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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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.

The Water Calls Us

This week, we take our oldest child to college. So I’m feeling a little emotional – nostalgic, scattered, happy, anxious, satisfied, excited and a host of other emotions that seem to flow intermingled throughout my days these past weeks. Many of our family trips have been to places with water (fresh or salt) – California, Massachusetts, Alabama, and of course Texas. As summer comes to a close and I look back over he past years of vacations, I’ll take you along memory lane with me.

Hotel del Coronado 2004 – My mom was dying and she wanted to see the ocean one last time. It was summer and the Gulf Coast was way too hot and she was really to frail to do too much moving around. The Del was the perfect spot – she could sit on the balcony and feel the ocean’s peace. Saltwater is good for the soul.

Hotel Del Coronado 2004

2005 Thanksgiving at Big Bend – the kids had never seen the mighty Rio Grande. Here are the girls at the Santa Elena Canyon

Girls at Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend

In 2004 we moved near Lake Travis and spent summers going down to a nearby park. This picture is from 2006. When the lake was low, the kids could pretend they were at the beach.

In 2007 we visited my uncle in Boston. We were joined up north by my sister’s family and several of our Italian cousins. My uncle rented a beach house in Hull for all of us. It was a constant party for days. The water was wicked cold, but that didn’t stop the kids from getting wet.

For a couple of years in a row, the girls and I had mother daughter camp weekends at Kamp Kickapoo with their girl scout troop and siblings. The river felt great on that hike. This is from 2007.

And as you can seem, most of our water adventures took place with friends. This is from summer 2007 on Lake Austin.

In 2008, in celebration of the kids finishing their time at a private school for kids with dyslexia, we took them to Maui. That black sand beach on the way to Hana was really an incredible site. The girls each brought home a spoonful of the black sand in a jar.

In 2009 we went to Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee – my husband’s old stomping ground. We went with dear friends and took the mother of all hikes along the river to the falls. Trail wasn’t marked but we made it. It was an adventure for sure. This photo was taken at one of the several small waterfalls in the park.

In 2010, my grandmother turned 100, so back to Boston we went for a delightful family reunion at my uncle’s beach house in Scituate. This beach house has remained one of our favorite places to go. So many memories and good times have been had there. It was the inspiration for us to purchase our own beach place. 

After 2010, many of our trips centered around going to the beach houses in Port Aransas and Galveston, combining business with pleasure. We’ve loved having the houses to take the girls, friends and family. They’ve provided us exactly what we had hoped for – places of joy and family memories. Sometimes it’s been a stretch and a challenge, but the moments we’ve created for the family have really been invaluable. We’ve loved hosting extended family Thanksgivings in Galveston for several years.

 

 

The next chapter will hold new things for all of us. Wherever life takes us, I know we’ll still gather by water, whether it’s at the Texas coast or elsewhere – it’s where we slowdown and share stories, laugh and renew. The water is where we are at home.

 

Vacation Meal Planning

Cocktail hour on the deck

Cocktail hour on the deck

We are headed to the coast for a few days next week. Every time I go to one of the beach houses I feel like I land at the grocery store trying to plan meals on the fly so that I don’t have to head back to the store the next day. I’m always shop from a list in my regular life, so not sure why I don’t do this for vacation! When at the houses we generally eat the same way – we always have waffles one morning and grill at least one or two nights for dinner. Sandwiches are always easy for lunches – everyone can make their own at their convenience. The menu is a bit heavy on meat options, so I’ll probably pick up some peanut butter and jelly as well as an extra salad an an alternative. Coffee and condiments are usually already stocked at the beach houses, so we’ll be set! Can’t wait! If you want to take the guesswork out of your own vacation meal planning, here’s a link to the menu. Beach meals for 4

Cookin' Out!

Cookin’ Out!

