A Travellerspoint blog

Padre Day 5: Just Horsing Around

We all woke up around 9a the next morning to a beautiful, sunny day.
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Mike immediately hit the beach for some surf fishing while Vi made us some sausage and egg breakfast tacos. We washed them down with mimosas. We fought hard for that O.J. and couldn't let it go to waste. Vi was feeling pretty tense and on the search for a massage so I drove her down the strip to a little place to get a chair massage. I worked on the trip journal while waiting for her. She felt much better and afterwards we met Mike on the beach.
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We brought our game of washers so Mike dug holes to get a game set up.
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No sooner did he have it set up than the beach graders came rolling by! He had to start all over.
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We played in the surf.
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When the beach got old, we walked over to the Wanna Wanna and Mike and Vi played some volleyball.
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In the early afternoon, we got ourselves prettied up and headed north on Padre Blvd. The further north we went, the more the dunes spilled out over the road. In some places, we had to drive on the wrong side of the road to go around them. We arrived for our afternoon appointment of sunset horseback riding on the beach.
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We were a nice-sized group. It was the three of us and an adult family of four from Minnesota who were in Padre for a wedding. Our guides were Colton from Nashville and Rebecca from Germany. The guides set about matching us up with horses according to our experience levels. Mike and I were the most experienced riders there, which wasn't saying a whole lot.

Mike was given a horse named Dozer.
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Vi was put on Splash. She stayed at the end of the line, terrified for most of the ride for some reason.
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The lady in front of me was saddled up on Pokey. I had a high school boyfriend named Pokey. That relationship didn't end well. Twice. I was pretty glad I wasn't riding Pokey. Instead, I was given Larry.
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In the stalls, Larry was tied next to his girlfriend, Blondie, the only other horse with which he gets along. Apparently he's the resident bully. He wanted to be the first in line but he didn't care for the other horses smelling his rear. A real horse conundrum.

We rode across the road to the beach; we even trotted for a while. I thought I was going to bounce out of my clothes. As we walked along the surf, I couldn't get Larry to walk IN the water and Mike couldn't get Dozer to walk OUT of the water. We couldn't even see Vi as she was too far in the back. We rode up over the dunes and across the ridge to watch the sunset.
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Then we crossed over to the bay side and watched the tide roll in.
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The ride lasted about two hours but I think my butt lasted only about one hour. I could barely walk when we were done. It was a beautifully done ride and not one of those nose-to-nose trail rides that are so common. It was my favorite part of the trip. Of course, being the animal lover that I am, I was worried about the treatment of the horses and questioned the guides extensively about this. The horses all looked to be well taken care of and the facilities were clean and in great condition. The guides also explained that the owners have several ranches and the horses are rotated in and out to pasture to give them a break from the tourists.

After the ride, we went back to the condo and changed out of our dirty, horse clothes for dinner. We went to Laguna Bob's, a small restaurant/bar on the bayside with live music where we loaded up on pina coladas, peel and eat shrimp, and french fries. The live music wasn't really to our liking and Vi and Mike wanted to play pool so we tried next door at Louie's to see if they could play there. Louie's only had one pool table and it didn't appear to be clearing anytime soon. We were told the only other place in town with pool tables was a divey bar called Kelley's Irish Pub, right around the corner from our condo. We decided to give it a try. They played three games of pool while rocking to 80s hair band music on a table repaired with fishing line. It was our kind of divey place!

Posted by deniseandmike 20:58 Archived in USA Tagged south padre vi Comments (0)

Padre Day 4: Lending Nature a Helping Hand (or Flipper)

Feeling much better, Mike woke early today and wanted to get some surf fishing in before we started our planned activities for the day. I stayed in the condo and made breakfast. He wasn't gone too long as the only thing he could seem to catch was significant amounts of seaweed. So after breakfast, we drove down the street to the South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center. The birding center is a non-profit organization set up to educate the public about the birds, flora, and fauna in the South Padre Island area.
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There is a five-story tower with beautiful views of the Laguna Madre Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
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Over 3,300 feet of boardwalk winds its way through the sanctuary.
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There is a small museum that highlights the various species of birds and animals commonly found in the region.
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We made our way down the boardwalk and came upon a thirsty hummingbird that had yet to fly south for the winter.
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Blue heron.
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Long-billed curlew (sandpiper).
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Catfish.
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Alligator.
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Common gallinule.
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Turtle.
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We passed by several people with huge, telephoto lenses. Apparently people come from all over the world for South Texas birding. When I was in Tanzania the previous year, I met a British couple who had booked a month-long trip to South Texas for nothing but birding. As the South Padre Birding Center is only one of nine birding centers in South Texas, I'm guessing this is a prime area. We enjoyed our short time there but the humidity was about to kill us so we decided it was time to go.

Our next stop was Sea Turtle, Inc., the island's turtle rehabilitation and rescue center. Sea Turtle is also a non-profit organization, whose goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release turtles that have been injured or stranded. The organization also provides college scholarships to biology students and hosts a summer internship program.
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The facility has large tanks serving as a home for each turtle and a sign posting its individual story. The four listed below have permanent homes at the facility as they cannot be released back to the sea.

