Blog Posts about Mermaid Cove

Stories about Mermaid Cove and
Galveston Adventures

Replacing the HVAC was a new experience

Crane installing new HVAC
By Cindy Wingo on January 12, 2019

We had several instances in the summer of 2018 that really signaled the end of the HVAC system. I knew it had problems, but I had decided to replace the south-facing windows in the spring because they were deteriorating and one window was leaking. There is only so much we can get done in between guests and with budget limitations, I had hoped the AC would hold out, so much for that decision. The system had to be repaired twice while guests were in "enjoying" their vacation. But with the help of Roberts Air and a crane to remove the old outside unit and drop in place the new unit, we now have a new high efficiency system that works wonderfully!

10 Things to Do in Galveston

Blog Picture Beach
By Cindy Wingo on March 4, 2018
    1: Eat Seafood
    There are many more than I can even remember, but here are a few recommendations.
    Miller’s Seawall Grill
    Willie G’s
    Cajun Greek
    Nate’s West End
    Sand Bar & Grill
    Jimmy’s on the Pier
    The Spot
    Gumbo Diner
    Brick House
    Sunflower Bakery & Café
    Mosquito Café
    Olympia Grill
    Fisherman’s Wharf
    Huli Huli Hut
    Grotto Ristorante at The San Luis Hotel

    2: Relax on the Beach
    There is a great beach at the end of the street that is dog friendly. You cannot drive on the neighborhood beach. Stewart beach is drivable and costs $10 to $30 depending on season and your vehicle.
    East beach is a party atmosphere with concerts, pavilion and alcohol is permitted. They also have Beach Wheelchairs for rent.
    Galveston beaches have fun events all summer long, from Family Beach Challenge to Sandcastle competition and even Sunday evening Fireworks at certain times of the year.

    3: Really Chill
    Nothing cools you faster on a hot summer day than ice cream
    Ben & Jerry’s: Ok, being transparent, I am lactose intolerant, but Ben & Jerry’s has Mango Mango Sorbet which is incredibly delicious. 4408 Seawall
    Frios Gourmet Pops: 6302 Seawall
    Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream: Wander off the Strand to 2120 Post for great ice cream, snowballs, sundaes, shakes and floats.
    La King’s Confectionery: A 1920s Soda fountain with not just ice cream, but Purity Ice Cream, the oldest Ice cream in Texas. 2323 Strand Street

    4: Drink Local
    If ice-cold beer is your idea of chillin’ after a day at the beach, Galveston has two local breweries: Galveston Island Brewing Co. and Beerfoot Brewery. www.beerfootisland.com. There are also some mighty fine drinks being concocted at some of the local bars. Island Famous has 5 bars in 1: The Spot, TikiBar, SideYard, RumShack and Squeeze.

    5: Ride the Galveston Trolley
    History is returning with the renovation of Galveston’s historic rail trolley cars. Routes will take island visitors from the east end of the island to the west, with numerous stops in between. The Trolley only runs in peak seasons. For 2018 Spring Break (March 8 to Monday, March 19), and Memorial Day through Labor Day they will operate each day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For Easter, they will operate each day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Friday, March 30 to Sunday, April 1.

    6: Explore Moody Gardens
    In the Rainforest Pyramid you can see free-roaming monkeys, macaws, giant Amazon River otters and other endangered animals and plants.
    In the Aquarium Pyramid, explore the ocean, meet penguins, sharks and stingrays, see amazing jellyfish.
    In the Discovery Pyramid, go on a Spongebob Subpants voyage.
    Check out a 3D film or 4D Special FX theater experience, go on a Ropes Course and Zip Line or enjoy Palm Beach water slides, lazy river and wave pool. Moody Gardens Website.

    7: Go to a Museum or a Historic Site
    The Bryan Museum: 1315 21st Street. https://www.thebryanmuseum.org/
    Rosenberg Library & Museum: 2301 Sealy Avenue. http://www.rosenberg-library.org/
    Galveston Children’s Museum: 2618 Broadway. http://galvestoncm.org/
    Galveston Railroad Museum: 2602 Santa Fe Place, http://www.galvestonrrmuseum.com/
    Texas Seaport Museum & The 1877 Tall Ship Elissa: 2200 Harborside Drive, http://www.galvestonhistory.org/
    Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum: 1900 Harborside Drive, http://www.oceanstaroec.com/
    American Undersea Warfare Center: 100 Seawolf Park Blvd, http://www.americanunderseawarfarecenter.com/
    Galveston County Museum: 722 Moody, https://www.galvestoncountymuseum.org/
    Just a few of the top historic sites:
    1838 Michael B. Menard House
    1839 Samuel May Williams House
    1859 Ashton Villa
    1859 St. Joseph Church
    1861 U.S. Custom House
    1880 Garten Verein
    1895 Bishop’s Palace
    1895 The Moody Mansion