Meal Plan for 3 nights/4 days for 4 people

  Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Day 1 Traveling Traveling Out
Day 2 Waffles and scrambled eggs, berries Ham/turkey sandwiches, Fruit, sliced veg, chips Grill chicken, salad, watermelon
Day 3 Breakfast tacos (eggs, sausage, cheese) Leftovers, Ham/turkey sandwiches, fruit, sliced veg, chips Grill sausages, saute green beans, salad
Day 4 Breakfast tacos (eggs, sausage, cheese) Pack sandwiches to go Home

Snacks:

2 bags chips

Salsa

Fruit/veg variety

Drinks:

Bottle of wine

Sparkling water

2-gallon jug purified water

__________________________________________________

Shopping list:

Fruit
Blueberries

Strawberries

Bananas

Watermelon

Veg

Salad blend X 3

Tomatoes

Cucumbers

Avocados

Baby carrots

Dry

Flour blend for waffles

Chips

Tortillas

Bread

Dairy

Milk/cream

Butter

18 eggs

Grated cheddar cheese Sliced cheese

Meat

Breakfast sausage

Smoked Sausages

Sandwich meat (1.5 lb)

Peanut Butter

Jelly

500 Miles

This week we had a few open days at the Blue Roost, so I took my girls and 3 of their friends down to Port A for a last minute late summer getaway. 5 teenagers and me – a slightly stressed out hormonal forty-something mom, as well as a neighbor’s grief stricken dog (her sister recently died) that the girls were watching. It was a good kind of crazy.

Group shot

One of the kids is leaving for college in a week and two of the others are beginning their senior year. The younger set are starting off their sophomore year. There’s a lot of intense change in a short period of time happening for all of them. The beach house is a bit of a respite (hideaway?) from the daily stresses of all things surrounding this crazy time for them as well as for me. It was a perfect time at the coast – sun, sand and surf. NO seaweed and NO mosquitos. NO PSAT or ACT prep or college applications. Bright moon and the Perseid meteor shower (we stayed up a bit, but never saw any!) LOTS of gelato and steak.

As with any trip to either property, there’s always a bit of work. I took the time to continue to wage war on the rust at the house. As the story about the mouse with a cookie goes, so it goes with paint and rust. While I intended to just do some touch ups, I ended up painting all the doors and white trim on the outside main level of the house. While I painted, the kids came and went, house to beach and back again – sat on the adirondack chairs in the shade, enjoyed the hammock, sunned on the upstairs deck or lounged on the new chairs and bench on the front deck. Conversations ran from relationships to vacations to college to relationships and more relationships (there were 4 teen girls there after all!) Using the house exactly as I’ve hoped. It was fun to be there to and to be a part of it.

The teen years are full of drama and turmoil. Above all, I’m grateful we have a place to go, to hang out, to be a little less scheduled and a little more at ease and to watch my kids and their friends grow and develop into very cool young adults. Precious times to be sure.

 

Getting Ready

One of things I love the most about owning two vacation rentals is preparing the houses for our guests. I recently went to The Blue Roost in Port A with a friend who is a WORKER. She paints, she moves furniture, she brainstorms. I love having her with me.

Beach house decor tips and how to get a vacation rental beach house ready for the season without losing your sanity!

Friends are good!

While there, it became abundantly clear that the patio furniture at the Blue Roost had outlived it’s welcome and we desperately needed something new. We set out with the intention of purchasing another patio table and chair set but we didn’t find anything that was just right. As we shopped and talked about the house and guests, what became clear is that we were searching for the wrong items. My vision of the house is a place where connections are strengthened and memories made. I wanted the stage to be set for leisurely breakfasts, lingering afternoon conversations and casual dining. So rather than find a traditional table and chairs, we searched for furniture that would create a more conducive environment for the goal of connections. We also decided  the first corner of the deck needed  a welcome and flexible sitting space. We found these great chairs and tables at World Market. And happily, found the pillows at Bed Bath and Beyond to tie in all the colors – including the coral on the front door! Serendipity at work.

Beach house decor tips and how to get a vacation rental beach house ready for the season without losing your sanity!

New chairs at the Blue Roost

 

Beach house decor tips and how to get a vacation rental beach house ready for the season without losing your sanity!

Chairs and large round coffee table.

