A boomer’s joys and woes with a vacation home

We’re always interested here at BoomerCafé with the many ways baby boomers today fill their lives. Sherrill Pool Elizondo is filling hers with two homes, and seems to have mixed feelings about it. Especially since her “vacation home” was threatened in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey. Happily, it survived.

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

My parents bought a home in Rockport, Texas, while I was in college in the 1960s. Eventually it was sold.

Sherrill with youngest grandchild (at the time) on July 4, 2015

In 2008 I drove back to Rockport and checked into a motel. I went sightseeing, visited an old shell shop, and reminisced. My husband and I returned in 2013.

We were interested in one home. After inspection 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 bike-riding, saw an area she thought we should see. We had been specific on location: windswept oaks, higher elevation.

One of Sherrill’s granddaughters. September 5, 2015

Home construction began 2014 … built L-shaped to save two old live oaks. The “bridge” to the front door was not a disability ramp but built so as not to back-fill an area of oak… backyard oak surrounded and undisturbed by a deck. By 2015, long day trips to inspect work and meet with the builder or supervisor were over.

More grandchildren on Mustang Island. Spring Break, 2017

But now, maintaining two homes is challenging. I make lists of what to stock up on, I clean two homes, and I don’t return to either that hasn’t been cleaned and linens changed. After an unusual hard freeze for South Texas, we replaced shrubs… then deer tasted new plants! Gophers made a mess!! Once I even found piles of Lovebugs in my hermetically sealed house!

Endless responsibilities with home ownership. Two homes, more so. NO, my home is NOT available for rent. NO, I’ve no need of a caretaker yet. NO, not fun to work at a vacation home. YES, I miss attributes of each home while at the other. YES, it’s difficult to choose one over the other should the day arrive but I was adamant our vacation home and possible retirement home would be a one-story house.

Oldest grandchild catching a big fish before leaving our Rockport home. Spring break 2017

Rockport is a refuge and a place for my husband to enjoy photography. I support local by shopping downtown. Grandchildren enjoy fishing, trips to the local beach, and Mustang Island. I’ve stayed alone or invited friends and relatives to our “beach house.” I enjoy the art community, looking for sea glass, talking with locals, seeing fantastic sunsets and a wide array of sea birds.

Sherrill with friend of 50 years. Who reminds me: “To whom much is given, much is required.” September 18, 2015

In September 2016, my husband and I took a road trip to western states. A good trip but tiring. We stopped at our coastal home to decompress, do laundry, fill hummingbird feeders, and relax before going back to 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.”

12 Comments

  1. “To whom much…”, said the non-caretaker friend. My husband and I have tried several different situations on our beloved Cape Cod. After selling a family cottage, for “family” and financial (repairs) reasons, we decided a larger home that could accommodate our growing family (grandkids) was a good idea. We could afford it if we rented several times during the summer. Affording and renting were not the problems… Every time we drove up, we’d see weed-whacking, ivy-pulling, bittersweet-yanking, tree -trimming, and rodent-killing work to be done. Our private oasis was unmanageable!

    We sold that home after 2 years and are now under agreement for a little, very low maintenance cottage again. Fingers crossed.

  2. Wonderful article. We lived in Houston in 1981, and bought a townhouse in Rockport soon after for a getaway weekend. We bought many paintings, strolled the small beach, and just relaxed.

    That of course was a long time ago, and someone mentioned how that sleepy little town has changed!

  3. Emily, I was so glad to read your comment and that you could relate to my story! Added to some of that, half of our neighbors on our small street of a few houses are full time residents and the others are part time. We have a strict HOA that is enforced and all of us strive to maintain our homes and yards which is more difficult when one does not live in the second home year round. That’s when yardmen and good neighbors who have access to the home help and we try to go there often. I find that some of the pluses of owning a vacation home outweigh the negatives and in my original version of my story I stated something that made me think my husband and I had made the right choice to build a vacation home: Rockport was like a second home and, when my three sons were young, we visited often and they learned how to fish with their Dad. “Pops” now fishes alongside his grown sons and grandchildren. Recently I was on our community pier at our vacation home and was chatting with my oldest grandson when he politely exclaimed: “Wait, Nana, I think I got a fish!” The fish put up a good fight and I thought the pole would break as it swam under the pier but my grandson kept reeling it in. The fish was released because they were leaving after spending a few days during spring break. The smile on my grandson’s face that day was priceless and made me feel more happy and content than I had in a long time. I realized in that moment that our choice to build a vacation home was perhaps a good one.

