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contents

f e a t u re s 14

winter 2010

Cigars, Tampa and History page 39

surfside, texas Voted best beach town on the Gulf Coast! See what all the fuss is about in this sleepy little village.

20

beach music Jerry Diaz and Hanna’s Reef cook up a gumbo of Gulf Coast sounds.

44

green restoration project Galveston Historical Foundation restores Ike-damaged, century-old home the green way.

50

florida in the slow lane Apalachicola offers a relaxing respite from busy living. Take a tour with us.

53

fly fishing with the experts Bob Shirley talks kayaks, skiffs and fly fishing.

56

nature tours in south texas South Padre Island is a great jumping off point to explore the wildlife and fauna in this unique part of the Gulf.

63

coastal bend dining guide Find out the scoop on the best eats in the Texas Coastal Bend!

68

beach wedding guide Plan your perfect beach wedding in Galveston or Corpus Christi. Everything you need to know to plan your perfect destination wedding.

Above, Legendary cigar maker Carmela Cammarata Varsalona. We visit with her grandson, Jim Tyre, at his Tampa based Cammarata Cigar Co. to see how he’s preserving this unique craft. Cover, Boat Drinks! The best way to keep warm this winter. ©iStockphoto.com/Paul Johnson

10 publishers’ letter... To BP, with love 17 contest winner... Buffett tickets won by Fairhope, AL woman 18 parrothead convention... Key West hosts Meeting of the Minds 34 coastal concoctions... Boat Drink recipes from Parrotheads 36 coastal music... recording studio and theater in Port Aransas 38 mustang island gallery... Port A’s Art Center for the Islands

Margaritaville found in TX! page 22

47 galveston artists... a rebirth in old downtown

GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 11


Postcard from Paradise Eleven people were killed on April 20 when the BP well blew out. The rig burned, then sank on April 22, causing the worst oil spill ever witnessed. The choking stench of spilled oil reached Southeast Louisiana days before the brown clumps of goo began washing ashore on April 30. Workers found it hard to breath, even on a boat in open water. This area is one of the most important bird habitats in the world. We featured these habitats in our Spring 2010 article on America’s WETLAND Birding Trail. The first patch of oil to reach the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama was detected on Friday, June 11th. A day later, it washed ashore at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi. Both of these reserves were also featured in our Spring 2010 issue. The damage to these national wildlife treasures will last for years. So will the damage to the people along the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coasts who depend on the warm waters of the Gulf for their livelihood. We’re no different. Magazines depend on advertising dollars. When there’s no business because oil is washing ashore, businesses don’t have the money to advertise. So we at Gulfscapes sat, like most other businesses along the Gulf, glued to the TV and the internet for much of May, June and July, wondering where the next patch would hit. Wondering what ill-conceived attempt to stop the flood of oil would fail next. And wondering how we’d survive. We watched strong, independent fishing guides in Louisiana cry as they explained how their business, their livelihood, their way of life had been taken away through no fault of their own. They had been through Katrina and Rita and knew that help, if any, would come too little and too late. Now that the stream of life-killing oil has been stopped, they, and we, will try to dig out of the hole we were thrown in. We were lucky. We were able to redirect our efforts to Texas and South Florida, places that weren’t directly hit by the spill. But those fishermen, bait-stand owners, hoteliers, restaurateurs and fishing guides didn’t have anywhere else to turn. BP hired a few of them to help clean up, but not enough, and not for enough money, to make up for the lost income. Memorial Day through Labor Day is when they make 80% of their yearly income. BP says they’ll pay them for their lost earnings. But they want proof of their income. Income that in 2009 was down considerably because of the recession, which, again, was brought on by no fault of their own. So businessmen who were hoping for a good 2010 summer to make up for the bad 2009 were not only deprived of making their own money, they were penalized when they applied to BP for compensation because 2009 was so bad. Big corporations have beaten the Gulf Coast down over the last two years. But the Gulf and its people will come back. We’re tough. We’re resilient. We’re determined. We just hope that in 2011, all we’ll have to worry about is hurricanes. Like the good ol’ days. About our Cover When we decided to use our cover to give BP their due for the damage in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, our distributors were aghast. “You’ll offend people! You’ll lose advertisers!” Our next question was, “Do you live on the Gulf Coast?” No, they are in New York and California. “Then you don’t understand,” we told them. “People down here have had their whole environment devastated, their businesses and careers ruined. They are the people who have the right to be offended, not the greed-crazed corporations who caused this whole mess.” Hence, we stuck to our guns. The cover ran as is. For those offended, go away. We don’t like people like you anyway.

­12 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


In Corpus Christi

In Odem

1214 N Chapparral St. US Highway 77 South Corpus Christi, TX Odem, Texas 78380 (361) 883-6200 (361) 368-3200 www.iloverailroadseafood.com


Vol. 10, issuE 33, WintEr 2010

Co-Publishers Craig and ViCtoria Munt rogers 361-548-6804 •

info@gulfsCapes.CoM

EstablishEd in 2001 FoundEr & Editor - Victoria Munt rogers 361-548-6804 • victoria@gulfscapes.coM PhotograPhy Editor - craig rogers 361-548-6804 • craig@gulfscapes.coM salEs - lindsey HougH 361-548-6804 • lindsey@gulfscapes.coM onlinE Editor - info@gulfscapes.coM www.gulfscapes.coM subscriPtion QuEstions: 361-548-6804 subscribe@gulfscapes.coM gulFscaPEs MagazinE c/o subscription p.o. box 863 port aransas, tx 78373 $5.95 singlE issuE coVEr PricE $16.95 for one year (4 issues) $28 for two years (8 issues) $36 for tHree years (12 issues) Mail subscription address cHanges to: gulfscapes, c/o address cHange, p.o. box 863, port aransas, tx 78373 or e-Mail to cHange@gulfscapes.coM vol. 10, issue 33, winter 2010 gulfscapes Magazine is published by craig and victoria Munt rogers, p.o. box 863, port aransas, tx 78373. subscription price is $16.95 for a one year subscription in continental united states. unsolicited manuscripts without return postage will not be returned. postMaster, send address changes to address above. disclaiMer: advertisements in this publication do not constitute an offer for sale in states where prohibited or restricted by law. copyrigHt 2001-10 craig and victoria Munt rogers. no part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publishers. usage fees are available upon request by calling 361-548-6804.

­14 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


Calling all parrotheads

OCTOBER 8-10, 2010 In Port Aransas, TX www.phip.com

Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.

Moby Dick's Restaurant 517 S Alister St, Port Aransas, TX (361) 749-9447

GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 15


contest winners

Facebook contest reveals readers choice

SURFSIDE BEACH,TX Winner of Our First Annual Favorite Gulf Coast Beach Town Contest

W

e asked readers to vote on their favorite Gulf Coast beach town. The winner surprised us. The little village of Surfside Beach, Texas managed to upset its much bigger neighbors and came away with the 2010 title. So how did the small town pull it off? Passion. Pure and simple. The folks who know Surfside Beach, love Surfside Beach, and they voted in droves. To understand the allure of Surfside Beach, you have to understand what it is not. It is not big. It is not crowded. It does not have multi-story condos. It does not have water parks. It does not have a cruise ship port. Heck, it doesn’t even have a McDonalds. And that, to many people, is it’s allure. It is simplicity amid an increasingly complex world an oasis of tranquility. What Surfside Beach offers is a long stretch of sandy beach, cool Gulf waters and a menagerie of coastal wildlife. There are only a handful of motels and a few RV parks. There are, however, lots of beach houses for rent, which is the primary draw for vacationing families. Most of the houses are within walking distance of the beach, which is where most vacationers head during the summer tourist season. Put up an umbrella, drag up an ice chest, and plop down in a lawn chair for an afternoon of swimming, sunning and playing. There are always beautiful and unusual shells along the shore, and you never know what kind of sea critter you’ll stumble across, from hermit crabs to dolphins to sea turtles. It’s the essential beach experience. While beach-going is popular with summer tourists, it isn’t the only attraction in town. Fishing, of course, is huge here. It’s quick to get to the Gulf for big game fishing.There are many fishing guides and charter boats for hire that can help you catch that big trout, redfish, mackerel or cobia. You might even hook up a tuna or a mahi-mahi. Offshore oil rigs are popular fishing destinations because they act as artificial reefs and host many species of gamefish.

For those not nautically inclined, the jetty at the south end of town provides a rock-solid fishing experience. The jetty allows access to the Gulf of Mexico for vessels coming from the Intracoastal Waterway and from the harbor in nearby Freeport. There is also a county park at the jetty, with picnic areas, restrooms, a playground and a walking trail. If you’re up for a different kind of angling adventure, try your hand at crabbing at the Crabbing Pier, located across from Stalman Park. A word to the wise - get a quick lesson from a local on how to handle crabs without getting pinched. It makes crabbing a whole lot more fun! In addition to creating a good fishing environment, the jetty also helps create surfable waves. Surfing is popular here and a couple of surf shops are nearby to help you get up and slashing. The area north of the jetty produces some of the better waves. Due to its location along one of the largest migratory bird trails in North America, birding is huge in this entire region of Texas. There are several national and state nature areas that are home to one of the largest migratory bird populations in the U.S. Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge and Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area (also known as Peach Point) are area preserves that host a bewildering variety of birds such as snow geese, sandhill cranes, roseate spoonbills and blue herons, as well as non-bird species like alligators, raccoons and foxes. Check with the rangers at these Refuges to see about tours. Fall and Spring are the best times for birding. Speaking of birds of a feather, the town flocks together for a few events during the year. Dunes Day is held in January, and it’s a BYOCT event. That’s bring your own Christmas tree. Folks from near and far come with their trees and place them along the beach to help build up the sand dunes. It seems the trees are great at catching and holding blowing sand, which sparks dune build-up, which is important since the dunes are the first line of defense

(Opposite page) Top, left. Welcome to Surfside Beach, TX. Top, right. Fishermen enjoy the jetty at Surfside. Middle, right. Surfside is a place for kids to learn the beach lifestyle. Bottom, Fishing boats docked at the Surfside Marina. It's just a few minutes to the blue waters of the Gulf, where trophy gamefish lurk.

Photos courtesy of the Brazosport CVC. ­16 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


SURFSIDE BEACH Where to go on the Gulf?

contest winners

a little village on the texas shores... against storm waves. Just in case the dunes don’t stop those waves, it would be a good idea to build up your leg muscles so you can run. And you’re in luck because Surfside Beach hosts a full and a half marathon every February, which are run on the beach. For those lucky few of us who are Irish, Surfside throws us a celebration every March on St. Patty’s day. And for those of us who still vote, there’s an Election Day BBQ at the fire station. In August, look for the Jetty Shack Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry held at the jetty park. If you’re looking for something a little more adventuresome, come to Surfside in September for the Pillage on the Village Pirate Festival. Yep, it’s a celebration of all things piratical. And admission is free if you’re wearing pirate gear, so bring your peg leg and your eyepatch. You might even learn a little history about Jean Lafitte and the other pirates who used to ply these waters. The history of Surfside Beach includes not only pirates, but also the original Texas pioneers. Stephen F. Austin, the father of Texas, landed at Surfside in 1821 with the first

UR

American settlers in Texas. Known back then as Fort Velasco, the town figured heavily in the Texas War for Independence. The very first battle between Texian and Mexican forces took place at Fort Velasco in 1832. Four years later, after the Texas army defeated General Santa Ana at the Battle of San Jacinto, Fort Velasco was declared the first capital of the Republic of Texas, and the Treaty of Velasco, which officially ended the war with Mexico, was signed here. During the Civil War, Fort Velasco was a Confederate shipping stronghold, and the subject of Union blockades. Blockade runners, light, fast ships that evaded the larger, slower Union ships, ran cotton and other goods to Mexico. The Surfside City Hall houses the Fort Velasco Museum, where visitors can view artifacts and learn about the Fort’s history. During the Civil War, Fort Velasco was a Confederate shipping stronghold, and the subject of Union blockades. Blockade runners, light, fast ships that evaded the larger, slower Union ships, ran (SURFSIDE continued on page 87)

FSIDE BEACH HOUSE VACATION RENTALS IN TEXAS

Beachfront Homes/Townhouse Rentals in Surfside Beach, Texas

CoTona Del Mar Beach Properties has 3 beautifully appointed vacation beach house rentals in Surfside Beach, Texas.

Surfside was just voted "BEST Gulf Coast Town" ~~ Gulfscapes Magazine

Our properties, Beacon Light, Beautiful View, and Life Is Good are located on the shores of Surfside Beach conveniently located just 45 minutes from Houston and 30 minutes from Galveston Island, Texas.

Mention this ad and get an additional 10% off our "Winter Texan" Rates

The houses are ideally situated on the front row of Surfside beach. All have spacious decks and wonderful views of the ocean, breathtaking sunrises and romantic sunsets. In the current economy, why stay in a Surfside hotel or motel? You will

Call 1 (877)51-SURFSIDE or (979) 871-3058 to reserve your place in the sun!

www.CoronaDelMarSurfside.com ­18 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


contest winners

WWJBD... he’d throw a party!

GULFSCAPES GIVES AWAY JIMMY BUFFETT TICKETS

R

ather than stand back from afar and grieve over the oil spilling onto the shores of his home state, Jimmy Buffett did what he does best . . . he took the minds of 35,000 people away from their worries for a few hours. And in the process, he also helped out thousands of merchants, restaurants, and hotels who’d seen the oil spill dry up what should have been their busiest season of the year. Those 35,000 who attended the show had to sleep and eat somewhere. On July 11, Buffett rolled up his sleeves and went to work. On the pub-

lic beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, he and the Coral Reefer Band were joined by singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester and New Orleans music legend Allen Toussaint for an emotional and rousing concert that was broadcast live on CMT. It was time for a party. Admission was free, but you had to get a (free) ticket in advance, which, of course, was a hot commodity. Gulfscapes was able to score four tickets to the show, and in the giving spirit Mr. Buffett induced, we decided to give them away to a worthy fan. We chose the winner by having a free, online contest. After reviewing several

thousand entries, we chose Sharon George of Fairhope, Alabama. Ms. George and her son got great VIP seats and reported they had a blast. The night before the concert they even ate at Lulu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, which is owned by Mr. Buffett’s sister, Lucy. We were happy to help Sharon see this once in a lifetime show. And we’re grateful to Mr. Buffett for caring enough to do something to help the small businesses, like us, that were adversely affected by BP. Thank you. During a really sad summer, you boosted our spirits.

GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 19


2010 Meeting of the Minds 19th Annual Parrothead Convention 3500 MEMBERS OF PARROTHEAD CLUBS PHLOCK TO KEY WEST

The Meeting of the Minds takes place every November in Key West. Jimmy Buffett fans from around the world convene to pay homage to the ethos of Mr. Buffett and to, as their motto states, “Party With A Purpose.” These passionate fans of Buffett are known affectionately as Parrotheads. They flock together in local clubs there are over 200 Parrothead clubs in the U.S., Australia, Canada and Europe. Once a year, they gather for their annual convention, dubbed Meeting of the Minds, to conduct Parrothead business, regale themselves with tropical flavored music, and to share their love of all things Buffett. As you would expect, there are many fun social activities that accompany MOTM. Many regional trop-rock bands and songwriters attend to put on shows and get to know their many supporters. There’s a street party. An all day beach bash. An all night beach bash. A raffle, a music awards show and sunset boat cruises.. . . there’s enough fun events to get everyone in the proper frame of mind. ­20 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

These are the things you expect from Parrotheads. What you may not expect, and what most don’t know, is that the Parrothead Clubs are not just drinking clubs. Far from it. Each club is required to perform charitable acts throughout the year. From roadside trash pickup to helping stock food banks, these clubs help their communities. It’s not all fun and games, although there are plenty of those also. Hence the motto, “Party With A Purpose.” The MOTM is no exception. During MOTM, there is a two day blood drive and a charity auction. The Parrothead Club’s message is simple: you can be a responsible, civic minded citizen AND have fun. They aren’t mutually exclusive. Having a blast and helping good causes. If that sounds like a good idea to you, maybe you should look into your local Parrothead Club. You don’t even need to be a Buffett fan . . . they’ll be happy to teach you how.


