A Fun Way to Spend “Black Friday”… In Fulton, Texas with the Family

While mobs of people were fighting the crowds pushing and shoving to bag the bargain of a lifetime, I choose to spend my day cruising  to Fulton with the family. I have much to be thankful for being blessed with a wonderful family, and I’d rather spend my time making happy memories than finding the greatest bargain. To me spending a great day with my family is my “deal of a lifetime.”

We drove from North Padre Island to the Port Aransas ferry heading toward Aransas Pass. Kids and adults love the short ride on the ferry because you can watch the huge tankers passing through from the Port of Corpus Christi to the Gulf or you can watch the pelicans  scooping up fish and the dolphins playing in the wake created by the boats and barges.

Taking the ferry from Port Aransas to Aransas Pass, we watched the pelicans fishing and dolphins frolicking in the water.

Soon we were in Aransas Pass heading toward Rockport-Fulton. Rockport has always been the jewel while Fulton had always been a barnacle-covered pearl in the rough.

Not too long ago Fulton used to be a grubby little fishing village complete with oyster-shelled dirt roads, salty fishermen in waders, and a handful of crusty seafood shacks (with great food). Now, it is cleaned up with seaside eateries and artsy little shops. The town has a beachside park that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

The little gazebo in Fulton.
The little gazebo at the Fulton Beach Park.
Enjoying the day with the kids at Fulton Beach Park.
Enjoying the day with the kids at Fulton Beach Park.

After playing outside in the cool, salty air, we warmed up at “The Boiling Pot” in Fulton and enjoyed a Cajun seafood “table dump”.  (This was a nice reprieve from turkey and trimmings of yesterday.) If you enjoy seafood and spicy stuff, this is the place for you. This is one of the original seafood shacks of Fulton.

"Cajun style "table dump" at the Boiling Pot in Fulton includes shrimp, sausage, blue crab, crawfish (when in season), red potatoes , and corn.  Included are bread and mustard, horseradish mayo, and cocktail sauce.
“Cajun style “table dump” at the Boiling Pot in Fulton includes shrimp, sausage, blue crab, crawfish (when in season), red potatoes , and corn. Included are bread and mustard, horseradish mayo, and cocktail sauce.

Downtown Fulton has a good selection of seaside eateries since the fishermen and shrimpers dock right there. If you like oysters, you can take home a bag.

Bushels of oysters stacked up at the boat docks in downtown Fulton.
Bushels of oysters stacked up at the boat docks in downtown Fulton.

Finally, it was time to head back home. I snapped this picture with my I-phone because I liked how the sky and water blended into each other. (Unfortunately, it was getting dark, and the picture turned grainy.)

On the way back home, I snapped a picture of the water. I liked how the sky and water blended together.
On the way back home, I snapped a picture of the water. I liked how the sky and water blended together.

We enjoyed our blessings of spending a day together in a great place. No pushing and shoving necessary! 🙂

Winter Texans: We Love You, but Please Leave the Arctic Cold Back Home

The crazy harsh North winds were whipping up clouds on the still warm water.
The crazy harsh North winds were whipping up clouds on the still warm water.

Wow! It is only November and we just had our second Arctic Blast. Normally, in November, we get a “Norther” which normally results in a highs in the 60’s during the day. We had a dramatic drop 30 something degrees which resulted in highs in the low 40’s. The waters on the Oso Bay and Laguna Madre were literally being swept by whipping winds resulting in strange clouds whipping up over the water. The wild thunderstorms just added to the drama.

Now, Winter Texans, you are more than welcome here in the Coastal Bend, but please the crazy cold weather back home! Brrrrr! However, later in the week, we are expecting highs in the low 70’s again. 🙂

Celebrate Citrus in the Coastal Bend

Fresh tangerines almost ripe for picking.
Fresh tangerines almost ripe for picking.

Autumn in the Coastal Bend.

Colors of a different kind.

Butterflies migrate,  a Norther brings dramatic skies, and  citrus fruits ripen on the trees.

Oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruit all ripen close to Thanksgiving, just in time for cold and flu season. That’s a good thing for us:

According to http://www.floridajuice.com/fresh-citrus , fresh citrus offers many healthy benefits such as:

Antioxidants An entire medium orange or half of a medium grapefruit provides 100 percent or more of the RDA for vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that can prevent chronic diseases.

Weight Management Those trying to maintain a healthy weight should add more fruits and veggies with high water and fiber contents into their diets.   A medium orange or half of a grapefruits has about 80 calories plus the water and fiber content helps make you feel full.

Heart Health Fresh citrus fruits can also help with maintaining a healthy heart. “Hesperidin, a phytochemical found in oranges, has been associated with lower blood pressure. Pectin, a soluble fiber found in citrus fruit, may help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.” Fresh citrus is a natural way to maintain a healthy heart.

Immune System Support Citrus fruits deliver vitamin C, plus other nutrients that may help support a healthy immune system. Remember, these fruits arrive just in time for cold and flu season.

Skin Health “Vitamin C found in fresh citrus can help support collagen production, which may support healthy skin and gums. Collagen breakdown in the skin may lead to the appearance of premature aging.”

Vitamin Absorption “Citrus are high in vitamin C, which may help aid the absorption of non-heme iron (the iron found in plants like spinach, not meat products). Vitamin C-rich foods should be consumed daily to help get the most iron from foods.

Reduce Cancer Risk “Low fat diets rich in fruits and vegetables (foods that are low in fat and may contain dietary fiber, vitamin A, or vitamin C) may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, a disease associated with many factors.

Now that we know all about the healthy benefits of citrus, I say, “I’ll drink to that!” Here is a smoothie idea with citrus fruits. Try it or try it in combination with other smoothie ideas.

Orange Smoothie Recipe with Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice

  • 2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 medium orange or tangerine, 1 mandarin, 1 tangelo
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of ice
  • (optional) 1 tsp of organic Stevia, honey, or sweetener of your choice
  • Peel the citrus fruits and separate them into their slices
  • Pour in your fresh-squeezed orange juice into the blender
  • Then add in the citrus fruit slices
  • Add in the banana
  • Then finally add in your sweetener (if you choose to do so.)
  • Blend it up
  • Drink to your health! (Salud!)

Servings: Approximately 2-3 servings

Note : This recipe is pretty versatile and you can use different combinations of mandarins, tangerines, tangelos, and oranges depending on what you like, or what you can find fresh locally. Try different combos to find what you like.

 

Time Ticks after the Typhoon Tragedy

Typhoon-Haiyan-philippines-super-storm-05
Typhoon Haiyan super storm slams Philippines.
Photo courtesy of http://static2.parade.com

The clouds are angry; the wind and torrential rain are beating on your simple home. You figure that you are quite inland, so your area may avoid some floods. However, the winds and rains continue to pummel your home, and you glance toward the direction of the sea and notice the tidal surge is heading your way. You are recovering from surgery after having a baby a few months earlier. Your husband is in the military and is away on duty. You look at your four children and pray to God for help and inspiration. Soon you venture outside in the pounding rain and see a man heading for the hills. You ask him to help your children. He wades through the flooding streets, and takes them to the town water tower and helps lift them up to safety. You follow behind painfully slowly, and he lifts you up too.

Over the next couple of days the waters recede back into the ocean, and all you see is total devastation. Your entire neighborhood is flattened. There is no sign of life. As the days roll on, you smell the decay. You’ve got to get out of there for your children. Your children cry from hunger and thirst. You’ve got to get out…

It has been almost a week. You made your way to another town where you will be boarding a boat to another island. The ride will be slow and long. You will arrive in two days. You and your children and the good Samaritan survived. The rest of your neighborhood perished. You look at your children and pray…

This is the true story.
One of the nuns from my son’s Catholic school was telling me this story about her sister back in the Philippines. According to her, over 75% of the residents of the town have passed away.

Not only did the people in the Philippines endure a record setting typhoon that made Katrina pale in comparison, but now the struggle continues as food, water, and bare necessities are virtually impossible to find.

