Bill and Cathy McArthur on the Road 2007: 4

  On Saturday, January 20, after 18 days, we finally arrived at a destination that we sought: South Padre Island. We ate a scenic lunch to the north of the developed 5 miles of the island to the south. Although it was still cloudy, the rain had finally stopped and the temperature was more tolerable if not really warm. Our RV was shoehorned in a tiny space with a great view of the bridge. We took a 5 mile walk around our KOA campground, down to the southernmost point of the island, and up the beach past a few of the hotels. Bill set up the hoses for our campsite when we returned. We walked to the nearby Sea Ranch Restaurant where we had a very good imitation of the Ahi Tuna specialty invented by Roy Yamaguchi (which we experienced on Oahu). We also had a so-so grouper dish. We had a window table on a marina, so overall it was a good choice for dinner. The temperature only dropped into the 50s overnight, so we got by on the electric heater. On Sunday morning, we lifted weights in the RV after breakfast. We worked on the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle until lunch time. After lunch, we took a 6 mile walk on the main street of the island. We did a bit of shopping en route. On the way back, we stopped at the coffee shop for a cappuccino for Bill. The sun finally came out, so Bill was able to strip down to a T-shirt. We finished the puzzle when we got back to the campground as we watched the NFC playoff game. We walked over to the fishing pier to enjoy our first sunset in weeks. We also ate a good fresh seafood dinner and watched most of the AFC playoff game. After dinner we watched "The Devil Wears Prada" on DVD back in our RV instead of seeing the Colts mount an historic comeback in the AFC game. This reminded Bill of the old "Heidi Game", although this time it was his fault, not the network's. We heard some hard rain overnight. As we awoke on Monday morning, the forecast was for another week of rain. Bill did some financial stuff on the computer and completed the NT Times crossword puzzle. We got a fill-up of our propane tank from a truck serving the campground. The temperature was 52 degrees, it was cloudy and windy, but the rain had abated, so we took off on foot to walk to the movie theater around 3 miles away. We stopped for lunch at Padre Island Brewing Company and joined a few despondent waiters looking out the windows at the bleak weather and very sparse customer traffic. We had a pleasant lunch and then walked another half mile in light rain to the theater. We viewed "Blood Diamond" and found it to be much better than we expected. The story was realistic, the action intense, and the acting credible. Leonardo DiCaprio did another great job in an action role. When the movie was over, the rain was more intense, so we took the free island shuttle back to the campground. Bill decided to take advantage of the rain and washed the very dirty RV. Bill was reminded of the time in San Carlos in 2005 when he also washed the rig in chilly, windy conditions. We ate in the RV as the wind and rain continued. We watched "24" with commercials again. The wind really howled overnight. Tuesday was windy, rainy, and cold (45 degrees). We did the NY Times crossword and lifted weights. After lunch, we drove the RV to the movie theater where we viewed "The Queen". The acting was good, but the movie was uninteresting and slow. We drove to the IGA and then to Walmart in Port Isabelle to restock our stores. We ate pasta in the RV for dinner, because we wanted to stay warm. We watched the "State of the Union" speech and the political analyses surrounding it. We ran both the electric heater and the propane furnace overnight as the wind continued to shake the RV. On Wednesday morning, the wind, rain, and cold continued. We made the "worst weather in the country" feature on MSNBC in the morning. We spent some time solving the NY Times crossword puzzle, and then looked at the rain for the rest of the morning. After lunch, we looked at the rain some more. We walked in the driving rain to the fishing pier for a seafood dinner. We asked the guitarist to play some songs that had "sun" in them. The sky cleared somewhat on Thursday morning, but the wind and chill continued. Mark Seibert, of the assessment organization used by Lower Township, called as scheduled at 7:15 AM. He told Bill that our property is assessed at $801,800 and our house at $152,000. This leaves us little ground for appeal. We lifted weights and worked on the NY Times crossword puzzle until lunchtime. After lunch, we walked about 3 miles up to the movie theater. At that point, Cathy turned around and Bill continued to the end of the developed part of the island. Bill returned on the beach, where he saw a Piping Plover, Least Terns, Ruddy Turnstones, White Pelicans, Brown Pelicans, Cold Tourists, a Willet, a Black Skimmer, Sanderlings, Gulls, and a Portuguese Man-O-War. The total distance of the walk was 10 miles. This is the local analog to our usual Key West circumambulation. We walked to a nearby seafood restaurant, Dirty Al's, which looks like an abandoned storefront. The restaurant is very popular with locals and sits people family-style as space is available. The food is fresh, good, and cheap. We sat with a local lady, Marian Topp, who was with four relatives. Marian was a nonstop talker who filled us in on all sorts of local lore. Her son maintains the birding map for Rio Grande Valley. We had some really good fish. The wind dropped overnight. On Friday morning, it was clear, calm, and warm enough for Bill to walk to get the morning papers wearing only a T-shirt (on top). It was great to see the calm Laguna Madre (back bay), the blue sky, and our first sunrise since we've been here. We did the laundry right after breakfast. Unfortunately, the clouds returned for most of the day. Bill tried some fishing on the pier, but the water was like chocolate milk so nobody caught any fish. We took a 7 mile walk later in the day and stopped for Bill to get a cappuccino on the way back. We had another excellent meal at Dirty Al's; it was Karaoke Night which didn't add to it for us. There were periods of hard rain overnight, but it stopped by morning. After breakfast, we broke camp and headed toward Corpus Christi.

        Bill and Cathy