Key West Meeting of the Minds

green waves

Nov. 4-7, 2010

Aerial view of Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau. Opposite page, clockwise from left: The Southernmost House is both a historic inn and a museum in Key West. It was built in 1896 at a cost of $250,000. A $3 million restoration turned it into a 13-room hotel, with a museum on the first floor. Photo by Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau. Visitors in Key West, Fla., ride the Conch Tour Train as it passes in front of Sloppy Joe's Bar, former watering hole of author Ernest Hemingway. Key West is the southernmost city in the continental United States. Photo by Bob Krist/Florida Keys News Bureau. The Southernmost Point marker in Key West. One of the most photographed landmarks in the Florida Keys delineates the area in Key West as the southernmost point in the continental United States. Photo by Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau. An aerial photo of Key West, the Southernmost City in the Continental United States and last of the islands in the Florida Keys island chain connected to the South Florida mainland by the Keys Overseas Highway. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau.


sound waves

Jerry Diaz & Hanna’s Reef– a Texas Beach Band A SOUNDTRACK FOR LIVING ON THE GULF

If asked to describe Jerry Diaz and Hanna’s Reef, the most common response would be “Gulf Coast beach band.” But there are other descriptors. A two hour tropical vacation. Beach party in a box. Beach music by beach people for beach people. You get the idea. The band members are all Gulf Coast born and raised, hailing from that portion of the Lone Star State east of Houston and west of Louisiana known as the Gold Triangle. That geographic area contains several musical styles– Texas roadhouse, blues, zydeco, country, rock and beach. Jerry Diaz and Hannah’s Reef has absorbed all these styles and used them to create their own songs, some that are clearly in one of these genres, and some that are unique combinations that have a genre all their own. From the country tinged “I Dreamed of Jeannie,” to the ­22 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

accordion and scrub-board fueled Cajun number “Let the Good Times Roll,” to the steel drum island rhythms of “Tropical Girl,” the band revels in the musical gumbo of Southeast Texas. The band’s leader, Jerry Diaz, is the lead guitarist and songwriter. He started as the guitarist for the successful regional band Key West in the 1990’s, then transitioned into a solo performer and would occasionally join forces with a group of local musicians who would later come to be known as Hannah’s Reef (The name is from a well known reef in Galveston Bay, near Redfish Island, which we mentioned in our Spring 2010 issue). Originally wanting to be just a lead guitarist, Jerry added songwriter to his arsenal in his late 20’s. “Back then, I had no idea I would end up making CD’s and playing all over the country,” he explained. Jerry still performs a mix-

ture of solo shows and full band gigs. He and the band are wildly popular among the Gulf Coast Parrotheads, those devoted Jimmy Buffett fans that adopt the island attitude and music as an antidote to the mundacity of everyday life. “I was a big fan of Buffett and the calypso sound when I was growing up,” said Jerry. That influence turned out to be beneficial to marketing as well - the band receives regular airplay on Buffett’s Radio Margaritaville which is certainly its target audience. Jerry also cites among his early musical influences traditional Texas acts such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson and David Allan Coe. Later came the Beach Boys, Bob Marley and most recently, Kenny Chesney. These influences have led to the mixture of musical styles heard in the band’s sound. The content in Jerry’s


sound waves Hannah’s Reef Band is: Jerry Diaz, Chuck Willingham, Bud Byram, Mark Mireles and Bobby Summers. Jerry Diaz’s favorite Boat Drink: “It’s got no name. It’s four parts rum, one part Diet Coke.” Uh, don’t you have that backwards Jerry? Isn’t it four parts Diet Coke, one part rum? “No. It could actually be four and a half parts rum.” Ouch. Jerry recommends using Mount Gay Rum from Barbados, Railean Rum from Galveston, or Callwood’s Rum from Cane Garden Bay in the British Virgin Islands. Jerry’s recommendations for Boat Drink bars: On the Gulf Coast - Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, AL. Around the Caribbean Foxy’s in Jost Van Dyke, BVI. Mezcalitos on Cozumel (It’s on the beach on the back side of the island, away from tourists. And electricity. They run the blender with a car battery. Really.) Jerry Diaz and Hanna’s Reef Albums: Reef Madness, 2002, Deja View, 2004 and Home on the Gulf Coast, 2009.

lyrics, however, comes from a different source. “Lyrically, it’s really songs about places we travel. Traveling is my passion, even more so than music,” he recently confessed. “Writing music about the places we get to go to is a large part of the content. The different cultures, the characters. There’s a lot of characters in my songs. Some are actual people, some are fictitious or composites of people. Our music is really like a soundtrack for living on the Gulf Coast, everywhere from Key West to South Padre.” That’s reflected in several of his song titles, like “Rum in Pensacola,” “Gulf Coast Day,” and “Sunday Morning in New Orleans.” Since travel fuels Jerry’s songwriting, he was, at the time of our interview, planning to fill up his tank with a vacation to Jost Van Dyke, a sailing mecca in the British Virgin Islands. “A good friend of mine, Eric Stone, is living down there and plays in bars there pretty much every night of the week,” said Jerry. “We’re going to meet up

with him and probably I’ll play some of the shows that he’s already got booked. When we’re not with him, we’ll probably play some other places. I say ‘we’ because I’m going with a group of about 60 people. They’re all friends and some play. The last time I went we ended up playing several local places. We’re renting 14 sailboats.” 14? “Yep.” That shouldn’t surprise, coming from a man who wrote a song titled “Beer Drinkers and Sail Raisers.” Although the Jost Van Dyke trip is a private one, Jerry has done music themed cruise ship voyages seven or eight times. “I like those cruises. Fans come along and we have several shows on the ship and then play in the ports of call. It’s a lot of fun.” After several years of doing the themed cruises, Jerry and the band are taking this year off, but plan to be back out on the big boats for cruises in 2011. As for the rest of this year, Jerry and Hanna’s Reef will be playing all over the Gulf (DIAZ continued on page 26) GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 23


Margaritaville–

green waves


– Texas Style!

green waves

I

f Jimmy Buffett was a religion, Cindy and Scott Bates would be the high priests. So they’ve created their own little shrine to the Gulf Coast singer/author in their beach house in Port Aransas. Actually, it’s not so much a shrine IN their house, as their house IS a shrine. Complete with photos, memorabilia, books and decorations, they have transformed a cozy little beach house into a tropical explosion. And it works! In his 1978 album “You Had To Be There”, Buffett says Margaritaville is located “anywhere you want it to be.” The Bates took that to heart! There aren’t many people who could take this eclectic mix of furniture and souvenirs and blend it into a great looking interior, but the Bates have pulled it off. You don’t have to wonder what kind of folks the Bates’ are. Just walk in the front door and it’s all there to see. They are in life for the fun of it. It’s evidenced by the palm trees, bamboo Left, The Bates' kitchen has a wall covered with Buffett album covers. Above, Cindy and Lauren Bates. Next Page, Cheeseburger tiles. Really. Top, A shelf just for shot glasses. The decorations on the shelf are all bottle caps. Bottom, the painting on the wall reads, in sign language, "I like mine with lettuce and tomatos, Heinz 57 and french fried potatos, a big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer." Which is the chorus of Buffett's song Cheeseburger in Paradise.


beach cottage

足26 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


beach cottage

GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 27


beach cottage

JERRY DIAZ (DIAZ continued from page 21) Coast, from Key West to Tampa to Fairhope, AL to New Orleans to Beaumont, TX to Galveston to Port Aransas, TX. Getting around that much gives Jerry a lot of exposure to our coastal cities. What are his favorites? “I love them all. Anyplace that’s near the water is great. But I guess there are three places that stand out, probably because they’re pirate towns; Port Aransas, New Orleans and Key West.” What type places does the band prefer? “We like to play in places that are outdoors, kinda open air, more family ­28 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

atmospheres, rather than in smoky bars. We really like playing in more of a casual atmosphere. The good thing is that we’ve noticed over the last few years that a lot more places are offering entertainment, a meal and a bar, where you can go have a good dinner, enjoy a couple of drinks, listen to live music and still get home by ten or eleven o’clock at night. That fits well with us. T-Bone Tom’s in Kemah, Texas is a perfect example. We’ve played there for the last 6 or 7 years. It’s a great place. There’s a huge crowd every time we play there.” Obviously, the patrons at T-Bone Tom’s know good Gulf Coast music when they hear it. Be sure to catch some yourself when Jerry Diaz and Hanna’s Reef dock in your town.


beach cottage

GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 29


beach cottage

足30 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


beach cottage Previous page, Left, Putting a living room this colorful together and making it work is truly a talent. Top, Years of Buffett concerts yields tons of memorabilia. Note the blender helment up top - it's worn to every concert. Middle, A fish Cuckoo clock nests in the living room, while the master bedroom is visible in the background. Bottom, Sleeping in a bamboo bed with thatch dust ruffle . . . the dreams must be fantastic. Opposite page, This corner of the living room is a little piece of Hawaii, complete with palm tree and hula dancer.

beds and even the huge Elvis rug (Buffett sings a couple of songs about The King). They didn’t skimp or compromise when they decided they wanted to make their beach house an expression of their Jimmy Buffett passion. Parrotheads, those loyal Buffett fans who dress up in coconut bras and hula skirts for his concerts, could spend hours looking at the album covers, paintings, photos, old concert posters, books, hats, and Mardi Gras beads on display in the living room. The chorus of the Buffett song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is painted in the kitchen above the sink. Not the words so much, but the images. Quite creative. And in keeping with the kitchen/Cheeseburger theme, the Bates installed raised cheeseburger tiles along the splashboards all around the room. There are literally little cheeseburgers sticking out of the walls. It’s perfect! Not everything is a direct tribute to Buffett. The tropics are also honored. The entry to the home office is through a hula girl bead curtain. Inside is a wonderful Hawaiian painting encased in a spectacular wave-like, curving wood-

en frame. The frame seems to undulate, which is appropriate for the beach-hut scene in the picture. Adjusting the spotlights trained on the painting cause the scene to appear either as a daylight scene (with full lights) or a sunset (with dim lights). The Bates installed dimmers on the spotlights to highlight this effect. It’s a cheap alternative to strolling on an Hawaiian beach. Strolling into the backyard is like walking into a tropical oasis. You are surrounded by tall palm trees (24 in all). A party-size hot tub bubbles. And the sound of a blender beckons from the full sized, thatch-roofed tiki bar. The garage even gets into the act, with its flat roof converted into an observation/tanning platform with a surf board bench. Tropical decorations are scattered around the yard. A large tiki head in the outdoor shower (that holds towels and soap). An old Coca-Cola floor cooler from Mexico (words in Spanish). The colorful painting behind the bar of volcanic beaches, parrots and margaritas. Surrounding the bar painting and covering the walls

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beach cottage beside the tiki bar are signatures of the many guests who’ve dropped in on the Bates over the years. Each signature is preceded by a quotation or saying, many from Buffett songs, to help personalize the visits. How many homeowners encourage you to write on their walls? Pretentious isn’t in the Bates’ vocabulary. In addition to being serial Buffett concert-goers, Scott and Cindy are members of not one, but two Parrothead Clubs. The Clubs are formed to unite Buffett fans for fun and for community and charitable events. Regular meetings are a combination of happy hour and planning sessions for upcoming events, such as beach cleanup patrols, fundraising or food bank collection drives. Parrothead Clubs are fun, but socially conscious, also. Their motto is “Party with a Purpose.” Much like Mr. Buffett himself. As all good parents do, Scott and Cindy have passed along their wisdom to their daughter, Lauren. She’s already a Parrothead concert veteran and uses her artistic talents to fashion custom coconut bras. Each bra contains a different hand-painted phrase or saying. My favorite is “Tequila makes my clothes fall off ”. That was written on the bra that was left behind after a Port Aransas Parrothead Club party. Gotta have one of those for the concerts. The Bates recently hosted the San Antonio and Port Aransas Parrothead Clubs (they belong to each) for a Bloody Mary Breakfast at their beach house, which coincided with the San Top, Every house should have two tiki bars, one inside, one outside. The surrounding wall is signed by visitors; most reference Buffett themes. Middle, The Bates backyard patio. Complete with Motel sign. Bates Motel. Get it? These folks know how to have fun! The golf cart with Margarita wench make the trip to Buffett concerts for the massive pre-concert parking lot parties. They're like football tailgating on steroids. Bottom, Colorful both inside and out.

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beach cottage

足34 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


beach cottage

Above, What tropical getaway would be complete without the obligatory hot tub? There are 24 palms on the Bates' property. Top right, Outdoor shower for those coming back from the beach, complete with tiki god head towel holder. Bottom right, Some are more proud of their Boat Drink recipes than others. Scott Bates’ famous margarita recipe was painted on a patio chair by his daughter Lauren for all to see.

Antonio Club’s annual pilgrimage to Port Aransas for a few days of beach time. There wasn’t a single Parrothead who wasn’t impressed by the Bates’ choice in decor, with several asking if they could move in. Alas, it’s just a small beach house for now. But what about in the future making it a motel with a Buffett theme? Seems the Bates already thought of that - a weathered Motel sign hangs along the stairs leading to the garage roof. What ever could they call it? GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 35


boat drinks

Boat Drinks n the fall, when the weather starts turning cooler, when the cold fronts are pushing through, when we start wearing more clothes, we can either hunker down for a long boring winter or . . . we can extend summer indefinitely. It isn’t hard. It isn’t expensive. All it takes is a blender, some little drink umbrellas and a handful of plastic sword skewers. Yep, I’m talking Boat Drinks! Those brightly colored, fruit laced, alcohol thick reminders of warm days and sunny beaches. How can you not have a blast with a Boat Drink in your hand? You don’t even have to own a boat! Those who do own boats are a varied lot. The boating crowd floats in many different styles; sailboats, powerboats, fishing boats, cruisers . . . even kayaks. But one thing all boat people love is a good boat drink. Something with rum, an umbrella and lots of

I

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fruit and color. Just like there’s no right way to select your style of boat, there’s no right way to make a boat drink. The recipes are as varied as the boaters. Some are complex, others delightfully simple . . . just like people! When we decided to search for the best boat drink recipes, we knew who to contact: Parrotheads! The crazily loyal, boat drink slurping fans of Jimmy Buffett. Buffett’s song “Boat Drinks” is a perennial favorite at his concerts and an inspiration year round. The head Parrothead hails from Pascagoula, Mississippi and grew up in Mobile, so we have our Gulf Coast connection for this story. And what Gulf Coaster doesn’t like a good boat drink? None I know of. So stock up on pineapples and oranges, mangos and coconuts. It’s time to drink tropical!


boat drinks “Lunchbox on the High Seas”

“Goombay Smash”

Take one chilled mug Fill ¾ with ice cold beer of your choice Take a shot glass, fill with Amaretto Drop gently into mug Complete the drink by filling to the brim with Orange juice. Tip the mug and drink it all. By Anne Daugherty, Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association, Oklahoma City

Ice cubes 6 tbsp pineapple juice .25 cup orange juice .25 cup Malibu rum 2 tbsp light rum 2 tbsp gold rum 2 tbsp dark rum 2 pineapple wedges 2 orange slices Fill cocktail shaker with ice; add pineapple juice, orange juice, and all rum. Cover & shake until very cold. Fill 2 short glasses with ice. Strain cocktail mixture over, dividing equally. Garnish with pineapple wedges & orange slices. By Dana Voros Zigler, North Coast Parrot Head Club, Cleveland, Ohio. Dana drank her first Goombay Smash in Nassau, Bahamas at the age of 13, while on vacation with her family. Years later, she discovered the recipe which is now a

“Electric Parrot” 1 – 46 oz. can pineapple juice 8 oz. (1 cup) Parrot Bay coconut rum 8 oz. (1 cup) Blue Curacao liqueur Combine all ingredients in 64 oz. bottle with lid (like the kind cranberry or apple juice come in), chill and shake well before serving. Concert tip: Freeze for several hours or overnight; take out of freezer before heading to the show. By the time for the parking lot party, you should have a cold slushy drink. These freeze and travel very well! By Toni Storey, Las Vegas Parrot Head Club

favorite for backyard summer entertaining. Goombay is the name of a Bahamian style of music and the drum used to play it.

