RVing ’round Texas

Even those of us who visit Texas frequently and spend a big chunk of our time traversing it leave most of the Lone Star State untouched.

Our Texas RV Travel Bucket List continues.

Goliad

At Goliad State Park, tour the beautiful reconstructed Franciscan Mission Espíritu Santo, home of the largest ranching operation in Texas in the 18th century © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
At Goliad State Park, tour the beautiful reconstructed Franciscan Mission Espíritu Santo, home of the largest ranching operation in Texas in the 18th century © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goliad is one of the few places in North America where you can visit both an 18th-century Spanish-Colonial mission and presidio (fort) complex, to understand the roles of the Catholic Church and the Spanish military in settling the New World.

At Goliad State Park, tour the beautiful reconstructed Franciscan Mission Espíritu Santo, home of the largest ranching operation in Texas in the 18th century. Enjoy the serenity of this Spanish colonial church and view exhibits that explore the history and daily life of the missionaries and Indian converts—including some of the original artifacts they used.

Across the river, visit the Presidio La Bahía. Located ¼-mile south of Goliad State Park on U.S. Highway 183 and 77A and operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria. View exhibits, enjoy an interpretive program and exciting reenactments, and imagine life at the fort.

Originally built in 1749 to protect the Mission and the frontier, it later played a major role in the Texas Revolution. Here, Colonel Fannin and his ill-fated men were held prior to being executed at Santa Anna’s order, an act of infamy later recalled at the Battle of San Jacinto with the cry, “Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!”

Take in the unspoiled Victorian charm of downtown Goliad on a walking tour of the Courthouse Square and nearby historic district. Start your tour at the Market House Museum and Visitor Center to pick up a map and view artifacts from the early settlers’ home life and ranching days. Visit the 1894 courthouse and stroll through lovely vintage neighborhoods in the shade of centuries-old oak trees.

RV camping is available at Goliad State Park including full-hookup sites with 50-amp electric service.

Rockport-Fulton

The mile-long beach at Rockport beckons visitors for walks, beachcombing, or just watching the world and water traffic float by. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The mile-long beach at Rockport beckons visitors for walks, beachcombing, or just watching the world and water traffic float by. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fulton and Rockport are contiguous and share the same heritage, business, and recreational areas. The historic seaside town of Rockport, located 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, is bound by the waters of the St. Charles, Copano, and Aransas bays. Its funky waterfront lined with bait shops and fish stalls, has become quite the artists’ colony, and there’s a noted art center here, as well as the Texas Maritime Museum.

Rockport was established in 1867 as a shipping port for wool, hides, bones, and tallow. In the late 1920s, shrimping became an industry and caused a city boom in the 1940s. The local fishing fleet is one of the largest and most colorful in the region. Besides shrimp, other fishing opportunities include speckled trout, red fish, flounder, crab, and oysters.

The mile-long beach beckons visitors for walks, beachcombing, or just watching the world and water traffic float by.

Fulton is home to the ornate Fulton Mansion, a French Second Empire-style beauty, erected by cattleman George W. Fulton in 1877, nicely restored and operated by the Texas State Parks.

Twelve miles north is Goose Island State Park, a 314-acre coastal heaven. It is here that Big Tree is located, an immense Live Oak that is reported to be 1,000 years old and the largest in Texas.

Approximately 500 bird species have been recorded in the area, including the endangered whooping cranes that winter in the nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge marshes.

Texas Oysters

Texas may be best known for beef, but its bay oysters rank second to none. Texas oysters are impeccably fresh—whether served on the half shell with a kiss of salt air and Texas hot sauce or shucked for a sauté or creamy stew.

When in the Galveston area, a trip to Stingaree Marina and Restaurant in Crystal Beach is at the top of our list of “must-do” events. It is not just the food, it’s the whole experience.

Located on Bolivar Peninsula, this well-worn, roughhewn, two-story establishment stands next to the Intracoastal Canal, with an amazing view of tug boats and barges.

To get there from Galveston you ride the Boliver ferry—a free car ferry run by TXDot that crosses the Houston Ship Channel.

