At the end of January, we wrapped up our month in Texas with a week on the Gulf Coast, split between Rockport and Galveston. We spent a few days in Galveston last year and wanted to return to the beautiful campground and the interesting town (and to see the brewery kitty). As for Rockport, this was our fourth visit, but our first time returning since Hurricane Harvey leveled the town in August 2017. As you might imagine, things have changed.
Returning To Rockport, Texas
We discovered the charming town of Rockport and beautiful Goose Island State Park back in 2009 on one of our epic Texas crossings. We have fond memories of camping in a lush canopy of gnarled live oaks, exploring nearby coastal refuges, and enjoying abundant birdlife, including close encounters with rare and endangered Whooping Cranes.
It was with some trepidation that we returned to the park. The beach campsites are gone, the wonderful pier that extended more than a quarter-mile out into the bay was destroyed by the hurricane, and the centuries-old live oaks are a shadow of what they once were. “There were no leaves left on the oaks—they were snatched bald by the storm,” said a local bartender.
A Story Of Recovery
We heard tales from hardy locals who have returned to rebuild their community. They told us heartbreaking stories of thousands of pelicans and shorebirds who perished in the storm and washed ashore. The Whooping Cranes and other migratory birds were more fortunate. They had not yet returned to Texas from their summer nesting grounds when the hurricane hit.
Things are a bit sparse around Rockport these days. Recovery takes time. But the sunsets are just as beautiful as we remembered. And the Whooping Cranes are thriving. Apparently, the hurricane stirred up the estuaries and increased the population of blue crabs, the favorite food of the cranes. The cranes no longer depend on supplemental grains from humans—which means they stay far away and are more difficult to photograph. But it’s much better for the cranes.
I was happy to see that Pop’s Place, a local dive bar, made it through the storm. It’s worth stopping in for a beer just to see the unique mosaic artwork made from thousands of beer bottle caps. (Just don’t expect craft beer.)
Click on any photo for a larger image
Returning To Galveston, Texas
We had three things we wanted to do this time in Galveston: 1) Kayak the bay in the park; 2) Tour the historic Bishop’s Palace in town, and 3) Visit the brewery kitty at the excellent Galveston Island Brewery. We managed two out of three.
We really like Galveston Island State Park, especially the campground on the bayside, and especially the sites that back up to the marsh. Our few days at the park were made even better by our neighbors, Tom and Stacie of RV Texas Y’All. We had a great time hanging out with them, and are looking forward to seeing them again when we return to Texas. They were intrigued that we’ve been on the road for six years and did a video of us. If you’re interested, you can see it here. It is hilarious. This is why you will never see us with our own YouTube channel.
Exploring Galveston’s Attractions
We happened to be in Galveston on Museum Day, a once-a-year event that offers free admission to many of Galveston’s most popular historic attractions. We decided to join the masses of bargain hunters and toured two of the historic homes in the East End district. We had seen the Bishop’s Palace when we were wandering around the historic district last year and wanted to see the interior.
Built in the late 1800s as a private residence, the stone Victorian mansion was bought by the Roman Catholic diocese in 1923 and became the bishop’s home for decades (hence, the chapel). The chapel is beautiful. The rest of the mansion is quite possibly the darkest, most depressing place we’ve ever visited. I’m glad we went on a free day because we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
The Moody Mansion, on the other hand, is beautiful. Built in the late 1890s, it was home to the wealthy and philanthropic Moody family before they generously donated it to the state in 1986. The mansion is meticulously restored, with original furnishings, and the self-guided audio tour provides engaging backstories of the family.
Kayaking The Paddling Trail
On a calm, perfect day we set out to kayak the Galveston Island State Park Paddling Trail. The waters are shallow here, and you want to choose your time wisely, lest you end up stranded in the marsh. This is an excellent place to see the wading birds of the Gulf Coast.
We got to do everything we wanted to do in Galveston, except for visiting with the Galveston Island Brewery kitty. We were bummed. It was so crowded at the brewery (don’t go on a weekend!) that the kitty was hiding under the deck. We bought a couple of big bottles of their Balinese Imperial Smoked Porter and went home to enjoy it by the bay. That beer is in the running for the tastiest beer we’ve ever had—or at least in the top five.
This or next year will you hit Highway 395 from Lone Pine up to Bridgeport in California.
47 beautiful mountains, 51 lakes, 22 RV Camp Grounds, Ancient areas, Extreme areas of Beauty,
So many hiking trails…..
Rent a horse or a mule for a day trip!
Bob, we love Hwy 395 and have traveled it several times. We definitely plan to return. I like the idea of the mule!
After living through way too many hurricanes in Florida, I’ve tried to start seeing them as a tropical version of the wildfires that replenish forests: a necessary evil. While they are disruptive to the humans who expected the coastline and trees to permanently remain in one location, the hurricanes can create all sorts of new opportunities in the ecosystem, as your information about the whooping cranes illustrates. Selfishly, I am so glad that your travels through Texas are giving us a perfect roadmap for our own journey east later this fall. I think we’ll be too late to see the migratory birds, but that coastal marsh environment is really calling to us, especially after seeing your gorgeous photos!