“Bahama Mama”

“Tailgate Tom’s Passionate Margarita”

2 oz Orange juice 2 oz Pineapple juice 1.5 oz Light rum 1 oz Coconut rum  .5 oz Cherry Herring (liquor) .5 oz Vodka .75 oz Grenadine -or-

3 shots Passionfuit Margaritaville Tequila 2 shots Rosa’s lime juice 1 shot Triple Sec Serve over ice. Salted rim of glass optional. By Tom Naughton, Western NY PHC

“Yellow Bird” 3 oz Orange Juice 1.5 oz Pineapple Juice 1 oz Light Rum .75 oz Banana Liquor .75 oz Galliano .5 oz Vodka Mix and enjoy. Both submitted by Peter Bosshard, aka Boatdrink Pete, Metro Parrot Head Club, New York

“Oasis” 1.5 oz Captain Morgan Original spiced rum 1.5 oz Malibu coconut rum 1.5 oz Midori melon liqueur 1.5 oz DeKuyper Island Blue Pucker 1.5 oz sweet and sour mix 1.5 oz 7-Up soda Combine all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice cubes, and serve. By Dana Flowers, Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association, Oklahoma City

“Absolute Stress-Free” One shot each: Absolute Citron/ Malibu Rum/ Peach Schnapps. Pour over ice (or in shaker-for flashy drink making). Add equal parts cranberry & pineapple juice, finish w/ splash of 7-up (white soda). Garnish w/ pineapple chunk or orange slice & cherry. Sip back & relax in that “One Particular Harbor” ! By Annemarie L. Kafka, Pirates in the Harbour Parrothead Club, Sturgeon Bay, WI

Lower Ohio Valley, Evansville, IN. I mixed this up for the Margaritaville St. Festival for Meeting of the Minds in 2005. I came in 3rd place and raised over $3,000.00. Warning! After 3, you’re gonna wanna Phloc something!

“The Roy Holliday” Equal parts in a tumbler: Coconut Rum Pineapple Juice Orange Juice Sprite Shake lightly and pour into tall glass with ice. Garnish with umbrella and a cherry. By Jeff Elder Ocean State Parrot Head Club, Rhode Island

“No Name” Coconut Rum Diet Sprite Lime slice Mix to your satisfaction. By Jim Cozart, Music City Phins, Nashville’s Parrothead Club

“Caribbean Cruise” 1 oz dark rum 1 oz coffee liqueur 2 oz cream of coconut 3 oz pineapple juice 1 oz half and half Can be blended with ice and served over crushed ice and a mix of fruit for garnish.

“Captain’s Berry Daiquiri” 1.25 oz Captain Morgan spiced rum .5 cup strawberries or raspberries 1 tsp lime juice .5 tsp sugar Blend with ice, garnish with berries

“Summer Breeze”

“Calm Voyage”

Fill a tall glass with ice 2-3 oz coconut rum Squirt of fresh lime juice Fill with perrier or other sparkling water By Terry Bolling, Hillbilly Parrothead Club, Tri Cities Tennessee - Bristol, Johnson City, Kingsport

1 oz Bacardi gold rum .25 oz apple brandy 1 oz orange juice Dash of bitters Blend with ice or you can just serve on the rocks. All 3 courtesy of Dan Tremble, Pirates in the Harbour Parrothead Club, Sturgeon Bay, WI.

“Wanna Phloc” 1 oz Margaritaville Mango Tequila 1 oz Margaritaville Coconut Tequila 1 oz Margaritaville Tangerine Tequila 3 oz Cranberry Juice 3 oz Pineapple Juice Serve on the rocks. By Whitney A. Kissel, Parrot Heads of the

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coastal attractions

UPCOMING EVENTS Third Coast Music Studio and Theater October 2 - Michael Hearne and Shake Russell October 23- Six Market Blvd. October 30- Susan Gibson November 26 & 27 - Larry Joe Taylor Ticket Information: 361-749-4294

BEHIND the Music

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Story by Susan Harr

ust eight summers ago, Third Coast Music Studio and Theater opened its doors in Port Aransas, making a name for itself as a music studio and live venue destination for singer/songwriters from Texas and beyond. Founder and owner Jim Urban got the idea to open his own studio after a trip to Austin and its famous Austin City Limits music festival. “It was the first time I’d been in a room where you could really hear the music in a real listening environment with high quality sound,” he said. “You could listen to a songwriter and actually hear the words. I was amazed.” From there, Urban decided to bring that kind of live quality to Port Aransas, and the Third Coast Music Studio and Theater was born. Urban started construction on the small recording studio, located inside his Seashell Village Resort hotel, and soon the little studio just wouldn’t stop growing. It became a combination of one part recording studio, one part cutting room and one part live music venue. It became a place where artists could record both live and session albums. And once word spread about the intimate live performances, the little studio by the sea was making some big waves. Being a coastal town certainly helped. “We attract a bet-

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ter crowd of artists than if we were in a town of our small size elsewhere,” Urban said. Artists flocked to the sea-side retreat, hungry for a taste of the sandy shores, local pubs and eager crowds who were looking for more than a place to party. Third Coast Music studio is located inside the Seashell Village, so staying and playing are both in-house affairs. There are often musicians wandering the halls of the Seashell Village Resort, “hook books” in hand, looking for their next great song. At Third Coast, artists can work in the studio, take a rest in their room, or walk down to the beach in between sessions. Why is that a big deal? “When you’re recording in, say, Austin and staying in a hotel that’s clear across town and you have to fight traffic to get to the studio, then work noon to 2 a.m. and try to make it back to the hotel after drinking some beer, you might not be completely comfortable,” Urban explained. In order for musicians to do their best work, they of course need great equipment, which Third Coast has. But Port Aransas offers more than that, something that big city studios just can’t compete with. Comfort. “Really getting the best performance out of the person requires them to be relaxed, comfortable,” Urban said. That is why music


coastal attractions

(Opposite page) San Antonio native Terri Hendrix cowrote a Grammy-winning instrumental (“Lil’ Jack Slade”) on the Dixie Chicks’ 2002 Home album. She is a frequent visitor to Third Coast Music in Port Aransas. (right) The audience at Third Coast Music’s theater is nearly on top of the stage. That’s almost literally true with the seats in the balcony.

recorded on the Island is different from music recorded elsewhere. “Once a month or more, artists will stay for a week to take a break and get inspiration. It’s a place to gather your thoughts.” Photographs of musicians who’ve played here line the walls of the little theater that seats about a hundred people, the front row only five feet from the stage. “It’s a place where people really hear and see music,” Urban said. While most live music includes dancing and socializing, songwriter performances are different. “It’s a pindrop kind of thing,” Urban said. “The folks really like to see the performance and artists really like to be heard. They are poets in a sense, writing stories in their songs.” The experience at Third Coast is an intimate affair, where listening is key and talking during performances is frowned upon. “The only thing better is listening to music played around a big campfire,” Urban said. That campfire feel comes from the connection between artist and audience, fueled by the storytelling aspect of the musical performance. To Urban, the storytelling is the best part of the show. The artists pause between songs every so often to explain the song’s inspiration. “The stories of how these songs came about are just about as important, if not more important, than the song itself,” Urban said. “It makes you really understand where they come from.” That is a main difference between recorded music and live music, Urban said. “Recorded music is probably more perfect, always in tune, always the best performance, but has far less heart than listening to it live.” And that’s a huge point; to be good, music has got to come from the heart. It’s also true for music venues. Clearly, Jim Urban and Third Coast have plenty of heart.

SOME of JIM URBAN’s FAVORITE PERFORMANCES... -Larry Joe Taylor and Davin James do a show that’s about half musical show and half comedy. “They have such a great show together,” Urban said. “It’s not just hearing the song but hearing how the song came about that makes it special. I’ve lived some of those experiences; they even mentioned my name.”

at two years-old. He has written songs for Crystal Gayle and Reba McEntire. He was sitting at his piano with writer’s block one day when he started flipping through a book that belonged to his father. An obituary of his father fell out, and he began to read. His father had been an historian for Eisenhower, a preacher, an explorer. He was in awe of this man who had accomplished so much. This great man became “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” later made famous by Reba

-Richard Leigh performed a song called “The

McEntire. “It’s one of those songs that

Greatest Man I Never Knew,” and his story

chokes you up, no matter who you are,”

was very compelling. Richard was orphaned

Urban said.

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art scene

COMMUNITY GALLERY

The Art Center for the Islands

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tarted in 1995 as a collaborative effort between 14 individuals from Port Aransas and North Padre Island, the Art Center for the Islands has seen an exponential growth in the last 15 years. Now boasting more than 200 artists/members from all over the Coastal Bend, the Art Center has no plans of slowing down. “I feel it is very important to the community of Port Aransas and the surrounding coastal bend area to help raise awareness of the value of art and art education in everyday life,” Mary Rose, Executive Director of Art Center for the Islands said. With classes and workshops, exciting new exhibits and events, the Art Center has done just that. More than a

Art events in Port Aransas, TX for Oct. 1, the Fiber Arts, Wood & Jewelry show. 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Oct. 16, the 4th Annual Port A Art About. Around a dozen Galleries, Artist Studios, & Design Shops will be open with artists and refreshments from 4-7 p.m.; Oct. 16, the Port Aransas Centennial Celebration. Picnic in the morning, followed by the the Old Town Festival, includes a historical marker tour, and talks about Port A’s history.

gallery, it is a cornerstone in the island community, a community that appreciates the unique quality of island art. And island art is different from the art anywhere else, according to Rose. “We live in a paradise with so much beauty that we experience every day,” Rose said. “Artists capture that in all mediums and the wonderful folks who come here can take a piece of that home with them,” she said. Art is not just important to islanders, but to the world, in general. It serves many purposes, Rose said. “It makes us think, it makes us smile or relax. Art can be our memories, hopes, dreams, and promises and reminds us to be grateful for all the wonderful talent and creativity that exists in human beings

of every age and nationality.” Rose sees the evolution of the art scene of Port Aransas reflected on a local and global level in the next few years. Locally, she sees more individual artist’s studios opening their doors to the public, more galleries and co-ops. Globally, art sales are breaking records left and right. Art is something people gravitate toward, despite the economy, she said. “What will probably surprise some folks is that in the last couple of years when times in the whole country have been tough, there are more artists putting their art out there in our area than ever before,” Rose said. “Whether it’s a small, simple or exquisite painting, or a ten foot tall sculpture, or anything in between-we need art now more than ever, it feeds our souls.”

Other Art Hot Spots around Town: Felder Gallery, Mustang Island Art Gallery, Port A Gallery, Potters on Cotter, Susan Castor Collection, and the Port Aransas Museum.

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Jim Tyre, Cammarata Cigar Company Master Cigar Blender Urban Centre Tobacco and News 4830 W. Kennedy Blvd., suite 180 Tampa, FL 33609, 813.287.2654

Cammarata Cigar Company

THE ART OF CIGARS

“Other people’s grandma’s would come home from work smelling like perfume. Mine came home smelling like tobacco,” recalls Jim Tyre. That’s because Jim’s grandmother was a cigar roller, who began working at Tampa’s legendary cigar factories at age 13. Although she was known to Jim only as NaNa, her proper name was beautifully, melodically Italian . . . Carmela Cammarata Varsalona. The daughter of Italian immigrants, Carmela was born in Tampa. Her parents arranged for her first job, in 1920, at Bustillo Cigars. She continued in the cigar business until she passed in 2000, at age 93. During her cigar rolling career, she saw the tail-end of the great Tampa cigar boom, which lasted from the late 1800’s until the Great Depression in the 1930’s. During the boom, Tampa was known as the Cigar Capital of the World, with numerous large factories in Ybor City and West Tampa that hired hundreds of workers each and produced half a billion hand rolled cigars a year. Tampa was synonymous with cigars. But between the Depression, the rise in popularity of cigarettes, and the invention of cigar rolling machines, the hand rolled cigar industry in Tampa declined. Carmela continued in the industry, but sometimes on a part time basis

only. She usually started at 5 or 6 a.m. and worked until 2 p.m. She was paid not NaNa's bundle by the hour, but by how many cigars she stand, where the rolled, a standard industry practice. She finished cigars told Jim she preferred rolling curly head are stacked, cigars, which have a little twist at the then wrapped inhaling end, because they were quicker in a bundle. to make so she could earn more in a day. In the 1980’s Carmela was rolling cigars in the display window of Jim’s uncle’s shop in the Tampa Airport, just outside the Marriott. Jim would help out on occasion and recalls seeing Carmela in the storefront window as deplaning passengers stopped to watch. When you deplane in Jamaica, you’re greeted by a reggae band. In Hawaii, by locals handing out lei’s. In Tampa in the ’80’s, you were greeted by Carmela hand rolling a cigar. Fitting for a town that owes its early growth to the cigar industry. By the early 1990’s, the hand rolled cigar industry was experiencing a rebirth. Cigar Aficionado Magazine had top Hollywood celebrities on the cover. Prices skyrocketed as demand increased. A few years before the rebirth, Jim had opened his own shop, Urban Centre Tobacco and News, at GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 41


green waves

Top, Carmela Cammarata Varsalona a Tampa cigar maker. Jim leaves a glass of cognac in a humidor to add flavor. Bottom right to left, Jim Tyre displays his hand rolled cigars in his shop, Urban Centre Tobacco and News. The wrapper is stretched flat as Jim rolls the cigar. A bundle of tobacco leaves waits on the wrapping block next the chaveta and molds. The rough ends of the binder-wrapped filler tobacco hang out of the mold where they’ll later be trimmed off.


local history Kennedy Boulevard and Westshore, in the same building as the swanky InterContinental Tampa Hotel. NaNa rolled cigars at a table in front of the full length glass windows, where passers-by would stop and gaze in wonder at her graceful hands. One of Jim’s best customers came in one day and asked if Carmela would come and put on a cigar rolling demonstration at a society party. Jim, sensing a good marketing opportunity, accepted on Carmela’s behalf. Only one problem. When Jim told Carmela about it, she wasn’t sold on the idea. Until Jim told her she’d get free food and a glass of wine. Her performing debut was a rousing success. Before long, Carmela was in demand for parties and other occasions. Jim would bring her equipment and set her up and away she’d go, rolling with the urgency she’d known since childhood, when pay was based on speed. Jim would tell her to slow down, but it just wasn’t her nature. “She could be very stubborn,” said Jim. “When she made up her mind, you couldn’t change it. But that was just her. She did what she wanted.” Jim tried to change her mind one day when she decided she didn’t want to give a demonstration for a well-to-do patron’s party, even though she’d agreed to it weeks before. “She just decided she didn’t want to go,” Jim recalled. “I was finally able to convince her, but it was a close call. After that, I decided I better learn to roll in case one day I couldn’t change her mind.” “I had always loved cigars. As a kid, I’d take them out of the box and look at their beautiful wrappers. But I never learned how to roll,” confessed Jim. So he began, for the first time, to pay attention to how NaNa worked. It paid off. As the cigar rebirth continued, requests came in from New York and Washington, D.C. for Carmela to put on displays of cigar rolling. One problem. NaNa couldn’t fly. “It made her sick. There was no point of even trying,” said Jim, “everyone would have been disappointed, because she’d have been unable to even get out of bed once she’d arrived. It made her miserable.” But Jim didn’t mind flying. And so began his rolling demonstration days. Today, Jim is still hand-rolling cigars, using the same bench and tools that NaNa used 80 years ago. It’s a family tradition now, and Jim markets his cigars under the Cammarata Cigar Company name. He refers to himself not as a cigar roller, but as a Master Cigar Blender. He takes special orders and blends different tobaccos to create the flavors his clients request. It’s quite an art form, and is appreciated by clients such as General Tommy Franks and Florida State coaching legend Bobby Bowden. They appreciate the craft and know that Jim is one of very few remaining hand rollers in the U.S. It seems cigar rolling by hand, like just about everything else, is now done mostly in foreign countries. That makes the hand rolled cigar industry in America a scarce national resource, and makes Jim one of our national treasures. Top left, Even though she's gone, some of the cigars Carmela rolled are still with us. Middle left, The cigar press forces pressure on the tobacco in the molds, giving them their cigar shape. Bottom left, Jim also markets under the “Tampa Tropics” label. Opposite page top, Bustillos is another brand name Jim uses. He's acquried the trademarks of several old, defunked cigar makers. Opposite page bottom, The chaveta is used to cut tobacco leaves and to roll the cigar. Other tools pictured are the cutter, top, the molds, right, and the clear glass glue holder, top left on the block. A piece of unused tobacco leaf is on the left.

