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SHRIMPING COUNTRY:  Just outside Palacios you'll start seeing shrimp boats which shouldn't come as any surprise considering you're in the Shrimp Capital of Texas.  Along the beach I found this neat white porch and further on the Palacious Pier.

Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

Seems a Spanish ship wrecked in Matagorda Bay a few hundred years back and the stranded sailors (probably driven to distraction by the wind) thought they saw three palaces on the shoreline.

Reality must have slipped a cog or two because the land is flatter than the underside of a pancake.  Or just maybe the sailors caught a glimpse into the future, and the three palaces were the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), the Celanese Chemical Company and the South Texas Nuclear Project -- the three principal industries (apart from shrimping) in the area.

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I.jpg (1915 bytes)ronically, Palacios started out as a bull pasture owned by Abel H. (Shanghi) Pierce.  So maybe Port The Cow isn't such a strange a name after all.   Now, Shanghi Pierce is a legendary trailboss who was actually born in Rhode Island.  In 1853, when "Shanghi" was only nineteen, he stowed away on a ship in New York harbor bound for Indianola, Texas -- so he wasn't exactly Shanghied.  Although he arrived in Texas without a penny, Shanghi Pierce eventually became a "cattle king" with a one-half-million-acre ranch to back up the title.
       One of the writers for Enchanted Rock Magazine, James Coronet (aka. L. Kelly Down), worked for Mr. Pierce in his youth.  That is until he realized the wages and hours in the oil field were more to his liking. 

       Between Port Lavaca and Palacios we came across a temporary highway sign, "Seismic Crew Ahead".  The day being Sunday there was no one around, which was a disappointment.  I imagined we'd see a few men the size of Sumo wrestlers wearing headphones plugged into the earth while they went through a foot stomping routine. Oh, well...
       Ms. Intrepid and I decided on Palacios because we liked the name and a Letter to the Editor recommended the place.  Looking back, I wasn't too impressed with the boats in the Private No Trespassing dock.  They seemed all wrapped up in a cocoon of ropes.  I was looking for real working boats.  Boats with color and character -- shrimp boats.Outrigger1.jpg (29549 bytes)
       Being the Shrimp Capital of Texas, Palacios filled my need to a fraction.  After shooting thirty or so pictures among the boats we headed for The Outrigger Restaurant on the recommendation of Judy the Subscriber.
       You might as well know now, Ms. Intrepid is a certified chef and I've never seen her eat shrimp fried. But when the owners, Wayne and Cheryl Dodd joined our table, Cheryl wanted us to sample their fried shrimp.  Now, I'll eat shrimp any way you serve it, but I was holding my breath when it was offered to Ms. Intrepid -- fried
       She liked it.  She really, really liked it!   Now I'm not your gourmet type but I understood right away why Ms. Intrepid was impressed.  The shrimp was fresh that day and delicately fried without a doughy breading.
DOOR.jpg (33568 bytes)       I ordered a shrimp cocktail with a mixture of shrimp, jalapeno, green onions, avocado and spicy sauce. I don't remember what Ms. Intrepid ate cause I was too busy licking my spoon.
       The Outrigger opened in September 2000 in what was once Price Lumber Company built around 1906. Relics of Palacios' past fill the walls.   There's even a peg leg which no respectable sea food restaurant should be without.  
       Cheryl Dodd took me on a tour of their expansion and I was particularly impressed with two beautifully painted doors by an artist named Carigsby. 
       Thank you Judy the Subscriber!  The next time you're at the Outrigger in Palacios introduce yourself.  Wayne and Cheryl want to say howdy.
       While taking a tour of the town Ms. IntrepidTurnA.jpg (4971 bytes) said, "This is a town just waiting to happen."  And she's right on that score.  It's a clean place for certain, with some commercial property with  real potential.  (Cheryl is lobbying for more lodging and Ms. Intrepid was eyeballing cute beachfront property.) 

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Texas Hill Country Wine: Torrie de Pietra Vineyards and Winery near Fredericksburg