Crazy Winter Roller Coaster!

It snowed here in South Texas! It sure did! There was snow mostly to the south of the Coastal Bend, but there was actual snow!  The only thing is that it was only snow flurries, and not actual sticking to ground snow! I saw the little flakes this morning in Flour Bluff around 10:00 am. The last time we had any real snow here was back on December 24th, 2004, where we had about 4 inches of snow!

Well, with the weather the way it has been going around here, we have been on a wild roller coaster ride! This weekend, we are expecting highs in the 70’s.  Somehow this year we have had the four seasons all within a week. This crazy pattern has repeated itself all winter long. Will real Spring ever come?

 Snow in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of www.accuweather.com
Snow in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of http://www.accuweather.com

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do: North Padre Island and Flour Bluff: Get Good Grub

This will be part of a series of places to Go, ”Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. This is the last of  first main part of the series  about North Padre Island.

My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

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Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island

First, let me clarify some confusion. I don’t know how many people get North Padre Island mixed up with South Padre Island. They are two different places, and you cannot get to South Padre Island from North Padre Island on “South Padre Island Drive” (the freeway that runs through Corpus Christi) to get to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is another 2 hours away. The islands are two separate places. I still scratch my head on why they named the freeway that runs through Corpus “South Padre Island Drive.” Anyway, here is one of my favorite places on North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

3. Packery Channel

4. The Seawall on North Padre Island:

5. My Favorite Places to Eat Seafood with the kids:

-Snoopy’s Pier

Snoopy's Pier. Photo courtesy of coastalbendlife.com
Snoopy’s Pier. Photo courtesy of coastalbendlife.com

According to  http://www.snoopyspier.com/,”Snoopy’s Pier was literally a product of the Redfish Wars, a battle over commercial fishing rights in the inland waterways and bay systems of Texas. As with many commercial fishermen in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Ernie Butler realized the Redfish Wars signaled the beginning of the end of the commercial fishing industry in Texas. So when it was no longer fun to be chased by Texas Game Wardens, Ernie decided to give up trying to catch fish and shrimp and start cooking them instead. In August 1980 Ernie and his wife, Corliss, purchased a small bait stand and burger joint with a 600 foot fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway. Family and friends pitched in their favorite recipes and Snoop’s Pier was born.”

Let me just say that this place used to be a total dive with great food, but over time, they have changed. Now they have air conditioning and a remodeled interior, their prices have gone up some. However, you can’t beat them for fresh seafood. They have the best shrimp in Corpus Christi.

The fresh shrimp are the best in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of urbanspoon.com
The fresh shrimp are the best in Corpus Christi.
Photo courtesy of urbanspoon.com

Also, the kids love it since you can sit outside and watch the fish. Kids love to feed the hardhead fish below the pier small pieces of crackers and watch them gobble the crumbs. Families and romantics alike enjoy sitting outside and watch the sunset over Flour Bluff.

Sunset over the Bluff at Snoopy's Pier
Sunset over the Bluff at Snoopy’s Pier

If you arrive by sea, you can dock your boat right next to the restaurant. If you arrive by land, from Corpus, you will go over the JFK bridge and take the first right once you gone over the bridge and follow the road there.

-Okay, here is another good recommendation for good seafood- Laguna Reef at Bluff Landing in Flour Bluff

Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of bluffslanding.com
Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of bluffslanding.com

Laguna Reef  is in Flour Bluff which is the chunk of land you encounter before going to North Padre Island. It is a little out of the way, but worth it. Coming from Corpus, you would exit right toward Waldron Road. You continue on the service road past HEB and turn right onto Laguna Shores. You go down Laguna Shores forever until the end of the road. Then you turn left, and you are there.

This is another restaurant that you can access by boat. According to http://www.bluffslanding.com/restaurant.php ,”Located next to the Marina & Hotel, the Laguna Reef Restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood and delicious meat. They even let you bring in your own catch and they cook it for you! With excellent views of the marina, family owners & operators, Laguna Reef is the place to be.”

Pretty much any seafood on the menu is good. I love their coconut shrimp! After a day of playing around on North Padre Island, it is great to know where to get some good grub!

Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of coastalbendmenuguide.com
Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of coastalbendmenuguide.com

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do: North Padre Island: The Seawall

This will be part of a series of places to Go, “Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. The first main part of the series will be about North Padre Island.