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green waves


green homes

S T O R Y B Y K AT H E R I N E A D A M S

GREEN FUTURE BUILDS ON PAST historic structures are prime candidates for rehabilitation

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t’s often been said that the greenest building is the one that was built over a century ago. Our forefathers may not have enjoyed such luxuries as electricity or municipal water systems, but they still managed to make their homes comfortable, livable, and beautiful—all while leaving a minimal carbon footprint. Many of our historic structures are no longer being used to their full potential, but these days, they’re prime candidates for rehabilitation. The growing national consensus is that restoring an existing building is a far greener choice than building a new one, so that’s what Galveston Historical Foundation is doing with a modest 1,000 square foot home built in 1891. The house is one of the first in the nation planned to give the public a clear look at how energy saving and sustainable building methods are becoming both essential and economical parts of all restoration projects. “This house was first located at 2119 Ave. M ½,” said Galveston Historical Foundation Project Coordinator Matt Pelz. “The house was destroyed by Hurricane Ike and the family donated it to GHF. We moved it here to 3101 Ave Q because we thought this was an ideal spot for this green renovation demonstration project.” With funds in part from the National Trust for Historic Preservation Foundation, GHF is demonstrating how energy efficient properties inherent in historic design and original fabric can work in tandem with sensitively planned modern systems to conserve resources as well as heritage. “This traditional cottage really represents a lot of the small older houses in Galveston,” said Pelz. “People can see an immediate correlation to their own house.” The object of this project is to prove that a beautiful, modern new home can be built while keeping a steady eye on conservation of resources. “If we must get something new, our first option is the salvage warehouse,” said Pelz. “For new wood, our goal is “clean” wood which has a “chain

of title.” This means that we know the wood’s origin—most importantly, that it’s not from a rainforest, and it’s not from a farm that does not operate in a clean way.” He added that although some of the wood comes from East Texas, most of the wood from the deck came from the interior of the original house. “It still had a lot of life left and we don’t want to waste that material,” he said. “Our carpenters said that reusing it would serve great purpose.” The home will feature all the energy-saving tactics used successfully by the original owners, including wide side hallways and transoms to facilitate ventilation, more high windows to increase natural light, and some wind and solar power. Reusing the building materials serves a second, less obvious purpose as well. “There’s a direct correlation between reusing materials and reducing all the energy costs associated with shipping,” said Pelz. “If we hadn’t reused the wood from the house, we would have had to bring it from somewhere. There would be trucking or shipping costs as well as the energy used by that transportation. And usually, up to 25% of the materials don’t get used, so we’d have to scrap it. It would be a big waste in shipping costs and energy. All those scraps go into a landfill.” Mr. Pelz said that after the hurricane, none of the trees survived. “This is a perfect metaphor for the whole project,” he said, pointing to three newly sprouting trees. “We were positive the trees were dead. And when the house started building, the trees started coming back. Everything is reviving here.” The neighborhood is also rallying their support for the project. “We are so glad the neighbors seem to be proud of the work we’re doing here,” he said. “They see the design is cutting edge and progressive. They are glad that we’re doing this in their neighborhood.” With this combination of design and sustainable materials, the neighbors will continue to appreciate the home for the next hundred years.

Opposite page, photos clockwise from top left: Galveston Historical Foundation Project Coordinator Matt Pelz; Wires are lifted by crews to move 1891 home to new location; Original location of home at 2119 Ave. M; Green Revial home passes by Hotel Galvez; Keith Cherry directs crew as home is prepared to be moved; New location of home at 3101 Ave. Q. GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 47


green waves


downtown revival

G A L V E S T O N

ALWAYS AN ADVENTURE IN THE ARTS Galveston’s history is dotted with disasters. Some of the worst hurricanes on record happened on this coastal barrier island, and hurricane recoveries are a sad but significant part of Galveston’s past. Although so much was built, only to be destroyed by those violent winds over the last century, there is one tradition that no wind has ever been able to blow away— Galveston’s unshakable devotion to the arts. Some love affairs run so deeply, not even Mother Nature can stand in the way. Strangely enough, despite the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Ike in September of 2008, the one sector that bounced back almost immediately was the island’s diverse and constantly evolving art community. Linda Burton, an active member of Galveston’s Long-term Recovery Committee, said that she retired from Houston to Galveston because of the island’s alluring blend of cultural arts and historic preservation. “This island has a history of supporting all the cultural arts,” said Burton. “There’s The Grand 1894 Opera House, the symphony, the ballet, and live theater here, and all so close to Houston. But in Galveston, there’s a blend of funkiness with the eclectic sensibility of a small town. That’s the setting Galveston provides.” While doing work with the Long-term Recovery Committee, Burton said she noticed that after Hurricane Ike, there were even more galleries and artists in a wider variety than there were before the storm struck. “Art Walk has become a major factor in this,” continued Burton. Art Walk, held approximately every sixth Saturday in Galveston, is a chance for art lovers to stroll through most of the island’s myriad galleries and eateries, which stay open late for the event, and visit art exhibits and galleries and chat with the artists. Many restaurants and bars also show their support for the artists by offering their walls for display space. “The crowds for Art Walk have become phenomenal,” said Burton. “From the artists’ perFrom Texas to Florida, the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast is in such abundance that the area could be considered a work of art all by itself. It makes perfect sense then that there are a bevy of art events held each year all along the beaches and the bays. Here are a few art festivals that are worth a visit. Art for Art’s Sake, Oct. 2, New Orleans, LA In a town that knows how to celebrate (think Mardi Gras) comes an art party that’s taking arts events to a whole new level. Hundreds of Big Easy galleries and shops in the Warehouse District and on famous Magazine Street stay open for a festival in the streets that highlights all kinds of art every autumn. Over 30,000 art lovers gallery hopped and shopped at last year’s event. cacno.org ARToberFEST, Oct 16 & 17, Galveston, TX Thousands gather amid the relaxing charm of historic downtown Galveston for this weekend of exquisite art each year. This juried fine arts festival will feature over 125 artists with a wide array of original works, as well as music

spective, people came at first to support the island after the storm, but when they saw how quickly we cleaned up and got back to business, about a gallery a month has opened here.” Today, an exploratory walk through the historic East End will yield new galleries all over Post Office Street, The Strand, and Market Streets. “I’ve talked to a lot of the artists, and they say that art just begets more art,” explained Burton. “The artists are very supportive as a community. Even though times are hard, you can still come to Galveston and open a studio fairly inexpensively and you know you’ll get all kinds of traffic every six weeks for Art Walk.” She added that the whole community has always been extremely supportive of the arts. “I think it has a lot to do with the laid-back lifestyle here,” she said. “And everywhere you look and go, there’s a plethora of subject matter for an artist. The whole environment has everything an artist needs to be creative.” City planners of long ago couldn’t know how instrumental their design turned out to be for future artists. “There’s a number of artists who have purchased buildings that used to be corner stores,” said Burton. “Back in the 1900’s, the island was very walkable. Every corner had a store. Now it’s ideal for galleries, because many of them are two stories. People can live in one part and have their studio and gallery in the other part.” The result is a wealth of spaces available at very affordable prices that are ideally located for daily foot traffic and are right along the Art Walk path. “We’re turning into a real artists’ colony in a place with a built-in mix of local people who love the arts and tourists who now come for reasons other than the beach,” said Burton. “A lot of communities have an art festival once or twice a year, but we have Art Walk all year round, and people are coming from everywhere to see what we have besides the beach.” There are some artists in Galveston whose work adds an and food, all in the great outdoors. But this event isn’t just about beautiful pieces of art. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the AIDS Coalition of Coastal Texas and the Galveston Island Humane Society. The festival also offers booth space to student artists at no charge, allowing them to gain experience in marketing and selling their works. artoberfest.com 21st Annual Hyde Park Village Art Fair, Oct. 30-31, Hyde Park Village, Tampa, Florida Over 150 artists and arts exhibitors will converge on Hyde Park Village in Tampa with works ranging from massive sculptures to delicate jewelry and everything in between during the Art Fair. Visitors will also enjoy live entertainment, shopping and delicious food. The Fair is a juried show, which means each participating artist is hand-selected from hundreds of applicants to ensure only the highest quality, original artwork is on display. You also have the opportunity to interact with the artists. All of the work is available for purchase, and with prices ranging from $15 earrings and $50 prints to $20,000 sculptures, there’s something to fit any budget. artfestival.com

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extra dimension to the local art scene. Linda Burton said that the Bogan Gallery, located at 2217 Post Office, has a certain something extra. “During the last Art Walk, Susan Bogan had a blackand-white-themed exhibit, and to add something extra to it, she had mimes in the display windows, also wearing black and white, to animate the display inside the gallery,” she said. “It was awesome, and it added visual impact to the art.” The Rene Wiley Studio and Gallery, at 2128 Post Office, is an example of a risk that paid off. “Rene and her husband took a big chance renting out a very large space after the hurricane, and now it’s one of Art Walk’s most visited spots,” she said. “Rene and her husband are very collaborative with other artists in the area. The Rene Wiley Gallery is truly one of the anchors on Post Office Street.” Galveston artist Ginny Starke said she loves that Galveston galleries are very friendly. “My gallery is at 412 23rd Street and it’s a live-in, so I often have company all day,” she said. “I open when I want and if you come by and rap on the window, I will come and open up for you. I really like the openness and friendliness among the galleries here, not like in big cities.” She added that if you’re not a cookie-cutter artist, then Galveston is the place for you. “We want to get the feel of the arts, and if that means maybe doing things that are a little outrageous, then that’s fine. We do things like that here because we can!” she said. “It’s not as much about selling for us. We paint from the gut. We feed off each other and encourage each other, and that’s what makes this such a healthy art community.” Linda Burton said that the reason why Galveston’s art scene is booming is that it’s always surprising. “Art in Galveston is not just art. There’s always another dimension,” she said. “You just never know what you’ll see. Anything from street musicians to mimes—it’s always an adventure in the arts.” Mother Nature, take note. You can blow away the buildings, but in Galveston, art is a matter of the heart. ­50 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


South Shore Harbour Marina Bay Area Houston, Texas September 23rd - 26th, 2010

A Florida Style Boat Show For Houston If you’ve only ever visited indoor boat shows, get ready for a real treat at Houston’s biggest ever in-water Boat Show. Boats of all sizes will be on display in the water and onshore, many ready to demo - Bay boats, sailboats, powerboats, and luxury yachts, together with the latest water toys, personal watercraft and much more. The 2010 Show will also include: A Seafood Cook-Off – where YOU can be a judge • The Houston Wakeboard Shoot-Out • Music from the Islands • Good food and drinks • Plenty of fun for all the family The South West International Boat Show where parking and smiles are free! SEE YOU THERE!

For exhibit exhibit and and visitor visitor details details please please contact: contact: For 561.842.8808 561.842.8808 E-mail info@southwestintlboatshow.com info@southwestintlboatshow.com E-mail or visit visit us us on on line line at: at: or www.SouthWestInternattionalBoatShow.com www.SouthWestInternationalBoatShow.com

The South West West International Boat Show is proudly sponsored by: GULF COAST T YACHT BR ROKERS ASSOCIATION

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apalachicola florida STORY BY JENNIFER STEWART KORNEGAY Take a small Southern town dotted with charming little shops, historic buildings and homes, and quaint antique stores, then set it on the banks of some of the richest seafood waters in the country. Where are you? Welcome to Apalachicola in Northwest Florida. The name may be hard to say, but this tiny fishing village on the edges of the Apalachicola River and Bay is quite easy to love. This slice of Old Florida is the antithesis of some nearby beach towns where high-rise condos and mega billboards compete for a piece of sky and attention. In Apalachicola, it is instead cabbage palms, pines and tall yet delicate grasses filling up the space. You can soak up much of what Apalachicola has to offer in a few days, so use our sample schedule for your quiet weekend escape to Florida’s Forgotten Coast. Day 1: Almost instantly upon arrival in Apalachicola, you should start to feel your blood pressure and stress level drop. Check in at the Coombs House Inn, and the lovely, home-like surroundings further the serene sensations. This classic Queen Anne-style home was built by local lumber magnate James Coombs in 1905, and at that time, it was considered the most elegant house in town. Although it was a crumbling shell of its former grandeur by the 1960s, thanks to the renovation and restoration efforts of current owner Lynn Wilson, you could make the same argument today. Now, the sunny yellow Bed & Breakfast has reclaimed the home’s former glory with black cypress paneling, a curved, elaborately carved oak staircase, ornate lighting and multiple fireplaces. A delicious breakfast is served each morning, and is included in your room rate, as are fresh-baked cookies in the afternoon and a wine reception on Friday and Saturday evenings. You can also check out a complimentary bicycle as well as beach chairs and umbrellas to aid in your exploration of the area. If you decide to forgo the bike, you still won’t need to move your car. It’s just a short stroll from the Inn into downtown. Visit Handmade in Apalachicola on Avenue E for a diverse sampling of paintings, pottery and more from local artists and craftsmen. Check out a bevy of old ships’ wheels, buoy lights, glass rum bottles, colorful ship flags and other nautically themed antiques at Tin Shed Antiques. Then discover more about Apalachicola’s lesserknown sea exports from yesteryear—sea sponges—at The Sponge House Antiques. A century ago, up to 120 residents were employed in the sponge trade in Apalachicola. Other gift shops, a book store and art galleries, including the Mother Earth Studio, which showcases the wood-turning works of local craftsman Keith Gartin as well as other art, are inviting and worth a look. Once you’ve perused and shopped your way around the city’s center, take a break at the Old Time Soda Fountain with a thick, rich milkshake. But don’t fill up. Dinner is next. As evidenced by the many oystermen heading out into the bay each morning and the shrimpers making their way out to work the water each night, the Opposite page, top left, The Porter House. Opposite page top right, A redfish caught on Apalachicola Bay with Captain Brownie Parkman. Middle left, The view right off of Water Street with shrimp boats in background. Middle right, The Dixie theater. Bottom, On the waterfront, great seafood can be found everywhere. Top right, Coombes House Inn.

