Friday, January 25, 2013

Port Mansfield from a Bicycle Seat

Our Thursday morning bike rides continue, weather permitting. Sometimes Bruce leads; sometimes others take that responsibility.  Each week we start our ride from a different location.  This week we drove to Port Mansfield to ride.

Port Mansfield is a small village on the shore of the Laguna Madre about an hour's drive from our park.  It appears that the population of that tiny town are all fishermen or boating enthusiasts.  Fishermen and boats of various types and sizes are everywhere.  Every house on the water's edge has a boat dock behind it and there's more fishing gear in the town than mail boxes!

In the winter, the population of Port Mansfield is swelled by Winter Texans, who occupy the nearby RV parks.  Most of the Winter Texans who choose Port Mansfield for their winter home are also either fisher-folks or boating buddies.  Only one of those two passions could entice a person to settle nearly 30 miles from the nearest grocery store!

Sixteen adventurous bicyclists in seven different vehicles set out from our park last Thursday (January 24) headed east toward Port Mansfield.  The weather was great; sunnyand warm, with only a slight wind.  Down here in south Texas, that's affectionately called "Chamber of Commeerce weather" and it's not common in January!

We parked our cars near Sweet Gregory P's Smokehouse, a preview of coming delights.  Then off we pedaled south toward the county park and the public fishing pier.

We watched the brown pelicans swoop and dive for their breakfast.  We admired a snowy egret perched beside the water, and wondered what small island we were seeing far out toward the horizon.  We didn't bother the many fishermen dropping their lines from that pier but we had to express our amazement at one man's catch of a fish -- type unknown -- that appeared to be about three feet long!

Rested, refreshed, and ready to ride again, we headed back toward Gregory P's as the halfway stopping point for those who chose the short ride.  Then seven of us headed southwest, up a scenic inlet of the Laguna toward a small community of lovely big homes on the water's edge.

Over many years, Port Mansfield has become home to a large number of deer.  Why they have chosen that remote location only they know, but they outnumber dogs in that community. 
They seem to have little fear of humans, even those on bicycles!  This impressive buck just stood in the side ditch of the road a few feet from our route and watched us go by.  The deer have become so numerous that they have created problems for the residents, destroying their landscaping.  That's unfortunate, but the deer may have been there before the shrubs were!
Back to Sweet Gregory P's Smokehouse for the delicious ending of a perfect ride.  His tender pulled pork, smoked turkey, brisket or sausage sandwiches, cole slaw, beans, potato salad, and beverages was a delightful way to replace the calories we had just biked off.  The sign in the restroom at the restaurant gave us a chuckle that lasted almost all the way home:
"Fishing: an acquired skill consisting of
baiting, casting, reeling and netting
while balancing, sweating, cussing
and swatting."
mshr - 25 Jan 2013