Palacios, The City by the Sea
August 2009

This brief 5-day trip takes us southwest of Houston about 75 miles to the small town of Palacios. This "City by the Sea" is located on the shores of Tres Palacios Bay. It has one of the largest fleets of shrimp boats on the Texas coast. It attracts a number of northern "Snow Birds" in the winter to the mild winter climate. August is not the best time to visit, but we were looking for a location close to Houston that was a little cooler than the 100-degree temperature we were experiencing this summer. Palacios and the coastal area were usually about 5 degrees cooler in the daytime. Not much, but beggars can't be choosers.

[Monday] August 10th we left home about 9:30 am, after loading the trailer in a light drizzle of rain, and took US-59, TX-71 and TX-35 south to Palacios where we parked our trailer in Bayside RV Park at about noon. The park is on a small peninsular across from where all the shrimp boats dock. The dock area provided entertainment and education from the boats and birds.

< Bayside RV Park on South Bay.

Please wait a few minutes for the small photos to load. Then click on a small photo to see it enlarged.

After lunch we drove back to the Chamber of Commerce to pick up area information and talk to the helpful ladies. We drove along the bayside and made a quick stop at the local Super S grocery. Back at the trailer we relaxed as the a/c worked to keep us comfortable in the heat of the afternoon. We could watch the fishing boats come and go from the Port of Palacios right next to the park. Around sundown we walked around the dock and watched a tugboat come in and pick up a new barge from the construction company across from us and tow it out into the bay. It was very interesting to see all the work it takes to check out and attach the barge to the tug.

< Barge under construction across from our RV Park. < Tugboat under construction.

[Tuesday] In the morning we drove back into Palacios to the bayside and walked out over the bay on the walkway leading to the Palacios Pavilion. The current pavilion was built in 1991, but is the last in a series of pavilions that were built beginning in 1904. The earlier pavilions were elaborate structures hosting big bands performing to large gatherings of folks dancing, skating, fishing and partying. Past hurricanes destroyed the previous pavilions but they kept building them back.

< Palacios Pavilion (1991).

We then stopped across the street at the Luther Hotel to take a look at the historic "Jewel on the Tres Palacios Bay", as it was called. It is a massive old wooden 3-story structure that was built in 1903 at a site about 1/2 mile away. For some unknown reason, the owner decided to move it to the current location. They split into three sections and moved by mules to the current site in 1905. It was originally named The Palacios Hotel. It still functions as a hotel. Next to it is a 1940's era motel court that will soon be demolished because it was too damaged by hurricanes.

< The Luther Hotel. < Motel Court.

We drove around in the Port of Palacios and looked at all the sailboats and fishing boats that were at dock - some small and some giant size. Palacios is said to be home for the largest fishing fleet in Texas. Further to the west on TX-35 business, we saw the start of a new gated resort community that has just the streets in now. This development named Beachside is located on the site of Historic Camp Hulen (formerly Camp Palacios), operated as a military camp from the 1920's to the end of WWII. It was also used as a German prisoner of war camp in the mid-40's.

< Sailboats docked. < Fishing boats docked. < Storm close, but no rain.

We returned to the trailer and after lunch we went down to the park office and had a nice visit with the couple running the park. Afterwards we relaxed and read.

[Wednesday] We visited again with the park managers who were very knowledgeable on the shrimping boats and how they operate. We had lots of questions about the various aspects of life on the shrimp boats. We learned that the smaller boats were used only in the bay, whereas the larger boats operate out in the Gulf, as far away as Florida. The large boats take enough supplies to allow them to be at sea for over a month at a time. They were very helpful in answering our many questions.

After lunch we drove into Palacios and toured the Palacios Area Historical Museum. It is well organized and contains interesting exhibits on the history of the area. We viewed a movie showing how one of French Explorer Sieur de La Salle's ships, the Belle, was recovered from Matagorda Bay. The ship went down in 1686 and was recovered some 300 years later.

< Palacios Area Historical Museum.

Next we visited the campus of the Texas Baptist Encampment in Palacios. This campus was established in 1906 by the Baptist Young Peoples Union and has been in use for over 100 years now. Damaged by a recent hurricane, it has been rebuilt and hosts several thousand guests each year.

< Texas Baptist Encampment.

That night, we enjoyed a seafood dinner at the Bayside Seafood House.

[Thursday] In the morning we drove about 30 miles down TX-35 south to Port Lavaca. We then toured the Calhoun County Museum, which houses some of the items recovered from La Salle's sunken ship, the Belle. It went down in February of 1686 in the murky waters of Matagorda Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast. Texas Historical Commission archeologists discovered the Belle shipwreck in 1995 and excavated it from the bottom inside a giant cofferdam.

< Calhoun County Museum.

After eating our picnic lunch under a pavilion on Lavaca Bay, we drove down TX-316 to the historic community of Indianola. Today a statue of Rene Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle stands near the entrance to the fishing community of bay homes. In the 1840's, Indianola was established as a landing place for German immigrants bound for western Texas. In the late 1840's it became a town and was the County Seat of Calhoun County from 1852 to 1886. The town was almost completely destroyed by a hurricane in 1875, but rebuilt to some extent. In 1886 the remaining town was completely destroyed by a hurricane followed by a fire. Now it is a small community of bay homes and one bait and fishing supply store, waiting for the next hurricane.

< La Salle monument.

On the way back through Port Lavaca, we stopped at the Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse Museum. Originally built on Matagorda Island in 1858, resembling lighthouses on Chesapeake Bay more than those on the Texas coast, this is one of four remaining lighthouses in Texas.

< Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse.

[Friday] After doing our end-of-trip-cleaning of the trailer after breakfast, we headed back up TX-35 to the little town of Blessing, where we had lunch at the Hotel Blessing Coffee Shop. This is a "must stop" if you are in the area. The Anglo "soul food" is outstanding. The old hotel is still in operation and is covered with old photos and stroies from the past years of grandeur.

< Hotel Blessing. < Hotel Blessing Coffee Shop.

This draws to a close our visit to Palacios, Texas. We hope you enjoyed the photos and brief descriptions of our activities. God willing, join us again soon for another RV adventure.

Bye for now,
Lawson & Kay

August 26, 2009.

The Good News was promised long ago by God through His prophets, as written in the Holy Scriptures. It is about His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: as to His humanity, He was born a descendant of David; as to His divine holiness, He was shown with great power to be the Son of God by being raised from death.   (Rom 1:2-4  GNB)

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