Owning a Vacation Home

By Sherrill Pool Elizondo | March 12th, 2024

Decisions, challenges, and joys

Sherrill and her friend on a pier near the family vacation home in Texas

Owning a vacation home brings challenges and joys. Boomer reader Sherrill Pool Elizondo shares her experiences, from childhood to owning her own second home.

“To whom much is given, much is required” a friend reminds me when the demands of two homes become overwhelming.

I vacationed with family in Rockport, Texas, from early childhood and my parents bought a vacation home there while I was attending college in the ’60s. The family vacation home was sold in the early ’90s due to my mother’s failing health, much to the dismay of my family. When my three sons were young, we had visited my parents in their vacation home in Rockport often, and they learned to fish in this coastal community with their dad. “Pops” (as my husband is called now) in recent years fishes alongside his grown sons and all of our six grandchildren from our community pier close to the home we eventually had built.

After my parents’ home was sold, none of us went to Rockport for many years and none of us talked about it. I missed Rockport. Ten years ago my husband and I began looking for a vacation home to possibly buy in that area. We eventually bought a lot, and our home was built in 2014.

Sherrill’s oldest grandchild, Cal, catching a big fish off his grandparent’s community pier near their vacation home before leaving Rockport, Texas. Photo: Spring break, 2017
Sherrill’s oldest grandchild, Cal, catching a big fish off the community pier near his grandparent’s vacation home in Rockport, Texas. Photo: Spring break, 2017

I was on our community pier chatting with a grandson during spring break in 2017, when he exclaimed: “Wait, Nana, I think I got a fish!” I thought the pole would break as the fish swam under the pier, but he kept reeling it in. The smile on his face was priceless and I felt more content than I had in a long while. In that precise moment, I felt that our decision to build a vacation home had been a good one.

While husband was away on business back in 2008, I had driven to Rockport alone and checked into a motel. I went sightseeing, visited an old shell shop I used to go to as a child, and reminisced. My husband and I returned in 2013. A cousin and I then visited in 2014. My husband said, “Start looking for houses!”

My cousin had shared vacations with me and my family in the ’50s and ’60s and, as we looked at homes for sale, we were amazed by new construction but fondly recalled homes that remained from when we were children that were built on a bluff in a direction to benefit from prevailing winds off Aransas Bay. I still had doubts about owning a second home. I never would have imagined that one day I would own a home on that bluff.

My husband and I were interested in only one home for sale. Due to problems discovered on inspection that were not revealed, we decided against it. I cried bitter tears thinking we’d never have a home near the water and we weren’t getting younger! Our realtor, while riding her bike, saw an area she thought we should see. We were specific on location – an area with the beautiful ancient windswept oaks and higher elevation somewhere near Fulton Beach Road. We purchased a lot in a very small gated community near the bay and our home construction began on our lot in 2014. Our home was built in an L shape to save two old live oaks. Most of the trees in the area are hundreds of years old and on nearby Goose Island/Lamar Peninsula, the oldest live oak in Texas can be found. I explained to someone that the “bridge” to our front door was not a disability ramp but built so as not to back fill in the area of the tree. The backyard oak surrounded and was undisturbed by a deck. By 2015, long day trips to inspect work and meet with the builder or supervisor were over! Gone were days of making decisions or having disagreements.

Maintaining two homes is challenging. I make lists of what to stock up on and to clean two homes, and I don’t return to either home that hasn’t been cleaned and linens changed. After an unusual hard freeze for South Texas, we found ourselves replacing shrubs and mulching flower beds, and then deer tasted new plants! Gophers in the yard made a mess! Once I found piles of lovebugs in my hermetically sealed house!

The list of responsibilities is endless with home ownership, and two homes more so.

NO, my home is NOT available for rent, I wanted to say! NO, I’ve no need of a caretaker yet. NO, it’s not fun to work at a vacation home when you just want to relax. YES, I miss attributes of each home while at the other. YES, it’s difficult to choose one home over the other should the day arrive, but I was adamant our vacation and possible retirement home would be a one-story house.

Our vacation home is a refuge and a place for my husband to enjoy photography. I support local by shopping downtown for our home and gifts. Grandchildren enjoy fishing, trips to the local beach, and Mustang Island. I’ve stayed alone or invited friends and relatives for a “beach house” stay. I enjoy the coastal art community, looking for sea glass, talking with locals, seeing fantastic sunsets and a wide array of sea birds. September 2016 my husband and I took a road trip to several western states. It was a good two-week trip but tiring. We stopped at our coastal home to decompress, do laundry, fill hummingbird feeders, and relax before making the trip back to our Cypress home near Houston. So peaceful, after weeks on the road, to once more hear the soothing sound of waves come ashore as I sat on our deck one evening. Still making memories. “To whom much is given, much is required!”

Note: I wrote this spring of 2017, never imagining within four months a terrible hurricane named Harvey would threaten the Texas Gulf Coast. One son and husband prepared the house for the hurricane and promptly left Rockport and returned to Houston. We watched a storm chaser online that night. When I realized he was parked near the entrance to our street, I left the room in tears thinking there was no way that any structure would not sustain severe damage as the eye went directly over Rockport-Fulton.

Miraculously our home was left intact with minor damage. Every trip to that beautiful area was with dismay to still see visible destruction. Why was one home destroyed while another nearby withstood hurricane force winds or tornados spawned by Harvey? I have no answers, but we were blessed our home was spared. My heart goes out to those who suffered worse consequences that terrible August night. Rockport has come back strong!

We sold our beloved home of 42 years in Cypress, Texas, and moved to our Rockport home in 2022.

FEATURE PHOTO CAPTION, TOP: Sherrill Pool Elizondo (left) with a friend of 55 years, Patricia Stringer Cuyler, who reminds her: “To whom much is given, much is required.” Photo: Sept. 18, 2015

Sherrill Pool Elizondo graduated from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) with a degree in English and education. She’s a sixth-generation Texan and interested in genealogy. She’s been an aspiring writer for over 40 years and is the proud parent of three sons and has six talented and remarkable grandchildren. Some of her stories were seen online at Boomer Cafe before website was closed. This one appeared, in a slightly shorter version, on Boomer Cafe January 2019. She has other stories online at Bullock Texas History Museum, 70 Candles, Grand Magazine, Texas Escapes, Bridge of the gods Magazine in Oregon, and Boomer Magazine.

Read more, pondering, childhood memories, and other contributions from Boomer readers in our From the Reader department.

Have your own stories you’d like to share with our baby boomer audience? View our writers’ guidelines and e-mail our editor at Annie@BoomerMagazine.com with the subject line “‘From Our Readers’ inquiry.”

Play online Sudoku at SeniorsGuide.com

More from Boomer

The Games People Play

By Gail Bobrowitz | July 9, 2024

My Happy Place in Redondo Beach

By Karen Czuleger Strgacich | July 2, 2024

Vive Les Etats-Unis!

By Barbara Tulli | June 25, 2024