From League City, we headed southwest along the Gulf to Rockport, Texas. Wintering there were more Schip rescuers, Judy and Peter Landerman with their six – count ‘em – six Schippies. Judy and Peter have been full-timers since 2004. We first met them at one of Hope Johnson’s wonderful SchipNics in Lake Anna, Virginia right after they started out. Dot had been corresponding with them at length about our wish to be somewhere other than Gulf Shores for the 2010-11 winter, and they urged us to come to Rockport for a look-see.
Coastal Oaks is a very nice campground. It has about fifty sites, is only a few years old, has concrete pads, a beautiful pool and outdoor hot tub, and provides a lot of camaraderie and social life. But we’d be on a waiting list, and wouldn’t get near the top of that list unless we committed to an extra month. To leave the area with assurance that the next winter was taken care of, we tasked ourselves with finding possible alternatives before the week was up.
Judy and Peter gave us a grand tour of the area on the following day. Rockport is one of the top small art colonies in the country. It is also a mecca for birders. Preserves are maintained, including one right in the middle of the large, award-winning beachfront park. The biggest draw, however, are the whooping cranes, which have seen their rebirth from extinction here. From November through early April, a sightseeing cruise winds its way through the Aransas Bay to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, their winter habitat.
After Dot and the Landermans explored the immediate area, Dot and I reached out a little farther, toward Corpus Christi. We found Sea Breeze in Portland, Texas just north of the city. It was older and a bit rough, but it also felt like home, especially after we spent nearly an hour talking to the owner and manager. We signed on for a site on the hill, but we also asked to be put on the waiting list for a site on the lagoon. Less than 24 hours later, the owner called to tell us that we’d been moved down to the waterfront. Must have made a good impression!
We visited another fascinating venue in Rockport: The Fulton Mansion, built around 1875 by George and Harriet Fulton. An elaborate 3 ½ story Empire manor, it featured gas lighting, running water, flush toilets and a beautiful sunroom in which Harriet plied her favorite horticultural hobby.
On Friday, we bid adieu to Judy, Peter and their herd, sure of a winter snowbird nest.