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Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

The Gulf

Well, I didn't mean to take so many days between the last post and this one, but here I am.

We headed out to Port Aransas. My thought was that this was basically a suburb of Corpus Christi. And my only experience with Corpus Christi is when we've done a Cub Scout overnight on the USS Lexington. Well, on the road to the Lexington you pass all the oil refineries. Rows and rows all along beside the freeway, which is running near the water. I hate that drive. But my geographic knowledge was not particularly good. I knew there were refineries and I was concerned that we'd be sitting at a beach across from one.

Turns out, our drive in from Alice took a different road a little farther west and you could only glimpse a smidge of the refineries. After checking out a map, I saw that the refineries are way up in the interior of the bay. And the town we were going to was on the coastal side of one of the barrier islands outside the bay. And even driving home we didn't go the way I usually do, so no one else in the family really associates the gulf with the refineries the way I do. Though when we go back, we'll probably take my usual route, and I think it's important for the boys to see it.

Anyway... all along the coast there are these long thin barrier islands. I think South Padre Island is the most famous. I have recently discovered that there is also a Padre Island. We were going to Mustang Island, about 18 miles long and no more than 2 miles wide. So, we finally got there and did a little tour. There is a "road" that goes along the beach and I use the term road loosely. It's like a compacted area of sand at the far back of the beach where people drive and park. As I mentioned before, it's mostly condos. But, we found a Holiday Inn Express & Suites that was just a couple blocks from the beach, so we decided to stay there. It was convenient because there was also a pizza place a block away.

We headed to the beach before our rooms were ready, and this is where our opinion changed. The beach was fantastic! It has this fine white sand. The water is warm. And it's relatively shallow for a good 50 yards out. We had a great time splashing about in the waves and collecting shells. There are tons of shells, but they are mostly little teeny ones. If you are at the water's edge at just the right time, when the wave recedes, you can see all the little teeny shell animals dig/wiggle back into the sand. Very cool (but hard to describe). The only annoying thing to me was the view of oil rigs off on the distant horizon. But I'm not sure the kids noticed (until we pointed them out). And, the one lingering question I have is.... there is this black sand under the white sand. Is that natural? Or is that related to the oil, oil spills, etc? I have no idea and haven't been able to find out.

After our pizza lunch and beach afternoon we retired to the room for some downtime. Then I tried to find some place to eat for dinner. It was Sunday night and there were still a lot of weekenders, so a lot of places had a bit of a wait. And we had waited till kind of late. But we finally found Fins Restaurant and Grill, right on the harbor. It was perfect. A mellow kid-friendly place. While we waited we watched the tv screen in the "bar" area which showed a lot of pics from the fishing tours. It was neat, then, when near the end of our dinner we saw a tour come in and hang up their fish and take photos. I'm not sure whether J would want to do a fishing thing, but I'm pretty sure G would.

So, day 2, we headed to the beach kinda early. I think we were there before 10. At first we thought it would be less crowded because the weekenders had gone home. But it's August and there were obviously a lot of vacationers. It took a little while, but the beach eventually got quite busy again. We had decided to stop by a shop and get some cheap boogie boards for the guys. I also grabbed a couple of buckets... one for shells, one for sand castle building. And we spent the morning playing in waves, building sand castles, and collecting shells. It was a great time. We decided to take a break, check out the pool at the hotel, and come back to the beach the next morning. We had pizza delivered to the pool and had grand afternoon.

The pool was great fun. But we discovered that our sunblock had basically not worked at all. We had noticed an issue in Mexico earlier in the summer but thought it was just an old bottle. I opened the newer bottle and we used that. We aren't sure if it just rubs off in salt water or you have to give it a lot of time to soak in or what the problem is? But it didn't work. Poor G ended up with a second degree burn on his nose! My back was very red. And Jonas looked like a raccoon where his goggles had kept the area around his eyes shaded but the rest of his face was quite red. We were burned both figuratively and literally.

Up to this point we had been wavering on whether to stop in San Antonio for a night on the way home and check out the Alamo and the river walk. But not only was everyone friend, Isaiah was very obviously sick as well. So the next morning I took the guys for a dip in the pool, which was thankfully in the shade. And then we packed up and headed home. Poor Isaiah had a fever the next day (and possibly on the drive home).

On the way to and from Port A, we saw lots of cotton fields, both picked and unpicked. And we saw the machines they use now a days to pick them. It reminded me of my great grandpa's farm north of Dallas. Though I admit that I struggle to remember what is a real memory and what is fashioned in my head. We also saw several wind farms. For whatever reason, Isaiah's GPS took us on less major roads a lot of the time, but was neat. I had wanted to do one more geocache, but everyone was exhausted.

We were glad to be home, but it was a fun trip. I will plan again for next year (though probably not in Texas, time to branch out).


1 Comment
Didn't know about the oil refineries on that area. Just remember as a kid the smell around Pasadena (Houston metro) when GrtGmaS worked at Shell as a Dietitian. I was about Jonas' age then, maybe a little younger. If you head E out of HOU on I10 toward Beaumont-Port Arthur you get a real dose of the industry. And oil 1st discovered in TX around 1900 in the area. Check out Spindletop gusher. Great history.

Onto sunburn - worries me about big C later in life. GpaH got a burn on the top of both legs like G fm tubing down the Guadalupe Rvr when you were a baby. Now everytime he goes to dermatologist he has precancerous lesions removed. And all you fair skinned Carews ---ouch. But do hope everyone doing better now and that Isaiah has recovered from his bug.

PS If you go to the Brownsville end of Padre Island, there's also great fishing off Port Isabel. Also will see lots of shrimp trawlers (look like the night trawlers used to hunt calamari in MRY Bay.)
Gma H   Sunday, August 24, 2014
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