January 31, 2018 Port Aransas, Texas

Port Aransas Beach Camping
Port Aransas Beach Camping

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.

Deep Sea Oil Rig Transport
Deep Sea Oil Rig Transport

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.

Oil Rigs From the Ferry
Oil Rigs From the Ferry

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.

Hurricane Trash Heaps
Hurricane Trash Heaps
Hurricane Trash Heaps
Hurricane Trash Heaps

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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December 23, 2013 Port Aransas, Texas

A variety of ducks hiding in the reeds
A variety of ducks hiding in the reeds

Played around with the frig a little more this morning and got it to manually light on gas when using a match to light and bypassing the electronic ignition. When I take out the sparking device, I can hear it “clicking” so some juice is getting to it but apparently not enough to ignite. Of course, once the thermostat shuts the gas down, it won’t come back on later unless I light with a match again, and that is not something that happens on a first try. Guess I have no choice but to move up to Rockport and get this fixed before boondocking again.

Wind was rocking the RV last night and it got down into the 30’s. The car is completely coated with a fine film of sand, sure that will do wonders for the paint job.

Black bellied whistling ducks
Black bellied whistling ducks
Northern shovelers
Northern shovelers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green winged teal
Green winged teal

Drove back out to the water treatment plant and walked out the boardwalk to where a lone photographer was set up. Turns out he is a native and says that if the ducks aren’t here in November, they aren’t here at all for the rest of the winter, and they weren’t there this morning, for sure. Also checked out Charlie’s Pasture and the little in town sanctuary, both held nothing, so much as I hate to leave the beach because of the frig, at least I am not missing anything as far as my bird photography goes. All four of these images come from last year’s visit to the water treatment plant where I spent many a day doing flight shots and closeups of a wide variety of waterfowl. These shots were all taken with my Nikon D300 and as I found out at High Island last year, my new D800 does a much, much better job on this type of image, but now I guess I will just have to wait until next year ( gee, I sound like a Red Sox fan, the old Red Sox, that is ).

December 22, 2013 Port Aransas, Texas

Port Aransas Beach camping
Port Aransas Beach camping

Wow, the sun is still up there! That north wind blew in some coolish weather but has dropped the humidity and cleared up the skies, just a beautiful day today, so, of course, the gas side of the Dometic refrigerator choses today to stop working. Made my normal feeble attempts to troubleshoot but had no luck. The electric side is still working, but that means I would have to keep the big generator going to maintain temp in the frig, and that just doesn’t make much sense.

View up the beach
View up the beach
View down the beach
View down the beach

 

 

 

 

 

Sam and Jenny watching the world go by
Watching the world go by

A quick search for mobile techs in Port Aransas yielded nothing, so I think that since there are no ducks here, and that is my main reason to be here ( besides loving camping on the beach ), I think it would make sense to move up to Rockport and Goose Island State Park as there is a mobile tech up there and I can use the electric side of the frig while staying in the park and waiting out the holidays to get the frig repaired. Plus hopefully, the whooping cranes are there now and that would give me something to shoot. So I guess I will pack up and move on tomorrow morning.

My closest neighbors
My closest neighbors
View from the dunes
View from the dunes

 

December 20, 2013 Port Aransas, Texas

Well, since I know there is a nice laundromat here in Port Aransas, that will be my project for this muggy, hazy, foggy day. Three large loads took care of that task and I escaped with two quarters left in my roll. Between washing and drying, I ran down to the water treatment plant to check on the ducks. Pulling into the parking lot, I was a little surprised to see the lot empty at 10 AM, but a quick stroll out along the boardwalk explained it to me…there is nothing here! A couple of coots out on the water and a few green winged teal and northern shovelers sitting around in the edge of the reed beds, but nothing whatsoever out on the water. Guess it must be too early?

Can’t really say I saw much in the way of ducks on the water while coming over the causeway from Corpus Christie yesterday, but I thought that may have been due to the strong winds and stormy seas. I have only been here twice before and both times it was in February and the ducks and wading birds were here then in great numbers, so perhaps it is just timing. I will sit it out a few days and wait for the cold front to come in and see if that stirs up some action. If not then I will probably move on towards New Orleans and down to Grand Isle for a month.