Shannon, that’s a really good point about the hurricanes replenishing the ecosystem. As you said, we don’t want disruptions in our lives, but it’s part of the natural cycle. We were happy to discover that the cranes are thriving since the hurricane and the subsequent increase in the blue crab population.
I’m so glad you enjoyed our Texas coastal photos. Let me know if you would like suggestions for your Texas adventures—we’ve spent a lot of time exploring the state! The Gulf Coast should be lovely in the fall. Unless there’s a hurricane. :-(
I’ve come to believe that the only constant thing in life is change…. Safe travels! R&K
Ha, no kidding! We’ve certainly discovered that to be true. Hope you guys are doing well!
Well, ya know you hit up a couple of my favorites. It breaks my heart seeing/hearing the devastation that hurricane Harvey caused. But those sunsets and sunrises remain beautiful.
Ingrid, I know Rockport is dear to your heart. It was hard for us to see the devastation caused by the hurricane. The town, the park, the refuges, and the wildlife are all recovering—but slowly. And yes, the sunsets are still gorgeous.
We had just seen Rockport the year before Harvey hit. I’m sure it will take time for them to recover.
Love the video! It’s fun to hear people’s voices after just seeing photos. :)
Glad you two enjoyed the video! We had so much fun with Stacie and Tom—with their great personalities, they managed to talk us into doing the interview, LOL!
We used to have an RV pad in Port Aransas and have explored the area quite a bit. I remember how majestic that old live oak was … still beautiful even if it has become a little skimpier. We enjoyed the cranes in the fields nearby as well. We enjoyed Galveston the one time we stayed there … it was January and quite cold at times, but so much to see and do … loved doing the walk to find the tree sculptures.
Erin, we really enjoyed going over to Port Aransas to the refuges in our past visits to Rockport. But they were hit hard in the storm. :-( They’re still in the process of rebuilding boardwalks, etc.
We like Galveston a lot, too. We had fun doing the “treasure hunt” for the tree sculptures on our visit there last year. As you said, there’s plenty to do in the area!
Your outing in the kayaks sounds heavenly. How wonderful to see all those lovely birds!
Les, that was a gorgeous kayak trip! And the wading birds are always a bonus.
Love, love, love the video!! I’ve been following them for a long time on Instagram. It’s such a small world. They seem like tons of fun and the video is just great!
It is so sad to know that so much was destroyed by Harvey and may never be the same, but heartening to see all the wildlife coming back and even thriving. I’m glad to see Goose Island is back up and running – at least part of it. We were supposed to go there at one point, but they were closed down due to all the damage. I’m happy to see they’re making progress and folks are returning. I wonder if they’ll rebuild the other campsites or just leave it as is?
Anyway, those Texas sunsets were something else and you captured them perfectly!
Hi Laura! It is a small world, indeed! Hope to see you out at a campground one of these days.
Thanks, Laura! We had a blast with Stacie and Tom. They are really great people—you’ll enjoy meeting them in person. And I hope they talk you into an interview, too! Although you probably will have more presence of mind than to talk about baking underwear in the oven. I thought they would edit that part out, LOL!
From what I understand, Goose Island SP doesn’t intend to rebuild the beach campsites. But it’s still a beautiful park and worth a visit.
Hey Laurel & Eric!
Hope everything is GREAT with y’all!! We had such a phenomenal time getting to know you in Galveston. We always look forward to following your adventures here, but are really looking forward to seeing y’all again somewhere to catch up! Safe travels and happy camping!
— Tom & Stacie
Hey Tom & Stacie! We had so much fun with you guys—our time together was just way too short. We can’t wait to catch up with you again, either in Texas or somewhere else. It looks like you’re having a great time from your videos! Happy travels to you, too. :-)
Galveston, oh Galveston! At least we can be happy for the cranes. Nature is breathtakingly brutal, isn’t she?
Too bad that one mansion was depressing on the inside because the outside is so cool.
Someone did a video of you, too?! Figures I’m in a place I can’t stream right now. Something to look forward to, though 😁
I’m sad you didn’t get to see the brewery kitty. We all need our kitty fixes!😽
Joodie, we were really bummed about not getting to see the brewery kitty! We obviously miss our kitty.
Nature can definitely be tough, but it was good to see the cranes doing well in the wake of the hurricane devastation. The Gulf Coast is such a beautiful place, but it sure is a magnet for hurricanes.
When you have nothing better to do and have internet connection, you can watch that video and laugh at us. :-)
The video is a hoot. We find the people along the way make the experience even better.
Thanks, Deb—we had SO much fun with Stacie & Tom! I agree, it’s the friends we meet along the way that enrich our journey in so many ways.
Funny how happy we can get when finding an ancient oak has survived another natural assault :-) It’s a beauty. We loved that state park as well. Bummed we didn’t get to the brewery so I guess we must return to look for the kitty and try a favorite brew!
Those sunsets are truly spectacular.
Jodee, when you guys return to Galveston you must go to the brewery! The beer is outstanding—just don’t go on a weekend. It’s much more mellow during the week, and the kitty will probably be cruising around. The cat totally owns the place, LOL!
