Sunday, January 31, 2010


The thing about Graffiti is that someone has a message for you. 100_1064 It

may be harmless fun on the beach.

Or proud residents100_1136 that want to promote their community.

Or it could be 100_1138 a warning about just who is in control of the streets.

On our way 100_1139  to visit the Confederate Air force Museum in Brownsville Texas, we saw this. We couldn’t help but wonder, what if we had planned to arrive the night before ( over night in this parking lot ) and be at the museum when it opened. Note that the tags are un challenged by xing out, painting over or disrespecting it by corrupting it’s meaning.

These gangsters are clearly in charge of this neighborhood. “SUR 13” is the southern United States branch of the MS 13 that has been featured so prominently in Television  documentaries about criminal gangs in America.

So, when planning an over nite on a parking lot some where, be sure to do your reading up on the neighborhood. There may be a message there for you, one you really need to know about.


Morning mist along the beach, filters the early morning light as the camera scans around the Malaquite  campground. It is just minutes before the first rays of sunlight appear. The campground is very still at this early hour.

It is time for Betty and I to walk Dillon and Poco down the beach as we look to see what the overnight high tide has brought ashore.

Starfish100_1175For a better look at the photos, just click on them.


Saturday, January 30, 2010


Red tides occurring months ago, back in 2009, are still effecting those that come to enjoy the Padre Island National seashore. And especially  those that drive any distance down the beach towards the Mansfield or Yarborough cuts.

The red tide killed many saltwater catfish that are more commonly known as hard heads. Their only remains at this late date are their  skulls, or, hard heads, that litter the beach. Those skulls have a number of sharp spines that stick up and will puncture tires quite easily. Our last trip down to the Mansfield cut was highlighted by frequent stops to air up a tire that had less than five thousand miles on it. Several plugs later, ( a patch won’t hold on a side wall ), that very nice looking tire is fit only for use as a spare. You know someone has a very expensive problem when you see a wrecker truck with a new set of tires already mounted and ready to install, disappear down the beach towards the Mansfield cut. Locals carry several cans of fix a flat so they don’t have to call a wrecker.

100_1057Extra gas, shovel, high lift jack, fix a flat, first aid kit, and so on, are essentials. Many miles down the beach  is the shack used by the turtle rescue people.

Normal tides can cover the beach leaving you little to drive on. A check of the tide charts and factoring in the drive time, both down and back,  is an absolute must before going very far down the island.100_1048

Then an unexpected event of Nature can come into play. Some times you can’t factor that in. A wind out of the East, coming through the windward passage between the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba can elevate tide levels to an extent that beach travel becomes impossible. Bring extra clothing and food just incase an unexpected overnight becomes necessary.

More trouble than it’s worth, one might say. However,  we say the rewards far out weigh those other minor considerations !

Getting to those places on our Earth that are just naturally good for your soul, can’t be bought with money, you have to give something of yourself. That nearly always involves a little sweat and a little risk.

Friday, January 29, 2010


As yet another ice storm approaches Arkansas, we are camped on the beach at Padre Island Texas.

Sometime after lunch, we will likely spend considerable time worrying about such lofty matters as, should we grill out this evening, or wait until tomorrow. Geeze ! It’s always something to fret over. Maybe we should wait to consider that issue after nap time.100_1218 Or maybe after a stroll along the beach picking up trophy stuff.

100_1160 You know, shells n’ such.


The dang weather here is just a killin’ me. I’m about to burn up in these bib overhauls, maybe Betty will dig out my cut off bib overhauls.


Thursday, January 28, 2010


It is a lazy kind of morning here on Padre Island, even the US Coast Guard over flights seem to be just loafing along.100_1152 Looking out across the Gulf of Mexico and watching a string of pelicans who are also loafing along, fly in perfect formation, much like synchronized swimmers, Betty and I are reviewing photos of our day trips to Nuevo Progresso Mexico. Here are a few that may give a glimpse into the atmosphere of that border town.

2010-01-20 09.44.32  Just after dropping your quarter into the turnstile to pay the toll for the foot crossing of the international bridge. You see this welcome sign. The toll is .25 each way.

2010-01-20 09.45.53 Great shades of Grannis ! We thought we were back at the Chicken plant there for a minute ! Cool art work and enough children have enjoyed it that the rooster’s back is shiny  from them climbing up to have their photo taken.

2010-01-20 09.50.57 A friendly bus driver with a tour from Germany took this one at the poolside statue. L to R, Larry, Betty, Paul, Nancy.

100_1157 Sidewalk vendors sell just about anything one might imagine.

