A Cold, But Fun Christmas Vacation

This year's Christmas vacation started with a short overnight stop to check out a new lake house and campground on Lake Bob Sandlin before heading to our Dallas daughter's house to celebrate Christmas and then head south to some warm winter weather.

Barefoot Bay Marina RV Park

First stop was Barefoot Bay Marina located on the shoreline of Lake Bob Sandlin just outside of Pittsburg and it's home to an RV park, cabins, marina, and clubhouse. A number of the full hook-up RV sites are less than 75 yards from the lake, the cabins are small but perfect for a couple or small family and their back porch overlooks a cove and the marina. The clubhouse is great with pool, video games, sand volleyball, and washers.

Flight of wineThe highlight of the visit to Barefoot Bay Marina was an excellent dinner in a unique vineyard with some excellent award winning wine at Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards. Our food was great but I really enjoyed the "sweet tasting block" which was a sample of 6 of the vineyards sweet red and white wines. Some of the wine descriptions included: wild floral aromas and racy fruit flavors; a real Texas sweet treat with wild berries and cotton candy throughout; and a French style sweet white with a refreshing Texas twist of fresh fruit! Wow that was good and Mrs.Texas Outside had to drive home.

Christmas In Dallas

With a fuzzy head we (ok, I was the only one with the big head) headed to Dallas for Christmas. I won't bore you with the Christmas details except to say:

  • the living room was filled with presents, it took 3 hours to open them, and I loved all the "thank you's" from the grand kids and I enjoyed playing with all the presents Santa brought - I couldn't believe there were so many presents, when I was a kid their age all I got was a wooden spoon and a pan to fulfill my wish to be a drummer
  • we went bowling and I lost to my 3 year old grand daughter - but she cheated by using a lane guard and a roller and I immediately challenged her to a rematch when she's my age
  • we raced go carts and I got kicked out for bumping my son-in-law and granddaughter and was quickly declared the loser - maybe I was still mad that she beat me in bowling

A living room stuffed with presentsThe granddaughter getting ready to bowl a strikeRacing go carts

  • we tried one of the newest sports to hit Texas, Foot Golf at Lake Park Foot Golf - by the way, I beat my granddaughter and won a lollipop
  • got in 10 holes of golf at the Traditions Course at Watters Creek in Allen before my hands and toes froze and we got soaking wet - wasn't much fun but it's a great golf course layout
  • and as usual, I ate way too much fried turkey, drank too much, and stayed up too late playing games

Grandkids and FootGolfFootgolf with the familyTraditions golf course at Watters Creek

South Padre Island

The day after Christmas we packed our bags, headed home to Georgetown, unpacked, and repacked to head south for a couple weeks to meet up with our daughters family for a few days in South Padre Island to escape the cold weather.

South Padre Island KOAWe stayed at South Padre Island KOA and had an RV site and a two bedroom cabin with a loft rented. The campground is in a perfect location sitting on Laguna Madre Bay and within walking distance to the beach, restaurants, and Schlitterbahn. Plus they have lots of amenities - rec room, ping pong, pool, playground, hot tub, and more. Read our review of South Padre Island KOA to find out why it is on our list of the Best Campgrounds in Texas.

Turns out that for the week we were in South Padre we had one and a half semi-warm days with no rain - the rest of the time it was in the 40s, windy, and rainy. We had to cancel riding horses and ATVs on the beach, parasailing, a round of golf, a dolphin tour, and lots of bike riding. However we did:

  • play 8 holes of golf at South Padre Island Golf Course before my golf ball froze, the club got so wet it flew out of my hands, and I was down 5 strokes to my 9 year old grandson - cold, rainy, windy, and hard for me to focus on anything but a margarita by a warm fire
  • visit the turtle rehab center but turtles don't like cold weather so most of the turtle tanks were covered
  • spent an afternoon at Schlitterbahn's indoor water park in bathing suits when it was 35 degrees outside - read about our day at Schlitterbahn - the lazy river which was not very lazy and after what seemed like 20 laps I finally got out and felt a little dizzy and staggered over to the bar for a margarita

Turtles at the rehab centerSchlitterbahn Water ParkSouth Padre Island Golf Course

