Padre Island and The National Seashore
Texas February 2016
This is the longest stretch of undeveloped Barrier Island in the world. It separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre one of the few hypersaline lagoons in the world. It is also a safe nesting place for Kemp’s turtles Ridley turtles and a haven for over 380 bird species.
For our second trip in our RV we could only get away for a month as we had so much winter work to complete at Cencerrita ready for our seasonal guests starting in March until November. For this trip we had house sitters that lived in Alaska getting away from their winter.
We flew from Malaga to Madrid and then onwards direct to Dallas on a Iberian flight which was nearly empty 🙂 Getting the free transport from the hotel was not so easy however as at first our mobile yet again had not registered in the US immediately.
After spending the first night in hotel we got a taxi to collect us at 09.00 and take us to our storage at Denton. Being the first time we had stored the RV we were a bit apprehensive. but everything was fine and after a few hours, we were ready to set off. Back again with our RV and motorbike 🙂 New tag renewal dates fitted and for only $60 the RV was covered for 2 years. Nothing like having Florida tags with the sunshine state on it.
Our motorboke tag for 2 years at $40. You get the little yellow sticker to put on your tag to show the date they are valed for.
The first trip we had decided to buy everything we needed at the beginning. However we found that the bed mattress was not breathing properly and getting damp so we decided to buy an Ikea slatted base for it to get air circulation below. So, by the time we had been to the nearest Ikea to buy it and also stock up on food, we hit the very heavy rush hour in the 6 lane traffic around Dallas 🙁 Finally getting out of it we were very tired due to tour body clocks being so far ahead of the US (7/8 hours). So we stopped at the first big service area on the Interstate going south from Dallas for the night. It was a typical large Texas service area with toilets, hurricane shelter and large lorry parking. Rather than park in the lanes between lorries we parked up on the side in a single row which reduced the amount of noise during the night.
The aim of this holiday was to drive to South Padre Island and not go anywhere for a month.
Bridge between Corpus Christi and South Padre Island. Nearly there after a quick stop in Corpus Christi for an acoustic guitar we had ordered (only $50 and the sound was good!)
As always Flat Eric our navigator is leading the way.
We went to the Malaquite Beach campsite first but it was full so we had to go to the Bird Island Basin site instead. This is on the Laguna Madre side of the island. Oh dear … we are straight on the waterfront 🙂 Only $4 a night. There is a 14 day maximum policy here. What bliss this place is.
Payment on the National Seashore is done as elsewhere in the US by honesty boxes: filling out an envelope with your details and putting the money in a box.
There are no facilities here except for a rubbish container. To dump tanks or get water you have to go to the Malaquite campsite dump station, about an 8 mile drive across the width of the island.
This is the life winter time and sunsets.
Using the bike we went over to the Malaquite site and National Seashore headquarters. As you can see they have a free program of up to 5 activities a day for people. Amazing stuff and all free! The activities/talks are part taken by park rangers and also for people who volunteer to carry them out in return for free camping on another site nearby.
Our site at Bird Island Basin with our solar panels out. The sites here are small and just between the wooden posts. We tend to use the cab seats first thing in the morning for breakfast and reading so we have a great view out across the water. So relaxing.
During the day you can watch people wind surfing at great speed.
The Malaquite site as you can see is always full. We found that there is a board you put up your reservation payment card that has your date of arrival and departure. So you can work out who is going and talk to them to find out at what time and slip straight into their site as they pull out 🙂
Staying at the Malaquite campsite was $8 a night and we see now that in 2019 it has gone up to $15 and Bird Island $8.
The sun was so good we just ended up laying our solar panels on the grass in the end (at an angle in the picture)
This is a National Highway!
The seashore in Texas is counted as part of the National Highway system so you can drive down the beach. If you get stuck it would cost you between 2500 to 3000 dollars by enterprising locals to get you out! We only took the bike down on the beach and found the worst sinking deep sand was just after you got off the concrete slipway for a few hundred metres. Many people do camp for free on the beach but it is definitely not wise to take a heavy 7t RV down there!
This beach is also famous for turtle hatching and there are many conservationists trying to protect them. Keep away from turtles.
The beach goes down to the Mexican border and we see every now and then a border patrol helicopter flying past. Typical of many areas the actual border post is inside America and as you drive away from South Padre Island you go through it. It has many cameras and we suspect heat sensors to see if you are hiding anyone in your vehicle so going through is quick with the electronic surveillance.
Well you do have to do something, so like many others, we brought a kite. Perfect place for it.
Big Boss Buzz doing his beach walk guide and talk
Then there was bocci … this did get serious as to who was the closest, who could throw the white ball in the most difficult place etc. you get the idea.
Malaquite site just before someone moves in next to us. the site has showers, toilet and a dump station. No hookups so the big 5th Wheels had to hook up to their trucks and go to the dump station as required. With our RV we could last about a week.
Just some of the amazing birds around. Whilst there we had pelicans migrating all the time. This turned into a challenge of “can we get a good video of them” Very difficult as they change their direction and leader.
Note the jelly fish in the sand. At one point the beach was covered in very small black jelly fish. Not a good place for swimming.
Amazing what flowers you come across.
Again there was a 14 day restriction and you have to go away from the island for 48 hours. As we did not want to go far we used a nearby campsite which is not the usual place we would go to. As you can see very crowed and tight together and we were the small rig! As many sites they check you over and ensure you do not have a tatty old rig. Over 10 years old and not allowed in.
People there were nice though and there was a free fish supper which is held once a month – luckily when we were there! This is from fish caught by the owner. Election year and a heated discussion was started up by some over whether Trump should get in …. But the fried fish was brilliant!
More of the birds
This was one of the free guided tours: Flower and Fauna walk.
Wow not only was there a free bird tour but they provided a the vehicle and took you to many areas. Coming off the beach was interesting as the driver knew it had deep sand and hit the concrete ramp at speed to get through it.
We cooked all our meals on the table top BBQ which was great. We had seen in the reviews that people were complaining it was too hot and not controllable. Just lift the lid and switch off at times! When we ended up in freezing weather on a later trip it was only just hot enough!
Great BBQ not only for meat but cheese on toast as well 🙂
Internet, now there is a challenge. We had our holiday business in Spain to keep on top of. We did all the bookings ourselves so this was important and we often during our travels had no phone signals or wi fi. The phone mast on South Padre Island beamed down the beach and not off it. Then there was the bright sun problem … hmm that is why we were there. Needless to say this caused quite a few comments by people and conversations.
One of my memorable conversations to this day was with an elderly gentleman and the conversation got round to me saying “hey you must be one of the original rebel teenagers in the 50’s” The smile on his face and the memories it brought back to him were priceless.
A lot of people were fishing on the beach but we noted when in the water they had waders on – was it because of those jelly fish?
So our month on Padre Island came to an end and we had to go back 🙁 As before we put the RV in storage one day before flying having plenty of time and stayed overnight in a hotel before flying back to Malaga the next day. It had all been about spending a month in the sun and relaxing. The trip was fantastic with many memories that were going to have to last us through our busy summer before we could come back again.