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A trip to the beach…Corpus Christi, Texas.

Posted by on February 13, 2015

FEBRUARY 9, 2015

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT CORPUS CHRISTI. We’re planning to spend some time at the beach along the Texas Gulf Coast after we leave the Hill Country at winter’s end. But where? When it comes to great beach destinations, the state of Texas doesn’t immediately come to mind. Barbecue, yes. Bikinis, no. But the truth is, the Texas Gulf Coast offers 600 miles of sparkling coastline, dotted with quaint seaside towns, incredible views, abundant seafood and beautiful soft sand beaches to explore. And of course fishing…some of the best saltwater fishing in the entire world is in the Gulf.  Padre Island, Mustang Island, Port Aransas and Rockport are just some of the popular destinations in the Corpus Christi area. We decided to go take a look.

gulfmapTHE DRIVE TO THE COAST. We left our motorhome at Buckhorn and headed to Corpus Christi in the Jeep to stay in a hotel and spend a few days looking around the area.  It’s about a 3 hour drive. Anywhere else, it’d take a lot longer. But in Texas, the posted speed limit is usually 75 or 80 mph and everyone drives much faster than that!  Texas is a huge state and much of it is pretty wide-open and barren. At about the mid-way point in our drive, in the middle of nowhere, we saw a little BBQ joint on the side of the road. Van’s Bar-B-Q. Since it was probably the only place within 50 miles to eat, we decided to give it a try. The place is located in the tiny town of Oakville. Population 12. One of the very oldest towns in the state. There’s not much there but Van’s Bar-B-Q.

OAKVILLE, TEXAS…A STOP ALONG THE WAY. Arriving in the Coastal Bend of Texas in the early 1800’s, Irish immigrants became the first settlers of a region that includes what is now known as the town of Oakville. For many years, it was a bustling place of commerce because it was the crossroads of ox-cart caravans and mule trains that crawled the muddy roads between the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and San Antonio. It was the half-way point. Merchants and travelers used it as a rest stop on the long, hazardous journeys of the day. Today, it’s a ghost town but the remnants of the old days are still visible. The most prominent building in town is the old Live Oak County Jail, where Texas Rangers and country judges made an example of horse thieves, cattle rustlers and over-indulgent cowboys.  Many a badman came to lament the day he entered the Oakville Jail. It is told that over 40 men hanged in the notorious sprawling live oak “Hanging Tree” on the Town Square.


At Van’s BBQ, you get a brisket sandwich, potato salad and a pickle…all served on a piece of wax paper. Who needs plates? And get this: “Second helpings” are “on the house.” You gotta love that!


If you want to know what’s happening in Oakville, just check out the bulletin board on the wall at Van’s BBQ. You could check in the local newspaper…but there isn’t one. 


The Live Oak County Jail, now remodeled and used on occasion as a bed and breakfast.


The Post Office is right across the town square from the jail.


The city of Corpus Christi is known as the “Texas Riviera” and the “Sparkling City by the Sea.” It’s home to the Port of Corpus Christi, one of the largest in the United States. Outlying areas include Padre Island, Mustang Island, Port Aransas and Rockport. There are quite a few RV parks in the area and some of them are located right near the beach. We may decide to make one of them our home for a month after we leave Buckhorn Lake Resort in Kerrville.


White pelicans call this place home.

PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE. Lying a few miles off the south Texas coast, Padre Island National Seashore protects the world’s longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island. It embraces 70 miles of sand-and-shell beaches, windswept dunes, endless grasslands, tidal flats teeming with life and warm near-shore waters. The nation’s prime nesting beach for endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, it is also globally important for migrating birds.

Padre Island’s sun, sand and surf are ideal for swimming almost year-round. Fishermen can choose between the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow, extremely salty waters of the Laguna Madre…one of only six hypersaline lagoons in the world. You can drive your car right on the beach and you don’t have to worry about crowds. The beach goes on forever and it’s easy to find a spot of your own! We saw folks with their motorhomes…camping just yards from the shore. What a spot to boondock for a few days! If solitude is what you’re seeking, you’ve come to the right spot: You can literally drive for miles and miles along the shoreline until you reach as remote a camping or fishing location as you want!


Padre Island National Seashore.


We drove for miles along the beach. The bright sunshine made the water sparkle.

MUSTANG ISLAND.  Connected to Padre Island by a roadway, Mustang is a barrier island on the Gulf Coast in the Corpus Christi area. The island is 18 miles long and stretches from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas. We found several nice RV resorts here and each is located right behind the sand dunes on the beach. And as with the National Seashore, you can drive your vehicle right down to the beach.


On all these Gulf Coast beaches, we drove our Jeep right to the water’s edge.


Our friend Roger wading ashore after a grueling rough-water swim. Not!

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My buddy Dan…scanning the horizon for Roger during his rough-water swim!   OK… Enough of this nonsense!


Florence, Annie and Roger goofing around, even though I asked them nicely to pose so I could get a good picture of them. I give up!

PORT ARANSAS. Port Aransas is the only established town on Mustang Island. It is located north of Padre Island and is one of the longest barrier islands along the Texas coast. Corpus Christi Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Lydia Ann Ship Channel and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel make up the surrounding waters. By ferry or from Upper Padre Island, Port Aransas is about a 40 minute drive from downtown Corpus Christi. Once there, you can soak in the sun, fish, shop coatal stores, charter a boat or enjoy waterfront restaurants. Fishing is big in these parts. Deep sea fishing or fishing on the jetties, the bays or in the surf, chances are pretty good you’ll come home with a catch.

BAIT SHOP_retouched

There are dozens of bait shops in Rockport. They offer fishing tips, fishing tackle, and of course bait: Shrimp (dead or alive), croaker, pin perch, piggy perch and mullet. Your choice. You can also buy snacks, soft drinks, sunscreen, caps, T shirts…pretty much anything you might need for a day on the water.


A great spot for a picnic!


ROCKPORT – FULTON AREA. Across the channel from Port Aransas you’ll find the little towns of Rockport and Fulton. Taking the ferry is the only way to get there. There’s no charge. It’s about a 5 minute ride. Although legally separate towns, they’re often referred to as “Rockport – Fulton.” Once there, we found lots of shops and restaurants, lots of fishing and lots of birds…particularly Whooping Cranes. When you see them for the first time, you’re amazed by their size. Wading in the shallows, the whooping cranes stand almost 5 feet tall. They are the tallest birds in America. Although they look gangly walking on stilt-like legs, they can suddenly sail skyward on sleek, black-tipped wings. And this time of year they do more flying than walking, as they make an annual 2,500-mile migration trip from Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where they winter until April when they return to Canada for the summer. They eat acorns, berries and blue crabs…as many as 80 per day! They are big birds with big appetites!


The ferry landing at Port Aransas. It’s about a 5 minute ride across the channel. Each ferryboat carries about 25 cars.


Whooping Cranes along the shore at Rockport, Texas. They migrate all the way from Canada every year. They consume quantities of local blue crabs.


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Fishing boats unload on the docks in Rockport, Texas. We had lunch at a restaurant right on the water. Guys on the boats were unloading sacks of oysters. I think these same boats fish for shrimp, too.



The beach areas we visited were really nice. We just might return with our motorhome and spend some more time in the area this spring. But we’ll want to be sure to depart before summer. There are hurricanes in this part of the world, folks. Experiencing one of them is not something we ever want to do. The folks who live around here must get used to it, though. On our drive back to the Hill Country we saw lots of permanent signs along the road referring to the “hurricane evacuation lanes.” No thanks!


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