Roberts Point Park

I’m in Port Aransas, falling in love with my beach house and town all over again. The weather could’t be more perfect – 50’s at night, 70’s with sunshine and blue skies during the day. The dog and I are doing the pre-season check up and supply drop off, but there’s plenty of time for some R & R too.

There’s quite a bit of deck work going on and the workers accidentally sliced my DirecTV line, so we are sans cable for the time being. That actually is better for my plans for the few days we are here anyway. Who wants to be tempted to be a couch potato when the beach is calling! The deck rails are being finished today and construction is quite noisy, so we headed into town for lunch. Emmy (the pup) and I grabbed lunch to go at Subway and had a picnic at Roberts Point Park. It’s one of my favorite places to go when in Port Aransas. The park is located adjacent to a marina with some GORGEOUS boats/yachts. It’s also Where the Pollyanna, the local shrimp boat docks.

The park is a great family play area. There is a covered pavilion with picnic tables, horseshoe pits, playgrounds for kids and soccer fields. The park is next to the ship channel, so it’s a great place for watching dolphins. Benches are set up along the sidewalk if you want to take a break, sit and watch the ships, boats, pelicans, dolphins, etc. There are almost always fisherman fishing along the wall and at the pier.

 

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Visiting the 2015 Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas

Spacious kitchen island at the 2015 Coastal Living Showhouse

I love touring houses and do it when ever I get the chance. I was so excited today to be able to tour the Coastal Living Showhouse at Cinnamon Shore in Port Aransas. I coordinated everything I had to do on this trip to the beach house with being able to see this gorgeous place. So very happy they could make a mid week appointment to show it to me! The house is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and by appointment at other times, until The Sunday after Thanksgiving. It’s definitely worth the visit to see the latest in coastal architecture and design.

On to the pics:

Family Bunk Room at Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas Inviting deck at the Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas Dining room and living room great area at the Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas Shower Doors in Master Bathroom at the Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas. The perfect spot for a nap. Hanging bed on deck by master bedroom in Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas. Large soaking tub in master bathroom at the Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas. Beautiful Master Bedroom in Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas. View of the Gulf of Mexico from the upper deck at the Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas.Gorgeous tile back splash in the kitchen of the Coastal Living Showhouse in Port Aransas.

Some things to note:

The light coming into the house at 2:30 in the afternoon was lovely and the water was a gorgeous blue. The decks allowed a great view. The lower level has gorgeous wood look light colored plank tiles. The upper levels have light colored wide plank wood floors. The shiplap walls were crisp and made the main areas feel light and bright. I really liked the textures used in the house from the shiplap walls, to the wall paper to the use of tile. All the bathrooms had amazing unique tile – my favorite is in the room with the soaking tub. I really liked the AZEK decking.  Loved the layout – it was a 3500 square foot house and there were plenty of inviting places to gather for conversation. It also had amazing 1700 square feet of porches. You can read more about the house and get all the official details in the November 2015 issue of Coastal Living Magazine.

My takeaway – I really need shiplap walls…somewhere….

Port Aransas ARK – Animal Rehabilitation Keep

Port A has a gem of a place – the Animal Rehabilitation Keep – otherwise known as the ARK. It started in the 1980’s when Tony Amos, a University of Texas Marine Science Institute research associate, found injured sea turtles and aquatic birds during his research outings and brought the animals in to heal.  At the ARK, injured animals are rehabilitated and cared for with the goal of returning them to the wild. Tony writes weekly for the Port A South Jetty (local newspaper) and the article are always educational about the local wildlife.

According to the UTMSI website, “The ARK also cares for large sea and freshwater birds, including pelicans, loons, gannets, boobies, cormorants, gulls, terns, herons, and egrets. About half of them can be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.  Most of the creatures, regardless of their species, are injured because of some kind of human activity. Birds often get caught in fishing lines or hit by vehicles on beaches or the roadside. Turtles can fall victim to fishing lines as well as shrimp trawls and boat propellers. Sometimes the animals have been hurt deliberately.”

In addition to the rescuing, the volunteers and staff at the ARK give educational tours for schools. Port Aransas is a better place for the work that goes on at the ARK!

Last week they released several turtles and our Blue Roost guests were able to go to the public release. One of these days I’m going to to see this in person!

Checking out a turtle release is a fun family event to share while at the Blue Roost beach house in Port Aransas.

