January 31, 2019
It sure seems like we are in West Texas as the U.S./Mexico border is only eight miles away as the crow flies. If one looks at a map of Texas one can only conclude that we are really in the eastern side of the state- but on the western international border with eastern Mexico. Capiche? Hmmmm. If you are confused just look at a map of Texas. South Padre Island is located waaay down at the southern tip. OK, so we’re in the southernmost eastern part of Texas that so happens to be a short distance from the western U.S. international border with Mexico. Got it? Interestingly, the northern latitude of South Padre Island is approximately the same as Fort Lauderdale, FL.
To reach South Padre Island one passes through Port Isabel (5000 souls), over Laguna Madre (Mother Lagoon), the lagoon that stretches all the way to Corpus Christi or about 200 miles, via the 2.4 mile long Queen Isabella Causeway.
The lagoon is a rarity as it is only one of six hyper saline lagoons in the world. The water contains more salt that the ocean. The island itself is a long, narrow sandy spit of land. A pass separates it from Padre Island to its north so there is no road that runs from one island to the other.
We were not drawn to visit S.P.I. except to visit with our friends and neighbors Brian and Linda. They spend the winter in a condo complex and their unit’s balcony overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. We spent a lot of time catching up on one another’s adventures. Linda made a wonderful breakfast for us. After breakfast we took a stroll on the nearby beach. Somehow the mutzos escaped their leashes and went on a jolly old romp chasing sea birds. We were then politely informed that dogs are welcome on the beach only if they are leashed. Ooops! We really enjoyed our visit with Brian and Linda and are looking forward to seeing them once again in Reno.
Our first day in any location is always a short one. We pick up, pack up and travel, then land somewhere. “Somewhere” is usually a planned location as either a place we want to visit or in many cases just a place to overnight. South Padre Island is obviously a planned “wanna visit”.
The island lies across from Port Isabel (5000 souls). Established as a town after the Mexican War of Independence, Port Isabel became an important cotton-exporting port before the American Civil War. The harbor, town and lighthouse all were fought over and exchanged hands during the Civil War. Today its economy is driven by the accommodation and food service, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and real estate rental and leasing which employs nearly 2.5 times more people than what would be expected in a location this size. That makes sense as this place is a destination for those seeking fun and sun. Apparently the port is no longer the dominant economic industry of yore.
Our second morning is a scheduled visit with Brian and Linda. But what to do after the visit? Of course, take the dogs for another walk, this time on the many grassy vacant lots that line Padre Road. Well, the mutzos were game until they got their feet full of stickers. Oops. We found another more maintained lot to walk them. They only got a couple of stickers there. By the time we got home it was trying to rain and the wind was blowing. We also ordered refills for our medications at CVS Pharmacy then drove north past all civilization on the sand swept extension of Padre Blvd. through sand dunes. When we got home I hailed the RV wash and wax crew who gladly cleaned and waxed our beast for very reasonable sum of $145. The crew did a very good job so a nice tip was in order.
OK, now it’s day three. We are not “bar scene” folks so we don’t like to spend time at “happy hour”. Being morning folks we’d probably fall asleep at the bar anyhow. So this is what we did. Our “happy hour” begins before 8am.
First thing this morning we drove to the far southern tip of the island, a whole one half mile, to the entrance to the Cameron County Park. Somewhere behind that gated entrance is a statue of Jesus that commemorates fishermen who have been lost at sea and we felt it was worth the $10 entrance fee to go see it- and it was. The park is large. In it is a 600 site RV Park which would have been a better choice to stay for us and the kiddos as the sites are very spacious and surround by grass, not gravel as it is here at the the KOA. The park is also surrounded by paths and more grass.
It appears that the park is getting ready for Spring Break. We pass by two major construction sites. One looks like an outdoor amphitheater. You know Spring Break, the time college and younger kids take an academic break, travel in hordes to the beaches and raise all holy heck, er, enjoy the friendly gathering of friends. Brian and Linda told us that everything on the island that is reasonably priced before Spring Break goes up dramatically during.
Sea Turtle, Inc. is a Sea Turtle Rescue organization. Turtles tend to get caught in fishing nets, boat strikes or are injured in other ways. The sick and injured are brought to Sea Turtle where 80% of the rehabilitated turtles are released back into the ocean.
Those that will never be released if they lack of 3 of their 4 flippers. They actually have fashioned a prosthesis for one turtle who lost three flippers. Another that will never be released is a big turtle that had become too sociable with humans. A docent told me that because of existing Federal Law, the endangered turtles cannot be directly helped in the wild nor their eggs gathered to help perpetuate the species. What can be done is what is done here- rehabilitate the sick and injured and when well enough, be returned to their natural environment.
The sun finally came out after a night of rain and morning drizzle. I actually stripped down to my T shirt. You thought I was going to say Speedos, didn’t you. The afternoon was rather routine- wash and dry clothes, walk the dogs a few times, work on the blog while one of us takes a nap. After dinner we’ll start preparing for tomorrow morning’s departure.
We are heading to Corpus Christi tomorrow, and will cross the Nueces Bay landing in Port Aransas. See you there!