We here in the USA tend to be very generous. However, if you choose to give to help the people there, be careful as there are many scams already happening. My elderly mom has received many phone calls to give to this or that relief fund, but I told her I would research the best place. I decided to give through the Catholic diocese since all of the nuns at the local Catholic church are from the Philippines and maintain close ties to home. Since my husband and his family are from the Philippines, we know several people from the local Phil-Am organization. That would be another good place to check into since these people maintain strong ties to their original homeland.

As for the people in the Philippines, the road to recovery will be a rocky one. They do need our prayers and donations immediately.

What’s Up? Lake Corpus Christi!

What’s been drier than the desert and rising like the tide?

What’s been deserted one day only to be flooded the next day?

Answer: Lake Corpus Christi.

Lake overlook at the "Old Pavilion"
Lake overlook at the “Old Pavilion”

Our lake to our north has been having its ups and downs. Mostly downs for the last several years. It has been almost forgotten about for the last 3 to 4 years or so because of the profound drought conditions in which the large lake dried up to a mere trickle. However, now that we have had our “Monsoons of September” and October, the lake levels have risen to capacity.

With waters up, the floods of people are coming to enjoy the benefits. Now, campers have returned to enjoy campfires since the burn bans have been lifted. (Somehow, it just not as much fun trying to go camping without a fire. There is a primal need for Fire!) Also, boaters, jet skiers, swimmers, and fishers are back  to enjoy some freshwater for a change. (Saltwater can wreck havoc on all of the fun toys, so a little freshwater can do ’em a bit of good.)

The kids having fun at the lake.
The kids having fun at the lake.

When we arrived at Corpus Christi State Park to  go camping this past weekend, the ranger asked if we had reservations. I asked her, “Reservations? Really?” Yes, there was still room, but not at the greatest spots. However, we found a quiet, cozy spot overlooking a grassy cove where the kids could still swim and have fun. The spot was a little off the main drag, which made it quieter for us. No problem there!

Nothing like breakfast outdoors with some hot coffee and sleepy kids in the morning.
Nothing like breakfast outdoors with some hot coffee and sleepy kids in the morning.

The water was a little bit cool, and so was the weather, but to kids, they don’t seem to notice. There was fun to be had! As for us, we enjoyed a nice little get away from home (only an hour away) and had fun spending time outdoors enjoying nature with the family.

Remember Golliad?

At the entrance of Presidio la Bahia
At the entrance of Presidio la Bahia
Presidio la Bahia
Inside the walls of Presidio la Bahia
Inside the La Bahia Catholic Mission
Inside the La Bahia Catholic Mission

While assisting on a field trip with my daughter’s class, I also had the opportunity to learn a little more about coastal Texas history. The town of Golliad is just over an hour away from Corpus Christi.

According to, texas-on-line.com, Golliad of Texas’ oldest towns and is an area was inhabited long before recorded history. “Early Spanish explorers list an Aranama Indian village at the site, then called Santa Dorotea. In 1749, Spain established a mission and, as was custom, a nearby Presidio (fort) for protection,” hence the name Presido La Bahia (the bay).

Just three weeks after the deadly massacre of Texans at the Alamo by Santa Anna, was the horrible massacre of Texans in Golliad. The Texans were completely outnumbered by the Mexican troops.Santa Anna told his troops to execute the prisoners at Golliad, so they were divided into three groups and shot in the field. The victims of these two horrendous massacres became martyrs that led up to victory at Harrisburg in Houston.” [Along with “Remember the Alamo”], “Remember Goliad” became a Texas Revolution battle cry honoring Col. James W. Fannin Jr. and his men who were massacred at Goliad. memorial services at grave of Colonel Fannin and his troops on weekend near March 27.”

With all of the bloodshed at the site, there are many ghost stories that surround the town. According to www.texastravelstop.com , “there are many stories of ghosts among the walls of the Presidio La Bahia. Some say they have heard the cries of children coming from the graves within the courtyard. Others have spotted a monk in a hooded robe roaming the grounds. Legend has it one must be deathly still while in its presence, as it is a mean-spirited apparition.”

