Friday, January 27, 2012

Mini vacation to the Gulf Coast

Yes, we call it a mini vacation when we take off for a few days to see another area of Texas.  This probably seems funny to some of you because we are retired, so aren't we always on vacation?  Well yes and no...it's different when we just take off in the car and hotel it for a few days.

I have to admit that one of the true pleasures of doing this means that we have real bathrooms and showers.  We do have a really nice shower in the Roulotte, but you always have to think about heating up the water ahead of time, not letting it run continually and will it be warm enough in the bathroom.  Then when done, you must remember to turn off the heater so that you don't run down your propane.  I, who have always loved a long, hot shower have had to make quite an adjustment....
RV park showers vary a lot so they can vary from nice hot showers to "oh my god it's freezing", which can refer to either the water or the room or both. When in hot weather not a problem, but winter can really push your courage.

Anyway, we took off on "vacation" for Mustang Island, which is off the Corpus Christi coast.  We stayed in a hotel in the town of Port Aransas.  This is actually a small fishing town that still does fishing, but mostly does tourists, in a good way.  As usual here in Texas, everyone is friendly and helpful.  There is a fleet of small ferries, 6, to get you to and from the mainland or you can drive around from Padre Island.  The ferries hold just a few cars/trucks/RVs with a maximum space equal to about 25 cars.  It's a 3.5 minute ferry from one side to the other Aransas Pass to Port Aransas.  On one of our trips there were dolphins playing in the water in front of the ferry.   The ferry captains, men and women, were quite casual about the whole thing, moving around and back as needed to get past the dolphins.  It is quite the sight!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustang_Island
http://www.portaransas.org/
http://www.tourtexas.com/content.cfm?id=83

After checking in to our hotel, we took the 5minute tour of the town and then went for a 2 mile hike, along the water, with sea grasses all around and lots of birds.  We found ourselves in Charlies Pasture, the city of Port Aransas Nature Preserve. Got glimpses of fiddler crabs as they darted in and out of holes in the sand.  It was quite a nice hike and except for a few other folks, we had the area to ourselves.  The weather was threatening, major storm coming in that evening, so not a lot of folks out.  Heck, we're used to wet weather....

oil tanker seen on the walk 
http://www.cityofportaransas.org/Nature_Preserve.cfm

Dinner that evening was in a cajun food dive, which was devine.  I had a creole crayfish dish and Fred had a gumbo.  Both really good.  Getting our taste buds wet for the food in New Orleans early Feb.

At breakfast the next morning, we met some really friendly folks from Minnisotta.  Spent lots of time sharing information about things to see and do in Texas.  It is fun to meet more "winter Texans" and here their stories as they travel.

video

Then we were off to the mainland to see some of the coast towns and eventually get to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where we hoped to see Whooping Cranes.  There are only 500 left in North America. They fly here in November from northern Canada, about 2500 miles.  They are "winter Texans" like us, LOL!   The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is a national area, so our Golden Age Senior Park pass got us in for free.
It was so much more than we expected!  We saw two alligators, whooping cranes, wild hogs, blue herons, pelicans feeding, lots of birds, lots of deer and that was just in the 4 hours we spent there.  We are already planning on an all day trip next winter.


smiling for the camera or is that a dinner in sight smile?
video

Whooping Cranes - couple about 5ft tall with 2 young close to 4ft tall

http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/aransas/
http://www.stxmaps.com/

We left the next day and headed to Goliad, Texas on our way back home to the Roulotte.  Goliad was the scene of a bloddy massacre between the Tejanos and Santa Ana.  This is considered as another major historic site in the war for independence from Mexico.  "Remember Goliad" was as important a battle cry as "Remember the Alamo".  There are 5 main Texas independent sites: Gonzales, the Alamo, Goliad, San Jacinto and Washington on the Brazos.  We will have now seen the first four and will see Washington on the Brazos next winter when we come back.


http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjg05
http://www.presidiolabahia.org/
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/goliad_and_mission_espiritu_santo/

We have just a few days left in the San Antonio area and then we are relocating to an RV park just east of Houston on the San Jacinto river.    We'll have more adventures to share then, I'm sure.
Till next time,
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!