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Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © The USS LEXINGTON

If you are in Corpus Christi (Texas), plan on visiting the USS Lexington. The Lexington, an Essex Class aircraft carrier, was commissioned in 1943. She was nicknamed the “Blue Ghost” by Tokyo Rose because of several reports of being sunk. At the time of her decommission in 1991, she was the oldest working carrier in the U.S. Navy.

There are five self-guided tours, each beginning and ending on the hangar deck. From aircraft, exhibits, movie theater, cafe and gift shop, be prepared to spend a day on board. One of the hidden gems we found was a ball cap (of the Lexington) worn by Commander Jerry Linenger on board the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994.

Admission is $14 for adults and $12 for seniors. Gated parking across the street is $3.50 and requires a token at exit (which you pay for at Admissions). There is no RV parking, so only take your tow vehicle. There is free shuttle service from the pier to the hangar deck.   The tour consists of a great deal of walking and climbing – sturdy shoes are recommended. And don’t forget your camera!

 

Who knew shopping for souvenirs could be so dangerous? 😉

If you find yourself near Corpus Christi (TX), plan to visit Padre Island National Seashore. The park consists of 70 miles of coastline, sand dunes and tidal flats. In addition to being the nesting grounds for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, the park also boasts over 300 species of birds.

At the park you’ll find the Malaquite Visitor Center (consisting of small museum, gift shop, camp store, restrooms and pavilion), campgrounds, boat ramp, picnic shelters, nature trails and windsurfing/kayaking rentals. There is plenty to do – from beach-combing and birdwatching to bicycling and fishing.

It can be windy along the beach and can be buggy at times near the marshes. And don’t forget to watch out for Portuguese Man-O-War and jellyfish!

Admission to the park is $10 per vehicle (7 day pass) and an additional $5 if you want to use the Bird Island Basin area. Be forewarned, the park is not all paved. A short drive after the visitor center you will find yourself driving on the beach! And four-wheel drive is recommended for travel beyond the first couple of miles. However, we did see a handful of folks with their RVs along the first section. You might ask at the entrance gate about current road conditions before taking your own Big Rig beach driving though!

Finding new roads in Texas… although this one leads straight into the Gulf of Mexico!

If you find yourself traveling I-10 near the Louisiana/Texas State Line, make sure to stop at the Texas Travel Information Center in Orange (TX) to see Blue Elbow Swamp. The Center has a boardwalk that extends into Blue Elbow Swamp and you can view a variety of plants, trees and wildlife.

Blue Elbow Swamp is part of Tony Housman State Park and Wildlife Management Area. The area has a fascinating history that even includes cannibals. Yep! So take some time to forget about highway traffic and take a relaxing walk in the swamp. 😉

To kick off U.S. National Park week, the National Park Service is waving entrance fees. In addition, some other special offers may apply this free-weekend.

April 18-19, 2015 (opening weekend of National Park Week)

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.

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