"ISLAND TIME STARTS HERE" says the sign on an inn near our RV Park in Port Aransas. Time is different in Port A. Now that we've left, it's hard to say exactly what we really did there for two months, but we do know we enjoyed every minute of it.
The town of Port A is about 10 blocks square. Our park was centrally located, so we walked all over (until the last week we were there, when it got too hot). This picture was taken at Paradise Pond, just off one of the town's main streets. It is a world premier birding site during spring migration.
Port Aransas is on Mustang Island, connected by bridge to North Padre Island and then to the big city of Corpus Christi by bridge and causeway. We fell in love with Port A when we stayed there for a couple of months in 2000. Then, in 2006, after we spent the Winter in Tucson and the Big Bend country, we decided that we really needed to stay on the Coast again next time out, so we took a quick scouting trip around the Texas Coast before heading back to the Northwest. We looked at a lot of nice RV Parks in the Mission Valley area and on South Padre island. But North Padre still called our name. We ended up picking a spot in Fulton, which is just across the bay from Port A. We stayed there for four months in 2006-07.
This winter, 2007-08, we moved around among several old-favorite places and we took some fun road trips in between. Our nearly two months at Port A was the longest stay of this season. After four visits, we still love this whole area and especially the little island. We had a good time last year in Fulton, but we needed a car more often. Being able to walk to more places is a definite plus for Port Aransas.
Here's a re-cap of a few of our activities this time around. Aimless wandering, trying out several of the island's excellent restaurants, reading, daydreaming and other such island activities are not included.
There was a kind of party at the beach one Saturday morning to celebrate the release of three sea turtles that had been in rehab. A couple of hundred of us were there with cameras. These two are loggerhead turtles. As soon as the rehab volunteers slid them onto the sand, they headed for home. They can smell the sea! That big one on the left is about 80 years old. Another variety of endangered sea turtle, called the Kemp-Ridley, lays its eggs on the Island and several nests have been found recently.
We walked down to the dock to buy shrimp right off the boat, until the season ended in mid-May. The boat coming in is the Alicia Kayla. Click to see the crowd of birds following her into the dock. At the dock, the pelicans are waiting for small fish caught in the shrimp nets -- the deckhands throw them over. Easy fishing for them as well as for us! I had heard once that brown pelicans were somewhat rare -- this must not be true anymore.
One day we went walking with the alligators at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge (across the bay and a favorite place from all of our stays). We saw a couple of mother gators with newborns. They were pretty darn cute, definitely proving the adage that all babies are adorable.
At left of the first picture, you can see the babies in the water. In the second picture, Bill got a little closer for a better picture (about 10 feet away.) In the third picture, the mother lets him know that this photo-op is over!
Here are two of the Port A car ferries that cross the ship channel between Port Aransas and Aransas Pass. The free ferries are maintained by the State Highway Department and run 24/7. Pretty often, we spot dolphins playing around the boats as we ride. Sometimes huge ships get the right-of-way.