  • got in a two hour bike ride along the beach and around South Padre Island before it started drizzling and the wind started blowing - luckily the wind was at our backs and blew us home
  • enjoyed some good restaurants, played a lot of games in the motor home, and spent a lot of time in the bars and restaurants
  • went to a movie (Unbroken) which was a first for a vacation activity
  • spent hours in the campground's rec center using the exercise equipment, playing ping pong and cards and putting together puzzles
  • watched all the crazy people, some in costumes, run from the beach and jump in the Gulf of Mexico during the 17th Annual Polar Bear Dip on New Years Day - it was freezing, the band was bundled up but played on, and the margaritas never thawed - watch this Polar Bear Dip video

Ready to run to the waterInto the cool Gulf of Mexico waterThey did it

After the first couple days of cold weather and several hours in the motor home, I decided we needed to search for the best margarita and since we only had 4 days left we narrowed our search to find the best "beach bar margarita." Turns out that South Padre Island has lots of fun beach bars and that it's also hard to just have one margarita at each beach bar! I lost track of how many we visited after 9!

South Padre Island BarLaguna BobsClayton's Beach Bar

The winner was the margaritas at Clayton's, the "biggest beach bar in Texas!" The loser was me - gained 15 pounds, went into debt, and downed a lot of aspirin.

Rio Grande Valley

Our daughter and her family left for home and we headed a few miles north to the Rio Grande Valley in hope of finding some sun and warm weather and spending time outside the camper - nope! More rain, temps in the 40s, and windy. To get out of the camper we ate out a lot, went to a movie, and visited two museums.

Llano Grande RV ResortWe stayed at Llano Grande RV Resort & Country Club in Mercedes for 3 days, most of which were cold and windy. This RV park is huge with over 400 sites and it's a very popular Winter Texans park because of all of the amenities and activities (poker, golf, woodworking, pot lucks, dances, etc). When it was cold we found the fitness center, played some pool, and sat in the hot tub in the rain! Read our review of Llano Grande RV Resort.

Llano Grande Golf CourseWhen the sun came out one day, we immediately grabbed the clubs and got in 18 holes at Llano Grande Golf Course followed by a bike ride around the campground. We weren't expecting much but the course was fun, in pretty good condition, and even had an island green! Here is a link to our review of Llano Grande Golf Course.

After three days in Mercedes we moved a few miles up the valley in search of the sun. We pulled into Canyon Lake RV Resort in the rain, but it was a tad warmer so we hiked around their lake, played a game of pool, and then went to another Shary Municipal Golf Coursemovie. Cold and rainy the next day so we went to the International Museum of Art & Science and the Museum of South Texas History - another first during a vacation. The links will take you to our review of the museums.

The next morning we awoke to blue sky and rushed to Shary Municipal Golf Course and got in 18 holes before it started raining again - just as we were putting on the 18th green! Click on this link to read our review of Shary Municipal Golf Course.


With the windshield wipers working overtime, we drove to Laredo in hopes for a sunny day to play golf. Couldn't believe it but when we got to Casa Blanca International State Park and it was warm enough to get the bikes off the bike rack, spray off the mud, and wipe down the seats and head out to ride one of the trails. The bikes were all Casa Blana Golf Coursesmiles and if they could talk they would have been screaming for joy! Then it started drizzling and getting cold so it was back to the bike rack and the bikes weren't that happy about it! We did have a good authentic Mexican dinner in a cute house - Las Kakis.

The next morning the sun was out and we immediately booked a tee time at Casa Blanca Golf Course which has a pretty good layout but the conditions were horrible thanks to a broken irrigation system, some neglect due to lack of funds, and horrible weather over the past year. But it was fun getting out of the camper and seeing the sun.

Lake Casa Blanca State ParkCasa Blanca International State Park is huge and has primitive, full hook-up, and water/electric sites all of which are spacious and most have a view of the lake. The Park is located in town and close to everything that Laredo has to offer and Casa Blanca Golf Max Golf Course in LaredoCourse is across the street. They also have lots of amenities some of which include: swimming beach, boat ramp, volleyball, baseball field, tennis courts, and playgrounds.

The reason we came to Laredo was to play the Max (review of the Max) which is the newest golf course in Texas and was rated as the Best New Course and Best Municipal Course in the US. Loved it - great layout, challenging but fair, memorable holes, excellent conditions, and the sun was out all day, little to no wind, and temps in the 70s. Hard to beat all of that and a perfect end to a cold but fun Christmas and New Years vacation.

About Texas Outside

Texas Outside has been alive & well since 1996 - that's ancient by today's internet standards! Texas Outside was originally developed by Lone Star Internet which is an Austin based web development company with an excellent reputation & client base. In March of 2006, we purchased Texas Outside & made a commitment to add new, exciting, & informative content on Texas outdoor activities & fun things to see & do.

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