    8: Enjoy Nature
    Birdwatching is prime any time of year in Galveston. During migration time, birdwatching becomes a true sport in Galveston. Galveston FeatherFest is a 6-day springtime festival with lectures, field trips and activities for all ages. This year it is April 17 - 22, 2018. Galveston Island is one of the top locations in the country for birding. The island has a rich variety of natural habitats that make birding the area very rewarding.
    With all of the local estuaries, Kayaking is a very popular activity. Galveston Island State Park has Paddling Trails to explore. https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/coastal/galveston/

    9: Fish
    Right at the end of the street if you like surf fishing
    There are several fishing piers along seawall including Jimmy’s on the Pier, http://www.jimmysonthepier.com/
    There are many charter boats for gulf and bay fishing. Here is TripAdvisor’s list of Fishing Carters: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g55879-Activities-c61-t217-Galveston_Galveston_Island_Texas.html

    10: Shop

    While there are many fun places around town like Ohana Surf & Skate and Murcochs on Seawall to Bayside Chic on Broadway, you can get a lot of shopping compressed in one area by strolling between 20th and 25th and between Postoffice Street and Strand Street. Most people call it “The Strand” but the shopping and dining extends for several streets south including Post Office, Mechanic.

Checking Out is easy

Blog Picture Beach
By Cindy Wingo on March 1, 2018

While check-out processes vary with different rentals, we don’t require much on your part. We know you are packing to head home and I, personally, never like leaving. I prefer to spend every last minute possible enjoying the beach.
Please load the dishwasher and turn it on
If there is a guest checking in within 4 hours of when you check out, the house cleaners will be able to unload clean, dry dishes at the end of their cleaning process.
Please leave the sheets on the bed
There are a few rentals in the industry that still request guests to strip the beds on checkout day, but not Mermaid Cove. If a bed was used, please leave it unmade so it is very clear that it was slept in, but no need to remove sheets.
Please take out the trash
If another guest is not checking in right away, the cleaners may postpone cleaning for a day to take care of other homes with back-to-back bookings. The trash can get stinky pretty quick, so taking it out as you leave would be a big help to us. Monday is trash day and we have a service that pulls the trash out to the curb on Monday mornings.
Please set the HVAC to a modest setting, 78 in summer, 68 in winter
There may not be a guest checking in right away, please be considerate and help us conserve energy when you are not enjoying the property.

New Guest Towels

Blog Picture New Guest Towels
By Cindy Wingo on October 15, 2017

When recently switching to a new property management company, TurnKey, I needed to purchase all new linens (some other management companies supply them.) In researching the best choice for linens, many vacation rental owners recommended buying at a big box discount store. But my research also revealed a company that specializes in products for vacation rentals that was also highly recommended. Although more suggestions were to go the "cheaper is better" route, after much thought, I purchased all of the bed and bath linens from The Distinguished Guest. I was concerned I had overspent and unsure if I had made the right decision. But, when I recently enjoyed my property for a birthday celebration with family, my fears vanished. After a day at the beach, covered in sunscreen and sand, a shower felt really refreshing. Drying off with one of the new towels from The Distinguished Guest was a real treat. Large size, plush, soft, and luxurious. Yes, I had definitely made the right choice. It may seem like a small thing, but many of the decisions on outfitting a property are small. All of the tiny decisions add up to impact the guest experience. It is my goal to provide a positive guest experience and quality towels are just one way I accomplish it. I hope my guests agree.

The Tall Ship Elissa

Blog Picture The Tall Ship Elissa
By Cindy Wingo on July 3, 2017

One of the classes that I took during FeatherFest in April 2017 was HDR Photography. It may seem odd to take a photography class that had nothing to do with birds, but it was one of the most educational programs at the conference. The class met dockside and we had access to the entire ship during the sunset hours. The instructor, Kathy Adams Clark was a true teacher, she would give us a challenge, and then send us off to shoot. We shot the ship from the dock, then we went aboard and to shoot using specific exposures or f-stops. We went off the ship as the sun went down, and then back on again. I had been using my camera for several years, but knew it had much more potential. My brain was really tired by the end of the session, but Kathy really opened my eyes to what I could achieve with my camera. It was educational and so much fun. Perhaps I should go back to Elissa just to take a real tour and learn more about her. See more photos on the Mermaid Cove Facebook page.

FeatherFest 2017

By Cindy Wingo on June 2, 2017

I do not consider myself to be a “birder,” I don’t record every species that I see, but I suppose I could say I am an enthusiast. I truly enjoy the beauty and variety of birds on Galveston Island. In April 2017, I attended the 15th Annual FeatherFest event. I was impressed with the vast knowledge of the field trip guides as well as the depth of knowledge shared. The classes opened my eyes to the complexities of taking photos of birds in flight, and the field trips helped me learn about the local birds and many natural habitats on the island.

