Corpus Christi Camping & Thousand Trails Review

Corpus Christi Beach Review

1000 Trails California Review, too

“Our Boondocking Life Podcast” Transcript

Thank you all for joining us each week on the podcast, we really appreciate you. Today we’re finally gonna talk about three different Thousand Trails campgrounds that we visited. Then we’re gonna talk about the vegan restaurants we found along the way. Finally, all of our experiences in Corpus Christi, Texas are on the docket. So stay tuned.

1000 Trails Campgrounds

The first camp ground we’re going to talk about today, is a Thousand Trails park in Jamul, California called Pio Pico. The reason we stayed at this one in June, was because we sold our house, sold our cars, got rid of everything we owned, basically. Had our camper van, and had no place to stay, because we needed to be there for a few more days, while school was getting out, when my retirement date finally happened on June 6th.

So, for the first week, we stayed in this camp ground, and it was given to us as a gift. The membership was given as a gift from our dealership, where we purchased our Class B camper van. So, it was really handy that we did have a place to go, and we didn’t have to stay over in the Walmart parking lot. The only thing that I will say about this one, before Michael gives you an overview, is there was no internet connection, once we got over there. Which was a problem, because I was still working, and we still had some things to close up with our house. So, we made sure we didn’t go over to the campground until we were finally finished with any internet things that we needed to take care of.

So, Michael’s gonna tell you what Pio Pico campground was about.

Well, I appreciate the Thousand Trails gift from our RV dealer. Pio Pico is located in the eastern part of Chula Vista, and it’s along a real windy road to get there. It’s 20 miles from that RV center to Tecate, Mexico, so a lot of people stay there, because they wanna go to Mexico. It’s 30 minutes to downtown San Diego. Of course, San Diego has all of the attractions, Sea World, world-class zoo, and, of course, the magnificent ocean.

Pio Pico itself, is a very old Thousand Trail RV camp, and immediately once you get there, you’ll see that it is … it has 532 spaces. A good percentage of those spaces are occupied by working folks. In other words, they live there year-round, they go to work every day from there. So, those folks weren’t very friendly, but it is what it is, in terms of that.

We also found that there were a number of the spots where electrical hookups were not working, and also, some of the showers were not working. So while we were at Pio Pico, because we have a gym membership, we chose to use our own gym membership at Anytime Fitness, which was about five, 10 miles down the road. Pio Pico was free, the others … for us. They do have a swimming pool, they had laundry facilities, and again, it’s close to Downtown San Diego.

Oh, by the way, it is located near a skydiving airport, so if that’s your thing, you have ready access to do skydiving all day long. Also, you drive by a massive reservoir, where there’s lots of fishing, and lots of trails, also.

So, those are some of the big highlights of the Pio Pico. It’s not high on our list for recommendations, because the upkeep by the folks at Thousand Trails is way behind. But it is, as far as a location to get into San Diego, an excellent place to stay.

Yes, it was a great place for us, because even though you said it was five to ten miles to our Anytime Fitness, actually, it was on the way to work. So, we could get up in the morning, drive to the Anytime Fitness, and then go to my classroom. Because remember, Michael retired May 31st, and I still had a week, and that week was the week we went to Thousand Trails.

Remember, you were gonna tell them about Eastlake and Chula Vista, which is, again, right down the road from Pio Pico. Jamul is a different town, but it is so close to Chula Vista, that you might think you were still in Chula Vista.

Chula Vista has a whole new area called Eastlake, that has a big shopping mall called Otay Ranch. It has Trader Joe’s, it has Sprouts, it has P.F. Chang’s, and all of the different shops that you might wanna drive all the way into San Diego to go to, but you can just stay right there. We appreciated having Pio Pico as we needed it, but I would not say that it would be on our list to go and stay for fun. But, if you’re in the San Diego area, and you need a place to stay, and you’re a member of Thousand Trails, then by all means, I would say use them.

Okzanita Campground

The next Thousand Trails park we’re going to review is called Oakzanita. It’s in the town of Descanso, California, near Julian, which is known for its apple cider and apple festival in the fall. We really enjoy this area, because it’s in the mountains, and it’s cooler. It’s a very touristy kind of place, but not too big, to where you feel like it’s overrun, except for during the winter, when people come up there to snowshoe or whatever. But we really enjoy the old feel of Julian.

