Friday, February 15, 2019

The Gulf of Mexico: Corpus Christi, Padre Island, and Port Aransas,Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas, sits on the coast in the Gulf of Mexico, just waiting for wide-eyed desert rats like us to show up and fill our shriveled lungs with that moist sea air.  It's also the home of deceased singer-songwriter-fashion-designer-and-more Selena, one of the most influential Mexican-Americans of our time and the #1 best-selling female Latin music artist, who was shot and killed by her friend and manager of her fashion boutique line.  But that's not why we came ... we came for the beach! 


CC has some of the best surfing in the world, with a high population of people "catching a wave" and  a robust surfing culture; therefore, the perfect location for the Texas Surf Museum.


The Texas Executive Surf Club is a fun bar and grill with live music, but more importantly the place where our dear friends Don and Nancy Bowen had their first date 20 years ago, so a pilgrimage was in order.  Plus, we were thirsty.





The USS Lexington is parked in the harbor and has been turned into a cool museum.  It is nicknamed "The Blue Ghost" for its color scheme, but on this misty, foggy day, it was more of a Gray Ghost.


She served from 1943 until her decommissioning in 1991, longer than any other Essex-class aircraft carrier.  


USS Lexington is (was) a huge aircraft carrier, but is now deemed tiny compared to the size of modern aircraft carriers, a kind of demotion in-line with the ripping away of Pluto's planetary status.



Shockingly, when she was in operation, the entire deck of the ship (and therefore the landing strip area) was made of wood!  A portion remains for comparison's sake.  In fact, some of the deck boards salvaged from Lexington were used to create a carrier deck mock-up at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. 


Visitors are free to roam the decks, and they have a variety of programs including haunted overnight sleepovers and "Escape The Room" type team building exercises.  Ghost Hunters has filmed here as well as a couple of Hollywood movies and some sort of Super Bowl deal involving Blake Shelton.


 Boys will be boys!

 

Out on Padre Island, the cold and rainy weather persisted ....


It was a six-blanket kind of night.

... but that didn't stop us from having fun. 
Here, you are allowed to drive your vehicles on the beach and in the water!


Having recently watched the 80's classic movie Terms of Endearment, Philip was inspired by Jack Nicholson using his feet to drive his Corvette and getting tossed into the ocean.  OK, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but it sure was a lot of fun.  Sprinkles called shotgun!

The sun came out a day later for our move to Port Aransas, a grueling 12-mile drive from Padre.


The beaches here (at least this time of year) are wide, long, deserted, and gorgeous!
And the sand is hard-packed, making for perfect beach biking.



In Port Aransas, the town seems to be populated by grizzly retired sea captain types, fun-loving families, and of course retirees in RV's.  In the summer, this place is teeming with kids, making it ripe for lots of cheesy photo ops.







"Port A" as it's known to the locals is also the home of the #53 restaurant in the nation, Irie's Island Food, a tiny hovel with huge crowds and terrific food.




Port A is still recovering from 2017's Hurricane Harvey, which slammed the coast and flooded everything in this area.


(Re-)construction is everywhere, but lots of buildings are still uninhabitable. 
If you are a builder, framer, roofer, plumber, electrician, or any sort of tradesman, there are still unlimited opportunities for you in this area.



There are seemingly more golf carts in Port A than there are cars.  Every business from nail salons to donut shops have rows of golf cart rentals out front.


But why go "standard" when you can go "wow wow wow" ???!



Lucky Charm took her first over-water ride via the Port Aransas Ferry.  I was nervous, but it was easy-peasy and she fit just fine.  This ferry actually handles everything from mopeds to 18-wheelers!


The photo above looks like she's on land, but that is actually the ferry.  The cross-bridge above is where the captains sit in their swivel chairs to make the magic happen.  Here is a smaller ferry with only passenger cars, but you get the idea.  I'm sure this is no big deal if you're from that area, but as Arizonans this was certainly a novel bit of fun to us!


While paddling in the South Bay, we had dolphins swimming by the kayak, but I wasn't quick enough to snap their photos.  The wildlife continues to delight and amaze, particularly the birds.  





This Great Blue Heron above was GIANT, probably at least 4 feet tall including the legs.  
So gorgeous!


And so ends our relaxation on the TTT or "Texas Tropical Trail," as they call it.  Next, we leave the coast and head back to the forests, specifically the Sam Houston National Forest about 300 miles north!