2010-01-20 10.25.38 Shops are just packed with more stuff than you can look at.

2010-01-20 12.44.40 Paul & Nancy examine supplies for their RV.

2010-01-20 12.49.54 There is great architecture, in Progresso.

2010-01-20 13.27.23Lots of porticos and shaded sidewalks.

2010-01-20 13.05.58  These fellows seem to be enjoying a cool one while their Wives shop. Or, maybe they have been “Parked” and out from under foot ?

2010-01-20 13.36.52 “Shopped out” Winter Texans file through the Port of Entry, display their Passports, state their Nationality and declare taxable purchase if any. The Customs tax never comes to much, usually pocket change.

I guess it had been a long day for us also. I couldn’t seem to get my thumb out of the camera lens !

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Catching Shrimp for Bait
Just after sunup, you’ll see them patrolling the beach, especially at low tide, slurpy gun in hand.100_1196The fishermen are looking for bait, more specifically,  shrimp.100_1186 But, the tide is out and the shrimp are burrowed down deep in the sand, in order to stay down where the water is .100_1187 The fisherman’s problem is how to get to the shrimp that may be quite deep.

100_1191 Good size on these shrimp, huh ?

100_1192 The slurpy gun does the trick quite handily.100_1193Even the seagulls benefit from the fishermen’s search, by gleaning scraps.

 100_1194 The fisherman discharges the slurpy gun as his partner stands by to pick up the shrimp.


We have seen them going down the highway

in long convoys, escorted by lead and chase vehicles with flags waving and lights blinking on them.100_1096  Seen them way off in the distance with blades whirling and flashing in the sun.100_1097

Seen them in clusters and in bird like flocks along ridges off in the distance. But, until you find one parked at a truck stop where you can get a good look, you may not have a proper appreciation for just how big they actually are. Click on the photo for a larger view then you can see that it actually extends way beyond the back of our trailer.


We always wanted to have a cool Padre Island mailing address, but there is no USPS post office on the island. But all wasn't lost ! There is this way on cool place that fills many communications needs at one great stop. It is good to check our mail box, get a cup of our favorite latte, go on line, pay bills, video chat with the grandkids, or should the laptop not be with us, use the in place PC.

The various time zones around our Nation, and indeed the world, effect the way we communicate and conduct our business. The friendly staff and the time zone clocks on the wall, help us to quickly factor in those time differences to more efficiently get our stuff done.

The large, sturdy family table has more than enough room to spread out your mail and sip leisurely on a latte as you sort it out.

Something in the mail need your immediate attention ? No sweat ! The friendly and very helpful staff have all of the needed supplies to reply, ship, mail or e-communicate in several different modes, to fill your needs. Need to send a small gift or card ? Need shipping containers or laminations ? Yep, your'e in the right place the Vida Dulce gift botique is ready to respond with clever, trendy items.

Just look at the infectious smiles of folks that are ready to assist you. I think that this great staff must be one of the most valuable assets of this nifty small business.

The logo on the door says much about the atmosphere in this efficiently run, but laidback place.

A seperate after hours key access for box holders only, is a great thing.


Hurricane #6, August 5th, 1933, made land fall at Brownsville Texas. They weren't named back then, but name or not, it took the steeple off of this beautiful work of bricks. It was never replaced.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The day that we drove sixty miles down the beach to the Mansfield cut we saw lots and lots of stuff that had washed up on the beach or had been abandoned by beach visitors that were overcame by mother nature. The wind can destroy a push up awning in a very few seconds. We noted one such site about five miles down the beach. The twisted and broken frame was all that remained.

As it turns out we found a way to use some of the parts from the frameworks skeletal remains.

Our cellular amplifer also amplifies our 3G device ( air card ), but this time we are parked behind the dune line and the signal from the tower is not only weak, but it varies widely in speed.

Which means that we needed to get the 3db gain omni directional antenna up higher than the top of our max air vent cover where it usually is.

An antenna pole of some type was in order. But there were so many restrictions on such a project. For example: no drilling of holes, not a permanent installation, easy up, easy down, light weight, small, easy to store, maybe even collapsible.

A couple of suction cup hooks, three small bungie cords,

( one bungie keeps a light tension on the coaxial cable to keep the wind from whipping it around )

two legs from the salvaged awning, a hacksaw, pliers, screwdriver, tape, ect., were on hand items that we used. A look at the photos will let you recognise the parts that were salvaged. When the project was finished I used the screwdriver to anchor the botttom of the antenna pole to the ground.
The end result. was a greatly improved and more useable signal that was much stronger and consistent.