November 2014 (duh!)
Kathy normally travels back home to her family or jets off to visit friends during the holidays and I normally do whatever depending on where I am, but for Thanksgiving 2014 we decided to change things up a bit and travel to the Texas coast. Why not? It was late fall and a great time to go for a swim! Or not…
So off to Port Aransas we went. Why there? Why not? I had never been. It is pretty much the closest piece of beach from where we are hanging. And Kathy has fond memories of the area. Reason enough? OK, good!
After hitching up the house to the back of my Jeep, we pointed south. First stop was Luling, which is known for barbecue. Texas barbecue. Not that wimpy stuff they have elsewhere in the country. Both of us enjoy some good ‘cue, to we thought it best to stop and grab some.
We ended up eating first at Luling Bar-B-Q because this is the place Kathy always stops at and thought it was the best place in town. It wasn’t. Someone was confused (but that someone will remain nameless). So after a disappointing meal, I pulled out the Yelp app and figured out that across the street is where we should have gone. Since we were in town we decided to gorge on smoked meat, so we crossed the street.
Luling City Market was better. Probably explains why stop #2 was full of people and we were the only ones at stop #1. Lesson learned. Yelp sometimes is right. After our second meal of smoked meat, we somehow managed to waddle back to the Jeep and continue on our journey towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Our next stop was Goliad State Park & Historic Site as this is somewhere Kathy had been wanting to go for years. Neat little place. Obviously since I failed to take any pictures. We toured the Spanish Colonial Era Mission of Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga and were fortunate enough to have one of the park rangers personally show us around. We also took a short hike around the property. Overall a cool place to visit if you are in the area. I have no excuse why I didn’t take any pics. Really.
The last attraction on the way south was the Port Aransas Ferry, which isn’t really an attraction. Certainly isn’t optional (must take it to get to Port A – yes “Port A” is how us Texans refer to Port Aransas). It is wicked cool to take your house on a ferry. And I just love ferries in general. So Marshall was a very happy camper. Especially since the wait time was very short. They seem to know what they are doing here. Good thing since, as I previously mentioned, the ferry isn’t optional.
Before we get to the actual reason for this post I just would like to point out one thing. On the way back we stopped at the Buc-ee’s just south of Luling. If you have never had the pleasure of visiting a Buc-ee’s and find yourself in the vicinity of one, do yourself a favor and stop in. There bathrooms are famous for a reason.
IB Magee Beach Park
Where to stay, where to stay, where to stay in Port A (hey, look, I rhymed)? As y’all may be aware, I am more of the state/city park kind of a guy instead of the boring commercial RV parks, so I had to find a suitable location in the heart of the Port A action (action may be a strong word here). Thus I found IB Magee Beach Park which offers partial hookups (water/electric) just on the other side of the dunes from the beach.
IB Magee Beach Park is fairly decent. Not sure what else to say about a park that is wide open due to its location (tends not to be a whole lot of trees on a barrier island). What it has going for it is the beach being only about 200 yards away (at most) and a great bathhouse. Yeah, it is the little things in life for a full-time RVer. And we took full advantage of both amenities with the beach being our favorite one. Go figure!
What We Did
The beach. After all that was the primary reason we chose Port A as our Thanksgiving destination. Port A is at the top of Mustang Island and one can walk south on the beach for as long as one wants. So we did. Many times. One time we did 10+ miles. Cause we could. And it was nice to stretch our legs on the sand. Very, very nice. Not Florida nice, but nice for Texas.
Turns out you can park your vehicle on the beach as well. Heck, you can even camp on the beach (I had no idea). So on departure day we hooked up the house and drove out onto the beach. Found a nice spot with no close neighbors and parked it for a few hours. We just sat on the beach and relaxed. It was really, really nice (see a trend here?). Maybe next time we will camp on the beach. Cause we can.
I had to work some of the time, which meant I worked at the beach, or overlooking the beach. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I have office views like this. Yeah, the rough life.
Port Aransas is a big birding area, so we birded. Even though neither of us are huge birders, but my mom is and some of it has rubbed off on me. I noticed that there are free guided bird tours every Wednesday morning at 0900 at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, which offers a raised boardwalk out into some prime birding territory. So we went. Ended up doing our own thing mostly, but enjoyed taking a look at all the birds. Turns out that the morning is the time when the birds arrive to this particular spot (a large wetland) so we were treated to huge flocks of birds flying in, descending, and landing in the water. What an awesome sound a large number of descending birds makes!
We also checked out the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture, which is another great place to view birds. With a network of boardwalks taking you across the flats out to Salt Island (with a viewing stand), we saw some pretty interesting creatures.
The main parking area for Charlie’s Pasture was closed so we had to park in a dirt lot. A muddy dirt lot. And I am a guy. And what do guys do? We drive through the mud. Problem is I am not familiar with the mud in these parts and ended up getting the Jeep stuck. My two-wheel drive Jeep. Yes, I wish I had four-wheel drive. And a V-8. But I make due with what I have. Guess who was the lucky one who had to get out and push in order to get unstuck. Yeah, that was me. Fun times!
We also took a day to drive up to Rockport which is a small little fishing town that I have heard good things about. It was OK. Since we didn’t buy any seafood off the boats, there wasn’t much exciting to do. Rockport is known as the gateway to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home of Whooping Cranes. At one time there were only 15 Whooping Cranes in the wild and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge has become the focal point of the effort to rescue the species from extinction. But we didn’t visit the refuge. Another time…
What is a couple to do on Thanksgiving when they are away from family in a small little vacation town on the ocean? Find a local restaurant that is actually open and showing the TCU football game that happens to be playing. The food was forgettable (seriously, I have no idea what we ate) but the game was a good one. And by good I mean that TCU killed the Texas Longhorns by a score of 48-10. Side note: Kathy went to graduate school at UT Austin, home of the Longhorns, but she is definitely a TCU fan.
After our lovely morning with the house on the beach, we headed north back to Austin. A successful trip indeed and proof that we travel well during the holidays.