Señora de Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga at Golliad State Park
Señora de Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga at Golliad State Park

Haunted or not, Golliad is probably my favorite haunts to learn a little more about Texas history. For one, it is so less commercialized than the Alamo. Also, the town is quaint and has a charm of its own. On the second Saturday of each month, they have Market Days which various crafters and artisians sell their wares. Many of the same folks at the Golliad State Park showing how the pioneers made their necessary materials also sell some of their wares at the Market Days.

Women spinning naturally dyed wool into yarn and later weaving it into cloth.
Women spinning naturally dyed wool into yarn and later weaving it into cloth.
Grinding dried corn into masa for tortillas.
Grinding dried corn into masa for tortillas.
A leather smith shows off a horse tail adornment.
A leather smith shows off a horse tail adornment.
Every citizen of Spain had to know how to make lace so that skill made its way to Mexico and Texas.
Every citizen of Spain had to know how to make lace so that skill made its way to Mexico and Texas.
Metal smiths forging metal into tools and decorative items.
Metal smiths forging metal into tools and decorative items.

Autumn: A Transitional Time on the Island

Autumn.

The weather cools down and the fronts can bring dramatic skies overhead.

Fall's dramatic skies.
Fall’s dramatic skies.

Some folks may think  of colorful leaves and pumpkins or maybe cozying up with a warm mug of cocoa or coffee. Others may think about the hustle and bustle the winds of fall sweep in. We here in the Coastal Bend think of other kinds of color

A butterfly flutters between Fall's yellow bounty.
A butterfly flutters between Fall’s yellow bounty.

However, almost no one thinks of venturing out to the beach or going on a boat to our beloved “ski hole” on Padre Island. Well, this time of year is usually the best because almost nobody else thinks about it either.

The normally bustling "Ski Hole" is abnormally quiet this time of year.
The normally bustling “Ski Hole” is abnormally quiet this time of year.
A lone coyote wanders out in the open during the day at the "Ski Hole".
A lone coyote wanders out in the open during the day at the “Ski Hole”.

You see, unlike summer with the throngs of people soaking up our South Texas rays, the mild temperatures of fall allows one to quietly enjoy our area without the heat nor the hoopla. While everyone else is ticking off their to-do lists before Thanksgiving and the Holidays, Fall is one of my favorite times to enjoy our area because it allows me to slow down a bit with the family and enjoy what we have here in our Coastal Bend backyard.

Purple flowers growing in the dunes undisturbed.
Purple flowers growing in the dunes undisturbed.

Fall Colors of the Coastal Bend: Butterflies, Butterflies Everywhere!

While the rest of the country awaits the fall colors to emblazon the trees, we here in the Coastal Bend await the colors of another kind: the annual migration of butterflies. However, this year our skies have been completely dotted like a Seraut painting.

Our skies here in the Coastal Bend have been invaded by these flying flowers flitting and fluttering all over the place. There have been literally swarms of them for the last couple of weeks around the Coastal Bend. While in Beeville for The Texas Mile, last weekend, there were literally thousands of these fluttering jewels all flying all over the countryside. Unfortunately, many of these beauties lost their lives on the bumpers of the speeding vehicles and on the windshields of anyone’s car traveling on the roadways.

Poor mariposa
Poor mariposa

Additionally, all around Corpus Christi, swarms have been found speckling the skies. This year due to all the rain we have had this fall, the population has increased maybe several hundred-fold . The rains have given flowers a huge boost so the butterflies have had more food to make their journey to Mexico. Additionally, we have had a couple of “northers” which help sweep the mariposas down south of the border.

Monarchs on Salvia
Monarchs on a Salvia spike

According to www.learner.org , “The first monarchs usually arrive at their winter home in Mexico each fall by the first of November. Two events are taking place in Mexico when the monarchs appear. One is a seasonal event and the other a cultural event and people connect the arrival of the monarchs with these events:”

Seasonal Event
Monarchs and Corn   Harvest
“People in the region have noticed the arrival of monarchs since pre-Hispanic   times. In the language of the native Purépecha Indians, the monarch   butterfly is called the harvester butterfly,   because monarchs appear when it’s time to harvest the corn. “

    

Cultural Event
Monarchs and the   Day of the Dead
“The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) also occurs   when the monarchs appear. According to traditional belief, the monarchs are   the souls of ancestors who are returning to Earth for their annual visit.”
 

