Traveling with family can be tricky, so our motto is that if something works one year, it should be repeated the next year. Last spring we had such a nice visit with our son Mike and his family that we decided to do the same thing,a beach vacation,on the Texas Gulf Coast. This part of the country is pretty new to us, as Minnesotans, and I can tell we're going to need to spend more time here. The birds are just incredible. In the first day alone I saw a beautiful rust-colored egret, a white ibis (much larger than I'd expected), and a stork. A stork! Imagine, I've heard of them all my life and had never seen one until now.
Mike and Norah flew into Corpus Christi from Denver, and they couldn't stop gasping over how sunny and warm it was. I helped them get the grandkids, Callie and Alex, into shorts and jumpers, and we all set out to have some fun. You could just see the stress and tension falling off of Mike and Norah as they sat sipping iced tea outside our RV, watching the kids. Steve and I were full of plans for things to go and do, but those two just wanted to sit still and not move! I guess after running from work to home and back again for months on end, they could use a break. And that, I'm proud to say, is exactly what grandparents are for.
To start things off right, we took the grandkids to the Texas State Aquarium, so Callie could see the turtles and dolphins. Alex just shrieked with joy at the Living Shores touch pool. For a minute I thought we'd never get him to leave! But Callie drew him away with her chatter about the otters and seals that were yet to come. Next we went to Bob Hall pier for ice cream cones and to look at the water. The kids loved watching the people fishing from the end of the pier, pulling in everything from tarpon and trout to mackerel and a gigantic kingfish.
The next day, we sent Mike and Norah to take a lover's stroll through the Botanical Gardens and Nature Center while we took the little ones to the Hans A. Suter Wildlife Park where they could see the ducks and pelicans. We trotted around all the trails, then stopped off for a tour of the Ships of Christopher Columbus, full-sized replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. You should have seen Callie's eyes pop when they hoisted an enormous white sail right over her head!
It gives Sally a lot of comfort to be able to take care of the grandkids, to give Mike and Norah a “break,” as she likes to put it. But after a few days of leaving them on their own, I could tell Mike and Norah felt rested enough and were anxious to spend some vacation time with their kids. So I proposed we all head to the Oysterfest festival in Fulton, Texas, which is just north of Rockport and Port Aransas. That's the beauty of an RV, as I explained to Mike. You can pick up at a moment's notice and change your base of operations.
Oysterfest was perfect, it had rides for Callie, plenty of great food, and an oyster-eating contest that Sally whole-heartedly took part in. Mike and I had a contest over the dart-throwing game, and in the end we both wound up winning a stuffed animal for the kids. Sally said we were ridiculous, but I couldn't help noticing the way she grinned when she said it.
Norah, our daughter-in-law, used to do some serious sailing off Nantucket where she grew up, so we decided to charter a small sailboat in Rockport so we could cruise north into San Antonio Bay. With Norah as our skipper, we had a terrific time. The weather was perfect, the wind ideal, and before long we were sailing alongside Matagorda Island, a 56,000-acre state park and wildlife refuge. We dropped anchor near the Matagorda Island Lighthouse and rowed ashore for a picnic lunch, watching the kids run around the lighthouse grounds. The scenery was unbelievable, and Sally got to see one of her prized whooping cranes. That's one more item off her Life List!