Tuesday, August 13, 2019

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS - 2019




A drive to South Padre Island, Texas is WELL WORTH the long and stretchful drive to the gorgeous gulf coast. Soft and nearly white sandy beaches, and sand dunes galore! 





 While visiting the sand dunes, you might feel like you're in another country. Well, just a few miles walking/swimming distance from Mexico, that is...  




If you don't like crowds, I highly recommend traveling to South Padre Island during the OFF SEASON. This means, not during spring break, and avoiding the hot summer months, while most visitors are on vacation. Prices are up, and trying to locate a hotel, or place to park can be challenging, if not frustrating. If you don't have a hotel near the beach, you might be paying for a spot. 

We planned our trip JUST before the crowds, arriving right after spring break (end of April) and managed to locate a quaint hotel (with outdoor cafe) ON the beach - which was perfect! 







Okay, I'm letting out of the bag where we stayed....  The Palms Resort. Ssssssshhhh....  Don't tell anyone else, as we'd like to be able to secure a room the next time we book on South Padre! ;-) 



Waking up to enjoy the STUNNING sunrise was well worth it! The beach was nearly vacant except for the occasional jogger, or water gazer like me...  I honestly fell in love with Texas all over again!



Check out this (CRAZY) dude with a fishing pole. Crazy, as if this were me, I'd be hooking myself!

Kites flying over South Padre 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

CRATER OF DIAMONDS STATE PARK - More than Diamonds to be Found

This past June, I camped for two days at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. This gem of a state park is truly a hidden treasure, nestled in an ancient volcanic vent not far from I-30. I had visited this park briefly a few years back while passing through Little Rock, and was literally devastated in having to leave after 2 short hours. It wasn't necessarily the prospect of finding diamonds that drew me to the park, but rather I wanted to linger at the "only diamond mine IN THE WORLD that was opened to the public"... It was truly a finders keeper type of experience, and deserved more than just a few hours. 

Since we couldn't stay long, I knew I had to return.

Their website  has a link for camping reservations, and I was able to secure a camping spot in the primitive camping area. 


A campsite with water is $13 a night


The primitive campsites are right off the road, requiring no hiking, which was fine for me as I was camping in my van. 


Right across campsite are bathrooms and showers



This park has many attractions for visiting families. Not only is there a giftshop and info center/museum in the main visitor center, but this park also has a cafe, swimming area, and offers free services where you can bring your gemstones to the counter for identification. Not only are diamonds to be found (over 600+ a year on average) but many people uncover Amethyst, Agate, Jasper, Garnet, Peridot, to name a few. 

Keep in mind that the ADMISSION FEE to enter the diamond fields are $10 a day, and this is not covered with your camping pass. This is $10 per day per person. Discounted rates for children. 


Plenty of acreage to explore 


And relax

 You'll be looking at this all day... 

 Did I mention it rains at the Crater of Diamonds State Park? 
Nothing like a surprise thunderstorm in the wee hours of the morning!



I was informed that diamonds are easier to find after the rain! 


If you get stir crazy, Murfreesboro is a wonderful little town to visit nearby for souvenirs, ice, and groceries. 



All of those "crystal looking rocks" that you see all over town is just glass. I asked. 



This is what I learned while camping at this state park:

Diamonds come in all shapes and sizes and are easy to find in others (I discovered some incredibly nice people at the campsite!)  

The number #1 question I got asked after visiting this park was, "did you find any diamonds?" 

I think deep down, I went for the solitude and the joy of anticipation. The mornings become busy as people show up, dragging buckets and pulling on boots. There's an air of excitement and adventure. And that is why I left feeling like I'd hit the jackpot, even though I never found a diamond... 







Monday, November 12, 2018

FREEZE DRIED COLBY CHEESE - Is it any good? Augason Farms REVIEW


 I love the idea that I can keep cheese on my shelf for 30 years! Let's see if the taste will hold up too!












I purchased the Augason Farms Freeze Dried Colby Cheese this
 October 2018 from Amazon for $27.59


This is a 1 pound can of freeze dried cheese 


This can is just a little more than half full. 


The cheese is hard and crunchy and surprisingly DELICIOUS 


Instructions: soak in warm water for 15-20 minutes...



Cheese has been drained and now ready for a real taste test... 


This freeze dried cheese has passed the test in every way. It is very good and I confess that I found myself popping the dry cheese into my mouth several times before I realized what I was doing.

This is possibly one of those comfort foods that is just worth the price to keep around in food storage. Of course, this is my own opinion, but I would definitely buy this product again. 

Stay tuned for recipes with freeze dried food