Located in a well-worn, roughhewn, two-story establishment, Stingaree stands next to the Intracoastal Canal. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Located in a well-worn, roughhewn, two-story establishment, Stingaree stands next to the Intracoastal Canal. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located on the Intracoastal Waterway on the bay side of Bolivar, the Stingaree is famous for many things: the beautiful sunsets seen from its deck, the giant tug boats and barges that pass within feet of its windows, and wonderful Gulf Coast seafood—barbecue crab, fried catfish, shrimp and oysters, Red Snapper Ponchartrain, Crabmeat Au Gratin, etouffee, and gumbo.

During the winter months the Stingaree has one of the best seasonal dishes you’ll find anywhere on the Gulf Coast—Oyster Jubilee (oyster season traditionally ends in April).

As its name suggests Oyster Jubilee is a celebration of everything oyster. A colossal dish of over 30 oysters prepared in every conceivable way.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Please Note: This is part 8 of an on-going series on our Texas Bucket List

Worth Pondering…

No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world.

—Elmer Kelto

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New Texas RV Resort Opens on the Coastal Bend

The Rockport-Fulton (Texas) Chamber of Commerce conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the official opening of SaltWater Flats RV Resort.

SaltWater Flats RV Resort is a big-rig friendly park on the Texas Coastal Bend.

SaltWater Flats RV Resort is perfectly located on the Coastal Bend along the waterfront between Rockport and Aransas Pass in the Estes Flats area.

Representing the chamber were members of the Bay Blazers membership team, chamber staff, fellow chamber members, and board of directors.

Lawrence and his wife Donna Gembler, and Jimmy and his wife Lanette Wilson, are owners of the newly-constructed RV resort. Because both men are avid fishermen who frequented the coast so much they decided to open their own RV resort, the Rockport Pilot reported.

The onsite office manager is John Love.

The RV sites and cabins are built into the natural landscape.

When asked what people can expect when staying at the resort, Donna Gembler said, “We want our park to be family oriented and a fun and friendly environment. We want our customers to come back year after year. We created this to feel like home. We have cabins available for rent, all concrete pads (which are 50 percent larger than most parks), and concrete roads.”

Lots and pads at SaltWater Flats RV Resort are 20 percent larger than most other parks.

Lanette Wilson added, “We have free Wi-Fi and cable, a swimming pool, covered BBQ areas, plus we are pet friendly. More expansion is still planned for the future.”

Amenities include:

  • All sites with water, sewer, 50-amp electric service
  • All concrete pads and roads
  • Lots and pads 20 percent larger than most other parks
  • Smallest lot size is 30 feet x 70 feet
  • Smallest pad size is 15 feet x 30 feet
  • Free Wi-Fi available throughout the park
  • Free cable TV
  • Air-conditioned bath houses and restrooms are handicap accessible
  • Air-conditioned on-site laundry facilities
  • Swimming pool
  • Children’s play area
  • Covered BBQ area
  • 4 cabins are also available for rent starting at $79.00 daily, $455.00 weekly, and $750.00 monthly

RV Rates:

  • Daily                           $35.00 (50 amp electric included)
  • Weekly                       $140.00 + electric @ .14kwh
  • Monthly                     $315.00 + electric @ .14kwh
  • 6 Month Prepaid        $300.00/month + electric @.14kwh

All RV rates include:

  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Cable
  • Wi-Fi

Details

Rockport, Texas

Rockport, Texas is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast”—and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, historic, seaside town bound by the waters of the St. Charles, Copano, and Aransas bays, making it ideal for water sports and fishing.

Rockport was established in 1867 as a shipping port for wool, hides, bones, and tallow. In the late 1920s, shrimping became an industry and caused a city boom in the 1940s. Today, the town remains an important commercial fishing area, with one of the state’s biggest fishing fleet that provides visitors with a busy port atmosphere.

Rising above the Aransas Bay, Fulton Mansion State Historic Site must have appeared incredible in 1877, as it does today, with its mansard roof and ornate trim. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Besides shrimp, other fishing opportunities include speckled trout, red fish, flounder, crab, and oysters.