5 Reasons to go to the Beach in the Fall

1. No Crowds

It’s all yours – the beach is lovely, warm and uncrowded. Perfect for morning walks, evening walks and anything in between. I’m always surprised at how warm the water can still be in the Fall. My kids have even been in it at Thanksgiving!

It's all Mine!

It’s all Mine!

2. Great Shells

I’m amazed at the different shells we find on the coast. A few Septembers ago I was in Galveston with some friends and we found the entire beach was littered with quarter sized shells – I think they were disk clams (Elegant Dosinia). Shelling on St Joe’s Island is an adventure anytime of the year. One contributor to TripAdvisor said they found fantastic shells in November.

Sea Treasure

Sea Treasure

3. Great Temperature

The average highs and lows in degrees fahrenheit for October are:

Galveston 79.7 and 68.4.

Port Aransas 82 and 71.

Very. Nearly. Perfect.

Perfect conditions

Perfect conditions

4. Great Fishing

Port Aransas, TX Offshore Charters & Bay Fishing Guides says that Fall is a great time to fish – still warm, not crowded and with more flexibility in booking trips. In searching for charters/guides for family trips, I’ve also seen that some rates are less in the Fall.

5. Fun Local Activities Happen in the Fall

Check out the local calendar for goings on in the area  Port A Calendar of Events and Galveston Calendar of Events.

Highlights include – October 16-10 The Port Aransas plyWooden Boat Festival and Oct 23-25 The Harvest Moon Regatta

Boats heading to Port A

Boats heading to Port A

6. Bonus: Just Because You Can

Always a new place to explore!

Always a new place to explore!

We don’t really ever need a reason to head to the coast – Just grab friends and family and hit the road!

Good times ahead!

Desperately Seeking Shade

Beach days on the Gulf coast require a little bit of mid-afternoon shade. In preparation, we purchased a pop up tent for the Galveston beach house for guests, but we have never actually used it. I had no idea how to set it up!

The heat index in August in Port A was 105-109 degrees on the last trip, so it was either stay inside or figure out how to put up some shade. Guests had left a 99.9 UVA/UVB umbrella and we borrowed a giant deadly looking metal contraption from a friend that is supposed to secure the umbrella in the ground. We used the giant metal screw like thing that we twisted into the sand about 10 inches down. The first attempt in moderate wind was pretty good but as the afternoon went on, the umbrella became loose. So, we took off the bottom section of the umbrella and tried it again for some success. While we sat under the low umbrella I checked out the varieties of methods to secure umbrellas and tents to tried to figure out the secret science of securing shade.

Our umbrella and holder

Our umbrella and holder

Tents

Every beach trip I see at least one tent either mid tumble or post tumble. Tent skeletons collect around the trash cans. The wind that comes of the water is strong! This trip the tent next to us was secured with Lowe’s buckets filled with sand. Ropes attached the tent frame to the buckets. Excellent – that tent didn’t move in the wind at all. Bring the kids and sand shovels and put them to work! We also saw folks to the other side of us employing our tactics of putting the shade low….

Tent held by sand buckets

Tent held by sand buckets

Short tent

Short tent

Umbrellas

I saw all kinds of umbrellas stay put, but never was able to see one actually being put in. So, I googled it. Some sites recommended various forms of sand screws like we used. However, several sites had videos of people placing an umbrella in the sand and moving the umbrella back and forth about an arms length. This moves the umbrella down into the sand to a recommended depth of about 18 inches. Point the umbrella in the direction of the wind so the wind blows the umbrella into the sand rather than catching it and blowing it away. Step on the sand around the pole to pack it down. One post I read said they pour water around the pole to help pack down the sand around the umbrella.

Umbrella and sand chairs

Umbrella and sand chairs

What’s your solution to securing umbrellas and tents? I’d love to know!

Horses on the Beach

horse group on beach with heading

My youngest daughter is an animal whisperer.  All her extra curricular activities revolve around animals – horse riding, goat raising and she even works in a vet clinic. Every time we go on vacation, if there’s salt water, she wants to do two things – swim with the dolphins or ride horses on the beach. She’s been asking to do this for YEARS. We finally checked one of those things off her bucket list this week in Port Aransas. (Can you hear the angels singing!!) The girls and their friend rode at Horses on the Beach – Corpus Christi.  It was awesome! The stable is about 30 minutes from the beach house in Port A. It was a quick drive down the island with a left at Park Road 22. Horses on the Beach is on the left side, just past the entrance to the Bob Hall Pier and Padre Balli Park.