Cameras, lenses, tripods, camera settings, photographer position and bird angle are all important aspects of bird photography. Positioning yourself to have the sun at your back will generally provide the best lighting. The angle of the bird is very important as well, shooting photos of the birds while they either fly at you or sideways to you are best, photos of birds flying away from you are generally frowned upon by the experts.

I have been to many of the locations where the field trips were, but never knew there were so many different types of birds, I just didn’t know what I was seeing. It was fascinating to learn about the many waders, ducks and raptors that inhabit the island, or the many songbirds that use it as a stopping point on their annual migration. My favorite birds are the splashy, extravagant, Roseate Spoonbill, the beautiful, shapely Avocet and the tiny, scampering Sanderling.

Among the many birds I saw, this is what I made note of: Blue Winged Teal, Willett, Dowager, Stilt, Shoveller, Kite, Mallard, Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Reddish Egret, Lesser and Greater Yellow Legs, White Ibis, Eastern Kingbird, Blue Grosbeak, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Plover, Tricolor Heron, Green Heron, Red-Breasted Merganser, Tern, Heron Gull, Laughing Gull, Tanager, Oriole, Bunting, Eastern Meadowlark, Scissor Tail Fly Catcher, Pelican and of course, my favorite, Roseate Spoonbill.

Perhaps your interest is piqued and you will consider attending the 2018 FeatherFest! For more information, visit galvestonfeatherfest.com. Here is a great article with Top 10 locations for birding on Galveston Island: http://www.galvestonfeatherfest.com/noting-better-than-birding-in-galveston/

Nice new deck furniture

Blog Picture new deck furniture
By Cindy Wingo on February 13, 2017

Since the day we bought our charming beach cottage in September of 2014, it has been a constant battle keeping deck chairs. The cheap resin chairs kept breaking and cracking. Bad enough when my husband falls through, but terrible if a guest experiences that. I shopped many locations and found this great Polywood set from Mattress Land & Furniture in La Marque. This stuff is heavy duty, is made from recycled milk cartons (so it is eco-friendly!) and has a mildew inhibitor built in. Take that! Galveston sunshine, sand and salt air.

One of my favorite spaces, the Captain's Bunk

Blog Picture Captain's Bunk
By Cindy Wingo on January 6, 2017

An adorable bunkroom decked out in nautical flair, hosts a twin size bed atop deep drawers. Sailing Alphabet flags, boat cleat clothes hooks and nautical grid steps to put you aloft in this one-of-a-kind room.

This room is a favorite of several of my family guests. There are plenty of cubbies to store your clothes or shopping spree booty. My husband crafted the nautical design grid steps, which can double as a seat, and I created the clothes hooks fashioned from a stained block of wood and boat cleats. The nautical alphabet flags are simply a string of random letters. Perhaps someday I will spring for the real deal and spell out “Captain.”

Better than any hammock

Blog Picture Swing Bed
By Cindy Wingo on January 4, 2017

This downstairs Game Room is separated from the rest of the house, and the walls of the room are unfinished, but the swinging twin size bed is my personal favorite. There is nothing like dozing on a bed that sways.

The swinging bed is more comfortable than any hammock I have ever tried. It is topped with a comfy futon and lots of pillows. I am so proud of the work my husband did in building it. We were careful to hang it low to the ground so no one would get hurt if they were to get too rambunctious.

The Game Room also has a couch/futon that folds down to a full size bed and a dining table and chairs for playing games. We aren’t allowed to book the room as accommodations because it is unfinished, meaning it is not insulated and has no interior drywall. There is a window AC unit and a small heater that make the room quite comfortable. Although we don’t count the space in accommodations, it is a very popular teen hangout. There have been many times that I have found sheets and pillows in the room after guests check out (evidence that they sent the teens down there to sleep).

Birding Galveston Island

Blog Picture Roseate Spoonbill
By Cindy Wingo on December 9, 2016

Of all the places I could have chosen to own a vacation rental, Galveston Island has been extremely rewarding. I am not a seasoned “birder,” just someone who enjoys the marvelous variety of creatures for me to photograph.

Galveston Island State Park is about a mile south west of Mermaid Cove. The park goes from beach side across the island to bay side. I find more birds bayside, with the bayou, estuaries, wetlands, there is an abundance of birds. The state park also has a viewing platform from which to watch the birds. I typically wander about bay side and have been able to photograph my favorite Roseate Spoonbills. I have found them at the state park and the west end of Sportsman Road. Sandhill Cranes seem to enjoy the south end of the airport, and you can photograph from Stewart Road.

Galveston Island is host to Feather Fest an annual birding event, with 2017 marking 15 years. They have a handy downloadable PDF on their website that will help you find some of the best birding on the island. Visti their website for the most current information: http://www.galvestonfeatherfest.com/ 251 species were spotted during the 2016 event. Field trips, workshops, photography field trips, photography workshops, turtle tours and social events.