Monday, January 29, 2024

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." ~~Dr. Suess

Pat and I are always home, right? Because home is 'wherever we park it.'  As usual though, whenever we stay some place longer than a month as we do during the winter months, I get a little attached. It's just hard to move on. Even tougher this year because South Padre is one of my favorite places. A favorite place, however, does not mean it's necessarily a place I would like to live all of the time. But I still get a little sad and shed a few tears. But it also means it's time to head towards family and friends which brings smiles!

Since we've been stationary so long Pat went through a mental check-list trying to make sure we didn't forget to do something. We have final things to do Sunday, dump, hook up the car, and things like that but I think we're ready. Oh, and one more trip to the beach! We have a good 7 1/2 - 8 hour drive that we'll divide between 2 days.  

We're on our way to Galveston, another favorite spot. That means we'll get to see Eric, Toni and four of the grandkids. This year we'll also be meeting Pat's sister, her husband, and Lisa/Terry (Wisconsin), who we met last year in Florida. And it's Mardis Gras time!

First travel day found us stopping in Refugio, TX for the night.

Such a nice city RV park. What a find Pat thought. 🚂s all night long and their whistles were a' blowin', lol!

We were sent right through, this car had 6 agents going through it. 

Causeway leaving South Padre heading to Port Isabel.

I did take my customary final beach walk Sunday. 

Boot Camp??? The young gentlemen dressed all in black below were at the south pavilion early Sat. and Sun. morning. Their boom box was a boomin' music in a language I wasn't familiar with.

One weekend in Jan. and again in Feb. the convention center offers Market Days. Lots of venders with just about anything you might want.

Pat's in line.

I purchased a small wooden/epoxy turtle.

Luna, by Ariel King, represents the endless miles a sea turtle travels through the waves of the ocean, under the beautiful stars and  moon. Luna was located at the convention center.

Where are the Piepers now? Refugio, TX

Sunday, January 28, 2024

A beautiful evening to close out our winter stay.

A great night for a sunset catamaran dinner cruise. Thanks Chris! 

Friday was beautiful! What a great evening to celebrate the end of our stay at South Padre. We spent two hours cruising the coast with live music on-board. Dinner included grilled shrimp, fish, fajitas and fresh fruit. We enjoyed chatting with two couples who just happened to both be from Minnesota.

Turtles were not the only sea creatures affected by the cold spell we had.

Friday morning we went to Boca Chica State Park. To get to the park you drive right through the middle of the SpaceX facilities. That means if SpaceX is doing anything that requires a road closure you can't get to the state park. Before we left Pat did check for road closures. Despite all of the promise of the best shells, the beach had none to share with us that day. We still had a nice walk on the beach and it was amazing to see how much the SpaceX facilities had changed in just two years.

Boca Chica is just across the bay from us but to get there you have to drive to Brownsville and nearly double back.

SpaceX building facilities are on one side of the road. 

Further down the road on the other side are the launch facilities.

5 minutes from the launch site is the state park. 

View of SpaceX launch facilities from Boca Chica State Park.

The rocket that "hopped." Originally SpaceX began testing by sending rockets up just a short ways and trying to reland them in what became referred to as "hops."  

On our way back we could see that the building facility on the left had a rocket in it and the middle building had a booster.

I'm not sure which picture (this one or the one below) was on the way in and which was on the way out but something changed. 

Saw this vessel headed into the bay by our RV park. According to some pictures on Google it may be used in helping to install off-shore windfarms, but Google has misled me before.

Much to Pat's dismay I decided our Sleep Number bed needed to be totally dismantled and cleaned.
Where are the Piepers now? South Padre Island, TX

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Times running out.

Queen Isabella Causeway from the Port Isabel Lighthouse.

We spent much of December and the first part of January hanging close to the RV. We leave this Sunday so I'm trying to squeeze in as much as I can.  

I hadn't been down to the beach since before the cold spell. It's always interesting to see how the weather affects the lay of the dunes.

The Port Isabel Lighthouse, located in Port Isabel, TX was completed in 1853 to aid ships traveling through the Brazos Santiago Pass to Point Isabel (one of the earlier names for Port Isabel). During the Civil War it was used by both Confededate and Union Troops as an observation post. By the turn of the century it was abandoned. It became a historic site in 1952, remodeled, and opened to the public. Beautiful views from the top which took 75 steps and a short ladder to reach.

The Keepers Cottage houses a visitors center and information on the lighthouse. 

I don't usually use Google's "stylized," photos but this one captured me.

Just across the causeway on the South Padre side is a small park with a causeway plaque  and a statue honoring the Padre for whom the island was named.

The 2.37 mile causeway spanning the Laguna Madre is the second longest bridge in Texas. It opened in 1974 replacing a bridge with the same name. Prior to the first bridge, built in 1954, a ferry provided the only access to South Padre Island. It is named after Queen Isabella of Castile, a 15th century Spanish Queen. On 1/15/2001  a barge hit the bridge causing 2 spans to collapse, 5 cars to fall into the bay, and killing 8 people, with 3 survivers. Just 4 days after the 9/11 attacks one survivor first thought it was another terrorist attack. During the 2 months of rebuilding a ferry provided the only access to the island.

The first permanent settlement in South Padre Island was in 1804 by Padre Nicolas Balli for whom the island was named.  It had been owned by Spain, Mexico, Texas and finally the United States. 

Following clean-up from housing nearly 1,000 turtles during the cold-stun event last week, Sea Turtle Inc. reopened on Sunday and we visited them Tuesday morning. They have several displays inside ranging from education to protection of turtles.

There are currently 5 permanent residents that for various reasons can't be returned to the sea for various residents.

The Laguna Madre, by the way, is one of only 6 hyper-saline bays in the world. This is important to sea life that migrate to the area to hatch or raise their young. 

"Coral," Beth Fedigan

Staff preparing to feed Hang 10, one of the permanent residents.

Hang 10, a Kemp's Ridley, has a deformed flipper and is partially blind. Her favorite food? Shrimp and crabs

Cowgirl, an Atlantic Green, has stranded 4 times. Each time her blood work and x-rays have come back normal. Her favorite food? Mackerel

Pat is taller than the Atlantic Green but shorter than the Leatherback.

The temporary hospital.

Tuesday afternoon we walked over to the Coastal Studies Lab. They have a museum that is open to the public. 

Large skull of a sperm whale.

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

We took a beach stroll back to our site. Early in the morning the fog was thick and there was still some hanging around. 

I'm not sure what this was but there were several washed up on the beach. 

Tried a new recipe Tues., one that was a lot of work. We didn't have enough oatmeal so we only got half a batch. Pat made crispy oatmeal. I added chocolate chips to my half.

The RV got a wash and wax Weds. a.m. to get the corrosive salt off from the sea mist and to protect it for our next two months, also near the ocean. 

We went to Port Isabel (just 10-15 mins. away) for supplies. Not to be left out they too have a few beach stores. Another big one just across the road from this one. On the Island you find AT LEAST one on every block. They do their best to attract customers.  From what I can tell they all have the same stuff and the prices don't vary a lot!

If it's not one thing, it's another! No, it's not the toe I broke or jammed but the opposite knee. I have an appt. with an orthopedist next Tues. in Houston. A lot slower and not very far, but I had a beach walk on this rainy day. 

And look what we found on the boardwalk! We'll take it to Galveston and maybe make someone else's day.
Where are the Piepers now? South Padre Island, TX