“The depths of the earth are in His hand,
and the mountain peaks are His.
The sea is His; He made it.
His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
Sweetheart and I took decided this cold snap was just too much so we packed up the new, slightly different style Beast and headed as far south as we could get in Texas. South Padre is located on Padre Island which is the worlds longest barrier island. I was amazed to hear this bit of trivia. An interesting turnover of transient residents happens every winter. From November to March there is an influx of “winter Texans”, commonly called snowbirds in other parts of the country. Then in April a flood of college students take over the island for spring breaks. Then from May through August it is thousands of families visiting the 34 miles of white sandy beaches.
As per our usual chaotic travel style, the first night at the South Padre KOA Campground was a wrestling match between gale force winds and a cantankerous new fifth wheel, a KZ Sportsmen 315TH. This new Beast is a toy hauler which allows us to take sweethearts motorcycle along for the ride. Can I say that nothing makes you feel every aching joint like a couple of hours on a motorcycle. But I digress. This was our shake down trip which means (for those who aren’t in the know about RV terms…..don’t feel bad….I still don’t know 90% of the terms and I’ve been doing this for years) that we were taking it out for the first time to work out the kinks and learn about her quirks. As usual kinks and quirks were in abundance on this trip. The first night we found out the heat didn’t work and that the water pump valve was defective. Trust me when I say it doesn’t endear you to the campground when you pump a couple hundred gallons of water out onto the ground overnight when it back flows out of the fresh water fill pipe. Let’s just also say that it makes for some lovely “marital enrichment sessions” when you say “I think that you might be doing that wrong” to your sweetheart, especially if it turns out you are right.
Never the kind of people to let chaos deter us from enjoying ourselves, we set out to find a restaurant with a television because aside from the vacation, there was another event taking place that took precedent over everything else. That’s right. The Alabama football game. Because, Roll Tide, there is never a reason, Roll Tide, to miss the most important game, Roll Tide, of the season. Roll Tide. Just saying.
Pier 19 is located right at the KOA and lucky for sweetheart, it had a bar with a television. Roll Tide. But seriously. What a great place to eat. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food is plentiful and well prepared. We stopped in for breakfast one morning and truly I thought we were on an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Sweetheart ordered a Texas Cinnamon Roll. The whole restaurant burst into laughter at the look on Mark’s face when they brought it to the table, especially since he had also ordered a full breakfast. He was good sport though, even offering to share with the entire campground. Yes it was that big. If you want to try one (it easily feeds a table of 6) you might want to call ahead because they sell out every day.
The next morning we set off to explore the island. We found out that you can drive on the beaches there so you know what happened next. Some much needed time was spent just pondering the beauty of God’s creations on both land and sea. Silly dog along with crazy dog seemed quite willing to spend the entire time running up and down the beach, chasing balls and frisbees to their heart’s content. With so few people on the island this time of year, we had huge stretches of sand all to ourselves.
We also enjoyed several hours at the South Padre Island Bird and Nature Center. Of course you have seen hundreds of my bird pictures over the years but this place is amazing. If you go, take the tour. It’s free and the guides point out birds and wildlife that most people would rush on by. Don’t hurry through this wonderful place. You can even rent binoculars for $3, a true bargain these days and well worth it as some of the inhabitants are hard to pick out with the naked eye. We were lucky to see some fairly rare birds during our visit. A Virginia Rail, a Least Bittern, and a Peregrine Falcon as well as a Night Heron, a Tri colored Heron (a bird who spreads his wings over water to psyche out the minnows into thinking they are basking in the shade right before they become dinner), and a huge flock of Roseate Spoonbills. I would really love to come back when all the birds from South America stop over on the island on the northern migration. They say it is a birders paradise in April.
The highlight of the trip was, as you would expect, a restaurant we found while biking down the island. Yummies Bistro has by far the best Boston clam chowder I have ever tasted. And I have tasted A LOT of clam chowder in my life to include the famous clam chowder from the Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, CA. Everything is made in-house in generous portions with an eye to beautiful plating. Even the coffee was a stunning presentation. If you do nothing else when visiting the island, MAKE TIME TO VISIT THIS PLACE! Sadly I didn’t get to taste their famous Grapefruit Pie which is seasonal and reportedly makes all other pies come in a sad second. (I was being a good girl and following my doctors orders in this battle of insulin resistance so I couldn’t’ have pie.) The chicken salad sandwich was the perfect pair for the soup. The next day we had breakfast there so sweetheart could have something called a Bacon Waffle (yes…bacon inside a waffle…nature’s perfect food combo) which was every bit as good as it sounds. I had a bacon, egg, gouda, and avocado sandwich that was so big I could barely finish it.
We also ate at the Sea Ranch Restaurant for dinner one night. A nice seafood restaurant overlooking the bay, it was busy and loud but the food was good. Truthfully we only went because they served fresh red snapper “cubano” style (fried whole with no coating), which is my all time favorite way to eat fish. It dish was fantastic even though it was a tad expensive, especially since snapper are plentiful this time of year. The rest of the food was typical seafood restaurant with rather ordinary sides. The description says upscale but unless there was a different room than the one we were in, it was pretty typical of a family restaurant with everyone in casual dress.
We ended the trip with a sunset ride from Island Adventure Park Horseback Riding. Sweetheart got to ride a big draft horse (Max) and they let me ride a spirited 17 hands tall boy (Luke) who kept me on my toes and made the ride super enjoyable unlike many trail ride horses. The ride was down the beaches, ending on the inland bay just as a magnificent sunset occurred. Riding on the beach has been on my bucket list for a long time. I was so happy to finally get to do this. My only complaint was that I didn’t get to ride through the surf at a gallop (every horse loving girls dream) but hey! Sun, ocean, horses, and the love of my life. There is nothing wrong with that picture!
All in all the trip was a success. South Padre Island should definitely be considered when looking for a place to get away from the winter blues.
©2016MichelleWelch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries
photography by Michelle Welch, all rights reserved
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.