  4. Sherry, your memories are priceless, and now you are sharing and allowing your grandchildren to build great memories as well. What a gift! I hope you and family will continue to enjoy your time in Rockport….but I’m not looking forward to your relocating there permanently. (Pictures are so good! Especially love the cartwheels in the sand!). Shirley

  5. Suzanne, Thanks for your comment. Yes, Rockport has changed especially from the times I went there from the 1950’s-1980’s. My father had fished and hunted in the area during the 1930’s and 1940’s when it was a sleepy fishing town and, in certain ways, it still is. It is still a laid back relaxing place and the bay water is usually clear and blue. There are some new and excellent restaurants and many people have retired there. For those who like to fish, it is a great place to do that! It is not far from Corpus Christi if one really needs to do big time shopping and San Antonio is only 2 hours away. Some Spanish missions are nearby. There had not been a hurricane there in a long time and Harvey devastated many homes and businesses. Some places were bulldozed. The art center will have to be rebuilt. Rockport is still in recovery. Even the Fulton Mansion sustained some damage and the Fulton pier was severely damaged. I wrote this in the spring of 2017 never imagining that within four months a terrible Hurricane named Harvey would threaten the Texas Gulf Coast. One son and my husband prepared the house for the inevitable and promptly left Rockport and returned to Houston. We watched a storm chaser online that night but, when I realized he was parked near the entrance to the street where our home is located with a few others, I had to leave the room in tears. I thought that there was no way that any home or building would not sustain severe damage as the eye went directly over the community of Rockport/Fulton, Texas. We were blessed as miraculously our home was left intact with only minor damage. Every trip I make to that beautiful area now it is with great sadness and dismay to see the damage to homes and businesses. Why was one home destroyed while another nearby withstood the hurricane force winds or tornados spawned by Harvey? I have no answers to this but only know that we were indeed blessed that our home was spared and we truly feel grateful. My heart goes out to those who suffered worse consequences on that awful August night.

  6. Thank you, Shirley, for the kind comment and taking the time to do so. Yes, that’s a great photo of the kids!

  7. Sherry,
    What a lovely article… However, I don’t envy you the work of 2 homes! Paul and I decided we couldn’t maintain the house in Round Rock, so we moved into a wonderful Condo a couple of years ago! For us, at this stage of our lives, it’s fantastic to have everything outside taken care of for us. We are in heaven and can travel to see the kids in their far away homes anytime we want. We have nothing holding us here.
    Keep up the good work, and keep letting us know when a story is posted!

  8. Diane, Thank you for reading the story and your kind comment. Yes, keeping up with two homes can be challenging and just traveling to that second home requires some time and planning around schedules and more. I am glad that now all three sons live in Texas and are, also, not far from our primary home. I don’t look forward to decisions concerning homes but, for now, it is what it is and we are very fortunate. Maybe I have a few more stories inside of me that should be written and I am amazed at myself that I am actually getting certain stories recognized and posted at this stage of my life. I never expected this to happen.

  9. To wake up and hear the sound of the waves what bliss. To clean and maintain two homes, not so much; but to have the opportunity to – priceless.

    1. Jennifer, yes, the sound of the waves is what I miss when I’m not there. I wish we could have been able to have the retreat in younger years but fortunate to have it now.

  10. I can feel the wind in my hair and the salt on my lips!!!!the coast has and always be a place of rest and rejuvination!!!!! Thanks for making the best of me Real!!!!!!

    1. Loved your comment, Patricia. Just looking at the bay every day is a calming and restful experience. What a blessing to live by the sea.

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