I reserved two early bird (10:00 am) spots online about a week ahead of time and for this hot August day, that early ride was the right time for us. There were several other time slots, including a sunset ride.  I wasn’t sure the oldest daughter was going to be able to make the trip, so I made a last minute call the day before to ask if they could add her to the reservation. Happily, they did. We arrived at 9:30 am, filled out waivers, got helmets and waited on some swings for the rest of the group to assemble.

Waiting to ride

Waiting to ride

The group had about 30 riders total, including 5 guides. The riders were assigned a horse based on level of riding experience. Once on the horse, the guides helped get the gear situated.

Matching the horse and rider

Matching the horse and rider

Stirrup adjustment

Stirrup adjustment

They left right on schedule at 10:00 am and headed out across the dunes to the beach. The spring rains formed large “lakes” in the lower areas of the dunes. At this point, the water was only about ankle deep on the horses. It was a good way to begin the ride!

Splashing through the dunes

Splashing through the dunes

After the kids left, I went in to chat with the staff who told me how to get to the beach with the horses. I jumped in the car and was on the beach in about 5 minutes – just at the group came out of the dunes.  I had so much fun photographing them! That stretch of beach is gorgeous – narrow and not crowded.

Walking on the beach

Walking on the beach

Stepping into the Gulf

Stepping into the Gulf

The kids had a fantastic time. The ride lasted exactly an hour. They walked down the beach a bit then back tracked to come home through the dunes again.

Coming home!

Coming home!

The group felt a little large, but even so, the kids were able to maneuver the horses to where they wanted them to go. It was a leisurely ride on a wonderful day.

Adventuring in Port A

Along with visiting San Jose Island, my sister, nephew and I ventured beyond the beaches and into Port A last week. One afternoon when the heat index was between 105 and 109 degrees, we opted to stay out of the sun and went into town to check out some Port A history. Visiting the Port Aransas Museum and the Farley Boat Works have been on my to do list for a long time, but it’s hard to convince a pack of teen girls to leave the beach! Happily, my sister and her 10 year old son were more than game, so we went into town. The Port Aransas Museum is open Thursday – Saturday 1:00pm – 5:00pm so unfortunately, we weren’t able to see it this trip. We did make it to the Farley Boat Works (open 8:30 am – 5:00 pm Tuesday – Saturday) and had a great tour by the shop manager, Frank. The Farley Boat Works opened in 1915 and was run by various family members until it closed in 1973. The original Farley Boat was crafted specifically for the tarpon fishing in Port Aransas.  The Farley Boat Works was re-established in 2011 when the site of the last shop was purchased by the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association (PAPHA) and is now part of the museum. Boat building classes are taught at FBW and this summer a camp was held for folks 12-21 to build a Surf Rider boat, which is like a cross between a kayak and a paddle board. While we were there, we saw one in mid-progress. Frank talked to us about a 12 year old boy who had recently completed his own boat. My nephew thought that was pretty cool.

Farley Boat Works

Farley Boat Works – antique boat restoration

Frank asked what else we were doing that afternoon and recommended that we head over to The Back Porch. I’d never been there so we thought we’d continue our exploration of Port A for some refreshment at the dock.

The Back Porch Bar

The Back Porch Bar

We were hooked from the moment we got there – what a great location! Right next to the marina and Woody’s Sports Center. The bar is in the middle of a large deck. The deck had plenty of covered seating, so even on this hottest of days, the temperature was great. We sat at a table, had ice cold and delicious virgin Pina Coladas and enjoyed watching the people and the boats.

Hanging out at The Back Porch

Hanging out at The Back Porch

While there I noticed a little window on the side of Woody’s selling food. The Harbour Lights Grill sells awesome nachos (BBQ, grilled chicken, blackened shrimp, etc) among other items. My family is partial to late night nacho runs to Cancun’s Mexican restaurant, but I’m allergic to soy and can’t eat much there because of the oil in the food. I’m happy to report that there’s no soy to be found at this little food joint, so I’m taking the family there next time we are in town. Can’t wait to go back!

Harbor Lights Grill

Harbor Lights Grill

Winter Texans Wanted

It’s that time of year again – mid summer – happily most of the beach house dates are booked til September and the summer season is cruising along. Aound July 4th we start getting inquiries for Thanksgiving, Christmas and a winter stays. It feels strange to advertise for Winter folk in July, time is slipping by us like sand through our fingers, but most of the folks I know are trying to ignore that fact. Me too this year – my oldest heads to college in about a month…say it isn’t so! Alas, time is marching on and we change our headlines to start attracting the people that head south for the winter.

