Port Aransas offers indoor options
[Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series of South Jetty stories taking inside looks at many of the entertaining activities just begging to be enjoyed in Port Aransas. With summer upon us, this series is meant to be an eye-opener not just for visitors but also for residents. You've heard about the folks who have lived in New York City all their lives without ever once visiting the Statue of Liberty. Similarly, some folks live for years in Port Aransas without taking advantage of some of the attractions that make Mustang Island a special place to live. Go! Do! Have fun! Enjoy That's my Island.]
A line of people sat, their eyes focused intently on the screens in front of them.
The scene: The Port Aransas Computer Center on a recent Monday morning.
The Computer Center is closed on Sunday, so - says Computer Club President John Somers - many people come in on Monday mornings to catch up on their e-mail or just to surf the Web.
It's not the only place where people go for a bit of respite. Even in Paradise, where outdoor recreation is king, it's sometimes nice to duck into a cool place away from the sun. And the week of July 4, scattered thunderstorms in Port Aransas had people ducking indoors for a completely different reason.
Herewith, then, a list of public places compiled by the South Jetty where you can go indoors. None of them will cost you a cent; one or two may even be relatively unknown to full-time residents of Port Aransas.
Bill Ellis Memorial Library, 710 W. Ave. A.
The library has around 24,000 books, videos and audios in its collection and subscribes to 69 magazines. Current issues of the magazines are kept in the library, but back issues are available for checkout.
A book club meets the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.; Story Time is every Saturday from 10:30-11 a.m.
The library is open Tuesday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. The library is supported by library and book sale volunteers and the Friends of the Library.
For more information call (361) 749-4116 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Port Aransas Computer Center, 430 N. Alister St.
The Port Aransas Computer Center has made a number of major changes over the past two years. Thanks to a number of local businesses and the help of the Weir Foundation, 15 older computers have been replaced with new Dell machines with upgraded memory and faster processors. Laptop connections have been increased in number and are available for those who prefer to bring their own laptops in and use the center's network for printing or for Internet connections. Last spring, volunteers replaced all the old front room furniture with new computer tables set at a comfortable height. They also replaced many of the recycled chairs with new, more comfortable ones, allowing expansion of the laptop user space available and more than doubling the number of laptop users the center can accommodate.
The center plans to be open regular hours- Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Hours may, however, vary depending on volunteer availability.
For more information, call the center at 749-4011.
The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute, 750 Channel View Dr.
The Marine Science Institute (MSI) address is on Channel View Drive, but the easiest way to get to the visitors' center is to take Cotter Avenue east almost to the beach. A sign points the way to the center.
Inside, visitors find displays of several different marine environments in aquaria that dwarf the ones at home. Birds of the area call from an interactive audio kiosk that lets the visitor hear and see what each bird is like. A display near the door shows different sand from all over the world, brought back or sent to the institute by visitors and staff.
Elsewhere in the main building, displays show current and past research projects and preserved specimens or photographs of local flora and fauna, including very large bones from whales found in the Gulf of Mexico.
A gift shop is open during Visitor Center hours and features books, t-shirts, educational items and memorabilia.
Also, free educational movies about coastal ecology and marine life are shown Monday through Thursday at 3 p.m. The movie schedule is published in the South Jetty's Island Agenda.
For more information, call the Visitors' Center, (361) 749-6729.
The Port Aransas Civic Center, 710 W. Ave. A.
Open during city hall hours (Monday Friday, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.), the civic center houses several displays of Port Aransas history and ecology as well as the Lynn Gavit Marsh Bird Exhibit.
The exhibit, featuring birds indigenous to this area, is in the front, center cabinet.
The bird habitat depicts a scientifically correct simulated marsh/ mangrove environment. The University of Texas Marine Science Institute provided a list of plant specimens and collection locations for specimens. Up to 20 birds are displayed. Seven or eight birds are integrated in to "water" areas. Birds include scaup, sanderling, sandpiper, dunlin, little green heron, common loon, snowy egret, common tern, black-bellied whistling (tree) duck, roseatte spoonbill, rail and ring-billed gull.
Lynn Gavit died in January 1995 while in South Africa for an international fishing tournament. He was an avid fisherman, a pharmacist and a Realtor in Port Aransas for many years. The exhibit was donated in his memory by his widow, Jo Leta Gavit, and her sons, Bill and Brad.
Also in the Civic Center foyer are exhibits showing how the U.S. Coast Guard came to Port Aransas and some of the work the Coast Guard does today, under the Department of Homeland Security.
Another exhibit displays some of the many shells to be found on area beaches, including a full range of sizes of the popular sand dollar.
For more information, call city hall at 749-4111.