February 5, 2019
It’s been so foggy on the Texas coast it’s really difficult to say how many interesting sights and places we’ve missed on our travels. It has been that way since we left South Padre Island every morning for almost a week. Nonetheless, we forge on.
We left Aransas Pass with the intent of traveling half way to Beaumont, TX. Our destination for today is Brazoria Lakes RV Resort. Tomorrow we’ll move on up to the Beaumont area and spend a couple of nights at the Hidden Lake RV Park. We’ll follow TX35 as far as Alvin, then goes east to Dickenson and on to TX 146. That puts us right back within sight of the Gulf. Eventually we’ll jump onto I-10 and head into the Beaumont area.
Traveling east the first town we come to is Rockport (8700 souls). The town is the seat of Aransas County. It was founded in 1867 by cattle ranchers. Morgan Steamship Line built a wharf in order to transport processed beef. In 1888 the railroad arrived and cattlemen started shipping live cattle by train. The cattle industry declined but tourist industry increased due to railroad. Major industries in and around Rockport are shrimping, fishing and tourism. Hurricane Harvey 2017 created significant damage to this town as well as a bunch of others.
Port Lavaca 12,400 souls seat Calhoun County. An ominous state record of highest wind speed ever recorded in the state was during Hurricane Carla (1961)- 170 mph gusts. Peak storm surge of 2017 Hurricane Harvey was 6′. The city is centrally located between large manufacturing facilities- Alcoa, Formosa Plastics and DuPont. Fishing is also important. This port specializes in shrimp and oysters. A lot of Winter Texans stay in RV parks around here.
We sneak in the back way to Palacios (5100 souls) and down to harbor. Lots of shrimp boats are in the harbor- the industry looks healthy, downtown not so much. Local legend has it that the port was named by shipwrecked Spanish sailors who claimed to see a vision of three palaces on the bay but most likely named after Jose Felix Trespalacios, an early Mexican governor of Texas.
The town center looked deserted with storefronts empty on our first trip through here in 2011………. nothing has changed.
Sometimes we overlook the fact that every one of these coastal towns have been hit hard by hurricanes. Every one that we’ve passed through on this trip had severe damage by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, for example. To my knowledge not one of them made the national news except Houston.
Texas Highway 35 takes us due north away from the coast. We skirt Blessing and continue on. Blessing Texas (861 souls) had its start when the railroad finally was extended to that point, and first settlers accepted the name “Blessing” after their first choice of “Thank God” was deemed unsuitable by postal officials. What a great name for a town!
Bay City is a sizable town at over 18,000 folks. It’s home to the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center along the Colorado River of Texas. This place appears to be very popular with the Winter Texans as there are a lot of RV Parks here. Kayaking, fishing and bird watching are popular activities.
Brazoria (3100 souls) was founded by Steven Austin in 1828 and subsequently deeded to John Austin and John Austin laid out the town. Town’s name was selected by John “for the single reason that I know of none like it in the world”. The town was nearly deserted between 1836 and 1837 during the Runaway Scrape when the evacuations by Texas residents fled the Mexican Army of Operations during the Texas Revolution. Most everyone has heard of the Battle of the Alamo, however the decisive Battle of San Jacinto ended the war and Texas became and independent nation.
Like many towns it had its decline when the railroad favored Angleton in 1897 but the discovery of oil and sulfur in 1939 in conjunction with the construction of a bridge over the Brazos River helped restore the town’s fortunes. We stayed overnight at the very nice and popular Brazoria Lakes RV Resort.
Tuesday morning we are greeted with more fog. Geez! We took a different route back to TX35. Angleton (18,800 souls) is the seat of Barozoria County which was assumed from the town of Brazoria in 1896 when it declined.
We turn east in Alvin (24,200 souls). Alvin’s claim to fame is Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan was raised and lived there until he moved to Round Rock in 2003. Another notable is home town boy Gene Kranz, former NASA director during the Gemini and Apollo programs A historic weather event took place here in 1979 when Tropical Storm Claudette stalled over the region and dumped 43 inches of rain in 24 hours, the max 24 hour rainfall in American history.
FM 517 will take us to TX146 and north where we parallel the western shore of Trinity Bay. We pass through towns with names of Bacliff, Kemah, Seabrook and Baytown, finally reaching Interstate 10 where it feels like we are being attacked by hordes of big rigs! Honestly, we probably travel 10 mph slower than the truckers so they all pass us. Whoosh, Whoosh as the go by.
About 40 miles west of Beaumont we pull into one of the most unique rest areas in memory. The core buildings are hovering over a wetland, built on pilings, parking is on either side of them. They are all connected with walks, also raised above the wetland. Signs describe the flora and fauna that inhabit this area. It’s rather beautiful and definitely unique.
About 8 miles short of Beaumont (119,000 souls) we pull into Hidden Lakes RV Park. The management here is still recovering from Harvey but they’ve done a pretty good job of cleaning the joint up!
More on Beaumont next time.