Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Travel Day to Pearland, Texas

When we travelled to Port Aransas from the Valley, since we were coming from the south, we just crossed a bridge from Corpus Christi to get onto Mustang Island.  We could have left the same way, but since we were going north from there, it would have added unnecessary miles to our drive.

Tom wasn’t so sure about putting the motorhome on the ferry, but after we got here and rode across the channel several times in the Jeep, we were more comfortable with it.  Plus, on several trips, we travelled across with motorhomes and RVs, and none of them seemed to have any trouble.

It wasn’t just a simple ferry operations – there were multiple ferries running at all times – 24/7. and they were very well organized.

In good weather and bad . . .

The pelicans and seagulls loved the ferry launch and were always flying around and landing on the roof of the Jeep (I think we only crossed once with the roof off!), and almost every time we saw dolphins swimming around the ferries.  I was afraid they were going to get run over!

On the opposite side of the channel, there were these big structures – we thought they might be oil rigs, but we weren’t really sure.  We often saw ships docked there, and there was always activity going on, but no indication of what . . .

So, as we ended our month in Port Aransas, the day came for us to leave the island . . . we left on the Friday morning, around 9:30am and that turned out to be a really good time.  Every time we’ve travelled across in the Jeep, we’ve had to go around the loop road next to the ferry launch, which is where they have vehicles line up to wait for loading.  On this morning, the gate was open, which meant we were going to be able to drive right up to a line for a ferry.

We did, and we weren’t the only motorhome waiting to board the ferry.  We pulled in behind this Dutch Star.

It was our turn to board – the attendant was signaling for us to straddle the two right lanes and pull up next to the Dutch Star.

We fit!  Tom handed the phone out the window to a guy walking by and asked him to take a few pictures!

And we made it to the other side!

With the most stressful part of the drive behind us, we made our way north on Hwy 35, through a few small towns, and approached Pearland, TX (a suburb of Houston) from the south.  It was an easy 3-hour drive, and we made it to the RV Park with no issue.

We pulled into our site and got set up.  The Park Manager had called while we were on the way, and told us to go ahead and pick one of the two available sites, and settle up with her the next morning.

We chose site 30, across the road and down a few sites from our friends, Tom & Karen, who are spending the winter here to be near their son.  Tom is retired from Ford, the same office where I work.  It’ll be nice to get caught up with them while we’re here, and they promise to share some of the better sights of Houston with us.

It’s a small park – new, and they are still adding more sites and facilities, but very clean and nice.  There’s a nice little pond in the back, with a walking path around it where Casey likes to walk.

It’s nice for sunsets, too!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Port Aransas and Rockport

We travelled up to Rockport one Friday afternoon  to see if Tom could find his “Oysters Rockefeller” at the Oysterfest, but that didn’t work out . . . the festival didn’t open until the evening, and from talking to some people he found out that it’s more of a carnival – with more “fair food” than oysters.  He was bummed, but we got some lunch in town (still not oysters), and walked through the shops along the waterfront.

There’s still quite a bit of post-hurricane re-building going on, but the little downtown area is cute.  If you were furnishing a beach cottage, there were lots of cute options!

The Marina is pretty full, too --

pleasure boats,

and working boats --

but also some that don’t look like they are going to be sea-worthy anytime soon!

Back in Port Aransas, Tom might not have gotten the oysters he was looking for, but he did manage to buy some shrimp,

They were fresh off the boat!  $4/lb. for a medium mix – he just had to pop off the heads and cut off the shells!

Before --

and After!

He also managed to get some tamales from Granny’s Tamales!  This truck drives through the RV Resort every afternoon – playing music like the ice cream truck – and selling hot tamales!  He said they were OK, but it turns out that he’s not really a big fan of tamales.

As our days her on the coast are winding down, we finally got a few warmer days with some sunshine in the afternoon. 

One nice afternoon, we took a bike ride through town and down to the beach.

We stopped in a few of the little shops in town, and picked up a decal for the Jeep.  We checked out the candy store, too, but didn’t buy anything . . . too expensive . . . $9.50/lb. for basic bulk candy!  No way!  They did have Albanese Gummy Bears, though.

Down at the beach, we found this interesting sight . . .in one area of the beach, all of the posts were covered on these crocheted socks – all different.

I have no idea who makes all of them, but they were very interesting and colorful!

It was still pretty quiet at this end of the beach.

So, you can camp anywhere along the beach on Mustang Island.  The weekends can get pretty crowded, but during the week it’s fairly quiet. 

Riding along the beach, we came upon this interesting rig,

We stopped to take a picture, and the owners were sitting outside so we stopped to talk for a bit and ask a few questions.  They were from New Hampshire, and had built this rig themselves.  They bought the truck chassis with almost a million miles on it, and have no idea how many more they’ve added.

Pretty cool!

Almost back to Port A RV Resort!

Another day, we took the Jeep back down to the beach to see what the Spring Break crowd was looking like . . . not much to see at our end of the island!

Driving south along the beach, though, we found the college crowd!

Just look for the Police presence, and that’s where the kids are!  I think I’m glad Bryce went to the Dominican Republic!

I think this guy was keeping watch, too!

Back to the family area of the beach – much calmer and quieter!

It wasn’t until our last week in Port Aransas that we got to know fellow fulltimers, Mike and Kathy, originally from Alabama.  We found that we had a lot in common and really enjoyed each others’ company . . . making the most of our last few days together . . .

hanging out at the beach, going for ice cream, and dinner out,

and a beautiful sunset on our last evening in Port Aransas!

It was great getting to know you guys . . . see you again when our paths cross . . . and who knows, maybe we’ll plan that Alaska trip together!

