A Short Stay in Port Aransas, Texas
Above is a photo of my camping spot on the beach in Port Aransas, a place I have visited three times in the past. I had planned on staying here a while but left after only three nights and continued on to Louisiana.
The beach itself apparently did not sustain much damage from the hurricane and looks pretty much the same as it did on my previous visits here. To camp on the beach you simply obtain a $12 beach parking permit at one of several different locations, I bought mine at one of the Stripes convenience stores. During the busy summer beach season, you are limited to just a few days of camping but during the winter season, you can stay an extended length of time. The beach road is graded regularly and is very firm, making travel safe for any kind of rig with many miles of beachfront camping to choose from. There were very few people camped here this year as compared to my other times here.
As I was having coffee my first morning on the beach, I saw this enormous deep sea drilling platform being escorted out of the Port Aransas shipping channel. Headed for a deep sea location somewhere south of New Orleans, it was being towed and pushed by nine huge tugboats. Each tug was probably about three stories high from water to the top of their masts, so that might give you an idea of the size of this oil rig, just absolutely gigantic. The jetty rocks that can barely be made out in this image are probably about 10 feet above the waterline.
There still were piles of demolition debris along the streets of Port Aransas awaiting pickup and there were plenty of blue tarps on the roofs of hotels and private homes. Several empty lots were visible where structures have been demolished and await rebuilding efforts. Probably half the businesses were now open and most of the rest had signs saying they were opening soon. All of the RV Parks appeared open and most were all but full, so the winter Texans have shown up in Port Aransas.
I drove down to the Padre Island National Seashore and checked out the birding areas there … and came away with nothing. I mean there was no kind of bird life anywhere there. One little roadside pond where I have photographed hundreds of ducks before was completely devoid of life. No shorebirds, no ducks, no raptors anywhere, really strange.
Sadly, the best birding attraction in Port Aransas, the Leona Turnbull Birding Area, was heavily damaged by the hurricane, the boardwalk and observation decks being completely destroyed and are awaiting reconstruction, of which there are no signs of immediate efforts to do so.
So, the next day I hopped on the ferry and headed about 25 miles north to check out one of my favorite all-time places to stay, Rockport. There were three oil drilling platforms being refurbished alongside the north ferry terminal. These rigs would have been dwarfed by the rig seen going out the shipping channel the day before … and these are pretty impressively large structures themselves.
The remnants of the demolition debris piles from the hurricane were spread over a half mile of the bypass highway median as you approached it’s northern terminus. A few months ago these piles were about ten times this size according to what some of the locals told me. There was a lot of obvious damage all through the town and my favorite spot to stay here, Goose Island State Park, has yet to reopen for camping.
The entire area is pretty gray looking and forlorn. Tremendous numbers of oaks have been blown down or uprooted and all the foliage in the area has been blown off or browned, it really is a pretty depressing looking area right now. The cow pastures along the coast, just outside the State Park, the usual haunts for the endangered Whooping Cranes, are no exception to the bleak looks of this part of the Texas coast. Finding this all a little depressing, I packed up after just three nights and continued on towards Louisiana and Grand Isle.
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