the previously mentioned crafts and wood-carving activities. We also learned there was weekly bid euchre, poker games, chair-yoga/stretching, bible study, and a weekly potluck. Since we were in the worker area, we used the first (shy) week to explore the area, when we weren’t relaxing (with hobbies, reading, cooking and baking). Looking back, we should have gone to more activities during the first 3 weeks.

A few days in, John tricked took me on a long walk along the Indian Cove Park (a famous spot for birders due to rare migratory and resident shorebirds). It is very scenic, and we walked over a mile looking at the waterfront.

When we stopped to read the plaque, we learned so much about the area in just a few minutes.

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The 4th and final week at the RV park was the best. We were moved to a spot about 30 metres from the Clubhouse! We met about 5 new couples per day, and so many from various corners of Ontario. We could see folks wandering onto the porch of the Activity Centre for 4 pm Happy Hour, ladies on one side and men on the other. Yes, we HAD to join them each day! When John bought a table-top smoker, at least twice I looked outside to see a group of 4 or 5 men standing around discussing it, or offering to help him taste the meat, haha. One night a stranger knocked on our door, introduced himself and said ‘his thing’ was meeting new people, so he invited us to join him and his wife at the next day’s potluck – he wanted to save us a seat! It was so much more fun and laughter with others than we’d known on this trip so far. Who knew about worker-spots? We do, now!

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During this last week we also went to tour the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier, which was very interesting. John took a turn on the flight simulator, landing “his plane” on the carrier, and once again, we spent hours learning and looking at history.

We also took in their famous aquarium where in the ‘tropical zone’ I found my spirit animal – the sloth.

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Fun Fact: You could play three football games or 14 basketballs at the same time on the USS Lexington’s flight deck? It’s that big! 

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