I loved the video interview!!! It was awesome. I never knew you all owned a Casita!!! So did we!!! We started out with tents and a pop-up and graduated to a 40 ft diesel pusher. We took a break from full-timing and when we returned we wanted smaller!! We might have gone too far, hahaha, with the Oliver Legacy Elite II at nearly 24 ft. We almost bought an Arctic Fox!!
I hate laundry too!!!
Enjoyed reading about your time in the Texas Gulf Coast! We need to explore more of Texas!!
Mike & Gerri, there’s so much to explore in Texas—I think you’ll really enjoy it! Thanks for your nice comment about our interview with RV Texas Y’all. Tom & Stacie are so much fun and offer a lot of great information on their site.
We really enjoyed our little Casita, and LOVED our 21′ Bigfoot trailer, which is probably similar to your Oliver. There’s nothing like a solid fiberglass trailer! I can understand why you chose your Oliver. I hope you’ll be back out traveling and adventuring soon!
We’ll be back out as soon as the doctor gives the green light! Surgery is the 12th and we’re both getting hitch itch already!!
It’s nice that you enjoy Texas and spend so much time there so I can get better feel for the state I know we won’t be visiting again anytime soon. Seeing the devastation must have been difficult. You’ve experienced the aftermath of two large hurricanes. Such a sad experience. Glad you included a photo of my favorite big bird!!
Haha, I know Texas is not your favorite state, Pam. But really and truly, there are so many adventures there that I know you would love! I know we can at least entice you into Big Bend and Seminole Canyon. :-)
Aren’t the Roseate Spoonbills wonderful? I never tire of seeing them.
The hilarious video is live! Ha ha ha you guys are now superstars!
Such a sad state of the thousand-year-old oak tree. I have a picture of it before Harvey.
Those sunsets are spectacular! Great shots!
Oh yeah, we’re definitely stars, MonaLiza! :-)) We had fun doing the video because Tom and Stacie are such great people. But we know we’ll never be hosting a YouTube channel of our own…
I’m glad you got to see the ancient oak before it was pruned by the hurricane. It’s still beautiful, but not quite like it was. It’s a miracle it survived.
Great video but did you have to encourage even MORE people to be in competition for the cherished campgrounds? You are going to persuade everyone who watches this that they need to get out there. LOL!
So sorry to hear and see about the oaks in Rockport. But hoping they will have a chance to recover given the extreme weather that seems to be becoming a regular horror show. Gorgeous sunset pictures. So envious of Galveston Island State Park Paddling Trail. Bummer about the kitty.
Sherry, it does seem as though there are a lot more people traveling now than there were 10 years ago. Sometimes I admit to wanting people to stay home (LOL!!) but mostly I’m happy when I see them out enjoying nature and the beauty of our country. I think it makes people want to take better care of what we have.
You would love that paddling trail in Galveston. Maybe next spring?
I loved the video. And I totally agree about laundry on the road. Sometimes I feel like we’re on a tour of laundromats. Well, not really but it sure can make you happy…or not. Looking forward to the next post. Happy travels.
Haha! A tour of laundromats! That and grocery stores. It’s always a new experience. :-)
I’m glad you enjoyed the video, Nancy. We had fun doing it and laughed watching it afterward. Hope you two are having a glorious spring in Ashland!
Never visit Arkansas in the spring, I don’t want anyone else to know about how gorgeous!! Your interview was great, Tom is a good interviewer, good questions.
The minute we decided to full-time, I hate to admit, getting a haircut was a big concern. I have had a precision cut bob of some type or another with bangs forever. Hair cuts are traumatic without the right stylist and I cannot even trim my own bangs. So, our real estate agent had this easy hairdo, I copied her. I let it all grow out, have a side part and it’s all about an inch below my ears. It’s astonishing, I went from every 6 weeks to 4 months without a haircut!! And the money I’m saving even more astonishing. Don’t even have to wash it every day. I think I look better with some bangs but anyway. Helps me with this life style, more fun than I ever thought possible.
Right now, I am researching Chicago with the help of your blog, thanks to both of you for all your hard work and photos.
Nancy, I know exactly what you mean about haircuts on the road. I used to get my hair cut every month at home. Since we started full timing I’ve let it grow out to try to make it simpler, but I still haven’t quite figured it out. Every haircut is a surprise, LOL!!
I’m so glad our blog is helpful for you. It’s kind of you to let me know that, and it inspires me to keep writing. We really enjoyed our trip to Chicago. It’s a fun city!
You definitely have me intrigued about Arkansas. :-)
So sad to know of the destruction after Hurricane Harvey. Sadly this seems to be the new norm. At least the cranes did not suffer from the storms. It seems you two have hit the big time – video stars. Loved the video and, of course, always love your writing and photos!
Thanks, LuAnn. I’m so glad to hear from you and happy to know that you’re continuing to accompany us in our adventures. I don’t think we have a future in video, though, LOL!
On a more serious note, as you said, I can’t help but wonder if severe weather is the new norm. :-(