Friday, January 22, 2010

Rockport 2009 Review

As we ponder our month in Rockport, Texas at the Watersedge RV Park we certainly have mixed emotions. Being new to the full-timing lifestyle we thought that a month in an area would be enough and it probably would except for the fact that two-thirds of the days were rainy, cold, foggy, cloudy, or all the above. The weather reports we got from friends and family up north, however, did put things into perspective though because when we say cold here we are talking about 40’s and 50’s during the day and near freezing over night, not the frigid temperatures in Iowa or Missouri nor the double digit snowfall totals. We really picked a good first winter to be gone from all that!!

We generally have a shortlist of things we want to do in an area before we arrive and then plan on getting more information from the other folks at the RV Park and from visitor centers. Because of the weather we were only able to do a few things on the sightseeing list. Although the sightseeing was disappointing and the weather was not what we expected we still had a great time. Our condo on wheels is comfortable to live in even if you have to be stuck in it for a couple of straight days due to rain. We are able to make all kinds of meals in our kitchen as we get used to cooking with propane on the stovetop and oven and a convection oven.

One thing we like to do is play games and we bought a new dice game called Farkle and have played that a couple of times while cooped in along with cribbage. The television in the living room is a great high definition LCD that is so bright we can have the blinds up and still see the screen. As early adopters of high definition television we had a rear projection screen that the room had to absolutely dark or the screen suffered. Having natural light, even if it was a cloudy dreary natural light, also helped us feel less closed in.

Not wanting to go anywhere when it was raining a few of the nice days were spent on errands, generally shopping at Wal-Mart. One adjustment we have had to make is grocery shopping. No longer can we buy mass quantities so we end up going to a Wal-Mart or a grocery store a lot. So by the time you deal with the Wal-Mart mess and eating out either before or after Wal-Mart and then putting the groceries up you have pretty much killed a day. On those days if the weather was nice we sat in our lawn chairs and read our books or walked down to the water and out on the 500’ fishing pier that the park has. We even have taken our books out there and just sat there and read, when the wind picks up though it can get quite chilly due to the water temperature in the low 50’s. We also do not like to cram things into a day, we prefer a more leisurely pace, and we are retired after all. So we probably could have done more on the few nice days but decided early on that if we cannot see everything in the area there is always the next time we are there.

This report will have one noticeable difference from previous and hopefully future entries; the list for next time will be greater than the list completed. This is such a great area we plan on coming back again in the near future, maybe not next year as we are contemplating a winter in Florida.

One thing we noticed right away about the restaurants in the area is that fresh grouper was hard to find. We have been on the gulf coast before in Clearwater Beach and fresh grouper was everywhere and it became one of our favorites. In Rockport fresh shrimp and fresh oysters were dominant so we ate a lot of both of them. A general recommendation for the area would be to find a place where you can get seafood fresh from the boats. We found Alby’s on Hwy 35 near our park and this place will also end up on the restaurant list below because some of the best po boys we have ever eaten have been from this place, along with fresh oysters by the pint (20-24 depending on size) and by the quart or gallon. Another recommendation is to stop at a roadside produce stand where you can get locally grown produce, especially grapefruit. We bought a lot at Jimmy Woods Produce also on 35. If you like fruitcake around the holidays there is no place better than the Rockport Bakery also on 35.

Top places to eat

* Charlotte Plummers – the numerous times we ate here we could not get past ordering the oyster stew. It must be the fresh oysters because this was the best oyster stew we have ever had. The shrimp quesadilla appetizer with fresh shrimp and a mild pico de gallo was wonderful and the salad bar featured fresh vegetables and salads.

* Alby’s – as mentioned above some of the best po boys we have ever had. We could not get past the po boys to try one of the platters which looked good. Alby’s boiled our shrimp for our New Year’s evening celebration continuing a tradition for Jo began many years ago. This is truly a dive with no indoor seating, just a couple of picnic tables in front of the building. Also have to consider it a grocery store also since you could buy already prepared items like crawfish fettuccine, shrimp scampi ravioli, and crab ravioli which were quite tasty when we took them back to warm up, along with countless pints of fresh oysters.

* Big Fisherman – everything is big at the Big Fisherman in nearby Port Aransas. We each got a mini platter the first time we went there which was fried fish, fried shrimp, stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab and brought back enough fish for another meal. The regular sized platter is enough for two and adds oysters and scallops to the mix. But the big draw at the Big Fisherman is Tuesdays where you can get all you can eat chicken fried steak or chicken livers or gizzards for $2.25! Yeah you read it right, $2.25!! Our second trip was for this special and let me tell you everybody, and I mean everybody, was there that day. This was not the manhole cover sized chicken fried steak but it was good, certainly well worth the price. The chicken livers were also not the best but certainly some of the better ones we have had.

