The Oil Kings and the People of Corpus Christi
Tom reasoned. Texas is closer and a straight shot from Kansas City. And the sun shines there in the winter also. Dreams of sunrays filled our minds as we headed toward Texas. (Within the last ten years we had visited and camped near Corpus Christi, and we had a great time.)
The Hunt for an RV Spot
After visiting approximately fifteen properties labeled RV Resorts (to buy or rent), around Corpus Christi we wearily gave up the search. Apparently Texans define Resort differently than the rest of the world. Many of the “resorts” were good places to tie up your pet and sit a while. There was no room to even stretch out your arms. Their main attraction was the sky and the dirt.
Two of the sites we inspected were livable, but the costs were excessive. There was a cute little Casita on a driveway about 30 miles away from Portland for $132,000.
We really liked the RV Pad on the island of Port Aransas for $166K with monthly costs of maintenance and taxes of $500 or more a month. But that was all it was, a driveway. And right to the side of it they were building a three story home?! It felt like a closet. Tom just reminded me that we looked at a two-bedroom loft condo, 1.5 baths on St. Croix for about $165K negotiable. Which would you choose?
Remnants of Harvey
We checked out the area all around Corpus Christi going as far as Mathis, Fulton, Port Aransas, and Mustang Island. (We could not go as far south as we wanted because the roads were blocked.) Remnants of Hurricane Harvey that hit last August were everywhere. Downed signs, empty lots, blown out gas stations, blue-tarp roofs, and sagging buildings greeted us. One very sad building was blown in half. You could see furniture on all the levels. Debris was piled up in many places. But most of the buildings looked like they had new paint.
The best hours we spent in Corpus Christi were on the ferry to Port Aransas and the winding drive through the southern Mansions on Ocean Blvd. (I will return to this shortly.) While we did not appreciate 75 mph signs on two lane highways without shoulders, we discovered that the best road in town was a runway at the airport.
Greedy Petroleum Kings
What really shocked us was the presence of the Petroleum Kings (industry) everywhere. Refineries circle the town. One source says there are 6 oil refineries and over 1,000 oil wells in Corpus Christi. Seems like there were more to me. Tall prayer-like minarets spewing flames were everywhere. (At first I really thought they were minarets.) The only place we have experienced these tall stacks/chimneys burning off gas was in Williston, North Dakota during the height of the fracking. We camped in Williston and the burning gas kept us awake all night.
Is Corpus Christi a Potential Bhopal?
We know that people depend upon this industry for survival, but it seems to us that people should not live around the refineries or wells. It reminds me of the Bhopal tragedy! Oil is stored very close to humans. The round cylindrical storage units look like flowers popping up out of the ground everywhere. It seems like a disaster just waiting to happen.
I love farms and some of them outside Corpus Christi were right next to a refinery. The cattle grazing and especially an old church looked out of place against this rusty backdrop. I kept thinking about the wind turbines. They seem to be a better alternative than digging up, burning off methane gas, and processing oil –leaving rusting steel giants behind as oil Kings do all over the world. (Check out the abandoned plant at St. Croix)
We worried about polluted ground water. We worried about the air and food on the farms. Was petroleum seeping into everything? Most older roofs were black from the fallout from the factories or mold?? What about the fallout from the gas being burned? And then there was the sand!
We walked on the beach at Port Aransas and found two lanes of cars driving up and down the beach. Sand was constantly being thrown in the air. Some beach people brought their campers. Others taped off sections of the beach that they were claiming as their own. It was really a weird, bizzare, and hostile experience. I wondered about the safety? of whizzing cars and trucks right next to the water. We decided the place was not for us.
Now, let’s get back to the mansions. I thought that those wealthy people were really lucky; they did not have huge chimneys or refineries in their backyards. On our way back to town, because Ocean Blvd was closed at Texas A&M University, we took a break and walked along the water again. Wait a minute! What is that out there in the water? Is it a floating city? What is it? It was mile after mile of offshore oil platforms right in front of the mansions. The wind blows from the East across these platforms and lands right on top of the mansions. Not one person, not even the well-to-do, can escape the effects of oil pollution on their property and lives.
Just before we left, we stopped to take a photo of the USS Lexington. Right next to me was a sculpture of a dog and two white feet. The dog was looking up in the air to the invisible person who owned the feet. Some say that the title of the sculpture should be “The White Man and the Indians (the dog).”
I thought the dog sculpture was an insightful commentary on our experience of Corpus Christi. It should have been entitled, “The Oil Kings (feet) and the People (dog).”
My apologies, when I took this photo I saw shoes and so an earlier version of this post discussed the shoes and the dog. Obviously, it is the dog and two feet!
As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge