When you are looking at a map of Texas, one might imagine that Corpus Christi is about as far east as you can go, but there is actually a thin strip of sand, about a mile wide and about a hundred miles long stretching down the coast. About 20 miles of this sand at the north end is Mustang Island. The rest is Parde Island. Having visiting many of the metropolitan cities in the south, I felt it was time for a less cluttered week. Something with sun and ocean and relaxation, where I could catch up on some of my writings and just take it easy. Port Aransas at the north tip was the place. It was first named Port Sand in 1833, then Port Aranzazu. Mustang Island was finally fortified during the Mexican War of 1846. These fortifications lasted until well after the Civil War. It continued to build as a shipping port and entrance to Aransas Bay. The Island was completely wiped out in a storm in 1875. It was rebuilt as Ropesville in 1890 and then changed it name to Tarpon because of the large numbers of the fish being caught in the surrounding waters. It had a population of 250 when the citizens began calling their town Port Aransas around 1910. In 1919 the great storm that wiped out Galveston (see our web-page) leveled all building on this island save three. Port Aransas is now a tourist and fishing village A few shops and restaurants, one road straight down the middle of the island and for the alternate route, you can drive on the beach. The widest part of Mustang Island is the very north end at Port Aransas. This area is marsh and brackish water in the middle surrounded by sand dunes and the Gulf Getting there with a 5th wheel can be an adventure. The direct route is on US 361 to state route 22. The interesting part is that the road doesn't go all the way. A 1/4 mile of it is missing and a ferry is required to complete the trip. Port Aransas is one of the most noted areas for bird watching, boasting of hundred of species both native and migrating. One of Port Aransas’ most enduring quality is that it is the winter home of the almost extinct whooping crane. Once numbering only a total of 15 birds in the early 1900eds, they are now undergoing one of the most extensive breeding programs designed. The last week of February is set aside to honor the bird with the Birding Festival. A week of bird watching, trips to see the recently arriving whooping cranes who have flown down from northern Canada in about 20 days. We walked out onto a board walk into the center marshes to see egrets, pelicans and cranes. There were easily over 50 varieties of water fowl within a stones throw of us. All under the watchful eye of the resident alligators who were apparently oblivious to their human observers. One of the ‘gators was called “Boots” the other “Belts”. Hmmmmm. We visited the University of Texas’ Marine Science Institute. A training and research facility in Port Aransas. This institute conducts research throughout the year in disciplines including ecology, physiology, microbiology, marine chemistry, organic geochemistry and many other areas. There is a theater in which we watched a National Geographic presentation of the flight of the whooping crane from Port Aransas to Canada. Around the theater were many aquariums representing the ecosystem of the Gulf. A second building houses many educational displays that relate to the surrounding area.
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