The options for fun and food in Apalachicola abound, but there are a few things that we think have earned the “must experience” moniker. Must Drink: The Dan Garlick cocktail. This mixture available at The Gibson Inn’s bar was named for a local businessman who came up with his own special drink. When others often asked, “What’s Dan drinking?” the bartenders decided to add his signature libation to the menu permanently. Must Eat: The Oyster Roast at Boss Oyster. It’s three-dozen oysters roasted in their shells. You shuck ‘em yourself! Take Home: Make sure to pick up some famous Tupelo Honey on your visit. It’s mild, yet distinctive flavor is very popular and comes from the nectar of the white tupelo tree. This species grows throughout the Apalachicola River Basin, one of the few areas in the world where certified Tupelo Honey is produced. Get yours at the Old Time Soda Fountain.

Coombs House Inn www.coombshouseinn.com 850-653-9199 Captain Brownie Parkman www.apalachicolaguide.com 850-653-5529

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STEPPING BACK IN TIME seafood industry long ago replaced cotton as the lifeblood of this area. On the waterfront, shrimp packing plants, oyster houses and fishing vessels proudly wear the patina of time and hard work. But while shrimp and fish are an important part of this mix, it’s the Apalachicola Bay’s oysters that reap the real praise, considered by some to be the best oysters anywhere in the country. To see for yourself, head to Boss Oysters and ask for a seat on the deck outside. You’ll be just feet from the water and have a front row seat for Mother Nature’s kaleidoscope of pinks, purples and oranges as the sun sets. The menu is a kaleidoscope of flavor, with almost endless options for enjoying oysters. Try the Crumbly Bacon Oyster, baked with bacon, worcestershire and hot sauce; the Oyster Max, baked with capers, sautéed garlic, herbs and parmesan cheese; Oyster St. George, baked with asparagus, garlic, shallots and colby cheese; or Oyster Greektown, baked with garlic, parsley, feta cheese and Greek olives. Some of these concoctions are Boss originals; others were recommended by regular customers and added to the menu. Day 2: The dark, gentle and immensely fertile waters of Apalachicola Bay beg countless anglers to drop a lure and try their luck. And with a chartered boat and an expert guide along, it’s easy to spend a whole or half day fishing for a good time. Captain Brownie Parkman is one of the area’s favorites. He’s quick with a firm handshake and an easy smile, but better yet, he knows just when and where to go, what to put on your hook and will even teach you the best way to reel that big one in. “Pull him up…reel him down,” he instructs. “Take your time. You wear him out, not the other way ‘round.” Go after speckled trout or redfish, but don’t be surprised if you catch a few other species, too. If you’re not up for fishing, Captain Brownie will be happy to take you on an eco-tour of the area and point out alligators, eagles, owls and other wildlife. ­54 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

If you landed a Above L-R, The lighthouse on St. George Island with the Keeper's house in foreground. nice-sized redfish, Photograph by Rusty Amos. Old Time Soda why not have him Fountain, Jerry Hall - Serving ice cream, malts, for lunch? Captain sodas, floats in an original 1950's interior. Brownie will help you clean your catch, and you can take them to Papa Joe’s Oyster Bar & Grill at Scipio Creek Marina to be cooked just about any way you please. Even if you’re not interested in eating what you caught, Papa Joe’s is still a great choice for lunch and boasts some seriously good, melt-in-yourmouth fried oysters. After lunch, take the short scenic drive over the bay to St. George Island. Here you can sun on the sandy beach and play in the surf. Make sure to visit the Cape St. George Light while you are there. Learn its intriguing history and climb its 92 steps for a picturesque view. Before dinner, grab a drink (or two) at the bar at The Gibson Inn. This historic inn, built in 1907, is one of the few inns on the National Register of Historic Places still operating as a full-service facility. Place your order and head out to the wide porch to secure a rocking chair. You can sip and socialize amid a cooling sea breeze coming off the nearby water. When your inner dinner bell starts ringing, walk over to the Owl Café, which overlooks the waterfront. A varied menu emphasizes the talented chef ’s interpretations of the fresh and abundant locally caught seafood. A nice wine list sweetens the deal here. Day 3: Wake up and take advantage of the Inn’s simple check out (just drop off your key) before breakfast. Indulge in a comforting ham, cheddar and egg casserole, fresh fruit and tasty muffins or other pastries before you start your trip back home. After a weekend settling into Apalachicola’s unhurried pace and carefree atmosphere, it will be hard to say goodbye and even harder to step back into everyday life, but you can do it knowing that you’re always welcome back.


Left and following page top, Hell’s Bay Skiffs. Below: 2010 Glasstream 17 FCR, 17’3 with 8’ Beam, Cockpit

hook

the

by bob shirley

Width: 54”, Dry Weight 975 lbs, 6 gallon Removable Fuel Tank, and 10 year limited hull warranty.

Kayaks, Skiffs and Fly Fishing There is a wonderful and very natural relationship between fly fishing and boats. We use boats to get us to places where we can find fish and then, from them, we are able to stalk fish and cast to them. In the interior on lakes and streams, float tubes, canoes, and kayaks are widely used for fly fishing because of their convenience, practicality, and functionality. The relatively placid waters in rivers and on lakes lend themselves to fishing from these small self-propelled craft made of rubber, plastic, Kevlar, or fiberglass. These craft allow controlled positioning for casting, a stable platform to allow us to cast, and a stealthy approach to the fish. On or near the Gulf Coast, using a float tube might be like trolling for sharks or gators, so their use is limited. Here on the Coast, where distances can be huge, winds are ever present, and water turbulence is greater, kayaks especially shine as personal fly fishing craft. Canoes or even surfboards are used too, but the stability, speed, safety, and diversity of the kayak buoys it to the head of the class. You are able to sail, paddle, and/or peddle today’s kayaks. Peddling allows hands free operation of the craft with only minor adjustments of the rudder while casting. Today we generally sit upon kayaks and not “in” them. Kayaks today are usually molded bubbles of plastic allowing us a seated position several inches above the water. This means you don’t need to modify your casting style as you

would if your craft put your seat near or even below the water level as in a canoe. Imagine sitting on the ground with your legs straight out - now cast - a tough job at best. Sitting even a few inches above the water with your legs slightly bent makes casting much easier and allows a more natural, strong, and normal casting stroke. The plastic of kayaks also allows you to add rod holders, anchor line brackets, sea anchor attachment points, and much more, simply by drilling holes through the plastic and using screws or bolts to attach accessories. The storage holds in most kayaks have water tight lids and allow packing for overnight trips or extended stays. There are usually flat areas on the kayak (usually behind the seat) with stretchy, tied down elastic lines where our modified milk crates with rod holders attach, or where battery powered live wells, or clothing stuffed waterproof bags may be stowed in security and where they will be out of your way when casting. Catching fish in saltwater from a kayak is especially fun because even small fish are able to pull the boat around. Hooking into a big red, jack, or small shark might get you towed for several minutes and many yards. There are tales of being towed for hours and miles if large sharks, tuna or bill fish are hooked, so bring a lunch and plenty of water. On the Gulf Coast, a lot of fly fishing is done from “bay boats”, “flats boats”, and other small craft. There are obvious advantages over self-propelled craft using these boats. First GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 55


fly fishing

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and foremost is the increased range possibilities and that you get to where you’re going quickly. The ability to store and carry large quantities of gear and high numbers of accessories is very appealing. When fly fishing from larger boats, there are some important things to consider though. Since we have yards of line and a fly with a hook in the air both behind and in front of us for every cast, we need plenty of unobstructed space around us. While casting on salt, there is ALWAYS wind, too. I have banged my fly rod on antennas, poling platforms, guides and friends. You will also snag yourself and those around you with the hook, or whip yourself and everybody else with the line. So, think about obstructions around you on the boat, which direction the wind is blowing, and how to adjust your cast to compensate for it, and who can be injured by the cast. If you are casting from a platform on the front of one of these boats, take a good look at that platform before you step up there. Once you step up, note how slippery it is and if it is bowed to shed water or will water pool at your feet and make it slippery. How much deck do I have to move around on? Are there any things the fly line might get hung up on or wrap around (if so, the line will find them - I guarantee it)? If I fall off the platform, do I just get wet or will I land on bad things in the bottom of the boat? Is the platform big enough to accommodate a 5-gallon bucket to act as a stripping basket? Am I standing on the line I stripped off the reel to make a long cast? To avoid standing on the line at your feet, go


fly fishing bare foot whenever possible so you are able to feel the line beneath your feet! There is little need for specialized rods or lines if you fish from a boat. The same rods etc. work well for both wading and casting from the boat. Only if you fish deep water where you need a heavily weighted fly or sinking line do you need to bring any extra equipment. At this point I feel a note on safety is appropriate. Never, never go out without wearing your life preserver and having your other required safety equipment aboard. I have lost two friends to boating or rafting related accidents, and several friends have had close to death near misses on the water. I have personally been aboard boats that sunk out from under me, kayaks that have overturned, canoes that have flipped, and I have been swept off my feet or tripped while wading in rivers and while fishing in the surf. I hope you get the message that safety is paramount!

MITZI SKIFFS ... the skiffs you hoped were out there

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A NATURE-LOVER’S

South Padre Birding & N C

B

Overlooking the Laguna Madre Bay

irders will flock to the new South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center, a division of the World Birding Center of the lower Rio Grande Valley, located on the north end of South Padre Island. Inside the center, visitors can explore hands-on exhibits and educational films. Outside, the possibilities are endless. The facility sits on more than 50 acres of dune meadows, salt marshes and intertidal flats. With 4,800 feet of boardwalks, seven bird blinds, a five-story birding tower and a deck overlooking Laguna Madre Bay, the World Birding Center is a nature-lover’s paradise. “It’s a pretty unique thing,” Cate Ball, manager of the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center said. “You

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will learn about the eco-systems of the island and then go out and see them.” Educate yourself with a lecture by area naturalists and scientists and then explore for yourself with a tour of the boardwalks. Bust out the binoculars and meet the regulars, like the brown pelican, willet, or heron. Summer is a great time to get to know the island’s resident birds, and see the families and chicks that were a result of the spring hatchings, according to Ball. Least Bitterns, Black-Necked Stilts and Willet chicks are just a few you can expect to spot. Beyond the sights and sounds, there is a real message to be learned from the conservation efforts taking place at the World Birding Center. “It’s a great opportunity for us to


S ISLAND PARADISE

e Island Nature Center If we have a healthy bird population we know we have a healthy world. reach out to tourists to talk about conservation and open their eyes to birding and naturalism. On South Padre Island, where people are already on vacation, we can slow them down even more and introduce them to nature,” Ball said.“A lot of people are so fast, fast, fast. Cell phones, television, video games. We want them to slow down so they see what’s in front of them. The eco-systems we have here on South Padre Island you don’t find just anywhere.” On and island that is a vacation destination and where development is inevitable, conservation is key. “We are trying to open their eyes to the impact of development, particularly on South Padre Island, but also anywhere,” Ball said. The birds need the salt marshes and flatlands to stop

and rest on their migration paths. After migrating hundreds of thousands of miles, they need places to stop and rest and so every step along their migration path is important. “They won’t be able to make it without these places,” Ball said. And why is it so important that birds make it in this world? “Birds are the indicator species of the health of the world,” Ball said. “If we have a healthy bird population we know we have a healthy world. If something is wrong with the health of birds, that should be an eye opener that there are things we need to fix in our own world.” Admission Information: Adults $5; $4 for seniors 55 and over; $2 for children ages 4 to 12; and children under 4 are free with a paid attending adult. (956) 243-8179 GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 59


natural escapes

BEYOND THE BEACH South Padre Island is known for its white sand beaches and beautiful blue Gulf Coast waters, but that’s not all the barrier island has to offer. The Laguna Madre area (Laguna Vista, Laguna Madre, Port Isabel and South Padre Island) has a wealth of natural beauty and wildlife that will impress nature buffs and regular Joe’s alike. “The beach is a natural draw,” Valerie Bates, Port Isabel Marketing Director said. “But after maybe three or four times out to the beach, or when the weather is inclement, vacationers look for other things to do.” Like jumping aboard a Sea-Life safari cruise or grabbing the binoculars to watch migrating birds flock over the marshlands. So if you’re beached-out or sun burnt, rained-in or just looking for some new scenery, look no further than the sprawling natural beauty of the Laguna Madre. The Sea-Life Safari cruise: Cruise on over to Port Isabel and climb aboard the Sea Life Safari, a wildlife ecotour of the Laguna Madre Bay area. “The Sea Life Safari is an extraordinary dolphin watch ­60 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

with a plus,” Naturalist Dianne Henn said. In addition to dolphins, which you are guaranteed to see on the trip, voyagers should expect to see many species of birds and get up close and personal with a variety of bottom-dwelling creatures. Henn narrates the two-hour adventure, which offers a comprehensive overview of the history and ecology of the Laguna Madre Bay, as well as the chance to encounter indigenous bird and marine wildlife. “When you know more about the area and the history it makes you appreciate the island so much more,” Henn said. The 70-foot climate-controlled vessel takes passengers on an expedition through the Laguna Madre Bay, Dolphin Cove, and intercoastal waterway as Henn goes over the history of the area. She covers everything from hurricanes and the Civil War to causeway damage to the history of the jetties. While you soak up the sights and history, the boat drags a net to pull sea creatures up out of the water and into a salt-water observation tank, where voyagers can examine them and learn how each animal or plankton plays a part in


Opposite page, The Sea Life Safari observation tank. Below, A starfish is one of the examples of live animals that visitors can touch. Right, A Tri-colored Heron. Tours offered twice daily, $22 for adults and $18 for children 12 and under. 956-761-6655

the Laguna Madre eco-system. Expect to see Starfish, Triggerfish, Sea Slugs, Piggie Perch, Croaker, Calicoatte crab, hermit crabs and more. Voyagers can even hold some of the creatures, like the hermit crabs, in their hands. “There aren’t many takers on the sea slugs,” Henn said. The Sea Life Safari is a fun trip, but what people learn on the trip is what is truly excites Henn. Educating people is the first step to creating change, according to Henn, because people want to protect what they understand. Spending time with the creatures of the bay and sea makes you care about them in a way that inevitably promotes the instinct to conserve them, according to Henn. This can be said for whales, dolphins, and all sea creatures. “You develop a relationship with them. It’s like motherly instinct. The stronger person wants to protect the weaker. They don’t have the means to protect themselves from us, we have to do that.” Walking down the beach with her son one day, Henn saw a 13-foot Pigmy whale beached on the sand. It was tangled in twine “This was not a natural death for this whale,” she said. “We had a hand in it.” “We are just human,” Henn said. “But we are all on one planet, we are connected. It’s like throwing a pebble into water, it is a ripple effect. We have to try to make Earth better for our kids; if not, there will be no tomorrow.”

