Texas is a different world. Driving through Houston, Dick was singing "Happiness is Houston,Texas in the Rearview Mirror". We noticed a couple of things that probably only happen in Texas. A sign on a library door that read "NO FIREARMS ALLOWED", and another at a little store "FRESH COON FOR SALE". I went into a feed store in a little Texan town and they were giving away camoflage drink holders. I said, "no thank-you". I should have taken it. I remembered someone who would love it for his birthday. While driving the expressway through Corpus Christi we witnessed the police trying to round up a loose steer at a shopping center. It is open range here isn't it? I was behind a couple at a grocery store buying something that looked like packaged lard. I asked them what it was and they explained it was the cow's stomach or tripe. "It's great!" they said. "You slice it up and cook it with beans and chilies and it's delicious." They added that they eat every part of the cow - TMI.
We traveled along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail where we visited Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and then on to Padre Island National Park. All along the coast the bird watching was great. Besides the Whooping Crane, another first for me was the Caracara (the Mexican Eagle). I love the white and brown pelicans and the many migrating shorebirds. Around 380 bird species have been documented here. When I asked Dick about what kind of Terns we were seeing, he said, "They're either Wrongs or Rights or they could be U's." This is what it's like traveling with this guy. You should hear him when we're playing cards - he has an Italian accent one night, Mexican another. I keep telling him I prefer Irish. I think he does this to distract me so he can win.
Traveling to Padre Island National Park we turned on the wrong road because of our GPS. This time after Dick yelled at it, he apologized because we ended up at a free ferry crossing to the island. It saved us a lot of miles in traffic and it was a beautiful ride with schools of dolphins playing all around the ferry. Padre Island was great. We stayed nearly two weeks. We visited this place in 1979 and parked our car and trailer on the beach but we weren't so sure we'd do that again. If you want to read about our 1979 visit CLICK HERE
At first Dick said, "No way will I drive our rig out there." Then he decided to do it after watching others. It is hard to believe that you can drive out on the sand and not get stuck. We had equal amounts of rainy and cold days and sunny and warm days. We stayed in the campground for a few days then moved to the beach. We watched the waves and sunrises right out the motor home window. Two storms forced us back to the safety of the campground where the winds rocked the motor home all night. The Texas coast is noted for its heavy rain squalls. It was nice to be back in the shelter of the campground because most of the RVs were decorated for Christmas and it was Christmas Eve.
The National Park embraces close to 70 miles of sandy beaches with a variety of shells and birds and we loved watching the Ghost Crabs. We were told by the ranger the best time to see the crabs is at night. So we went out with a flashlight and watched and waited for quite awhile but saw nothing. We commented that the ranger didn't know what she was talking about because we saw more in the daytime. As we turned around to head back to the motor home, there in our path was a huge crab watching us. We also startled a big buck that ran in front of us. I picked up a couple sand dollars and brought them into the motor home to dry out. Funny Face started acting weird. She slunk low to the ground, acting like there was a lose snake under the chairs. We were looking under everything when I finally thought of the sand dollars and put them back outside. Then she acted normal again. We were told the next day that the darker sand dollars were still alive. I felt terrible - that poor little creature.
One morning it was calm enough to watch a few dolphins off shore, but mostly the surf was a constant roar. There were a pair of coyotes that came down to the beach a couple times a day. We never figured out what they were after. We couldn't let Sheba out on her leash alone because we didn't want to reel her rope in and find only a collar at the end - or a coyote.
There is a sad side to this little piece of paradise. There is a lot of trash that washes up on the beach. We were told that the predominant southeast wind drives the currents in the Gulf of Mexico to this location in the Northwest corner. As a result, anything that falls or is tossed into the Gulf eventually ends up here. Trying to keep all these miles of beach cleaned up is never ending. SHORELINE CLEANUP
Slowing down and being one with nature makes you wonder about things you see every day but you don't take time to understand. There were nights the sky was so dark and the constellations so clear. To think that we used to navigate by them and tell time by them. Or seeing the changes in the tides and learning how the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun affects the tide level.
Padre Island National Park was a wonderful place to spend the holidays and if the sun would have continued to shine, we may still be there. We decided we'd better head away from the ocean spray or we may begin to rust.
Link to Dick's Blog PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL PARK