Have you ever tried to find a convenient place to escape the rat race and stress in the middle of the winter? You think, I just want a place where I can get away from the maddening crowds. A place with some healthy outdoor activities, interesting things to see and some good places to eat. No airports or planes. Just a simple little drive out of this madness.
I am going to let you in on a family secret. When the wife and I get a little antsy we load up the Prius and take a short scenic drive south along the Texas coastal bend away from Houston. Our destination is an 18 mile long, dune lined beach oasis on an enchanting barrier islet. In a little over three hours we are casually eating fresh shrimp at a dockside restaurant in a relaxed little seaside fishing haven.
The place? Port Aransas on Mustang Island.
From December through February Port A offers a myriad of activities and stress relieving adventures. I long to wake up to the sound of the tide gently lapping the shoreline. With a fresh cup coffee in hand I love to sit on a veranda and simply look and listen. (Our Beach House Rental) I am amazed at the strange variety of birds that you see and hear this time of year. They provide an alluring audio background to a compelling scenery.
I met a fellow walking along the beach early one warm morning. He had field glasses, a camera and a notebook independently slung around his neck. He comes down to Port A several times every year to capture images of the many hard to find birds before they migrate back north. He was down this time with his family and grand kids to take them on some sort of stealthy whooping crane boat safari.
Apparently they try to sneak up on the almost extinct birds to observe, draw and take pictures. He told me that he likes to paint images of them for collectors. We had a nice chat. He and his family had rented a big house just down the beach from where we had rented our weekend get-away on Mustang Island. He and his entire family of twelve were going to rent kayaks and float around the little islands of Redfish Bay that afternoon. Our nice conversation ended abruptly when he spied a rather large pink flamingo looking bird standing on a dune. He was gone.
The man that I met on the beach caused me to wonder about whooping cranes. I went back to our weekend house on the beach and Googled whooping cranes. It turns out that Port A has an annual Whooping Crane Festival in February each year. (whooping crane festival) Apparently there were only about 40 of these magnificent birds in the wild in the 1940’s. Today over 600 thrive in the wild. About 300 migrate over 2500 miles to Texas each year. Some of those beautiful birds are almost seven feet tall. They average about five feet in height. I found an interesting article in the Houston Chronicle, “Flock to Port A”, about all of the really cool birds that migrate to the Port A area for winter. I was amazed.
Well, today I think that we will rent a small boat on the bayside and see if we can catch a couple trout or redfish for dinner. Heck, we might even see some of those birds that guy was telling me about. Later today we can take our catch to Castaways Seafood and Grill (Castaways Website) and let them cook it for us while we enjoy a few nice beverages. If for some absurd reason we don’t catch anything for dinner I can still have a nice rib eye. A perfect surf or turf day in our little escape haven.