Saturday, December 29, 2018

On the beach at South Padre Island

Parked on the beach

After our short visit to South Padre Island, I wanted to get back there and actually spend some time at the beach, so when we had a couple more 80 degree days after Christmas, we decided to take advantage of one.  Colder weather was on the way, and we didn’t know how long it would take to get back to the 80s.

We headed out after breakfast, taking a drive through Brownsville on the way . . . not much to see there . . . and stopping for a quick lunch in Port Isabel before crossing over to the island.  I had determined that we didn’t drive quite far enough north to reach the vehicle access points to the beach last time, so we needed to go a little further and look for Beach Access #5 and #6.  From what I found online, there was a $3 charge at Access #5 and entry at Access #6 was free (although more suitable for 4x4 vehicles, as it is not maintained).

We found Access #5, and the fee is now $12 – whether you are driving onto the beach or parking in the lot and walking to the beach.  We kept going another couple miles and found Access #6, which is still free.

The unimproved entrance to the beach - FREE

The sand is deeper here, and we could see people stuck at the entrance to the beach,

Unprepared people getting stuck

so we stopped at the road and aired down the tires slightly. 

Spinning tires, but made it

We only took them down to just under 30 psi (unlike at Silver Lake Sand Dunes where we typically take them down to 8-10 psi), since there was only a small area of loose sand before the beach, which was more hard-packed.

As Tom was letting air out of the tires, I was watching this guy throwing sand all over his truck as he spun his wheels getting out of the sand – he made it though!

With our tires aired down,we made it easily through the loose sand and onto the beach.  We drove north to an open area and parked the Jeep, quickly realizing that it was much windier here on the island.

As soon as we got out of the Jeep, this girl came running up to us . . .


She was waiting for somebody to throw a ball for her, and kept following me around thinking that I looked like a good playmate.

She followed me to the water,

She kept following me around

I made a new friend

where we watched the pelicans fly overhead in a very straight line,


and walked the beach while Tom chatted with her owner.

Big waves and lots of wind

Lots of people at the beach on this warm day

Tom chatted while I walked

The surf was pretty active this afternoon.


I walked along the beach, and then back toward the dunes to see if I could find a spot to sit out of the wind.

Small dunes

Footprints look like little turtles

It was still pretty windy back there, and the wind was whipping the sand around quite a bit.  There wasn’t really anywhere to get any relief from the wind.

Look at those footprints in the sand – don’t they look like little turtles!?!

Back at the Jeep, we found out that leaving the top open might not have been a good idea . . .

Uh oh!

Oh yeah, nice layer of sand there!

We drove a little further on the beach, where it was mostly people fishing along the shore.


After a while, we turned around and started driving back toward the first access point. 

Driving on the beach is pretty easy

The further south we got, the more vehicles we started to see, and the beach narrowed up somewhat.

Getting narrower

Although high tide wasn’t until 8pm, we were a couple hours past low tide, and it was coming in pretty quickly.  We continued on, hoping that the beach would widen back up again.  It did, but not soon enough . . .

Uh Oh - Waves getting closer

. . . and then this happened!


Blurry, I know, but I think you get the idea . . . one of those waves washed up over the beach as we drove through and water sprayed everywhere – including inside the Jeep!

Tom wasn’t happy, but I just laughed!  Of course, I was on the side of the Jeep away from the ocean, so I didn’t get too wet!

The beach finally widened back up, and we found a place to park, angling the Jeep so I could use it as a windblock.  I got out my chair and my book, and soaked in some sunshine.

Enjoying the beautiful day

Sitting in the sun, with the Jeep blocking the windTom found some people to talk to for a while, then came back and sat with me for a little bit.

His turn to walk, while I read

It was a nice, relaxing day at the beach, but around 3:30 we packed up the chairs and headed out. 

We caught a nice sunset over the canal on the way home.

Sunset over the canal

We had to find a manual car wash to stop at on the way home so we could spray the sand and saltwater off the Jeep.  That took care of the outside, but we would still have to get all the sand out of the interior.  That was a job for the next day.