Rockport has evolved, expanded, and become a tourist destination but it still retains its small town flair.

Along the coastal bend, you’ll find birds aplenty, towering trees, funky art, rich history and tons of easygoing charm.

SaltWater Flats RV Resort

Address: 4221 Business Hwy 35 South, Rockport, TX  78382

Phone: (361) 205-7275

Website: saltwaterflatsrvresort.com

Worth Pondering…

I must go down to the seas again,

To the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star

To steer her by.

—John Masefield

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Texas Coastal Bend Readies for Winter Texans

With most of the U.S. and Canada ending their summer vacations as families get ready to head back to school many snowbirds have started planning and gearing up for another winter in the U.S. Sunbelt.

Rockport-Fulton is an increasingly popular snowbird roost for Winter Texans. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Warm weather hubs such as Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern California, Florida, and Texas are top destinations for their predictable warm weather.

Texas increases in popularity each winter as more snowbirds search for alternatives to the traffic congestion and high costs of the Sunshine State.

People who travel to Texas for the winter months are known as Winter Texans.

Most Winter Texans congregate in one of two areas—the Coastal Bend and the Rio Grande Valley, affectionately referred to as “The Valley”. Although the majority of snowbirds wintering in Texas settle into The Valley, the Coastal Bend is becoming an increasingly popular destination. It’s been referred to as one of the best kept secrets in Texas.

Coastal Bend

Life is sweet along the Coastal Bend. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Coastal Bend is a region of sheltered bays and natural harbors in the central section of the Texas shoreline.

Corpus Christi

The principal city of Corpus Christi is a hub of commerce and culture offering all the usual amenities expected from a medium-size community. A visit to the Texas State Aquarium means a chance to kiss a dolphin, touch sharks, and view free-flight performances by a variety of birds. Also explore the nearby “Blue Ghost,” the USS Lexington, a World War II-era aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum.

Smaller coastal towns with names like Port Aransas, Port Mansfield, Port Lavaca, Rockport-Fulton, provide the best in rural offerings with a coastal twist.

Rockport-Fulton

Named for the rock ledge that underlies its shore, Rockport offers a chance to learn about history while soaking up the view. The Texas Maritime Museum captures the state’s sea heritage, with items dating to the wreck of Robert La Salle’s La Belle (which brought the French explorer to Matagorda Bay before sinking in 1686) and exhibits on offshore oil and gas exploration.

Envision the life of an affluent Victorian family while exploring Fulton Mansion, built in 1877 with comforts not easily found: gas lights, central heat, and running water.

At Goose Island State Park you’ll find the wintering grounds for whooping cranes and other migratory birds. It’s also home to the 2,000-year-old Big Tree, one of Texas’ largest live oak.

Port Aransas

Take the free ferry to Port Aransas, on the northern tip of Mustang Island. Anglers will find paradise in Port Aransas, which calls itself the Fishing Capital of Texas. Cast off lighted piers, in the bay or deep sea, then bring your catch to one of the many restaurants that will prepare it as you like for dinner.

Enjoy a free ferry ride to Port Aransas, known locally as Port A. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Port Aransas has five sites along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail and offers many spots to see and photograph birds, such as the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Wetland Park, and Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond and Nature Preserve.

Port Lavaca

An important center for commercial and pleasure fishing, ranching, and agriculture, Port Lavaca was once a shipping port for cattle. Port Lavaca is located near the center of the Gulf Coast region between Galveston and Corpus Christi, just south of Victoria, Texas. Port Lavaca and Calhoun County are surrounded by Lavaca and Matagorda Bay on the east, San Antonio Bay on the west, and Espiritu Santo Bay in the South; a total area of 912 miles (583,680 acres) and an impressive 246,720 acres of water.

Calhoun County is a migratory flyway for 400 species of birds including the endangered whooping crane. For seven consecutive years, more bird species have been recorded in Calhoun County than in any other county in the nation during the North American Migration Count.

And now Winter Texans—like the pirates of yore—have one more reason to catch some wind in their sails and go for it.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Wintering on the Coastal Bend

Part 2: New RV Resort for Winter Texans

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…
Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

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