Oh, yeah, meanwhile up in Michigan, the college kids were getting ready for Spring Break,

It appears that they had lots of fun!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Historic Goliad

A few weeks ago, when Tom and I were relaxing in the hot tub at the RV Resort, another couple we were talking to told us about the small historic town of Goliad.  It was about an hour drive inland from Port Aransas, but there was a Mission and a Fort, and on the 2nd Saturday of the month they have Market Days.

I put it on the calendar, and thought we’d take a drive if it were a nice day.  Saturday started out with the typical clouds and fog, but it was promising to warm up, especially inland, so we loaded the bikes on the Jeep and got an early start.  Our drive took us through ranch land, with lots of cattle along the side of the highway.  Not much else besides cattle . . . and grass!

Goliad is an old, small town, with the businesses around the town square with the County Courthouse in the center of the square.

In front of the courthouse is a huge, old Live Oak known as the Hanging Tree . . .

From Roadside America.com,

An official Texas Historic Landmark, the Goliad Hanging Tree is a symbol of justice, Texas-style. For 24 years the court trials of Goliad County were held under this big oak tree. Death sentences were carried out promptly, usually within a few minutes, courtesy of the tree's many handy noose-worthy branches. The tree also served as a gallows for a number of impromptu lynchings during the 1857 "Cart War" between Texans and Mexicans.

No tally was kept for how many men died in The Hanging Tree, but some estimates range into the low hundreds.

The businesses surrounding the square were historic and really quaint,

and there were several cool murals on the brick walls, too,

including this old advertisement that is now the backdrop for a trendy outdoor seating area of a local restaurant.

The vendors for Market Days were set up on the sidewalk surrounding the courthouse square, and there were a couple of musicians on two sides of the square.

We walked through the booths, and then around again, walking through the shops on the opposite side of the street.  It was a pretty typical Farmers Market type atmosphere, with various local artists and craftsmen selling their products.  We enjoyed looking around, but didn’t buy anything.

There were a few restaurants in town, and we decided on lunch at the Empresario Restaurant, a historic structure on the square.  Our lunch was yummy and very filling!

In researching Goliad, I had read that there was a bike trail that runs between downtown, Goliad State Park (home to the Mission Espiritu Santo), and the Presidio Bahia (Fort), so we had brought our bikes with us.  The trail was supposed to be 2.5 miles each way, which isn’t long, but what we didn’t know is that it would go down to the river, and then back up again!

The trail was blacktop in many areas, and wooden boardwalk in other areas, including these crazy switchback ramps down to the river and back up again in two different sections of the trail.  Climbing the ramps was actually easier than going down them!

We arrived at the State Park, and stop in at the Ranger Station to get our entrance permits, and then walked up to the Mission de Spiritu Santo.

We toured the Museum, as well as the Chapel and other buildings, and the grounds.

Inside the Chapel,

and around the grounds.

The museum tells the story of the Franciscan monks who served the Indians of this area with education, farming and cattle ranching.

One of the remaining original walls.

Leaving the Mission,

we got back on our bikes and rode through the campground (they have one loop of nice 50 Amp FHU sites), and then crossed the San Antonio River,

to the Presidio la Bahia.

The Fort was built on top of a hill next to the river, the perfect location to provide protection for the Mission.

There are nine flags placed in front of the Presidio – representing the progression of occupancy of the Fort.

There are tours available of the grounds and the barracks, and there is still an active Catholic Church on the premises.  It was getting late in the afternoon, so we didn’t take the tour and just headed back to town on the bike path.

It had gotten well into the 80s on Saturday (much different than the weather we had been having out on the island!), and was extremely humid, so the bike riding was taking a toll on both of us – especially after that filling lunch!

Once we got across the river, rather than riding back through the state park, we just followed the highway back to downtown Goliad.

It gave us a great view of a field of Bluebonnets in front of the Mission!

Pretty – Spring is in the air!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Barefoot Mardi Gras Parade

Last weekend was Mardi Gras in several of the nearby towns.  It was a cool and foggy morning on Saturday, so we hadn’t made any plans yet, when the neighbors mentioned the Mardi Gras Parade and Festival down on Padre Island.

We decided to take a drive down there and check it out.  It was almost time for the parade to start when we got there, so we couldn’t drive down onto the beach (access roads already closed), so we just parked at the festival grounds and walked to the beach.

We walked along the parade route, and were amazed at the number of people parked along the beach.  Most had been there since early in the morning, and plenty were set up for a full day of partying. 

There were lots of costumes . . .

even on the dogs!  Tom thought these two were cute!

We were glad we hadn’t brought the Jeep down to the beach – it was really crowded, and the high surf was already getting close to the cars and trucks parked on the water side of the parade route!

We could see the parade approaching us,

so we found a good spot to stand and watch the action . . . and there was plenty of action!

The King and Queen led the way . . .

followed by vehicles of every imaginable type!

Tom thought this guy looked pretty cool . . . I think he was just jealous of his beads!!

The parade continued . . .

with Dancing Ladies,

and Dancing Skeletons!

Baby Shark, Shark, Shark, Shark . . . . How does that song go?

Some people were so creative . . . .

--  cars and golf carts --

traditional floats,

and even some big rigs!

Some of the floats were throwing candy to the kids (although it usually ended up coated in sand!), but most were throwing beads . . . we ended up with a pretty good collection, too!

There were definitely some characters in the parade . . . and in the crowd!

and more cute dogs!

It was definitely one of the more entertaining parades we’ve been to, and we enjoyed it.  As things wound down and the crowd started to make their way off the beach, we walked back toward the festival grounds.

There were a few vendors and food trucks,

but nothing that really interested us, so we decided to just head back to the RV Park for lunch.

Walking back to the Jeep, we got to see many of the parade vehicles again,

and one of the more colorful characters that we had seen (and I’m not talking about the goat!)