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more Opportunities to Explore Nature

on south padre island

SPI Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center Stop by the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sea Life Nature Center to catch a glimpse of the area's marine wildlife and ecosystems. Open to the public, this non-profit organization focuses on dolphin and marine life preservation and education. “People are hungry to learn about nature and they want to do the right thing,” Scarlet Colley, director of the Nature Center said. The Sea Life Nature Center monitors the dolphin population of Laguna Madre Bay through dorsal fin identification and behavioral studies. They rescue and rehabilitate injured sea life. They also protect nesting habitats and try to educate people about migrating birds. The Nature Center and its staff are dedicated to education. Touch tanks allow kids of all ages to get up close and personal with hermit crabs, aquatic sea stars, sea snails and live sea anemones. In the morning hours, there is food on hand so visitors can feed the hermit crabs by hand. There are also 50 species of sea creatures in an aquarium-style setting. A two-foot long purple-mouth moray eel named Caliente and a “very attentive” little yellow seahorse named Charlie are a couple of crowd favorites. Naming the sea creatures is quite a treat for the young visitors, and the staff at the Sea Life Nature Center encourages that kind of interaction. They are currently having a naming contest for a baby octopus they rescued. Above all, the Sea Life Center teaches conservation. “If you can hold a starfish or see a live seahorse, you’re less likely to buy the ones that were killed to sell as souvenirs,” Colley said. Colley has been working with dolphins in South Padre ­62 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

Island for 15 years. She visits the Laguna Madre waters daily and has seen many of them grow up. “Someone needs to be a voice for sea life. They have no voice of their own,” Colley said. And that’s what the Sea Life Nature Center is. “We are a facility to be a voice for the dolphins and that’s a voice for the world.” Admission Information: Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, $3 donation per person admission, $20 per person for private Dolphin Tour (956) 943-6626 University of Texas-Pan American Coastal Studies Lab Head to the University of Texas Pan-American Coastal Studies Laboratory to see research in action. The Coastal Studies Laboratory, located inside Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island, focuses on University education, public education and coastal research. The Coastal Studies Laboratory is foremost a laboratory, but is open to the public for self-guided tours from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Behind the scenes, researchers are working hard on projects related to the local eco-system and are tending to rescued turtles and marine mammals. Open to the public are displays, touch tables, and aquariums that showcase species of flora and fauna of the Lower Laguna Madre and South Padre Island. The touch table showcases a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, alligator gar, stingray tail, dolphin skull, shark jaws, sea whip coral, coral head, whale fossil, the skull of a False Killer Whale and more. Aquariums hold various local live fish like the gray Triggerfish and cocoa Damsel Fish. An extensive shell collection shows locals and tourists just what is living in the


waters around them. Some locals are even surprised at what is lurking in the waters offshore, according to Donald Hockaday, The University of Texas-Pan American, Research/Education Coordinator. “They live down here and are still surprised at some of the common marine life,” he said. “People get a better idea of the diversity of marine life and a better appreciation of what would be the impact if we started losing some of these creatures,” Hockaday said. Knowing what amazing creatures live in the waters helps people see how they fit into the eco-system. “By coming here, they get the understanding on some level of how everything is tied together,” Hockaday said. “Most of the water from the United States goes down the drain and sooner or later that water ends up in the ocean.” Admission is free, donations are welcome. There is a $4 fee for taking a vehicle into Isla Blanca park, but you can walk in for free. (956) 761-2644 Sea Turtle Inc. South Padre Island is a year-round habitat for several species of sea turtles, including the endangered Kemp’s Ridley. Summertime means another turtle nesting season and Turtle Inc., an educational rehabilitation and rescue facility located on South Padre Island, is turtle headquarters. Turtle Inc. is a non-profit organization with a three part mission- to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles, to educate the public, and aid in the conservation of sea turtles around the world. “Often times people are really touched by coming through here. They don’t realize how much humans can

impact the turtles,” Adrienne McCracken, zoologist for Turtle Inc. said. The facility houses 17 sea turtles in 15 tanks, ranging in size from less than one pound to more than 200 lbs. Five of these turtles are permanent residents of Sea Turtle Inc. “Our facility is unique in the fact that we have a large number of sea turtles right up close where the public can interact with them,” McCracken said. Turtle Inc. is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with educational presentations every 45 minutes. Visitors are invited to help feed the turtles after the first presentation of the day. The presentations teach people why turtles are so important to the ocean, according to McCracken. “Everything is connected in the ocean and turtles are an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem,” she said. Each species of turtle affects the ocean in a different way because of the food they eat and the animals that eat them. It’s a delicate balance that humans can often disrupt. The educational presentations cover the different types of sea turtles in the area, why some are endangered and how the general public can aid in their preservation. “We need to worry and care about the turtles because we are the reason some of them are endangered,” McCracken said. When visitors see the turtles and learn more about them, they are more willing to protect them. “They see how charismatic sea turtles really are,” McCracken said. “They’re very friendly. They’ll look right into your face. People love it and so they want to protect them” she said. For more information visit www.seaturtleinc.org or call (956) 761-4511. The Center is located across from Tiki, at 6617 Padre Boulevard. GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 63


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2010 STAFF

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For our entire food gude for the Coastal Bend, please visit our website at www.gulfscapes.com

THE BEST PLACES TO EAT IN THE COASTAL BEND


coastal bend dining

PADRE ISLAND BURGER COMPANY

Best Gourmet Burgers Best place to grub before or after the beach Locals and vacationers agree, for a burger on the island, it’s Burger Company or bust. Locally-owned and family-operated Padre Island Burger Company has made a name for itself with gourmet burgers, drink specials and live entertainment. First stop, the burger bar. Traditionalists will want to start with the Boring (plain burger with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles) or a Boring with cheese (you get the picture). But if you’re looking for a gourmet burger adventure, go right for one of the Burger Company’s 9 famous gourmet burgers. Crowd favorites include: The Rockefeller – a ½ lb. fresh ground beef patty topped with spinach, artichokes, bacon and parmesan cheese; The Corpus Cold Front – with cream cheese, roasted red peppers and cucumbers; The Hangover- fried egg, caramelized onions, and American cheese; and The Mexican- topped with a cheese enchilada, avocado and sour cream. All the burgers are served with a choice of regular fries, sweet potato fries or chips. Upgrade to garlic fries and prepare to have your mind blown. For more fun, try their “Not-burger plates”, like the Chopped Steak with Tequila Cream Mushroom sauce or the Cilantro Lime Fried Shrimp, served with fries, grilled zucchini and Texas toast. Meat-free options are also available ­66 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

with the Portobello mushroom cap burger, grilled cheese sandwich, salads and bean and cheese nachos. Kids can eat gourmet too, and for just 5 bucks choose from a mini cheeseburger, mini corndogs or a grilled cheese sandwich. Kids of all ages will want to finish off their meals with a jumbo-sized Fruity Pebbles crispy rice treat. Another classic with a twist. Padre Island Burger Company is also known for its drink specials and live entertainment. Once you order your burger, move on down to the bar to order your drink. Any day of the week, you can stop by for $1 Jello shots, $1 Natty Light and $2.50 Forty Creek. The bar also boasts a different drink deal for every day of the week- highlights include $2 pint Mondays and $2 well Wednesdays. While you sip your drink and wait for your food, head outside to the wrap-around patio. The weather is perfect for outdoor eating nearly every day, and on the weekends you’re likely going to hear the sounds of a great live band drifting through the breeze. The Burger Company is open every day, 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m., with food service from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Families are always welcome, but once the food stops rolling out, the crowd turns more adult. Located across from American Bank at 14414 SH 361, Padre Island, TX, (361) 949-3490


RAILROAD SEAFOOD STATION

Best place to Work, Stay, and Play With their daily blackboard specials, family-style dining dishes and unique signature drinks, the family-owned and operated Railroad Seafood Station is a one-stop-shop for all your dining needs. Whether you’re looking to seal the deal over a business lunch, sit down to share a family dinner or just want to grab a drink after the game, the Railroad Seafood Station is your ticket to dining bliss. A favorite for the downtown business lunch-goers, the Railroad Seafood Station has 15 delectable lunch features for under $10, all of which are sure to wow the palettes of clients and colleagues alike. We recommend the best-selling fried shrimp or famous chicken-fried steak. Burger fanatics will love the Railroad or Boxcar burgers, and for sandwich fare try the Whiskey BBQ chicken sandwich (all $7.59). Turn salad into a main course with the Sweet Chili Salmon Salad (grilled salmon topped with a sweet chili glaze over a tossed spring mix salad and purple onions). Its sweet but tangy glaze and fresh flavors make this salmon salad different from any you’ve had. Just beware once you’ve tried this salad, you might not want to go back to full meals! You can feed 2-3 people with the Bombay Salad – whipped avocado, curry spice and more, served over a bed of iceberg & romaine lettuce, mixed with a house Italian dressing, served with 3 tomato slices and homemade bread chips for just $8.99. Pair a Bombay or Avocado salad (which also feeds 3) with an order of the Seafood Station’s famous onion rings, prepared “slightly sweet and piled high” for the perfect shared snack. Speaking of sharing….how about a family dinner featuring seafood by the pound? Easy to order and you’ll love the price, with meals for 3 starting at $11.99 and choices including jumbo and colossal shrimp, scallops, catfish, drum, king crab, tilapia and oysters, all cooked your way (fried, grilled, blackened, sautéed, or broiled) and served over rice or Hobo Fries (a mix of regular and sweet potato fries). If sharing is not your thing, sophisticated palettes must jump on board the Pontchartrainpan; a generous portion of blackened or pan-fried tilapia topped with real crab meat, mushrooms, shrimp & scallops in a white wine cream sauce. If you’re off the clock, consider pairing lunch or dinner with a delicious beverage from the fully-stocked bar, which has happy hour Monday–Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you stay on track, you’ll make it all the way to dessert where you can sample the New Orleans inspired bananas foster or the bourbon pecan pie. When it’s time to give your stomach a break, take a stroll downtown and hit up one of the nearby art galleries, concerts or games; don’t worry, the fully-stocked, wrap-around bar will still be here, waiting for you. The Railroad Seafood Station stays

open late after special events and concerts. Try one of their award-winning margaritas (frozen or on-the-rocks), train-wreck tea or their wide variety of beer, wine and cocktails. With great food, drinks and fun, all backed by the family’s money-back guarantee, the Railroad Seafood Company is the place to be, day or night. The Hinojosa family started the Railroad Seafood station in Odem, Texas in 2004. It was located right next to the train tracks and restaurant-goers could watch the trains go by, which is how it got its name. That name followed them the 20 miles to downtown Corpus Christi in 2008. One might wonder how a family that included a stockbroker, a real estate agent, and a retired teacher decided to start a seafood restaurant. “We didn’t know at first. But we cared about the food and we cared about the customers,” said Alex Hinojosa, owner. They dedicated themselves to using the freshest quality ingredients and making the Railroad Seafood Station a place people would want to be, and they have most certainly succeeded. 1214 North Chaparral Street, Corpus Christi, TX, (361) 883-6200 GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 67


BLACK SHEEP BISTRO

Something New for the Island The tale of Black Sheep Bistro begins not far from where the building stands today, and like many great stories, it started with two friends at the beach. Partners Garrett Frazier and Chris Gonzales had always aspired to open their own restaurants and one beautiful day at the beach they decided that the island needed a restaurant with authentic, fresh recipes coupled with excellent service in a unique, trendy atmosphere that would still cater to the local island style. The next step came naturally. They joined forces and 6 months later, in December 2009, the doors to Black Sheep Bistro opened. “Black Sheep Bistro offers a unique, trendy atmosphere that transcends age and style with special attention to customer service,” Frazier said. The idea was to offer something unique, new and fresh. “We strive to be like no one else, just who we are as creative individuals from different walks of life,” Frazier said. The creative duo gave the restaurant a unique name for a reason. “We have dedicated this restaurant to the ‘Black Sheep’ who have cut their own paths in life and chosen the road less traveled,” Frazier said. “The risk takers, the adventurers, and those who have settled and truly love and appreciate all the Island has to offer.” That same creativity is what makes the food at Black Sheep so innovative. The menu inspiration comes straight from head Chef Chris Gonzales. Chef Gonzales has over 10 years experience in the restaurant industry, and grew up in a family of cooks. It is his experience, paired with his experiments, that makes the Black Sheep Bistro the culinary retreat it has become. It also helps that Chef Gonzales starts with the freshest ingredients- with no pre-made sauces or frozen fish in his kitchen. Three of his most popular dishes are the Little Joe (filet), Pescado a la Ticla (fish tacos) and an appetizer, the Crab Nachos. The Little Joe is what the Bistro is known for, and it also happens to be the all­68 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

around favorite of the owners. “Even if steak is not your thing, everyone should have at least one bite to experience the awesomeness of this filet with gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions,” says Chef Gonzales. With dishes this extravagant, wine is a must have and Black Sheep Bistro pairs wines to each specific dish. The Little Joe provides a perfect example of how it’s done. “It is a distinctive dish that deserves a distinctive wine,” Frazier said of the Little Joe. “With all the bold flavors of the dish, one would naturally pair this with a bold red wine, such as the Stag’s Leap Cabernet or the Rombauer Zinfandel. We take the lead from Chris and compliment his amazing dishes.” This means a variety of wines from Napa and Alexander Valleys, Texas, Italy, Chile, Argentina and more. “Wine to our menu is like Robin to Batman,” Frazier said. The bistro offers light, medium and full bodied wines guaranteed to please many different palates and different budgets. The food, wine, and ambiance makes the little Bistro by the Bay a great place for dinner with friends, a date night, or even a family meal out. “It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling, friendly staff, an eclectic mix of tunes…and most important, a menu full of foods rich, colorful, and full of flavor,” Frazier said. The owners wanted to create a place where those getting dressed up for a night out would be able to come and feel right at home at a table next to someone in shorts and flip-flops. According to their many regular customers and satisfied guests, they have succeeded. One “well traveled British gentleman” once told them after complimenting their food, “if I were your parents, I would be very proud.” That just goes to show, you don’t have to be related to feel like family at Black Sheep Bistro. 15201 S Padre Island Dr, Corpus Christi, TX 78418, (361) 949-4813


ROOSEVELT’S FINE DINING at the TARPON INN Best Fine The Tarpon Inn, built in 1886 from Civil War barracks, is a Port Aransas institution. Beyond the shady porches filled with rocking chairs, and past the numerous rooms and suites, positioned in the heart of the picturesque courtyard lies Roosevelt’s Fine Dining Restaurant. Named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who visited the hotel in 1937 (the scale from a tarpon he caught on that trip hangs in the lobby of the Tarpon Inn to this day) the restaurant features food that is as innovative as it is delicious. The menu was created by Chef Tim Metzner, who studied at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. He has free reign of the kitchen, where he impresses diners with his inventive recipes and scrumptious concoctions. Roosevelt’s has that kind of simple, classic design that is comfortable and doesn’t compete with the food. The kind of place where the owner, Lee Roy Hoskins, will likely come by and introduce himself and Chef Metzner will gladly explain how he made your meal. The ocean breeze blows through the open windows and doors of the frame building that is Roosevelt’s Fine Dining. The exposed beams, high ceilings and easy charm of the little restaurant make you forget for a second that you’re in an upscale dining eatery. But not for long. The moment you get your first whiff of the delicious concoctions being prepared just feet away by chef Tim Metzner on the open grill, you’ll want to dive right into the exquisitely rich dishes. But at a place like Roosevelt’s, it’s best to ease slowly into your dining experience. Start with a glass of wine and Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes. Or the Quail Tails, which are popular and a must. You’ve never had them like this – bacon wrapped and stuffed with brie and serrano peppers, served on a bed of risotto. These appetizers will give you time to decide on an entrée, although some appetizers are fine enough to make a meal of, like No Roll Sushi – marinated Ahi Tuna lightly seared, nested on an Asian slaw served atop crispy wontons and wasabi peas, with a sriacha and hosin sauce. Or the Mediterranean Salmon Pate – grilled salmon enfolded in cream cheese with roasted red peppers presented on a crostini accompanied by egg, capers and red onion.

