March 14, 2008

North Padre Island

We arrived on North Padre Island on Tuesday, the 11th of March.

The Texas coast is not a secret, but it does not seem to have the notoriety of the Florida and California coast. To be sure, it is a lovely natural place – where overdevelopment has not taken place. Starting about 120 miles north of Corpus Christi, there is a chain of sea islands that stretch all the way into Mexico. The Mexican border is about 120 miles south Corpus Christi. There are just two sea islands between the two: North Padre and South Padre Island. The islands are only slightly developed around the cities of Corpus Christi and Brownsville. Without the development, they are very laid back. You can still drive your car down the beach and with a park permit, camp out. The place is very charming. The people are very kind and friendly.

The North Padre Island Beach
 Padre Island Beach
Colin Jones
 Colin Jones
Elaine - Lighthouse Barkeep
 Elaine - Lighthouse Barkeep
To see a slideshow of Corpus Christi
and San Antonio, press HERE.

We had driven from New Orleans to El Campo, TX, on Monday. This part of Texas had rich farmland and large fens. The numerous small oil refineries were the only visible signs of industry. We decided to get off the four-lane highway and travel closer to the coast. It was a great drive. When we got to Aransas Pass, we took one of the little ferry boats to Port Aransas. This is on Mustang Island about 20 miles north of North Padre Island. We drove to the beach and sat for a while, then drove to North Padre Island.

We had arranged to couch surf our first couple of days. We arrived midday, so our host was not able to receive us that early in the day. We spent a good part of looking around Corpus Christi. We drove through the poorest and the richest neighborhoods. Housing for the poor is much worse than you would see in the Midwest. The homes of the rich were mostly built after 1950 and are on the bluff along the south shore of the Corpus Christi Bay. We also looked for and found a number of fairly inexpensive motels that we might have to use after our first couple of days with our couchsurfing host..

We drove back to the island and found a great pub with an ocean view. During happy hour, beers were but a $1.50 each. We met some great people one whom would later prove to be a godsend. We had a couple of beers each and then found our host’s condo. Jennie is a lovely person. She has a nice place and two very cute little dogs. We talked for a couple of hours then headed over to a local eatery on the bay called Snoopy’s. The place had a wonderful atmosphere and good food. We had fish and chips and more beer. We could not have asked for a better place to be.

On Wednesday we spent more than half the day on the beach. The sand is hard packed and very white. We saw birds: sandpipers, pelicans, hawks and more. We saw two or three dolphins feeding along the shoreline. We enjoyed seeing them, but the fishermen working the beach we not so happy. As we walked the beach, the dolphins would occasionally launch themselves high into the air. When I looked out to sea, there were three oil rigs on the horizon. Locals tell us there are hundreds more further out and going out as far as 140 miles. Mid-afternoon we returned to clean up and rest. About 4:30 we were back at the pub with the great view, the Lighthouse. It was there they we got an offer to stay at Larry’s house, which Colin Jones was caretaking. We enjoyed our beers and headed back to Jenny’s condo about 6:30. We were soon at another good local restaurant. After diner I was ready to lay back. I cannot believe how a little beer and wine puts me down for the evening.

Thursday we moved into Larry’s lovely house on the bay. It was just a joy to be there, sitting on the deck. We did not do much the rest of the day. We dropped by the Lighthouse Pub. We did some grocery shopping. We made a great steak dinner.

Friday we took it easy all day. We enjoyed sitting on the deck with its fabulous view of the bay. We saw large fish in the channel. The day was just lovely. In the mid-afternoon we drove to the national park. The dunes are beautiful and the area is so different. The air out to sea was about 20 degrees warmer than the water, so ground fog mist blew off the sea all afternoon. We returned to the Lighthouse. It is really a good pub with a very interesting cast of characters. Colin was there as always. He let us know that we would have to move on tomorrow, as the house was rented for the next week. A pity, it is such a lovely place to be. We bade our goodbyes after a couple of hours of drinking (just two beers each).

We will head inland to San Antonio tomorrow.

View of Bay from Deck of Larry’s House
 View of Bay

Posted by bill at March 14, 2008 09:00 PM

Sweet. I felt your comfort. Mickie

Posted by: Mickie Turk at March 15, 2008 11:44 AM

Nice little synopsis of Padre Island. You both sound very relaxed... I enjoy your blogs. Keep them coming!.. Marty Christensen

Posted by: marty christensen at March 16, 2008 08:22 PM