In the Coastal Bend, Corpus Christi have long been known as the “Birdiest City” of America because of the migrations into Mexico; however, maybe we should also consider the title of “Butterfly-est City” .  Usually we have the Monarch migration during September into October, but other species of butterflies move through this area way into November.

IMG_3668
Boldly bright orange butterfly

So, yep, we here in the Coastal Bend may have a chinaberry tree or two that turns into the fiery colors of fall, which is about it. However, we can look to the skies and enjoy the live colors making their journey to the warm climate in Mexico.

Another South Texas Legend- El Chupacabra

In our part of the country, there are copious amounts of spooky stories, many which are passed down from generation to generation until they become legend.  This week I am discussing a couple of spooky ladies and other crazy lore of South Texas just in time for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos ( Day of the Dead).

Photo courtesy of http://a.abcnews.com/im
Photo courtesy of http://a.abcnews.com/

On a dusty, old ranch in South Texas, as the sun sinks slowly to the west, a seasoned rancher calls it a day.  As he gets ready to head back to the house, he takes a last glimpse of his livestock. The horses are in the stalls for the night, the chickens are in their coops, and the goats are in their pens.  On that starry evening after the rancher hangs his hat for the night, what should be lurking in the shadows of scruffy brush land, but a strange reptilian-canine creature choosing his evening meal.

At daybreak the rancher puts on his hat and heads back out to the pens. What he finds in the lurid morning light is outright devastation. He witnesses that his goats and chickens are all shriveled carcasses sucked dry as if from a vampire. What could have done this? The rancher has seen many strange things happen to his animals over the years, but nothing quite like this.  The rancher shakes his head and mumbles quietly, “¿qué pasó?”

The following is an excerpt from “Legend of the Chupacabra” in Informationanantonio.com:

“The story has many roots and tales from Central and South America, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Gulf of Mexico regions. The animal is unknown to published works of science or wildlife and has enjoyed a scary reputation in south Texas and San Antonio. Some area residents who claim to have seen the Chupacabra say it is more of a hairless doglike creature with large fangs and teeth. The Chupacabra gives off a smell similar to that of sulfur that remains long after the creature has left the area.”

“Accounts of Chupacabra sightings range from farmers and ranchers to deer hunters that have spotted the monster out of their deer blind while hunting. Looking through binoculars, one hunter described the scary Chupacabra as about three feet tall with black eyes, kangaroo like legs and little to no hair. The creature had huge fangs that resembled a werewolf and walked awkwardly with its head slumped forward like a hunchback. The hunter watched the Chupacabra through binoculars for some time and said he was too petrified to move or pick up his gun. After a few minutes the creature discovered the hunter watching and curiously walked slowly toward the deer blind. After stopping and staring eerily and angrily at the hunter, the Chupacabra turned and quickly disappeared into the brush. The hunter said he wouldn’t even get out of his blind until his hunting buddies picked him up in the ranch truck. He of course had a hard time getting anybody to believe him with such an outlandish monster story when he should have had a hunting story. However, all of the hunters in the truck did smell the distinct odor of sulfur as the drove past where the Chupacabra had first come into view earlier that afternoon. The hunter that had the Chupacabra sighting packed up his thing and left that night never to return to that particular deer lease and says he’ll never hunt alone as long as he lives.”

“The Chupacabra is supposedly responsible for mutilation of cattle and goats throughout the south Texas region. Some believe that cults are responsible for the mutilations while others seem to think it’s some kind of rare disease that attacks small herds of goats and cows. One thing remains for sure, those that claim to have seen the Chupacabra don’t back down from their scary experiences and present them as true stories. Whatever it is, I don’t think the Chupacabra is something I’d like to ever come in contact with.”

Whether it is a goatsucker, vampire, alien, or whatever, it makes for a scary tale during this spooky Halloween – Dia de los Muertos season.