and Cathy McArthur on
the Road 2005: 9
Thursday, March 3, was the day Bill was to move on to South Padre Island. Bill didn't eat breakfast in the rig and got an early start at 7:30 AM. He drove to Wal-Mart and gassed up at the lowest price in town: $1.63 per gallon. Then, Bill went into Wal-Mart and ate a light breakfast with the usual lousy coffee at McDonald's. Then he shopped for the next week. Bill called Cathy while he was putting things away in the rig after shopping. Then he drove the 20 miles out to Boca Chica, the beach between the mouth of the Rio Grande to the south and the back bay, Laguna Madre to the north. There were several RVs out there, dry camping along the road or on the beach. Bill parked and walked along the beach to the mouth of the Rio Grande. It was a tough beach to walk on with soft sand and debris. At one point, the beach was less than the width of a car with boiling waves on one side and a big sand dune cliff on the other. Bill hoped that the tide wasn't still coming in (it was, but slowly). The mouth of the Rio Grande was much more impressive than Bill expected. On the other side were a few vehicles and several presumably Mexican nationals fishing from the beach. The walk was approximately a 7 mile round trip. After the hike, Bill headed for SPI and his RV Park, Destination South Padre Island. The campsite was at the edge of the Laguna Madre mud flats. The view was great. Bill took at walk up the beach on the Gulf side and then cut inland to the highway to get some coffee at the Sunset Coffee Shop. The whole town was in pre Spring Break mode. Everything was ready to go as soon as the students arrive. The best item Bill saw was the SPI beer funnel. For dinner, Bill went to FishBones Pier and Grill with Cathy's phoned encouragement. The Blackened Red Snapper was fabulous. Bill watched a few people fishing on the pier as he ate.
On Friday, Bill decided to explore the island. After breakfast, he walked south into the Isla Blanca State Park. This park is filled with hundreds of RVs. It is worth investigating for any long term plans here. Bill entered the beach at its southmost point (it's Texas) and started walking north. At times, it looked like Atlantic City because of the high rise hotels. The beach seemed more like Wildwood because it was so flat and easy to walk on. There were some Spring Breakers in evidence, but not many. The last building on the beach is a La Quinta Inn. Just past the hotel is a post that says, "Mile 5." Bill met a couple at just that point and asked if that meant that it was 5 more miles to the inlet to the north. The man said that, on the contrary, it was 5 miles to the inlet to the south, from which Bill had just come. The next question was, "How far is it to the inlet to the north?" The answer was, "26 miles." So ended Bill's idea to walk the whole island. It was warm and humid and felt like a summer day. Bill headed inland and walked back on Padre Boulevard. He stopped at the only supermarket on the island for some trash bags and a large Gatorade and stopped again at a coffee shop for lunch. The 10 mile walk took 4.5 hours. After calling Cathy and relaxing a bit, Bill went to the fishing pier and fished for 4 hours. There were lots of tiny Pin Fish that were expert at stealing bait. Nothing bigger showed up. Bill had a late dinner in the rig.
On Saturday through Tuesday, it was partly cloudy with a slight bit of rain, mostly at night. Bill spent a number of hours each day walking on the beach. With the hope of seeing all of his grandchildren the next weekend, Bill decided to leave a day early, on Wednesday morning. In addition, Bill decided to winterize the rig on Tuesday and to utilize hotels and restaurants on the trip Back East. Bill tentatively selected Hampton Inns in Baton Rouge, Knoxville, and Carlisle as targets for the nights on the road. Cathy remains trapped inside by the freezing weather in Pennsylvania.