So, we thought we would go check out the Thousand Trails park. There are 118 sites. The thing that we would probably say that is the hardest thing about this place is access, getting to it. It’s a two-lane highway, narrow, so if you’re a big rig, a big Class A, you do have to be careful, but you can access this park. Michael’s going to tell you about the amenities.

This is a beautiful RV park by the Thousand Trail folks. Very rustic, excellent access to all of the hiking trails in the area, such as Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Laguna hiking trails. We actually trained many times up there for our numerous trips to Spain, along the Camino. Highly recommend if you’re in California, you get up to Mount Laguna.

Now the park itself, really well kept up. The space where there’s adequate space for your RV’s, we saw Class A’s, B’s, and C’s at the RV park. Full hookups, I think they had a central dumpsite, a little small lounge, really nice camp post. We also did our laundry there, they had a laundromat, and the showers worked really well. But what I really loved was, the access to the hiking trails all in the area, really lots of pine, and you just feel really comfortable being out there, if you’re into the outdoors and walking and hiking.

Idyllwild, California

Next up, we’re going to talk about our experience in Idyllwild, at the Thousand Trails park there. There are 252 spots, and we ended up in this place, because we were on our way back to El Paso, and to Corpus Christi. But, we had planned to stay in Idyllwild, the first time around, when we came through, because we wanted to go visit it … the mountains. But, the fires were happening in California, so were not able to stay. In fact, we had made the reservations, and we were on our way, and we just called ahead to confirm, because the fires were so active. Then we couldn’t get anybody to answer the phone, so we called the main number headquarters, and they confirmed that yes, the Thousand Trails park in Idyllwild was closed, because of the wild fires.

So, we passed on that, and went to our boondocking site along the highway, that we talked about a couple podcast episodes ago. At this point though, we finally got to stay in Idyllwild on our way down from Las Vegas. We really appreciated it, because it was a lot cooler than where we had been.

So, Michael’s gonna tell you more about the park itself.

This Thousand Trails park has a steep elevation. You have big climbs all over the place in this park, and it’s surrounded by massive amount of California pines, and you feel like you are walking along the mountain ridge, when you’re in this park. We found that, once you get into a site, it’s fairly level, although we did have to use our pads, but we found that you could get your Class B’s and C’s in there very easily. Interestingly enough, we were astonished that people even had their fifth wheels and Class A’s at the top of the mountain of this park.

We also found that it was a great place to hike up and down, really lung-burning as we like to say, because you’ll go from about 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet in this RV park alone. We love the fact that they had restrooms scattered all over the park, laundromats, and all are very well kept. The staff was phenomenal, they answered all our questions in this park.

I would recommend that you take caution, because they told us that it does snow up there, and if you have a really big rig, it might be an issue, because of the steep climbs.

So, of these three Thousand Trails parks that we visited in California, our favorite of course, was Idyllwild, because of the terrain and the feel of coolness. As well as, the pines were huge, and there were not a lot of people in there, because we were there during the off-season. So we had our … pretty much a pick of our site that … whatever site we wanted. We did see some leased spaces, that did not have anybody in them, perhaps they came up on the weekend. So, we really enjoyed the peace and quiet of Idyllwild.

I just wanna recap, Pio Pico had no cell service, Oakzanita did have cell service, and Idyllwild had cell service. Now the Wi-Fi wasn’t so great in any of those places, so if you rely on Wi-Fi, perhaps you need to rethink about going to those.

As we finish talking about Thousand Trails, we’ve decided … We have had it almost a year, and we do not think we’re going to renew it, because we are the Boondocking Life Podcast. We like free and cheap spots, and so we don’t wanna buy a membership, because we are going to continue traveling all around the country. In order to stay at Thousand Trails parks, you have to have the basic membership, and then you buy the zones, at a increased fee. So, as we travel, in order to just pop in on a Thousand Trails park, we’d have to be members of that zone. That, quite frankly, is not our plan, when it comes to finding cheap and military spots.

