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! 🙂

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Schlitterbahn Update

Schlitterbahn Comes to Town
The big blue sign in front of Padre Isles Country Club

The following is an update from kiiitv.com

CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) –

“Seven months. If all goes as planned, that’s how long it will be until the new Schlitterbahn Beach County Water Park and Resort on Padre Island is up and running.
If you have been watching the construction process, you know that things are now at the point of dramatic change.”We’re really seeing some big changes now,” said Jeff Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn. “Really seeing this start coming out of the ground.”

From the beginning, there were plenty of people who were convinced the project was never going to happen; but now, 65 acres of what used to be the Padre Isles Country Club have been transformed.

Jeff Henry is the creative genius behind all Schlitterbahn parks, and to say that he’s a free spirit doesn’t fully describe his reputation for thinking outside the box. He actually owns more than 60 patents for thrill rides that he has built all around the world.

“He’s always creating. He’s got a vision, and he tries to make the architects understand what his vision is,” said Sonia Gill, Henry’s assistant.

“This is fun. This is like artwork. It’s enjoyable,” Henry said. “I do get tired of corporate — that would be my brother and my sister, and all the people in New Braunfels who are trying to get me to comply with the rules and regulations of society, which I prefer not to.”

“He’s a wild and crazy guy, but he gets the job done,” Schlitterbahn Senior Designer John Schooley said. “He’s creative, and he really makes things happen.”

“These are treehouses that we’ve added,” Henry said. “Here, we’re doing something very unique.”

Henry was talking about the company’s unique upscale lodging for guests who want to extend their stay. The treehouses, as they’re called, are being constructed using wood left behind from the devastating fire in Bastrop, Texas, back in 2011. Ultimately, there will be a couple of hundred tree houses on the site.

Like the Schlitterbahn parks on South Padre Island and Galveston, the one in North Padre Island can stay open year round, but “this one is going to blow those other two away,” Henry said.

Eventually, as 3News has reported, the $41 million water park will be the central component of a $550 million resort community on the Island. It will have more restaurants, shops and hotels. Plans also call for a riverwalk and new residential areas.”

The continual transformation of the old Padre Isles clubhouse.
The continual transformation of the old Padre Isles clubhouse.

Well, it looks like progress is here, and as said before, Our Quiet Little Piece of the Planet is Becoming Less Peaceful. I have to admit, I am a little sad because the Coastal Bend has always been off the beaten path, so it has been a quiet place to live. However, we have been discovered and now the sounds of progress are here. They have been digging, dredging, and building up what was once Padre Isles Country Club.

According to alicetx.com, “Schlitterbahn’s Waterpark and Resort in Corpus Christi will launch with Schlitterbahn’s signature attractions including a Torrent Tidal Wave River, a river system that allows guests to float along a wave-filled river; swim-up bars; beaches; and of course, a Boogie Bahn, the world’s best inland surfing ride; as well as on-site lodging.”

For the most part, I am very excited to have something new to do with the kids here in the Coastal Bend. Another fun thing is that locals from Padre Island and Flour Bluff can literally boat over there since they are dredging connecting canals into the park. (How cool is that?) If they don’t have the sea-legs to go by boat, any land-lubber can do the “Island Walk” which will be a separate, but related destination with shops, cafes, and hotels included in the overall project. (Are we channeling River Walk, San Antonio here?)

For many of the locals here– yep– there will be more traffic I’m sure; however, there will at least be more to do here with the kids in the Coastal Bend. (I think I will have to get a season pass!)

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.