Monday, October 26, 2009

The Texas Coast

Even though I live in Texas, and the sun is out nearly every day (yes even in October!) I don't get to enjoy it very much. Sometimes I compare myself to a cave fish...but that's another story.

Last Saturday I decided it was time to go find the sun. What better place than the beach!

You know you're in Texas when there's cactus growing on the beach!

After a week of anticipation and checking the forecasts, I decided to make it happen. The night before I packed everything I would need - flip flops, towels, folding chair, water, sun tan lotion, and bananas (seemed appropriate being so close to Mexico). At 5:00 a.m. the next morning I was on the road making the 2.5 hour trek down to Padre Island on the Texas Gulf Coast.

If you're not familiar with Padre Island, it's a long stretch of land along the TX coastline which is divided into several different sections. On the northmost end there's the Port Aransas wildlife refuge, directly below that is Mustang Island, then below that is Padre Island National Seashore (where I went), and just south of that is South Padre Island which is disconnected from the upper island - it can be reached from the mainland. Look it up on Google maps to get a visual.

The grasslands on the coast

I arrived around 8:00. The sun was already up and the sky was overcast, but the weather looked promising. The forecast predicted a high of 80, and it was pretty much spot on. Between noon and 3:00 the sun was out almost constantly, making for a very pleasent afternoon.

I made one big mistake, however. Since I've never been to the TX coast, I failed to remember how much closer it is to the equator than the beaches back home. That doesn't necessarily make it "hotter" but the sun is certainly more intense. In hindsight, it would have been nice if I had worn some sunscreen.

But then again, if I had worn it I wouldn't be able to look like an Indian for Thanksgiving! Seriously, I'm more burnt now than I've ever been in my entire life, and it's not too fun. Aloe vera has become my close friend over the past few days.

Another thing I should mention is that there was a phenomenon known as "red tide" going on. It's basically an algae bloom which kills a lot of fish and produces a muddy reddish tint in the incoming breakers. From what I read it's not necessarily dangerous to swim when red tide is happening, but there's the potential for skin irritation and other side effects. I got wet and it didn't seem to bother me thankfully. Of course, even if there were no red tide, the deeper you go the greater the chance of encountering sharks, so you have to choose your risks carefully.

A big ole' dead fish.

A Western Sandpiper - he had a broken wing, and there wasn't anything I could for him (the park rangers apparently couldn't either), so I picked him up and placed him out of the reach of the waves, then took some photos and left the poor little guy alone.

Well that pretty much sums up my first experience on the Texas coast. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Next time we'll go camping over the weekend, make a bonfire on the beach, and I'll grill up some shrimp!! Can't wait.

1 comment:

Lydia vonderLuft said...

Our family experienced the red tide while we were in Florida. Although it was neat (sort of) to see the many different kinds of fish & shells that were washed up, those who went swimming also all came down with sore throats from the toxins. Somehow cold symptoms and 104 degree weather (not counting humidity) didn't seem to mix too well. ;)