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.

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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.

Tropical Storm Bill – You Nearly Gave me a Heart Attack

Hurricane Season – I’m not ready.

Having a beach house on the coast isn’t for the faint of heart. We’ve already had an incredible year of storms and we are only 17 days into the 2015 Hurricane Season. The month of April was a monster and the storms over the 17th/18th resulted in two new roofs – one on each beach house!! I thought having homes in two different parts of the coast would protect us (somewhat) from doing major repairs from storms on each house at the same time. Well, not so my friends!

One of my Pointe West neighbors had a indoor security camera running and caught the storm on video. We had a mini tornado with 100 mph winds. The wind and hail in Galveston were incredible and seriously, why ANYONE would not evacuate in a hurricane, I have no idea. It was terrifying just watching the video and listening to the wind howl (yes it sounded like a train) and the hail pound and the hanging light in the foyer start to sway in the worst of of the wind. HOLY MOLY. The hail sounded like someone dumping rocks on the house. In case you are wondering, no one was at our place at the time.  Thank heaven!!  My first experience putting in a claim with TWIA and new roof and new paint job and Las Brisas is back in business thanks to Morgan Roofing and John Brock Painting.

Now all the wind and rain we had took a toll on the Port A home as well. But, sadly, that roof was just OLD and worn out and had to be replaced. Good thing that house is cute because it’s a bit of a pain. The blue roof they had to rip off, actually had been put on OVER a tan roof which also had to be ripped off, resulting in lots of extra work and a bit of a schedule delay.

The roof in progress:

Port a roof in progress

finished roof side Finished Roof back

We were very happy with Ricky at Upgraded Roofing and the job they did.  I think the grey of the roof makes the house look even more blue. Of course that gorgeous sky also helps. Perfect beach day!

And now onto Tropical Storm Bill – 16 days into the hurricane season. Seriously! I JUST put TWO NEW ROOFS on the beach houses. I was glued to the twitter feed from Galveston County OEM  (@galvcountyoem) and the Nueces County OEM (@nuecesoem) as well as the National Hurricane Center – Atlantic Ops (@NCH_Atlantic) for about 24 hours. My phone buzzed like crazy with updates. They were incredibly informative on the status of the storm. I was also in frequent communication with the guests at Las Brisas. Nothing indicated that it would be nearly as bad as the April storm, so I was not at all concerned for the guests at the house. It would be windy and rainy, but that’s about it. Gusts up to 40 mph. Luckily for all of us, the storm came ashore over Matagorda Bay – between Port Aransas and Galveston. And luckily, it moved just enough that the Galveston house received some rain, but not nearly as much as it could have been. Port A actually got more rain today, the day after the storm, than it did in the storm. My housekeeper said that some places may have received 5 inches of rain in an hour. Glad to have that new roof!!

Here’s hoping the REST of the summer is free from storms of any sort and full of sunshine.

I saw this at HomeGoods (my favorite store) this week and despite the drama and the trouble with homes on the coast, the statement is true. Let’s go to the beach!

Heaven closer