It has been a stressful few months so we decided to take a trip to the beach. In these times, flying just adds to the stress level so we decided to drive down to Corpus Christi. The quickest way to Corpus is I-35 and then I-37 after San Antonio…crowded and again stressful. So we got on Mapquest and told it to avoid highways and found a . cool route from Austin, TX to Corpus Christi, TX that used Hwy 183 and then Hwy 77. I only knew Hwy 183 in Austin–crowded and dangerous. I learned it actually starts in South Dakota and ends in Refugio, Texas (and was the last US Highway to be paved). South of Austin it goes through beautiful rolling country, some of the best barbecue in Texas, and then Highway 77 takes you to the missions at Goliad.
The town of Lockhart is famous for it’s barbecue. Over 250,000 people per year visit Lockhart just to eat barbecue. There are four BBQ restaraunts in Lockhart: Blacks, Chisolm Trail, Kreuz (pronounced “Kreitz”), and Smittys. This time we decided to try Blacks–the oldest bbq restaraunt in Texas. Blacks is also famous for serving bbq in Washington during the Johnson administration. Unlike Kreuz, you get served on plates with utensils, and have lots of sides available. They will also serve BBQ sauce (Kreuz’s position is that good BBQ doesn’t need sauce. The brisket was tender and had a beautiful smoke ring, the sides were decent and frankly i didn’t use much sauce.
I love going to RR Express baseball games and my friend JJ (who worked for the Express and now works for the CC Hooks) got me tickets for a night game at Whataburger Field. Cool field, right on the water, set up high so the wind definitely has an effect on play. Reminded me a lot of the Express stadium (except they serve Whataburgers). We had great seats–front row on the first base line. Have to pay attention as the balls whiz by. They were playing the Frisco Roughriders. Sadly the Hooks lost.
We had breakfast every morning at the City Diner in Corpus–a 50′s themed diner. Why? Simple…they actually were nice enough to accomodate our requests to make breakfasts a bit healthy (egg whites and minimal butter). They did so cheerfully. Good food, great attitude thus more business and better tips. I wish some Austin restaraunts would accomodate requests to make breakfast healthier that easily.
The beach…the best stress relief on the planet. Sun, Sand, Surf. The roar of the waves. When in Corpus we head over to the Padre Island National Seashore. North Padre Island is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world–70 miles long with 65 miles of beach. The Kemp Ridley Sea Turtles return to Padre Island to lay their eggs. They are highly endangered species. In 2005 only 28 were found. In the summer you can witness the release of newborn turtles.
Dinner at Snoopy’s. Snoopy’s is a waterfront pier under the bridge to North Padre Island. Great place for kids (USA Today rated it as the best beachfront restaraunt for kids in the country). You can sit on the waterfront watch the boats, birds and fish. They even have an ice cream parlor right next door. Snoopy’s is famous for its fried fish and chips with vinegar. As good as those I had in London. I have to confess I didn’t order them this time (that eating healthy thing) ordered grilled Mahi Mahi…but i had to sneak a bite of my wife’s plate. Normally not a big fish and chips fan but every now and then…
The Texas State Aquarium is also in Corpus. Great place to take the kids, they have a great dolphin viewing tank, an alligator pond, birds of prey (owls when we were there), river otters, sea horses, and jellyfish. There were groups of school kids visiting and it was fun to watch them squeal and shout over the various exhibits. Make sure you go to the observation deck on the third floor. It has the best view of the Gulf, Corpus, and Lady Lex.
The U.S.S. Lexington “Lady Lex”, is a World War II aircraft carrier, permanently anchored in Corpus Christi. When you wander around this huge ship you get the feeling you’ve been transported back in time–especially wandering the crew quarters and the various decks. It gives you a true feel of being on an aircraft carrier.
On the way back from Corpus we stopped in Goliad. We’ve already visited the mission in Goliad so we stopped at General Zaragoza’s birth place. General Zaragozi is best known for his victory against the French invading forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th (now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo).
Great trip less than four hours away. Oh yes, if you have time buy some fresh shrimp off one of the boats on the piers. Best souvenir of a trip to the Texas Gulf Coast.