Happy Holidays to you! We are completing our month in Port Aransas, and like many of you have been busy with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Planting roots for a month has made that a lot less chaotic. We made our list, checked it twice, and even were able to get everything in the mail just in time! Staying longer has also allowed us to have some normalcy in our day to day lives and things have just been a bit quieter, more relaxed, and a little less blog-worthy. We have been starting to feel the itch to move over the past week or so, we would probably say it was a week too long. I know – a week too long at the beach seems impossible – but we have gotten used to a rhythm I guess!
We have enjoyed our time in this beautiful place. We have loved being part of a community. This has been the friendliest and most social of any of the parks we have stayed in. We’ve had lots of beach time, had great talks that have connected us, did a lot of walking, enjoyed our time and each other, played games in the rec hall, have had a few dates with our neighbors, and benefited having our physical address long enough in December to get amazon packages directly 😉 Haha! It’s the little things! We rode our bikes all over the island, watched countless sea turtles, dolphins, and birds. We frequented Robert’s Point Park and the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding center many times as they were our favorite spots. We also made the short drive over to Rockport and visited Goose Island State Park. A highlight in this park was visiting “The Big Tree” and seeing their abundance of deer. That’s the most deer we’ve seen in a group since we sold our house, we used to have a decent herd in our yard every evening.
That last bird is a Crested Caracara – Mexico’s National Bird (in addition to the the Golden Eagle)
As far as touristy things, we took an afternoon to visit San Jose Island (also known to the locals as St. Joe’s). You take a short ferry from the fisherman’s wharf to an island that is empty this time of year. It has no development or facilities, just an untouched and rugged island with a beautiful beach. If you enjoy beach combing, it’s a sheller’s paradise. We saw dozens of starfish, some sand dollars, and all sorts of beautiful shells. I understand if you go after a storm it’s even more amazing. We saw some small rays, lots of crab activity, and dolphins galore. Having the place to ourselves was like a little get away all on it’s own, and we were able to watch the sunset before the ferry came to carry us back.
We also visited the USS Lexington Museum in Corpus Christi. It was the longest running aircraft carrier in US history. It was supposed to be named the USS Cabot, but during it’s final stages of production the original USS Lexington was hit by Japanese Kamikaze planes and sank in the battle of Coral Island. They renamed USS Cabot in honor of that ship and all the lives that were lost. It went on to serve in WWII, and the Japanese reported it as having sunk no less than 4 times. They began to call it “The Blue Ghost”. It held an interesting story and there were so many artifacts and things to look at you could spend a whole day there. Ed particularly enjoyed a lecture they held on the flight deck that helps you understand all the various steps that they go through when launching a flight. The short amount of time they have and all the dangers involved in each step captivated the imagination.
Another place we enjoyed visiting is King’s Ranch. It’s 50 miles south, but well worth a day trip. Kings Ranch is the largest ranch in America. With 825,000 acres this cattle ranch is bigger than Rhode Island! It was started in 1853 by Captain Richard King. He procured the property for $4000. When he died in 1885, the ranch was land rich and cash poor. It was his widow, Henrietta and their daughter Alice that built it into an empire with over a million acres some located in other countries! I love thinking about these women who were building an empire at a time in history when women hadn’t even fully gained their rights. Henrietta was quite the philanthropist, donating a portion of the land to create the town of Kingsville. She built schools and funded the building of churches.
The ranch was a big part of the development of the American Quarter House at the turn of the 20th century. Today, they still breed horses and thoroughbred cattle. In 1946, their quarter horse named Assault was the seventh triple crown winner in history and thus far the only Texas-bred horse achieving this honor. What I found interesting about Assault’s story is that he was an accident-prone and sometimes sickly young horse. He stepped on what is believed to be a surveyor stake, driving it through his front hoof. This caused permanent deformation, and he walked with a limp. The ranch wanted him put down but the Mexican workers loved him and hid him. He showed no defect at full galloped and eventually proved that he had the heart to run and become a champion.
The tour started at the visitor center where we spotted some wild turkeys that hang around the ranch. We were greeted with all sorts of “watch out for rattle snakes” signs. The tour guide took us through the property in a van and we were able to see some of their horses and stables, their enormous long-horns, and the Santa Gertrudis and Santa Cruz breeds of cattle that they developed on the ranch. The Santa Gertrudis breed is especially resilient to harsh weather and now are bred all over the world. They are especially prevalent in Australia where the King Ranch had additional land holdings. We also saw a small community of housing for the ranch workers, and some of the historical buildings, many of which now house operations offices. It was a 1.5 hour bus tour but you can create custom tours especially if you are interested in birding.
Speaking of birding, the tour guide was excited to have seen a cardinal that morning. That is the West Virginia State bird (our home state) and they are prevalent there. Ed and I gave each other a strange look and smiled. What we see as ordinary can be extraordinary in someone else’s eyes. I loved thinking about that because I get so excited seeing new things in all the areas we visit and I am sure locals are wondering what the heck I am so excited about. It made me also think about how excited I will be to get back on those Country Roads one day and to fall in love with the beauty of West Virginia all over again.
We are highly anticipating Eddie’s arrival in Austin next week. I have baked his favorite gingerbread cookies that I have made him since kindergarten, along with a few additions that we all have enjoyed over the years. I didn’t find it hard in our RV kitchen, though it’s the first year I had to pull it all off without a stand mixer. Our oven is just okay, but our Microwave is also a convection oven and it was a big help to have both going at once. It’s now all tucked in the freezer.
We are also anticipating the next few months now that we have more of our trip scheduled and know where we will be visiting – National Parks galore! For now, we just wish each of you a joyful, safe holiday season and the happiest of new years! If you are going through something rendering you unable to enjoy them, we send you our thoughts and all our love for peace and healing. Much love and happiness to all of you.