My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

**********

Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island

First, let me clarify some confusion. I don’t know how many people get North Padre Island mixed up with South Padre Island. They are two different places, and you cannot get to South Padre Island from North Padre Island on “South Padre Island Drive” (the freeway that runs through Corpus Christi) to get to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is another 2 hours away. The islands are two separate places. I still scratch my head on why they named the freeway that runs through Corpus “South Padre Island Drive.” Anyway, here is one of my favorite places on North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

3. Packery Channel

4. The Seawall on North Padre Island:

The Sea Wall at sunrise.
The Sea Wall at sunrise.

The seawall on North Padre Island is a great spot for people watching, bicycling, skateboarding, or just hanging out.  Here you can park at the parking lot north of the Holiday Inn and not commit yourself or car to the sand. At the parking lot, there are restrooms and showers, so if you decide to stick your toes in the sand or water, you can easily clean them off.

The seawall on North Padre is completely empty of people.
The seawall on North Padre

During the warmer months, you can stroll over to the Holiday Inn and get a smoothie at the little stand or listen to the tunes from a random band playing poolside. One other thing, during the warmer months, if you decide to learn how to hang ten, you can take surfing lessons here by the seawall with Padre Island Surf Camps. My daughter and I learned to surf with them, and we had a total blast! Hey, if I can learn in my mid 40’s anyone can! It took a few tries, but I got the hang of it. My daughter on the other hand, took to it like a fish to water.

Already surfing like a pro!
“I got this.” Already surfing like a pro!

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do: North Padre Island:Packery Channel

This is part of a series of places to Go, “Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. The first main part of the series will be about North Padre Island.

My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

**********

Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island

First, let me clarify some confusion. I don’t know how many people get North Padre Island mixed up with South Padre Island. They are two different places, and you cannot get to South Padre Island from North Padre Island on “South Padre Island Drive” (the freeway that runs through Corpus Christi) to get to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is another 2 hours away. The islands are two separate places. I still scratch my head on why they named the freeway that runs through Corpus “South Padre Island Drive.” Anyway, here is one of my favorite places on North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

3. Packery Channel:

Packey Channel at sunset
Packey Channel at sunset

Packey Channel is a natural inlet that has been reinforced by man-made structures that allows the waters from the Gulf flow into the Laguna Madre. This makes for easy access for boats to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

Also because of this exchange of waters between the Gulf and Laguna, this is another popular fishing spot with locals since bait fish can be found everywhere.  Again, it is wise to wear good shoes because of random fishhooks that may be around.

If you did not bring your pole, this area is a great place to watch sea turtles swimming in the channel or observe the many varieties of fish or birds.

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This bird didn’t seem to mind me taking his picture.
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Brown pellican at Packery Channel

On a clear water day, we have brought out the snorkels and masks to view the sea-life by the rocks by the north side of the jetty next the beach. This same spot has become popular with surfers since the jetty was built. After the jetty was built a few years back, the beach on the north side has become crescent-shaped and the waves form better.

From South Packery Channel jetty, we were watching the surfers and dolphins play in the rolling waves
From South Packery Channel jetty, we were watching the surfers and dolphins play in the rolling waves

You can access this area on the north side by going toward Port Aransas on SH 361, go over the Packery Channel Bridge, and exiting right on Zahn Road. Or you can still go to the south side from past the seawall on Padre Island.  From Padre Island, you will stay on Park Road 22, go South toward the National Seashore, turn left onto Whitecap. You will follow the road to almost the beach. You will turn left on Leeward Drive toward the Holiday Inn and continue all of the way down past the seawall until you are driving down a little road leading to the beach. However, there is talk about closing that part of the beach to drivers, so drivers would have to park at the parking lot on the right on the seawall. Speaking of the seawall… Well, that will be next time.

On South Packery jetty, fishermen were busy catching fish.
On South Packery jetty, fishermen were busy catching fish.

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do around North Padre Island:Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

This will be part of a series of places to Go, “Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. The first main part of the series will be about North Padre Island. My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

**********

Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island Here is another one of my favorite places on my ongoing list about North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

Bob Hall

This beach is closer to the mainland than the National Seashore.

