"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

December 11, 2018

A Day by the Sea

“Vicinity to the sea is desirable, because it is easier to do nothing by the sea than anywhere else.” —E.F. Benson

Our weather in south Texas has been dreary and cold lately, but today we were given the gift of a beautiful day. I guess we appreciate them more when they are harder to come by. We spent the day with our friends John and Janice at their beach house at Indianola. Their house sits on the point, the inlet of Powderhorn Lake on one side and Matagorda Bay on the other. It's a spectacular place to watch dolphins play, try your luck at fishing, birdwatch or just relax. It was a wonderful day...with a breathtaking sunset to finish it off.

December 3, 2018

Dec. 2 - Beautiful Weekend

“May the waves kiss your feet, the sand be your seat and your friends outnumber the stars.” —Author Unknown

The first weekend in December was amazing here in Rockport...lots of sunshine, light winds and amazing temperatures. We enjoyed lots of community activities, visiting with friends at the winery, playing with our little girls and walking on the beach...I wish the weather every day could be this nice. People were out everywhere enjoying this beautiful weekend and the birds seemed to enjoy it just as much. Here are a few pictures of the entertaining pelicans I saw on my beach walk.

November 26, 2018

Nov. 20-22 Winter Visitors

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” —Henry David Thoreau

We had friends from upstate New York come down to Rockport for a visit. Our weather wasn't great but it was quite an improvement over what they left behind. Having company is always fun and it gave us a chance to play tourist for a little while...rediscovering things in our own back yard.
We had descent weather the first day, George and Maryann were with us, so we took advantage of the sun by having lunch over looking Fulton Harbor and taking the ferry over to Port Aransas.

Fulton Harbor...full of shrimp and oyster boats.
One of the ferries that take people over to Port Aransas. We saw lots of dolphins on our way over to the island.
A cold windy day at the beach on Mustang Island.
From Port Aransas we drove down the island and back to Rockport through Corpus Christi (The Beach Loop). Corpus Christi Bay and the waterfront are beautiful.
Catching up on the back deck of Texas Pearl
The second day we visited Fulton Mansion. It was built in 1877, by an East Coast entrepreneur named George W. Fulton and his wife Harriet. They made their fortune shipping cattle tallow and hides between Rockport and New Orleans. The Fultons named their home Oakhurst for the majestic windswept oaks that surrounded the property. The historical significance of the house lies in its noteworthy architectural style, unique construction methods and advanced mechanical systems, which featured gas lighting, central heating and indoor plumbing with hot and cold running water. All systems that were not typically found in homes in this region at that time. It was the showplace of the town that was named for them.

Through the years the mansion passed through a succession of owners. It was a private residence, a restaurant, a backdrop for a trailer park and a recreation center. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department took ownership in 1976 and returned the mansion to its original grandeur and opened it to the public in 1982. In 2008, the mansion became the property of the Texas Historical Commission. 

This is the back of the mansion over looking Aransas Bay. The oak trees still look a little gnarly from the hurricane.
Learning about the Fultons in the visitor center.
The mansion has withstood several devastating hurricanes in it's time, the latest was Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Structurally the house was not damaged, but water blow in through the chimney flooding part of the home. We were able to tour the house, but the rooms were not decorated. These pictures show how the house looked before the storm...and hopefully how it will look again soon.
The view from Harriet's bedroom on the second floor.
Our next stop was Goose Island State Park to visit The Big Tree. Although The Big Tree at the park is no longer the largest live oak in Texas it's still one of the largest in Texas and in the nation. A 1000 years of weather has taken its toll on the tree, but it still stands tall stretching out it's huge limbs to welcome visitors and inspiring them to imagine all the history and people it has seen. The tree took a real beating from Hurricane Harvey and is slowly putting on new limbs and leaves...and one day for future generations it will look regal again.

Maryann and George at The Big Tree
Facts about The Big Tree (click to enlarge)
We spent the third day enjoying Thanksgiving with our son and his family. The girls loved seeing pictures and videos of Maryann's horses.
Maryann taught the girls different steps they teach their horses. They were having a great time.

October 22, 2018

Clearing Customs with CBP ROAM App

“Go, fly, roam, travel, voyage, explore, journey, discover, adventure.”
I didn’t take the time to report on the process of our check in when we returned to the U.S. after our visit to the Thousand Islands and Canada. Years ago while we were in Florida we went through the process and interview to acquire our Small Vessel Reporting System numbers. For years this was the quickest process for return to the U.S. from a foreign port, but the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has made it even easier now with their new CBP ROAM (Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile) app. As soon as we anchored in U.S. waters and had data on our phones, I reported our return through the app...no need to go ashore and no inspection. If you're docking at a marina, you can either use the app on your phone or check in via one of the CBP computers located at the marina. I believe most phones have been removed and there are now signs telling boaters to use the ROAM app.

The app is free and can be downloaded on iOS or Android. Follow the prompts to set it up your account. You’ll need your login.gov credentials or you can make a new account (a free login.gov account is required). 
Once you’re in the app, input the information for your boat under “Modes of Travel” 
and the info for the people who are traveling with you under “Travelers”. The app can scan a passport or NEXUS card and populate the appropriate fields automatically. You’ll also be required to upload a picture of your travel document. 
The process of putting in our info took a little time, so I suggest you download the app and fill out the info before you leave.
When you’ve crossed the border into the U.S. click on “Report Arrival”...don’t try to report early, the app makes use of your smartphone’s GPS. Select the boat, select the passengers and answer a few questions. You’ll either be approved for entry and notified by email/text/push notification or a CBP officer will request to begin a video chat. Our data was a little spotty when we checked in and I didn't notice till later that they had tried to do a video chat...not a problem, they sent me an email approving our arrival. From reports that I've read, if they do a video chat they can see you, but you can not see them and they may ask to look around your vessel. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted entrance solely from the app, they may direct you to a designated Port of Entry for an inspection. The app worked great for us and made our check in process quick and painless.

October 18, 2018

Summer's Over

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” –William Cullent Bryant
Our last three days on Cayuga Lake were beautiful...the last warm days of Indian Summer. On Tuesday (10/9) Stan had a perfect day to move The Pearl up the lake to her winter home and he enjoyed the time on the water. While he moved the boat, I moved our car, stopping at two of my favorite parks along the lake and doing a little shopping in Aurora. Our relaxing day turn to a busy evening as we started winterizing the boat and packing the car.
On Wednesday morning (10/10) we winterized the water system, the engine and toilets and we were the first boat of the day to be hauled. Once the yard had her blocked we finished closing up the boat and headed south to Pennsylvania to spend a little time with our family. After a wonderful visit with our PA grands we arrived back in Texas just in time for the first cold front of the season.

Up she goes
The Pearl in her winter home. Soon she will be shrink wrapped and her waiting will began...for the warmth of spring to return.
Signs of fall...beautiful sights, but a sign that the boating season in New York is over for the year.
Pumpkin fields close to Bloomsburg...pumpkins as far as the eye can see 
Looks like we got out of Ithaca just in time!
This picture was sent to me this morning from a friend of mine that lives in Ithaca...😬