What isn’t in the photo is the cute bench across from these chairs. The new set up with the chairs allows for better movement between the upper and lower deck in addition to a more flexible seating space. So we found the right furniture, but couldn’t fit it all in my Hyundai, nor could I schedule at timely delivery service. My friend had the brilliant idea of renting a truck, so we went to Home Depot down the street. I thought we’d get a pick-up. We ended up with a Penske! I was terrified! However, with a little encouragement from my friend and the Home Depot folks. we successfully got everything home and the old furniture taken to a location for donation. Three chairs, two tables and a bench later, I love the new look! And I can add truck driver to my resume.

Beach house decor tips and how to get a vacation rental beach house ready for the season without losing your sanity!

Things you never thought you’d do. Yes, I drove that.

A hard days work called for some hammock time. What fun is a vacation rental if you don’t get to have a little vacation out of the deal!

Beach house decor tips and how to get a vacation rental beach house ready for the season without losing your sanity!

Relaxation

Renovation

The renovations continue at the Blue Roost. The tile is mostly done. The color washed out of the black grout leaving it a mottled gray. NOT GOOD. But, the product that fixes that problem came in this week and the contractor started coloring the grout back to black and it looks AWESOME! I wasn’t sure the dark wood look tile was going to work when the grout washed out, but it looks superb with that issue on the mend.

This weekend, we also said good bye to that old 1980’s popcorn ceiling.  All the furniture was moved out of the kitchen and living area into the downstairs bedrooms.

The ceiling scrapings...on the floor....

The ceiling scrapings…on the floor….

Most of the popcorn came off easily. Part of the reason we were doing the renovation is that the ceiling hadn’t been primed before the texture was put on and unfortunately, it started to fall off this Fall….when guests were there! Best to take care of that problem in the slow season once and for all!

Down to the wallboard

Down to the wallboard

We also took the opportunity to remove the old track lighting you can see in the upper left corner in the photo above – one black light mixed with a few white ones. The new lights will be silver.

All sealed up

All sealed up

The contractors were back today to texture. Paint goes on tomorrow!

While the contractors were busy with the interior, Bruce and I were busy with the exterior…finishing the deck project. We started staining it this summer, but seriously underestimated how much we needed. Major bummer to discover that the nearest retailer for the stain was over 2 hours away. So, the floors and the railings were finished, but the stairs and some of the facia boards were left undone until this weekend.

Stained Deck....

Stained Deck….

You can’t make an old deck new, but you can make it look better! Love the way the dark deck makes the white lattice and trim stand out. Happy to have it refreshed.

Watermelons!

The watermelon we found on the property at the Blue Roost was delicious! I’m saving the seeds to plant next summer! Bruce will be heading back this weekend. We’ll see if any of the other ones are ripe (and still there!) The word might be out about the La Playa watermelon patch 🙂

Watermelon!

Watermelon!

Update on the Update

Well, the floor is mostly done. The grout started out black, which looked great. However, the product used to clean the film from grouting off the tile, bleached out the grout to a medium gray. Not quite what we wanted! The contractor called the manufacturer and has a plan. My fingers are crossed!

The new tile.

The new tile.

While I was there today, switching out couches (brought down a new one – better cushions and springs) I met a neighbor who was trimming some very tall sunflowers. She let me know we have a watermelon patch! How awesome is that! We each took one home. Hope its good.

Our watermelon patch!

Our watermelon patch!

Updating the Blue Roost

Part of the fun of a beach house (or really owning any home for that matter) is staying ahead of the repairs. My mother in law had a great strategy – redo one room every year so the house to do’s don’t start stacking up. We have general 3 year timeline for each beach house’s to do list.

In the spring we tackled the Seven Dwarfs Room in the Blue Roost. Bruce built some platform beds that are strong and sturdy as well as really good looking.

Seven Dwarfs room with new beds!

Seven Dwarfs room with new beds!

Earlier this year we also redid some landscaping on the side, added some new red mulch and re built the retaining wall.

And now we are having the living room floor redone! Here’s a pic with laminate removed.

Living room floor - changes ahead!

Living room floor – changes ahead!

We are having Justin of Quality Remodeling put in wood look plank tile. I can’t wait to see when its finished later this week.