A Fun Thanksgiving Vacation In Port Aransas
For the last few years we've gathered family and friends, beer, bikes, games, and beach toys and a couple big turkeys and headed to Port A (aka Port Aransas) for Thanksgiving week. What keeps dragging us back to Port A you might ask - it's because Port Aransas is a small friendly beach town with a population of only 3400, it has 25 bars (the sign says it all!), and over 700 beachfront rentals.
Plus the locals are friendly and outgoing, the fishing is great in the bays or off the pier or beach, there is lots to do ranging from an excellent golf course to a cruise on a pirate ship, the mode of transportation is a golf cart or bikes, the beach is perfect for sand castles to kite flying, the weather is usually warm, and there are several good restaurants and some really fun nightlife. Hard to beat all that. Port A is my kind of town - "a quaint little drinking town with a fishing problem."
This year we got an early start on our Port A vacation with a two day stay on Son's Island on Lake Placid in Seguin. When we drove across the wooden bridge to the three acre island with 4000' of lakefront, we thought we had arrived at a tropical paradise - in the middle of Texas! Thatched tiki cabanas overlooking the lake, large hammocks and palm trees swaying in the breeze. If you want to learn more, read our article on a stay at Son's Island.
We hated to leave a tropical paradise but we were looking forward to Port A and a week of games, suds, good food, and lots of laughs. As usual our first stop was the local bar (Fins) for lunch and drinks overlooking the marina before we headed to our rental house. We rented a 6 bedroom home close to the beach to handle our group of 10 adults and 9 kids! The house was perfect - a huge living room and dining room with a table that sat 10, a small pool in the large back yard, and a driveway large enough for 5 cars. And enough room to park our rental golf cart - the best way to get around the island.
A few minutes after filling the house with groceries, booze, games, and food we set off for the beach where the "Hams" had challenged the "Turkeys" to a game of football. For the next hour the air was full of laughing, name calling, protests to the referee, some pats on the backs, some accusations of cheating, and several cheers when a good play was made. We finally called the game at 36 to 36 but only because we had run out of beer!
Within minutes we were at Stingrays for apps, drinks, pool, and some tasty food. Then back to the house for several rounds of games - LCR, Heads Up, and a couple others I can't remember.
After a big breakfast the Hams challenged the Turkeys to a very competitive game of kickball - more laughs, protests, pats on the back, a few swear words, and what looked like it might be a broken toe! Kickball was followed by lunch at Port A's newest restaurant - MacDaddy's - with very good BBQ and craft beer.
While some of us took a nap, others played football, swam, watched football, and played games (we had washers, bocce ball, and ladder golf) while the ladies spent hours working on all the fixings for a huge and delicious dinner of honey baked ham, two fried turkeys, bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, and more which was followed by pie and ice cream - I'm still trying to get rid of the extra pounds.
Even stuffed as we all were, we were still able to play a rousing game of "blow the ping pong ball." A funny and fun game where everyone gets around the table on their knees, marks the section of the table they need to guard, put their chin on the table and prepares to blow the ping pong ball away from their area and into someone else's area. For several hours the ball was blown back and forth across the table, eliminating people as the ball rolled through their guarded area. The next morning my knees hurt, my chin was red, my cheeks were sore from huffing and puffing and trying to send that ping pong ball back across the table, and my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.
It's tradition that after a huge Thanksgiving meal, the next day we go for a long bike ride and this year was no exception. We typically ride around the marina and inland waterway, look for dolphins leading the huge cargo ships, try to avoid running over fishing poles and fishermen fishing along the bay, and then try to not fall off the bird boardwalk and into the wetlands on a ride at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. I'm not sure that we are supposed to be riding bikes on this narrow raised boardwalk that extends out into the cattails and wetlands for a close-up encounter with birds, alligators, fish and more but it sure is fun. As typical of our rides a couple kids bit the dust and ended up with some bloody knees but to my surprise for the first time in years none of us rode off the edge and into the water.
Normally on Friday night after our bike ride we hit some of the local bars to socialize with the locals, catch some tunes, dance around the floor, or just people watch at some of our favorite bars - Bernie's, Shorties, the Back Porch, or Giggity's - and we always have a blast. Must be getting old because we skipped it this year! However we did play a new game - Mouth guard Challenge. One person inserts a big mouthpiece which won't let them shut their mouth and significantly hinders them from forming and speaking words correctly. They then need to read one of several hundred phrases while the rest of us try to guess what the heck they are trying to say. Hilarious! Not only was the tummy sore from laughing so hard but my cheeks felt like they were stretched to the limit!
Saturday is always one of our best days with some combination of beach time, golf at one of the best courses in Texas, bar hopping and frozen margaritas, bike riding or kite flying on the beach, and then finally ending up at the infamous belt sander races at the Gaff Pirate Bar.
What are belt sander races you might ask - good question! Several folks from around Port A have significantly souped up the standard belt sander, added names like "the agitator," "turtle time," "snoop dog," "sandy boy," or team viagras entry which was "go hard or go home."
Some of the sanders, and drivers, are decked out with a variety of things to make them a little unique and funky! As music plays in the background, two belt sanders line up side-by-side to race down a long wooden track and up into a pillow at the end. The locals are out in force, the bets are flying, the cheers roar, the crowd does the wave, pizza and beer are delivered and plentiful, and it's always a good time.
A fitting way to end a fun Thanksgiving in Port Aransas. Can't wait to get back!