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.

 

Advertisements

Bringing the Beach Home

Relaxing, connecting, slow, family, fun, water, waves, sun, cook outs…..

Adirondacks on deck

These are some of the words I’d use to describe my times at the beach house. I’ve been there alone, with lots of girl friends at once and also sometimes with just one, with immediate or big extended family, with my sister and nephew, with just one of my daughters. Each time is treasured time with the people who are at the beach with me. When we get away, I think it’s sometimes easier to get in touch again with who we really are – away from the hustle and bustle of regular life that sometimes feels like it’s moving at the speed of light.

When I’m not at the beach, I long for it. While I do long for the smell of the salt in the air and the sound of the birds and the water, I’m really longing for the connection that being there allows us to have together.

So the question, as summer comes to a close, is how to capture that feeling?! That will look different for everyone, but here are a few of the things I do to “Bring the Beach Home.”

1. Beach Gear for Everyday

Beach bags – not just for the beach! One time on a return trip from the beach, we stopped at Hruska’s Bakery in Ellinger, TX. It’s an incredibly eclectic store with homemade kolaches and interesting household decorative times as well as local preserved food, worth a stop if you are in the area. I saw a cute coated burlap bag with a giant white shell stamped on it. I just couldn’t resist. I love that bag and carry a bit of beach around with me – I also thought it might be a good conversation starter with other beach goers.

shell bag

I bought some of those $18 plastic adirondack chairs (you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot and some of the heavier duty ones at Costco) and set them up around the yard at home. They are so inviting – great for morning coffee or a casual al fresco lunch as the days get cooler. Honestly, I do feel like I’m on vacation (ever so briefly) when I go sit down in one!

2. Trigger memories

I have an antique jar by my kitchen sink that hold black sand from a beach on the road to Hana on Maui. We took the kids there several years ago. They were in late elementary school and we had a great time of discovery there. When I look at the sand I remember our beach exploring and the curiosity and excitement we all shared.

I keep several important photos in my family room that remind us all of special times and places. I have a collage of photos from my grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration with extended family. I also have some large poster sized pictures of a sunset and the view at high tide from my uncle’s beach house. Those photos remind us we belong to each other and to take time to celebrate together.

 3. Make Hospitality a Habit

Connections are what really mean the most to me both at home and at the beach. I wrote about making Shrimp Pico de Gallo recently. Food is always a way to connect with people. We love having folks over for dinner. Making hospitality a habit doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. My dear friend Jan’s best advice about housekeeping: “If you wouldn’t notice it as you rode by on a galloping horse, don’t worry about it.”  She’s totally right. Focus on making your guests feel welcome and known and no one will notice if there is dust on the shelf or spots on the floor.

Bringing the beach home for me means maintaining those connections that are deepened there – they need to be nurtured. That doesn’t alway happen when life gets busy with carpooling to kids activities, jobs, etc. So, grab a loved one, pull up a chair (whether it’s a beach chair, Adirondack chair or a seat on the couch), stay awhile, eat something yummy and share life.

red chairs

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.