Erika is an Atlantic Green turtle that was attacked by a predator and stranded in November 2013. She is missing her right front flipper and half of both her back flippers.
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Boudreaux is an Atlantic Green turtle that stranded in July 2012. He had previously lost his back left flipper and his front flippers were tangled in fishing line attached to an old fishing rod. Due to the fishing line entanglement, he is now missing his front right flipper.
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Allison, another Atlantic Green turtle, was the victim of a predator attack in 2005. She was left with only one flipper. For many years, she could only swim in circles. Then a Sea Turtle intern designed a prosthetic flipper for her. It was the first ever prosthetic turtle flipper made. Since then, they have improved on the design many times.
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Merry Christmas, an Atlantic Green turtle cold-stranded on Christmas Eve in the late 1980s suffers from genetic defects.
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After visiting with the turtles and making a donation to the center, we stopped at the condo to grab our fishing gear then headed to the Port Isabel pier for some afternoon fishing.
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Almost right off the bat, I had a pull on the line but to my chagrin, I had caught a ray. Unfortunately, it broke the line and disappeared before we could reel it in and remove the hook. We spent the next couple of hours losing our bait to the thieves of the sea.
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By now we were getting pretty hungry so we decided to try a well-recommended restaurant called Pier 19. What a mistake that was! I ordered crab stuffed shrimp topped with a hollandaise sauce that was so horrible I couldn't even finish it. Mike stuck with a plain, fried shrimp basket and they couldn't even do that well. To top it all off, the touristy pirate boat kept sailing by, firing off its cannon at us every few minutes. We couldn't get out of there fast enough.

We decided to go back to the pier and try some night fishing. It was amazingly crowded. And windy. We got a lot of strikes but no fish, although Mike did catch someone else's tackle. We gave up and went home. It was almost time for our friend, Vi, to arrive. She was joining us for the rest of the trip. She arrived about 10p and we spent some time relaxing with some drinks in the hot tub then called it a night.

Posted by deniseandmike 19:18 Archived in USA Tagged south padre vi Comments (0)

Padre Day 3: A Day to Myself

I could tell on Sunday night that a flare up was probably coming on for Mike and when we woke on Monday, i found out I was correct. He wasn't feeling well at all so I knew there would be no beach time for us today. I hung around the condo until around noon then decided to get out and do a little shopping around the island. I left Mike resting.
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Since I hadn't been to Padre before, I wasn't sure what to expect on the shopping front. I didn't want to spend time in the 20 t-shirts for $10 places and there were plenty of those.
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I did have to pop into one briefly to get Mike a bathing suit since he'd forgotten his at home. Luckily, I did come across a few nice, boutique-type stores with some beautiful island-style gifts. I bought some fancy flip-flops for myself and a Guy Harvey fishing shirt for Mike. I managed to occupy myself for about four hours then went back to the condo to check on Mike. He was still "out" and in no mood for dinner. I didn't really want to eat in so I treated myself to a nice night out at Liam's. I started with a disappointing appetizer of shrimp rockefeller. I'm pretty sure those shrimp were frozen which seems ridiculous on a Gulf island.
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I moved on to a ribeye and lobster tail. This was much better and tasted fresh.
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After a couple martinis, I headed home and amused myself as usual with the TV and my Kindle. It was a nice, quiet evening by myself. Although I missed having Mike to share it with, sometimes I appreciate that alone time.

Posted by deniseandmike 15:04 Archived in USA Tagged texas padre vi Comments (0)

Padre Day 2: Hook, Line, and Seagull

We woke the next morning about 9:30a to an overcast and windy day, a perfect day for kite-flying. Only we had no kite. So we set off to find one and to pick up the supplies we had forgotten the day before, most importantly, fishing licenses. We first stopped at the local grocery store, the Blue Marlin. Their computers were down so no fishing licenses were to be had there. As luck would have it, there was a kite store right next door. But our luck ran out. It was closed due to a death in the family. We drove down the strip a ways and found a souvenir shop with kites and bought two. They told us the best place to get fishing licenses was the pier in Port Isabel. So back across the bridge we went and finally, success! While we were there, we threw in some Cajun fried fish and french fries for lunch.
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The condo provided us with some great beach chairs. We loaded up our ice chest, our kites, and fishing gear and headed to the beach in front of the condo.

La Internacional from the beach.
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Mike got the kites out and in the air. There was plenty of wind for flying.
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After he bored with that (i.e., the kites got tangled), he got set up for surf fishing. He'd gotten a pole holder so he could both fish from the water and from his beach chair.
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Unfortunately, the only thing he caught wading in the water was seaweed. So he decided to join me on the beach and lazy surf fish for a while.
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Mike had his line in the water and we were just sitting there talking when we heard the line run out. He jumped up, thinking he had a fish. I looked out at the rod, trying to figure out what was happening as it seemed like something was off. Sure enough, a seagull had flown straight into the fishing line and gotten itself wrapped up. Another lady on the beach saw it, too, and came running over to help us get the poor thing untangled. It was so scared while Mike was untangling its wing that it threw up. Finally, he got it untangled and gave it a little toss and it flew off. Thankfully, it was not hurt.