Dining

But if you want to go straight to the main course, you can’t go wrong with the Caribbean Char Drum- a filet of drum with a Caribbean char rub, served on savyard potatoes with julienne vegetables and a Creole cream sauce with micro-greens and a stoneground mustard inlay. Amazing. Or try the Chicken and Shrimp Involtini – chicken breast stuffed with baby spinach and jumbo shrimp dredged in picata batter then sautéed and served with saffron orzo and vegetables, garnished with fried leeks and a jumbo lump crab cake served with citrus berblanc. If those menu items aren’t enough to knock you out of your chair, ask about the daily specials and off-the-menu options. Chef Metzner creates mouth-watering concoctions from whatever is fresh that day, made his way. If you skipped out on the quail appetizer, you can make it up to yourself with the Grilled Quail Entrée – two semi-boneless quail marinated in a balsamic and herb vinegar served with mushrooms, risotto and veggies. At Roosevelt’s, it’s a crime not to make it to dessert. When you get there, go for the German chocolate brownie cake with Grand Marnier whipped cream and strawberries, coined as “the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” Reservations are encouraged but not required and dinner is served Wednesday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a Sunday brunch from 10 to 1, featuring a twist on the classics – including chicken fried steak that is made with beef tenderloin. Wow. “With every meal we serve I want folks to say ‘wow,’” said Lee Roy Hoskins, owner of Tarpon Inn and Roosevelt’s. “I want it to be one of the best meals of their lives.” With the delicious menu options and talented chef, it’s not hard to wow visitors. It also doesn’t hurt that the fish you eat at Roosevelt’s is so fresh that it was likely swimming the night before. No expense is spared and they don’t mess around when it comes to freshness and quality. As Hoskins says, “Can’t have quality product without quality ingredients.” Hoskins guarantees that each dish you have at Roosevelt’s is the best version of that dish you’ve ever had. 200 East Cotter Avenue, Port Aransas, Texas, 78373, (361) 749-5555

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Beach Wedding

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Column by Annie Willow

Saying I Do in Galveston magine... your shared enthusiasm for life has brought you together. A peaceful easy feeling so pure you know this love is real.  Beautiful sunset melting over blue water like a scoop of rainbow sherbet.  Two spirits free to fly on their own come together as one soul radiating love over the Gulf Coast.     Your wedding should be as unique as your love for each other... romantic, beautiful, and timeless.   Galveston offers many charming and delightful venues to celebrate the union of your hearts.  Whether you are looking for simple elegance, historic charm, urban chic, or a fanciful flutter theme the island has it all. Love has set sail on the historic 1877 Elissa at The Texas Seaport Museum resting along the Galveston Harbor.  Your ceremony can be at the Captain’s Wheel with up to 150 guests on board honoring your special moment.  Enjoy a catered champagne and hor dorves on the ship following a romantic reception dockside with dancing inside the Museum.  The Elissa ship has endured the winds of time for over a century and so will your love.

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The San Luis Resort pairs breathtaking views and venues with superior customer care to bring you the all-inclusive, stress-free destination wedding package of your dreams. The resort features 30 acres of seaside luxury making for endless options for your nuptials. From a wedding in the sand or gazebo to an elegant ballroom ceremony, the San Luis will make any wedding an affair to remember. Destination Weddings are made easy at San Luis Resort, where the experienced team of wedding coordinators, culinary experts and caterers take care of the logistics so that you and your family and friends can enjoy the momentous occasion. The wedding coordinator and staff do everything from assisting with basic wedding protocol and family matters to dressing the bridal party and even returning the groomsman’s tuxedoes. The catering manager and team help with menu consulting as well as coordinate with wedding planners and hotel operations staff to ensure that your wedding day goes flawlessly. They can even recommend events specialists like florists, musicians and photographers. The award-winning culinary team will work with you to tailor the perfect menu for you and your guests. And for your wedding day, Spa San Luis provides professional hair and make-up services.

Moody Gardens has it all for an original wedding location... butterflies dancing in the air, penguins nurturing each other, monkeys swinging to and fro. Are you one with Mother Nature and wanting to share your wedding vows in an imaginative, organic environment?  Moody Gardens has a variety of options for you to choose from at their hotel and  attractions  center.    An herb garden filled with butterGULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 71


coastal weddings RECAPTURE GILDED SPLENDOR

The Tremont House, (409) 763-0300, www.wyndhamtremonthouse.com If the walls of the storied The Tremont House could talk, they’d surely bring the legends of history back to life. Buffalo Bill stayed here. So did Clara Barton. And Sam Houston. The Who’s Who list is as long as the hotel’s history. Built in 1839, the Tremont House stands now as a witness to Victorian elegance, grace amid more than a century of change, and an everlasting reminder of another age. Twice rebuilt after a disastrous fire and the Hurricane of 1900, the Tremont House today occupies an 1879 historic landmark, and the stunningly refurbished property beckons you to linger and envelope yourself in a gracious past. Every detail is attended to at the Tremont. Whether you choose to share your vows on the hotel’s rooftop terrace with its sweeping views of Galveston Harbor, or drive up to the front doors in a horse-drawn carriage, or host a fairy tale wedding in either the Sam Houston Ballroom, with its floor-to-ceiling windows or the Tremont Ballroom, capable of accommodating up to 800 people, the Tremont’s ambiance lends itself effortlessly to your special day. Those seeking a more intimate wedding atmosphere can select either the Samuel May Williams Room or the Davidson Annex, each able to comfortably host up to 100 people. Brides at the Tremont may relax and have all their beauty needs seen to at the Spa at the nearby Hotel Galvez. Grooms may elect an elegant bachelor party in the Toujouse Bar, where cocktails and live music add to the atmosphere. Newlyweds who get married at the hotel enjoy a complimentary stay and discounts are offered for their guests. Wedding planners are available to assist with all the details. THE BEST ADDRESS ON THE BEACH

Hotel Galvez, (409) 765-7721, www.wyndhamhotelgalvez.com

Top, The Tremont House lobby. Photo by Craig Rogers. The Hotel Tremont has a patio bar on the roof with a great view of the City of Galveston and the Port. Directly above, The Seawall across the street from the Hotel Galvez. A great location for wedding photos. Photo courtesy Hotel Galvez.

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Step through the foyer of the grand Hotel Galvez and listen to the echoes of the past float your way, carried along by gentle Gulf breezes. For, when it comes to luxury, no address in Galveston is more luxe than the Hotel Galvez. From grand affairs to intimate gatherings, this historic property seamlessly blends Galveston’s rich past and its energetic present to create the perfect setting to begin your future. Opt for the Music Hall, with its soaring ceilings and ornate glass accents for a larger reception. The room’s 4,500 square feet can comfortably accommodate nearly 500 guests. The Verandah overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and combines sea views with tropical flowers for a stunning outdoor setting. Together with the Terrance Ballroom, the space is easily set for 350 guests. For a more intimate experience, brides and grooms will fall in love with the Oleander Garden, with its abundant blooms and a spectacular water wall. Bridal packages at the Spa at the Hotel Galvez come in a dizzying array. The sixand-a-half-hour Here Comes the Bride experience includes the Sea of Calm facial, Soin Velour Vichy body polish, manicure, pedicure, La Bella Donna bridal makeup, hairstyle updo with veil or flowers and lunch with a glass of champagne. Guys can opt for The Diamonds in the Rough package, which includes a 50-minute hot towel facial, deep­tissue massage, men’s Galvez manicure and pedicure as well as a highball drink. Every modern amenity will be found in the Galvez’s historic grandeur. Lush, tropical gardens open up onto a shimmering pool with swim­up bar, rooms fea­ ture flat­screen TVs and sleek furnishings, catering incorporates the best of land and sea to create a fantastic wedding feast. Couples will feel endlessly pampered during their stay a the Hotel Galvez, secure in the knowledge that every detail is seen to. Special wedding packages for guests are available, and the Hotel Galvez offers complimentary accommo­ dates to newlyweds who say “I do” in the hotel.


coastal weddings

Above, The Tall Ship Elissa. Photo by Mike Scalf. Right, 1880 Garten Verein is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Photo by Al Ruscelli.

flies...Aquarium Pyramid flowing with sea life... Rainforest Pyramid abundant with tropical spirit.  Customer service and personal attention to fulfill your every wedding fantasy, Moody Gardens does it four diamond style with full catering and first class lodging available. Dreaming of  a more chic and uptown feel for your wedding?  The Rooftop Garden on top of the historic  Tremont Hotel is exactly what you are searching for.  Panoramic view of the island, the Strand, and the setting sun over the harbor  is waiting for you  in the historic district of Galveston.  Romance in the heart of the city is their gift to you.  Historic charm in a tropical setting, The Mermaid and Dolphin Bed & Breakfast located in 1866 Texas Summer Governor’s Mansion offers a

complete wedding package. Intimate, private and exceptionally elegant. Enjoy your ceremony in their Queen of the Gulf chapel,  gazebo surrounded by botanical gardens or inside the  fully restored Mansion.  Reception to follow in the Grand Ballroom or among the romantic gardens. The Mermaid and Dolphin is a luxury resort with a comfortable laid-back island attitude. So you just want to put your toes in the sand, look into each others eyes and say “I do”, then The Wedding Chapel has the Shells & Bells package for you. They offer many options from a sunrise or sunset service on the beach to their enchanting chapel located minutes from the water.  Enjoy romance at it’s finest with a bridal changing room overlooking the Gulf, a horse and carriage ride to the shore followed by a catered reception in their

parlor room or garden area. Wish you had a wedding fairy to assist you with all the details of your upcoming Galveston Island wedding? Happy Pretty You! Reiki Salon & Spa offers complete wedding planning, bridal hair, portrait makeup, bridal showers, and spa parties.  Passionate about ensuring that every moment is filled with joy and ease to provide you with the peace of mind you deserve on your special day. Annie Willow of Happy Pretty You! is your personal (Continued on page 76) GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 73


STORY BY HOLLY BERETTO

Galveston’s Best Wedding Venues hether you’re thinking of tying the knot in the casually chic ceremony on the sand or in a formal fete in an old-money mansion, your venue choices are unlimited in Galveston. This historic port town on Texas Gulf Coast is known for its spectacular sunsets, stunning architecture and incredible cuisine. Its rustic charm, coupled with super-luxe spaces mean you can have the wedding of your dreams, no matter what your taste, or what your budget.

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BEST WAY TO FEEL PART OF HISTORY Say “I do” on the deck of the Tall Ship “Elissa.” Built in 1877, “Elissa” was a trading ship, and today is lovingly preserved by the Texas Seaport Museum and a cadre of

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dedicated volunteers. Brides and grooms may rent the ship for private events, and a sunset wedding on deck incorporates the romance of a bygone era into the joy of your special day. For more information call 409-763-1877. BEST WAY TO GET MARRIED IN COSTUME The annual Dickens on the Strand event is a Texas holiday tradition. Revelers decked out in 19th century costume line the Strand, Galveston’s historic district, parading and performing to the delight of passersby. Die-hard romantics can take part in the yearly Royal Victorian Wedding Ceremony, a group ceremony performed by a licensed minister. Don you now your gay apparel and hear your guests shout “Hazzah!” 409-765-7834


coastal weddings BEST OUTDOOR DESTINATION Kemper Park’s Garten Verein provides a gorgeous backdrop for your special day. This dancing pavilion offers sweeping panoramic views of the park and the surrounding area. A favorite for weddings and receptions, it adds instant romantic ambiance to any event. Book early; reservations are taken up to a year in advance. 2704 Avenue O For bookings, call 409765-7834 BEST TROPICAL LOCALE Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets stately New England seaside resort, and you’ll have the Mermaid and Dolphin. Tucked away from the ocean, this tropical paradise sports lush gardens, elegant surroundings and a five-star experience. There’s the formal Grand Ballroom, dating back to 1889, an on-site wedding chapel, and gardens and verandahs, all available for wedding rentals. 1103 33rd St 409-762-1561 BEST ON-THE-WATER EXPERIENCE

Couples who marry on board “The Colonel,” a historic, triple-deck paddle-wheeler, do so amid the nostalgic luxury of a bygone era. Plush carpets, stunning fabrics, wide open-air decks and private dining rooms offer several backdrops for tying the knot. Private parties of 100 or more may book this floating palace for day or evening cruises. Departures from Moody Gardens; for booking details, call 409-740-7797 BEST INTIMATE SPOT If you’re looking for something small and cozy, the Michel B. Menard House is the place for you. Galveston’s oldest home lends itself beautifully to smaller weddings and receptions, in a Greek-revival setting that perfectly captures the city’s history. In addition to the antique-filled interior, the grounds feature a gazebo and stunning landscaping. 409-762-3933

Opposite page, Galveston’s Kempner Park. Top, The Menard House was built in 1838 and is the oldest home on the Island. Middle, The magnificently renovated Custom House is available for a variety of functions. The secondfloor courtroom provides an ideal setting for seated dinners as well as buffets or receptions. Bottom, left, St. Joseph Church, the oldest German Catholic Church in Texas and and the oldest wooden church building in Galveston. GULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 75


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Texas Whirlwinds Weddings, Complete Mobile Weddings. Planning, Coordination, Minister, Music, Decorations, Rentals, Silk Floral Service, Photography & Cakes. Contact Jim & Christy, your wedding professionals, for convenience, confidence & cost savings. 409-935-8481 or www.TxWW.biz

Oceandance Photography We offer a truly personalized photographic coverage of your special day. Our images are elegant and trendy, timeless and imaginative to portray any moment, any occasion. We cater for any budget, big or small and enhance the vision of the client by adding our own artistic approach to any photography job. www.oceandance.org or call Irene Quiroga at 409 256 2138 ­76 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM


green waves

GalvestonWedding INSIDER TIPS Salon Services Feel pretty and pampered at Lulu’s, where special wedding packages include hair, make-up and nails. Surrounded by Lulu’s luxury, you’ll feel like the belle of the ball. 5205 Avenue U 409-744-5323 www.lulusthesalon.com Rehearsal Dinner Spots 901 Postoffice is picture perfect – and the food is succulent and stylized. Surf and turf, salads, an approachable wine list and an inviting ambiance make this new eatery an island hot spot. 901 Postoffice St 409-762-1111 Gaido’s This sprawling, home-style restaurant along the Seawall is a Galveston tradition. It first opened in 1911, dishing out the freshest in Gulf oysters and other sea fare. Today, it still serves the best of the best, mingling new twists with old school dishes. 3802 Seawall Blvd 409-762-9625 www.gaidosofgalveston.com Photographer Creative Photography Manny Chan crafts images that showcase your special day in style. Recommended by Galveston experts, his photos promise lasting memories. www.mannychan.com Wedding Planners Island Weddings is your one-stop shop for planning the perfect beach wedding. Their experts will help you select the right spot and can arrange for flowers, furniture and receptions site. 409-621-1250 or www.islandweddings.org


coastal weddings

historical elegance on the coast

PICTURE PERFECT (GALVESTON WEDDINGS continued from page 71) bridal assistant and will set your inner beauty free as you enjoy the coastal wedding of your dreams! Head to Footsies, a unique boutique favored by the locals and tourists alike offers a delightful collection of tropical wear from casual to formal. Gentlemen can enjoy the lounge area with leather recliners and tv while ladies shop for the perfect outfit and accessories for their vacation and wedding attire. Located in the historic Strand area with a wide range of quality fashions at affordable prices make Head to Footsies a shopping mecca for your island wedding. In addition to world class hotels there are other delightful options available for the lodging needs of you and your wedding guests. Casa del Mar Beachfront Condos offers beautiful condominiums with a Gulf View.  Sand n Sea Realty has over 140  beach houses  available on the beach,