* Alice Faye’s on the Bay – close enough that if the weather is nice you could walk to this fine place to eat. This is the first place we ate at and had the fresh oysters in the area for the first time here, actually oyster shooters instead of on the half shell. The po boys are plain, just seafood and bread, but the fresh oysters and shrimp still make it a good sandwich. Probably the best bargain at Alice Faye’s though has to be the 2fer breakfast, 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, and 2 pieces of bacon for $3.

* Landry’s – in Corpus Christi at the marina is one of the better seafood places to eat and being so close to the fresh seafood does not hurt. Jo got a tilapia special of the day and Bob got the pasta with shrimp and mussels and both were good. The same quality and freshness are there whether you are at Corpus Christi near the ocean or inland at Branson Missouri.

Also ate at

* Bar-B-Que Shack – reminds us of the shack which used to be at about 85th and Troost near where we both worked in Kansas City except this one had no inside seating, in fact there may have been no seating at all nearby. While driving along Hwy 35 we kept seeing a line at this place at lunch time so decided to give it a try. Very good brisket sandwich and sausage was also very good. Beans were a little disappointing, just pinto beans with nothing else. If the beans were better it might have made the best places to eat list. It is located right next to the Rockport Bakery.

* China A – we decided to try this super buffet based on rave reviews from other park attendees and online. Although it was good, some of the best frog legs either one of us have had, we came away a little disappointed. We went for the evening meal because fresh oysters on the half shell were on the buffet. After all the great oysters these were not that good, maybe they sat out too long or something else but we just could not eat them. Most of the dishes were also too hot for our tastes. Other than the oysters what we had, avoiding the hot dishes which unfortunately were some of our favorites, was pretty good. The boiled shrimp was very good. We may try this again the next time in the area because neither one of us got a steak which is supposed to be good and we neglected to try the crab legs which were also on the evening buffet.

* Whataburger – got our first breakfast on a bun which had been recommended to us by a friend when he heard we were traveling to Texas.

* JJ’s Café – in Rockport serves a good country breakfast and good burgers.


* Aransas National Wildlife Refuge – turns out the second time was a charm. We chose a day that was significantly cooler than our first trip to the “mosquito” National Wildlife Refuge. So instead of shorts and short sleeved t-shirts we were in jeans and jackets sprayed with repellent versus no repellent the first time. Being able to hit the trails and the elevated boardwalk really helped us see wildlife, especially the whooping cranes. Although the pair was too far for our camera we were able to spot them with our binoculars and the spotting scopes provide on the boardwalk. This was a real treat as there are only about 400 in the wild.

* USS Lexington - an aircraft carrier the same class of ship that Bob's dad served on that is a museum in Corpus Christi. It was an honor to walk the same types of halls and stairwells that his dad traversed. Speaking of the stairwells we could not believe how steep and how little head room there was. Make sure you stop at the library where a great collection of books resides and the volunteer we talked to there was very interesting. We took a lot longer than average because there is so much to see and read about.

* Fulton Mansion – built in 1877 we were surprised to see flush toilets, the first indoor running water in the area. The construction of the house was amazing, when a hurricane hit the area after it was built the house served as the storm shelter for the entire town. Part of the windmill blade is embedded in the tree behind the Fulton Mansion which we did not see due to the many mosquitoes that day.

* Big Water – There is something very soothing about being on the coastland of big water like the Gulf Coast so we took a trip to Corpus Christi and drove along the Gulf and walked around the marina. Rockport is on the Aransas Bay protected by the St. Joseph barrier island from the Gulf but still big enough water to have harbors at Rockport and nearby Fulton. Seeing the shrimp boats and fishing boats head out and come back with their catch is quite a site. Watersedge RV Park also had a private 500’ fishing pier that we spent some time on just watching the water and pelicans.

Next time

The first thing we will do the next time we are in the area is stop by the Chamber of Commerce and get the handout, “51 things to do in the area”. Here are some of the things we did not get a chance to do because of the weather.

* Rockport Historical District, Rockport Beach Park, Aquarium and Maritime Museum.

* Oysterfest in March

* Connie Hagar Wildlife Refuge

* Texas Aquarium in Corpus Christi

* Historical Walking/Driving Tour – pickup the CD at the Chamber of Commerce

* See the windmill blade that is embedded in the tree behind the Fulton Mansion due to a hurricane in 1919.

* More bird watching, Rockport is along the Texas Coastal Birding Trail and the Chamber of Commerce has a birding guide for the area plus there are guided bird watching tours every week.

* Goose Island State Park with a 1,000 year old tree that was called the Meeting Tree

* Schoenstatt Shrine

* Stella Maris Chapel; the first church built in Aransas County still stands

* More restaurants to try; The Boiling Pot, Bakery Café in Aransas Pass, Fins in Port Aransas, Spaghetti Works in Port Aransas, Bellinos, Pier 99 near the USS Lexington and Aquarium.

We have a couple of winter spots to check out before we come back to the Rockport area but we do plan on spending an entire winter there hoping for better weather.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog.We live in KC and enjoy your blog.We are on the three to four year plan to sell out and start full time rving.Keep bloging we will be reading.