So, next up, stay tuned as we talk about the vegan restaurant we found in Idyllwild. Michael and I will talk about it, and give you all the tips and tricks of finding vegan food in the mountains.

Plant Food Supper Club

For our vegan restaurant review for this podcast, we’re gonna talk about the one we found in Idyllwild, California. It’s called the Plant Food Supper Club, and it was quite the find. Michael will tell you all about it.

This is Idyllwild’s first vegan café. They have fresh casual gourmet, plant-based fare, juices, smoothies, craft beer, and organic wine. We find these restaurants using two apps, Happy Cow and Vanilla Bean, whenever we’re doing our traveling around the country.

At the Supper Club, we found that they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner plant-based meals, and they were all very delicious. We went there for breakfast. I had the buckwheat pancakes, which had blueberry toppings and an almond cream sauce, along with maple syrup. I also had tea for the meal. I love the fact that the waitress that helped us was very knowledgeable about all of the products and servings in the restaurant. It was just a wonderful, delightful meal.

I also had the buckwheat pancakes, along with some mushroom coffee, and it was so yummy. We highly recommend this restaurant, and we like to support the local vegan restaurants when we’re in the area. It was sad, there were only … there was only one other couple in there, while we were there. But as you walked down the street and around the corner, the other restaurant that serves all the bacon and eggs, was packed full of tourists. So, perhaps people just still are not aware of how yummy vegan food can be. And until the market finds those people, or those people find the restaurants … it was a little pricey, $12 for each of our meals. Again, we find it highly worth it, because of the health advantages.

But we want more people to join us, so please come to the Plant Food Supper Club, when you’re in Idyllwild.

This section of the podcast has been dedicated to your colon, as discussed by our son, Dr. Avery Walker, Colon-Rectal Surgeon, in El Paso, Texas. He’s going to give you some tips on how to prevent colon cancer.

The best way to prevent colon cancer, is to start getting your colonoscopies at the age of 45. You should also make note of any symptoms you may be having, such as blood in your stool, constipation that doesn’t go away on its own, or abdominal pain. See your doctor if those symptoms are there.

The other thing that you can do, is make sure you get at least 30 grams of fiber a day in your diet, to include green leafy vegetables, like broccoli and spinach, peas and beans, and always drink lots and lots of water.

Thank you Avery. Next up on the podcast, we’re going to talk about our adventures in Corpus Christi, Texas. So stay tuned.

Corpus Christ, Texas

So, we’re going to talk about our experiences in Corpus Christi, Texas, because we had to take care of some family business while we were in El Paso. But the weather was getting chilly, and we needed to find somewhere warm, so we thought Corpus Christi was the answer. We also wanted to see about camping on the beach, ’cause that’s been one of my dreams for a really long time. We’ll let you know if we were able to do that.

We arrived in Corpus Christi after about a two hour drive from San Antonio. We headed toPadre Island National Seashore, which is where we had heard there was a lot of opportunity to camp right on the beach. Well, we got to a place called Malaquite Campground, and we were able to go through the gate at the national park, without any problem, because we do have the National Park Pass. But there was also nobody there, so we just drove on through, got into the campground, and this is one of those places where you pay at the booth. Because we have the National Park Pass, we’re able to pay half price. It was $7 a night, to park on asphalt, which sounds really not exciting, and it really isn’t, but you’re right there at the beach.

Now this place however, has a big sand dune, between the parking lot and the ocean. So, you can hear the ocean, but you can’t really see it. It was also very cold and very windy, and we were looking for warmth. So, we decided that after one night, we were going to head somewhere else, with some hookups, and maybe a better view of the ocean. Also, Michael will tell you, this was not his favorite place, because you couldn’t even take a shower there, even though they had showers, they were “cold water”. I think that’s because, in the winter … I mean the summer, when you’re there in the ocean, you can come in and take a quick shower, and it doesn’t matter that it’s cold water, because it’s so hot down there in the summer. It was not hot, it was cold.

We were probably in the 50’s, which in the wind next to the ocean, which is really the Gulf of Mexico, it was really chilly. So we headed out after one night, over to Corpus Christi Naval Air Station Army Depot, and Michael’s gonna tell you what that was like.