Getting rid of the sand

We actually spent several hours the next day cleaning up the Jeep – it was sorely in need of the good cleaning, even before our little adventure at the beach!

We got it all washed and waxed, and it’s shiny like new now!

All clean and shiny

Just in time, too . . . today was cloudy and windy, and the temperatures started dropping.  We’re supposed to have about a week of cooler temps, then we’ll be back in the 70s . . . we’ll be ready for it!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Exploring the Gulf Coast of Texas

Port Mansfield Deer

We had a stretch of beautiful weather leading up to Christmas, and with temps approaching 80 on Saturday, we decided to go for a drive to the coast.

Our neighbors at the RV Park had been telling Tom about a small town on the coast where there is a herd of deer that hang out in town and are really tame, so we decided to take a drive up there before heading down to South Padre Island.

It was a bit of a drive to get there . . . through the Wind Farm,

Wind Farm

Wind Farm

and over to the coast.  Port Mansfield is a small fishing town about midway up the coast between the north and south ends of Padre Island.  It’s also the location of the manmade channel that divides Padre Island in half.

Gulf of Mexico

It looked like quite the little fishing town,

Boathouses along the channel

with just a few homes and three small RV Parks.

We drove through the neighborhood, and that’s where we first spotted the herd of deer that call Port Mansfield home.

Deer in the yard

They were really curious, and not very timid around people.

Bucks just hanging out

Even the bucks were just relaxing in the grass.  Some of the littler ones were more cautious – see the little one peeking through the bushes?

See the little one peeking between the bushes?

Behind the neighborhood, there’s a small park with a nature trail.  We could see people over there feeding some deer, so we drove over to check it out. 

We walked along the trail,



and spotted about a dozen deer hiding in the trees.

Hanging out in the shade

As we walked around on the trail, they must have thought we brought food because they started following us.

This one buck just kept walking toward me, and even though I kept backing up, he just got closer and closer.

Curious buck

He came right over to me!

Some other people had shown up while we were on the trail, and were feeding some deer at the edge of the parking lot.  Apparently the bait shops sell bags of dried corn for $5.00.

Feeding him corn

Food brings them all out!

Tom walked over to them, and they shared some of their corn.

Tom giving it a tryHe had a couple of bucks eating out of his hand!

Getting closer

The rest of them were just milling around, not sure what they were waiting for.

A whole group of bucks

After hanging out with the deer for a while, we were getting hungry so we went looking for a restaurant in town.  There were only two, and one looked busier than the other, so that’s where we went . . .

Pelican’s Cove

Looks good for lunch

It was pretty good . . . we had mexican . . . big surprise! 

After lunch, we continued to South Padre Island . . .

South Padre Island

back through the Wind Farm, then south and east to Port Isabel and South Padre Island.  The drive up to Port Mansfield had taken longer than we anticipated, and it was after 3pm by the time we got to the beach.

Walkway to the beach

We stopped at one of the free beach access parking lots, and walked down to look at the ocean.

It was pretty quiet for a Saturday afternoon; just a few people on the beach.  It was the weekend before Christmas, though, so maybe things will pick up afterwards.

Lone seagull

Pretty quiet for a warm Saturday afternoon


We walked for a while, but we were getting sand-blasted on the back of our legs, and knew that when we turned around to go back, it would be worse.

We could see the dry sand blowing over the top of the wet sand.

Sand blowing over the beach

We got back in the Jeep and drove north along the island to look for the area where we could take the Jeep on the beach.  We didn’t find it, but we did see a bunch of people kite surfing on the bay side of the island, so we drove out on the beach to check it out.

Kite surfers taking advantage of the wind

We watched as several surfers zipped along on the water – the wind was really working to their benefit!


Huge spray

More kites waiting on the beach.

Kites at rest

Getting started on the water was a two-person job!

Need a helper to get started

Ready to go

Once they get out there, they can really move across the water!  We loved watching them – especially when they got some air!

Flying across the smooth water

Big air

They were fun to watch, and it was a great way to end the afternoon at the beach.

Parking on the bayside beach