Weather on the coast in the Fall and Winter is fabulous! Highs in the upper 50’s and lower 60’s. Check out these links for Port Aransas and Galveston monthly average temperatures. The crowds are gone and the water is warm well into the Fall. It’s actually my favorite time of year to be at the coast.

Several major publications have stories about heading south to the Texas coast for the Winter. This great article from the Dallas Morning News lists some fantastic things about wintering anywhere from South Padre to Galveston.  This article from Texas Monthly is about Port Aransas and all the activities with directory (address and phone numbers) of places not to be missed.

Please check out our Pinterest Boards for more ideas about what to do as Winter Texans and ideas for activities in Galveston and Port Aransas. If you have any questions, let me know!

View of walking through dunes

Handy Resources – Port Aransas

The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce has some fabulous info if you are planning a trip to Port A.

Start here at the Port A Visitor Services

If coming in the summer, be sure to check out the Turtle Hatchling Release Schedule. Turtles have already been seen on the island and the first nests are being released in early June!

hatchling release

Eating Adventures in Port Aransas

With the renovations going on at the beach house, the kitchen was sealed up. I hid some cups and spoons in the dishwasher in case we needed water or wanted to eat the yogurt I purchased,  but that was about all that was happening in the kitchen this weekend.

All sealed up

All sealed up

So, we took the opportunity to eat at some new places. Here are the reviews:

Beach and Station Grill

Beach and Station Grill

The Beach and Station Grill, is at the corner of Beach and Station Streets. It was FABULOUS! Bruce ate there for dinner one night before the girls and I arrived and enjoyed what he ate so much, we returned for lunch the next day. I had the Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad. Bruce had the Grilled Shrimp Plate. The salad was mixed greens with avocado halves; would have liked to have seen some other veggies in the salad. The blue cheese dressing wasn’t the best and I’d try a different dressing next time. But the shrimp…was delicious! I’d go back just for that. We closed out the lunch with the Mile High Key Lime Pie. Also to die for.

Eating at Virginia's on the Bay

Eating at Virginia’s on the Bay

That night the kids requested Virginia’s on the Bay. It’s an old standby but Julia’s friend had never been with us, so we decided to introduce her to it. I tried something new – the prime rib. It was medium rare, and a little chewy. Julia had a fried chicken sandwich. Alicia had a burger. Bruce had the flounder with lobster sauce. Everyone enjoyed the meal. I don’t think I’d get the beef again. My usual is the Cajun Dump (crab legs, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes), but at $30 this weekend, I thought it was over priced and opted for something else.

Island Cafe

Island Cafe

Sunday morning, we went looking for something besides Cancun Mexican Restaurant (which is a family favorite, but I can’t eat there because they cook everything with soybean oil and I’m allergic.) So, we ended up at the Island Cafe, which boasts the best breakfast on the island. It was fabulous! Julia said the pancakes were better than Kerbey Lane’s, which is saying something! I had a great ham and cheese omelet, Bruce had a Spanish Omelet with ranchero sauce. Alicia had biscuits with sausage gravy. We voted the hash browns best ever. So, we affirm the Island Cafe’s statement of the best breakfast on the island.

Bruce is continuing the adventure:

The Crazy Cajun: Informal, laid back. The signature meal is The Hungry Cajun, a shrimp and crab boil with sausage, corn and crawfish when in season. The meal is dumped right on the table!

The Crazy Cajun

The Crazy Cajun

Hungry Cajun

Hungry Cajun

Yep, the Cajun is no longer hungry.

Yep, the Cajun is no longer hungry.

 

He also tried Beaches Cafe and Bakery. The quote greeting you is ‘BBQ is a culture, not a concept.’ Clearly their specialty is BBQ but they also serve seafood and have some good lunch specials. He had the cod and crab cake. It was really well prepared but gave the condiments a B-. Cocktail sauce was a bit heavy on the catsup and the tartar sauce tasted like it was from a can. Even so, it was a good meal.

Beaches Lunch Specials

Beaches Lunch Specials

Beer on Tap

Beer on Tap

The meal - cod and crab cake.

The meal – cod and crab cake.

 

Tonight he ate at the Fish House but said the meal was forgettable. So, no pictures.