Corpus Christi NAS AD

So we stayed at Shields Park Naval Air Station recreation campground on the Naval Air Station Army Depot. They have 90 sites, they’re open all year round. They’re at the far end of the base, which has very calm area. So, there is the Gulf of Mexico, but there’s an inlet that keeps the waves from breaking. We noticed that there were a lot of people that drive up, and just fish during the day. We found that all the sites were very level, all the sites had full hookups, water, showers, dump, free laundry, internet was great. Also, right off of the RV park, was a full club open to everybody, they had full food, liquor, dancing. Really accessible.

We also enjoyed walking around, looking at people fishing, walking along the marsh, and a quiet … a section of the base. The camp host however, was hard to find. If you’re pulling in in the evening, if you go into the RV office, the sign is just really poor. We were able to find the camp host, just by chance, he’s in spot number two. Once you find the gentleman, he was very helpful. That would be the only big negative about this particular place.

But we would recommend if you’re in camp … if you’re in Corpus Christi, to use this RV park, it’s open year-round.

And it was $22.

So, to answer the question, did we get to camp on the beach in Corpus Christi? No, we did not, because the national park service had closed the beaches for the two nights that we wanted to stay there, due to the high tides and the winds. So, nobody was staying on the beach, and they were shoo-ing people off left and right.

We did drive down to Port Aransas, because we wanted to see that town, since we had heard about the hurricane damage that was done. It looks like they are coming back from that hurricane damage, but this whole area is really full of marshland, and so there aren’t a lot of buildings around. There probably are more homes out north, perhaps, but we didn’t see a lot of residential areas along the coastline there. What we did find though, was a lot of RV parks, and some hotels, so it looked very touristy.

But our Who Knew? section for this week, is all about the fact that we were so surprised by how many people were fishing, all along the Gulf Coast there. They’re actually walking into the water, in their hip boots and their hip pants, so that they can stand there with these huge fishing poles, and just stand there fishing. That was something that we were shocked about, because we had no idea that Corpus Christi was a huge fishing town.

Vegan Food in Corpus

And also, who knew that there is vegan food available in Corpus Christi. We found the Green Light Coffee Shop, there are two of them, actually. We visited about brunch time, we were past breakfast, but not quite lunch, and we were hungry, so we went in there, and they had avocado toast. Now, we had to ask specifically, to have it on vegan bread, because it usually comes on a different bread, and this bread was the thickest bread I’ve ever had. We have pictures on the Instagram, so you can go to @heaveninaclassb to see pictures.

It was tasty, it was huge. I cut mine in half, and had it later for an afternoon snack. But it was tasty, I really liked it. I don’t think that I would go back to that restaurant, to have it again, but we were happy to be able to try one place there. They did say they had vegan donuts, and so we each got one for the road, and again, not the best ones we’ve ever had, but they were good enough, I suppose.

Again, thank you for joining us on the podcast this week. If you’d like to follow our adventures, you could see us on www.vegansonamission.com, or at our Instagram page @heaveninaclassb.

But please join us next week, as we travel west, looking for some warmth, on our way from El Paso, Texas to Quartzsite, Arizona. We’ll find you some boondocking spots, or some military places, and it’s cheap sleeps and good eats along the way.

Thanks again, and see you on the road.

2 Comments

  1. Aggi Oschin on December 31, 2018 at 7:01 am

    Good Morning Louisa and Michael,
    Been perusing your blog this morning headed to Sun City RV in Peoria, AZ. So informative-thank you!
    It was so nice to meet you yesterday at Pita Jungle. Hope your stay in Quartsite is fun…the gathering should begin very soon….the 16th?
    We were planning to be there but got a little overwhelmed at the size of the place – where would one start? Will save it for another time.
    Happy trails, Aggi and Michael

    • Louisa Walker on December 31, 2018 at 7:31 am

      It was a pleasure meeting you as well. Good luck in your search for a vehicle. The Quartzsite show did not have many Class Bs to look at last year. Perhaps you could look at La Mesa RV nearer to you.

      Keep us posted! It’s so fun to meet up with like minded folks

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We are a retired teacher, Louisa, and a retired physician assistant, Michael, married for 39 years, who want to help busy travelers begin and maintain a healthy life-style while on the road.

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