While the upper RGV lacks any scenic beauty, redemption can be found just 90 miles southeast of here on South Padre Island. We have been looking forward to this day trip since our arrival in Mission. But, it was tricky to time. We wanted a day that was sunny, warm and not windy. And, we wanted to make the trip before Spring Break is in full swing. Yesterday was the day. It was worth the wait.
This was my first trip to South Padre, and Paul's first in 34 years. Yes, he walked this same beach as an 18-year-old on Spring Break. He was amazed at how much the place has been developed since his first visit. The hotel on the beach where he and the boys stayed that memorable week has long since been replaced by a swanky condo.
We left the clutter of South Padre behind us and drove north to the very uncluttered stretch in Andy Bowie County Park.
Here the beach is pristine and calm. Give it a couple of weeks, though, and it'll be crawling with college kids.
Back in town several places are getting ready for the annual onslaught. This resort, which obviously prefers Winter Texans over Spring Breakers had signs on the property making it very clear that "kids" aren't welcome this time of year.
Back on the south side of South Padre we enjoyed lunch at Dirty Al's, a place that comes highly recommended and is obviously popular with visitors of all ages. We enjoyed a couple of beers from the bar and a mighty tasty sampling of fried seafood from the restaurant. When it came to bait, though, we passed.
We headed inland and made a quick stop at the neighboring town of Port Isabel. We searched in vain for a surf shop Paul visited there three decades ago. (Wouldn't it have been something if it were still there?)
The gem of Port Isabel is the Port Isabel Lighthouse. Since 1852, this 60-foot structure has stood as a beacon on the southernmost tip of the Gulf Coast. Now a state historic site, this is the only lighthouse on the Texas coast that is open to the public.
We climbed 50 feet or so to what was once the supply room. We stepped out on the deck and took in the circular view.
We finished climbing the total of 74 steps - several of them straight up - to take in the view from the lantern room. This is a look back across the bay to South Padre.
We broke up the long trip home with a quick cruise through an RV park in Mercedes and a short visit with friends who just arrived at another park in Mission. Along the way we snapped this picture. With Kansas City being nearly 1,100 miles north of here, that must be one long road!
P.S. Bullwinkle's Travels invites you to step back in time. It's Spring Break in South Padre. The Year: 1976.