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bay and canal areas of the island. Creative Photography by Manny Chan will  photograph every moment of your special day from the pre-wedding preparations to the ceremony and reception.  With over 20 years experience filming Galveston weddings you can feel confident that Manny will capture the sparkling romance you are celebrating providing you with beautiful memories to enjoy forever. Galveston Island is a romantic tropical oasis abundant with excitement, magic, and nature making it the ultimate coastal destination to celebrate your upcoming nuptials.  Several unique venues, first class accommodations, and amazing wedding vendors to serve your every need is why Galveston is the perfect bridal location. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for and the time is now to escape into the Gulf Coast wedding of your dreams on Galveston Island.


www.heavenlyfloral.net

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Photos by Bellezza Photography

A TUSCAN FLAIR Quaint and Elegant for a Dreamy Wedding With its majestic, overhanging oak, red brick patio, wrought iron balconies and stone fountain, The Courtyard at Gaslight Square conjures images from a quaint Tuscan village. You can almost smell the Italian cuisine and taste the Chianti. This elegant atmosphere sets the perfect mood for a dreamily romantic wedding. Located just minutes from downtown, the Courtyard offers not only a gorgeous location, but also outstanding personalized service. “Our staff pays extraordinary attention to every detail throughout the planning process in order to exceed the bride and groom’s expectations,” says Catherine Polinard Hodge, Event Coordinator at The Courtyard at Gaslight Square. “The Courtyard offers an intimate, old world setting. And our impeccable service includes five star cuisine prepared by award winning chefs,” she adds. The Courtyard is just the start of this entertainment complex. Off the Courtyard is the The Gaslight Room, sporting a vintage decor with high, timbered ceilings reminiscent of a classy, dark paneled steak house. It’s perfect for up to a hundred guests for a formal sit down dinner, or can accommodate up to 250 for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. For larger parties needing seating for more than 250, the Plaza Room is available. The Plaza offers intimate lighting that keeps its spacious interior cozy. ­80 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

And for that special touch on her wedding day, The Courtyard offers each bride the option of the V.I.P Suite, which features two vanities, a lounge, closet space and private restroom. The Suite is a sanctuary for the bride as she readies for her grand day. And its custom built staircase is the perfect setting for photos. It’s easy to imagine your perfect wedding here . . . in the soft evening light, in The Courtyard with tree lights twinkling, a band playing and the fountain gently splashing. Friends and family looking on from the balconies. Guests sharing drinks and food inside and out. Everything you need for a dream wedding is right here. In addition to dream weddings, The Courtyard can accommodate private luncheons, dinners, cocktail mixers, school banquets, fundraising dinners, and holiday parties. You can expect the same professional service for any event. Catherine and the staff at The Courtyard at Gaslight Square are proud of their very special venue. And why not? Where else can you find a slice of Tuscany near the sparkling waters of Corpus Christi Bay? Great venue for: Meetings, Weddings, Quinceaneras, Large Gatherings, Corporate Events, Banquets, Family Reunions, Fundraisers, Fashion Shows, Bridal Showers, Community Events, Rehearsal Space For more info call (361) 884-1399.


THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY Not Your Mother’s Wedding Fair

Wedding fairs are required destinations for the newly engaged. In the past, that meant spending an afternoon wandering up and down aisle after aisle of vendors displaying their wares in an exhibit hall. Not anymore. At least not in Corpus Christi. That’s because Ovations at the Solomon Ortiz Center, a premiere wedding venue, partnered up with LaDeDa Events, a premiere event decoration company, to create a new attitude wedding fair called The Engagement Party. So what’s new about it? It takes place in the evening, not during the afternoon. It happens inside the Ortiz Center, a popular wedding venue, not an exhibit hall. It is geared to the upscale market, with elite vendors participating. And it’s fun! “We had been to wedding fairs, and they weren’t really fun. People just walked up and down while vendors tried to get someone to talk to them,” said Aubrey Winston, Social Sales Manager for Ovations, the facility management company for the Ortiz Center. “We wanted to have a fair and make it more like a party, more intimate.” “Think of it as a wedding fair done as a cocktail party,” described Jayme Jeffries-Terrell, Food and Beverage Manager for Ovations. It’s easy to think of it that way, since guests are greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne. And that’s just the beginning. Inside, brides-to-be are treated to a choreographed fashion show that highlights the latest in wedding attire. Food vendors hand out samples of cakes and other wedding foods. Make-up artists demonstrate their craft. Ice sculp-

tors create cool statues. Live music plays, photographers click and wedding dresses sway. The scene is dazzling and is sure to inspire the creative in each betrothed. The inspiration for The Engagement Party came from the natural rapport between Jayme and Leana Lopez, owner of LaDeDa. “The creativity between us is fabulous,” said Leana. “We work together to make this a great event. And the staff at the Ortiz is amazing.” Equally amazing is the wedding package given away as a grand prize. The package given away at the last Engagement Party was valued at $10,000. How do you win it? “That’s a secret. We keep it a mystery until after everyone is in the Party,” said Leana. Curious? That’s the goal! There are a couple of other goals. One is to get the soonto-be grooms to attend. Thinking cake, drinks and music might not be enough to draw the guys in, The Engagement Party also has a basketball shooting contest. The prize? A men’s wedding band. The best shooter gets to brag for a lifetime about how his mad basketball skilz won his wedding ring. Competition, prizes, ego. That’ll get the guys in! The cake helps. So ladies, bring your guys, and guys, bring your best game. The Engagement Party will return in early 2011. Cocktails to follow. Great venue for: Meetings, Weddings, Quinceaneras, Large Gatherings, Corporate Events, Banquets, Family Reunions, Fundraisers, Fashion Shows, Bridal Showers, Community Events, Rehearsal Space For more information call 361-879-0125.

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coastal weddings

Destination Wedding Tips Here are some helpful tips for planning a destination wedding in the Coastal Bend area. Agree with your fiancé on the details: where, when, who, how. Making sure you’re in agreement is the first step. Create a budget. No, it isn’t sexy, but you’ll thank yourself later. You’ll quickly figure out what is do-able and what isn’t. Are you prepared to foot part of your guests’ travel expenses, hotels, or rental cars? If not, do you have alternatives? For destination weddings especially, you need to consider wedding insurance. What happens if your photographer doesn’t show up and you have to hire another one the day of your wedding at twice the price? Or what if a bridesmaid’s dress is torn during rehearsal at the beach and she needs to find a replacement. Wedding insurance can be a lifesaver. The good news is wedding insurance can be extremely reasonable, and typically ranges from $150 to $550 depending on the cover-

age plan. Be sure to explore your options as additional coverage is offered to protect you against other damages, such as lost photos or stolen gifts you discover once you make your way home. When lost deposits and major plan changes are staring you down, wedding insurance is the one item that can best restore a peace of mind. Here are two sites to research in the very beginning of your planning: protectmywedding.com and wedsafe.com. A wedding planner is another really smart investment. One can help you get more of what you want without busting your budget. “Hire someone with fresh ideas and a passion for what they do,” said Sarah, of Sarah Diane Photography. “If you don’t, the task of time management and coordination falls on someone else, like your DJ or photographer.” Some venues offer a wedding planner gratis. Others for a small charge. The planner will know all the best local wedding industry professionals. Don’t wait to start planning; get a

head start. Meet with your planner (or caterers, florists, decorators, band, etc.) at least three months beforehand to make sure you’re on the same page. Then follow up 30 days out. Get to your destination wedding three days early to get the feel for things and to follow up on the inevitable loose ends. Once you’ve started meeting with your vendors, don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t like them. Sometimes you just don’t get along. Cut them loose early before bad karma can take hold. Get everything in writing from your vendors, so there aren’t any misunderstandings. Book services like a DJ “with a written contract to protect yourself,” said Jason Suthern of the Jason Suthern Band. If you discuss things on the phone, send a follow-up email recounting your agreements, and asking the vendor to contact you immediately if there are any misunderstandings. Ask all vendors about their unique requirements. Do they require a

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deposit? What about electricity? Be sure you understand everyone’s specific requirements months in advance, and who will be providing what resources for each necessity. Ask if you need to rent a generator, or bring extension cords. “Musicians and DJs must provide their own sound equipment,” said Jason Suthern. “But make sure the venue provides electricity if musicians require it.” Get information about local attractions. Sunset cruises, fishing excursions, sailing, the Texas State Aquarium, the U.S.S. Lexington . . . there are a lot of exciting things to do in the Coastal Bend and you may want to get groups together to enjoy them. Keep an eye on the environment. On the Texas coast, “the wind can be atrocious,” said Sarah, from Sarah Diane Photography. “If you are getting married on the beach, you need to be aware of what that means: sand between your toes and windblown hair. Don’t sport a dress you’ll regret getting dirty or wet,” added Sarah. There are special windy weather techniques for hair and wardrobe. Don’t forget about tides on the beach. You wouldn’t want your guests standing ankle deep in water during the ceremony. http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/ is an excellent source for quick wind data, as well as information about high tides. “And beware of the ‘red tide’,” Sarah reminded. A red tide is a naturally-occurring, rapid algal “bloom” in the ocean. They occur infrequently, but randomly, and can result in large amounts of dead fish washing up on Gulf beaches. Unfortunate for more reasons than one, red tides make for an unsightly ceremony. For up-to-date information on red tides in Texas, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/. Ask if the mosquitoes are out. They usually come out in force a week after a heavy rain. Wind and dry weather keep them in check. Your venue can help contain the intruders by spraying in advance. Be sure to get your legal documents in order. You must get the wedding license from the county clerk to get married in Texas. There is a mandatory 72 hour waiting period after you get the license, which means you need to get the license three full days before the ceremony. The bride and groom must appear in person and bring a certified copy of a birth certificate, driver’s license or other government-issued ID. Once you get the license, it expires in 30 days if not executed. Don’t forget to arrange for the preacher or officiant, and to get any permissions you might need if you’re having a beach wedding. Be selfish. This day is for you and your fiancé; make it your own. Do it your way. Don’t get pressured into having the same old boring wedding. Make it fun! At the same time, don’t forget about Grandma and Grandpa! Getting married on the beach can be truly special, but it can be tough navigating for your elders and mobility challenged guests. Accessibility should be addressed for sandy settings. Double check to make sure your reception or ceremony area is ADA compliant, or consider proper accomGULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 83


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modations beforehand. And remember to tell your guests about the terrain so they can prepare ahead of time. Put everyone in the same hotel. They need to meet each other sooner or later. Going through a common experience can create bonds. Hotels often will let you release a block of rooms if you have reserved too many, but they have deadlines. Check with the hotel to see when the latest date is that you can release rooms without penalty. Get everyone together early, at least the day before the wedding. Make it a happy hour in the hotel bar, or meet at the beach. Guests want to catch up with friends and family, and meet the new family-to-be. Give guests who aren’t in the wedding party the option of attending the rehearsal dinner. Remember, they’re away from home and may want to spend time around you. Rain happens. If you’re getting hitched on the beach, make sure the venue or wedding planner has a “rainout” plan and alternate location. “Find a venue along the beach that has an indoor reception hall just in case,” said Jason of the Jason Suthern Band. In general: “Expect the unexpected,” says Jason Page, freelance photographer. “And when you bring the coastline into account, there’s really no predicting what may happen. One thing you should prepare for, however, is gawkers. “On the waterfront, there will always be people roaming about, in front of, and behind your wedding,” said Page. If you’re coming to Corpus Christi for a beach wedding, your best bet is to book a date in the beach off-season. “Your beach will be more open, resulting in better photos and less traffic,” said Page. Be gracious. Don’t forget to leave a gift in each guest’s room. Little things mean a lot. A bottle of wine or some cheese shows you’re thinking of them. They traveled, so they deserve to be appreciated. And if you are having a beach wedGULFSCAPES.COM WINTER 2010 | 85


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TIPS traveled, so they deserve to be appreciated. And if you are having a beach wedding, get creative with the gifts . . . try beach themes! Another way to show your appreciation for your guests is to provide adequate transportation to and from events, accommodations, and venues. Your guests have taken it upon themselves to show up. Now that they’re here, they’re depending on you!

AACE CONDO RENTALS: Visit us online www.aacerent.com where you can view interieors and exteriors and book reservations 24/7 online. Call 800-828-2223 or email info@aace-rent.com. Our office is located at 4901 Padre Blvd, PO Box 3199 S. Padre Island, TX 78597

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green waves

From Pilots to Photographers ... A Change in Altitude Serving as an Army helicopter pilot in Afghanistan can really change your outlook on life. It certainly changed Denise Mesmer’s. “When I got back from Afghanistan, I looked at my husband, Scott, and said, ‘Life is too short.’ We were living where we didn’t want to be, commuting to the jobs we weren’t as thrilled with anymore,” said Denise. “It led me to realize the value of family and how fleeting time is. I decided then I’m going to go live where I want to live, and I’m going to find a job there,” she said. So after twenty two years as an Army pilot, Denise decided to retire. She found the place she wanted to live . . . on the Texas coast at Corpus Christi. She didn’t have a problem convincing Scott to move to Corpus Christi. It turns out that Scott is a pilot also, and has a seasonal job - he flies the Dallas Mavericks team plane. During the NBA season, he just has to catch a flight to Dallas every now and then. After choosing Corpus Christi as their new home town, the Mesmers turned their attention to finding that job that would thrill them. They found it in photography. So in 2008, after training under such masters as world-renowned photographer Doug Box and leading wedding photographer David Ziser, they opened Mesmerizing Moments Photography. Business went well enought that they recently opened a new studio, equiped with cutting-edge equipment that enables them to shoot their clientele and print photos all in one visit. No waiting around, no return visits, and, most importantly, no visiting a web site to proof your pictures. “A lot of studios you will visit online, and what you’re going to see online isn’t what you’ll see when you get your printed photos,” Denise said. This is because computer monitors vary greatly on how they display ­88 | WINTER 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM

color and brightness. According to Denise, “Depending on monitor resolution, color, it could look a lot different.” In the Mesmer’s system, what you see is what you get. Why did they choose photography? Both Denise and Scott had a long-time interest in the medium. But it was, as Denise put it, “the fleeting nature of time” that inspired them. “We have a great love of family,” said Denise, a mother of three, “and have built wonderful family memories throughout the years. Portraits have a way of taking you back to a particular point in time, whether it is a wedding, or a look back to a child’s first year in school. Certain events have a definite impact and help define our lives. Through understanding the importance and brevity of the moments, we began developing our photography style and developing the goals for our company. Our goal for our customers is to work hard to help them capture and preserve these defining moments  in a beautiful photograph that will last generations. We want them to look at a portrait 20 years from now and remember how they felt and what life was like for them at that moment.” Denise recalls that “French Photographer  Henri CartierBresson  talked about the ‘decisive moment’, as being, ‘that instant when a shutter click can suspend an event within the eye and heart of the beholder.’  We work to see these decisive moments so our customers can relax knowing we will capture and suspend these life defining events.” There are certainly moments that are life defining. And life altering. Denise’s just happened to occur in Afghanistan. She and Scott are glad it did. Top left, the Mesmer family. Top right, and center, Denise flew helicopters in Afghanistan. Bottom right, Denise and her daughter.


(SURFSIDE continued from page 16) cotton and other goods to Mexico. The Surfside City Hall houses the Fort Velasco Museum, where visitors can view artifacts and learn about the Fort’s history. The museum isn’t the only place to learn about bygone eras. Visiting Surfside Beach today is a refreshing reminder of our not too distant past, where time moved a little bit slower, people were a little more friendly, and life was little less hectic. Surfside offers the simple beach pleasures that first drew us to the coast. It’s the kind of place that inspires passion.

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Gulfscapes Magazine Winter 2010  

Gulf Coast Magazine for Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

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