Our setup.
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After the harrowing bird experience, Mike went up to the condo to make us a couple of pina coladas. The blender blew up. Great. We have a travel one that we could have brought but didn't since the condo came with one. This did not make me happy. We gave up and went to the hot tub.

Our new mission became finding a place for dinner that was open past 8p on a Sunday night. This proved harder than it would seem. I must have called about five places before I found one - Burger Fi, a gourmet burger place just down the street. We stopped in for a quick dinner before they closed up for the night. I had a breakfast burger and fries and Mike had a chili dog with onion rings. Both were really good.
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We went home and called it an early night.

Posted by deniseandmike 14:28 Archived in USA Tagged texas padre vi Comments (0)

Padre Day 1: Can We Get Some O.J....Please?

Our decision to spend a week in Padre in October came about sort of suddenly. We had already taken a big vacation this year to Curacao but wanted to do something more local just to get away after Fall tax season ended. We mulled over a few locations but decided on Padre for a couple of reasons. Mike and his dad used to go there almost annually each Thanksgiving when he was a child. He had so many memories there yet hadn't been there in some 20 years. I had never been there, the farthest south for me was Port Aransas. So we planned a Saturday-to-Saturday trip for late October, flying in and out of Harlingen. Our good friend, Vi, who travels with us frequently, was raised in Raymondville, just a few miles away. She would drive down to visit her family for a few days then spend Tuesday thru Saturday with us. It was a perfect plan. Mike and I would have some alone time at first then we would have friend time to end the week.

We headed to Love Field on a Saturday morning for our flight to Harlingen and I soon remembered why I usually avoid flying on weekends. The Parking Spot was full and we had to divert to overflow parking. Since we're both TSA Pre-check, we got thru security quickly, even with Mike checking his gun, and made our way to Cool River Café for some breakfast fare. We were politely informed that breakfast was over at 10a. My watch said 9:55 but ok. So we ordered some lunch instead with a bloody mary for Mike and a mimosa for me. Nope. No mimosa. They were out of OJ. What? How can a restaurant be out of OJ? I looked across the way at Whataburger which was serving up plenty of it. Are you kidding me? I went with the bloody mary instead which was so spicy I could barely drink it so Mike got two. We finished our food and got to our gate only to have to wait in line during boarding while they took someone OFF the plane who had just boarded. Not sure what that was about. The first leg of the flight was fine. We made a pit stop in Houston but stayed on the plane. A crew of old, fat, drunk fishermen sat in front of us on the second leg to Harlingen. Lovely. We finally made it to Harlingen and got our luggage then stood in line FOREVER to get our rental car. While we were standing there, I noticed Mike had on two completely different colored shoes. I have no idea how he did that or how we didn't notice. Dorkity dork dork! Our smallish SUV was finally ready and we hit the road to Padre. The area had very recently had a lot of rain, evidenced by the floodwaters we drove thru in several places, but we made it to the La Internacional condos around 4:30p.

The Internacional condos are located on the far northern part of the island, on the oceanside. This is where Mike and his dad used to stay all those years ago when they came to Padre. He really wanted to return there so I found a one bedroom that would work for us.
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The décor of the condo really needed some updating in my opinion.
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The advertised telescope didn't work.
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The condo was much smaller than I realized but was okay for what we paid for it. I didn't realize, however, that the refrigerator was not a full-size refrigerator and was not pleased at all about this. We had trouble fitting our food and drinks in it. In addition, when we arrived, someone had spilled a colored liquid all inside the freezer and this had not been cleaned before our arrival. I had to spend time cleaning this mess up before we could use it.

While it was still daylight, we wanted to go down to the beach for a little bit to see how the water felt. Mike realized he forgot his swimsuit so he wore bike shorts that he usually wears under his suit instead.
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There were some people kitesurfing.
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The dogs were out, too.
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It started to get a little chilly so we went back to the condo and warmed up in the hot tub. This became a favorite for us over the week with its warm waterfall.
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We went back upstairs to change clothes and saw this rainbow from our balcony.
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Before dinner, we wanted to pick up some supplies for the condo so we stopped off at the liquor store and grocery store. We got home and realized that we paid for ice but forgot to get it. We also forgot to buy fishing licenses. But most importantly, we bought champagne for mimosas but FORGOT THE OJ! It's like there's a mimosa troll somewhere trying to prevent me from having one. Give me a break! By now, we are hungry and tired so we just walked across the street to the Wanna Wanna Beach Bar for dinner. There was an awesome band called Pelican West playing so we had some killer pina coladas and peel & eat shrimp, lack of OJ forgotten. We stumbled back home later after closing the place down.

Posted by deniseandmike 12:01 Archived in USA Tagged texas padre vi Comments (0)

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