Photo courtesy of http://i245.photobucket.com
/albums/gg62/Stargazer_
54/bobhallsunrise90410.jpg

Also, here, there is a paved parking area if you don’t want to completely subject your car to the sand. Also, you can enjoy the regular beach activities such as sunning, swimming, birding, and surfing.  The surf tends to be better here for the surfers because of the pier.

A guy surfs at Bob Hall. Photo courtesy of http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bob+hall+pier&FORM=HDRSC2#view=detail&id=A989BC9D600F53CF88EFD7DBB155FAE57B2C5E2A&selectedIndex=185
A guy surfing at Bob Hall. Photo courtesy of http://media.caller.com

However, the pier is where the fishermen go get their catch of the day, and that sometimes can be a problem for the surfers and the fishers.

Lazy fishing days. Photo courtesy of finsonpins.com
Lazy fishing days.
Photo courtesy of finsonpins.com

The pier charges around $2 each person, but you can go for the ocean fishing, a view, or some sun. Just be sure to wear shoes while on the pier since there might be some fishing hooks lying around. 

There is also a new restaurant called Mikel May’s Beachside Bar & Grill where you can grab some good grub with a great view. What better way to wrap up a great day of catching a few rays?

Mikel Mays on Bob Hall Pier
Mikel Mays on Bob Hall Pier

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do around North Padre Island:National Seashore

This will be part of a series of places to Go, “Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. The first main part of the series will be about North Padre Island.

My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

**********

North Padre Island

Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

First, let me clarify some confusion. I don’t know how many people get North Padre Island mixed up with South Padre Island. They are two different places, and you cannot get to South Padre Island from North Padre Island on “South Padre Island Drive” (the freeway that runs through Corpus Christi) to get to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is another 2 hours away. The islands are two separate places. I still scratch my head on why they named the freeway that runs through Corpus “South Padre Island Drive.” Anyway, here is one of my favorite places on North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

The turquoise waters sparkle under the azure sky at Padre Island National Seashore.
The turquoise waters sparkle under the azure sky at Padre Island National Seashore.

Pack a picnic lunch and check out the Padre Island National Seashore on North Padre Island  which is about a 15-20 minute drive from Corpus Christi. It  is the largest undeveloped stretch of shoreline in the world. It is great for beach walks, bird watching, fishing, viewing wildlife, camping, and just playing in the water. There are plenty of covered tables where you can enjoy a seaside picnic lunch.

Natural beauty and tranquility await.
Natural beauty and tranquility await.

During the warmer months, the rangers release the Kemps Ridley baby sea turtle hatchlings early in the morning around 7:00 a.m. at Malaquite Beach. These hatchlings have been endangered, so great care goes into the release. During the releases, volunteers hover netting above the hatchlings to prevent seagulls from snapping up a tasty breakfast. This winter this year here  has been hard on them due to unusually cold conditions.

A Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Hatchling makes his was to sea.
An Endangered Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Hatchling makes his rite of passage to the sea.

Also, while there, you can learn about the sea life and the wild life that you encounter at the visitors center at Malaquite Beach:

According to NPS.gov., “Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. In addition to its 70 miles of protected coastline, other important ecosystems abound, including rare coastal prairie, a complex and dynamic dune system, wind tidal flats teeming with life, and the Laguna Madre, one of the few hypersaline lagoon environments left in the world. The National Seashore and surrounding waters provide important habitat for marine and terrestrial plants and animals, including a number of rare, threatened, and endangered species.”

With the sprawl of cities, pollution, and other factors that threaten wildlife in places worldwide, Padre Island National Seashore remains a place where nature can balance itself. Also, it is where people can rebalance themselves among nature in quiet and solitude while looking forward to a warm glow of a fire and an amazing, jeweled night sky.

A view of the Gulf from the boardwalk at Padre Island National Seashore.
A view of the Gulf from the boardwalk at Padre Island National Seashore.

Is the Coastal Bend Trying to go from Subtropical to Sub Arctic?

Happy New Year! Well, it looks like  you made it through the holidays if you are reading this. Now we are heading into the “Dead of Winter” which is normally month of January and maybe a little into February with “normal” highs in the 60’s or 50’s F when it’s “cold”.

Our little  piece of the subtropics is trying to go sub arctic….well, at least it seems that way. This Winter has been consistently the coldest that I remember. Winter roared in way back in November, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Even in November the temperatures stayed mostly 5o and below.

 Cold front approaching Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of http://www.kztv10.com/news/

Cold front approaching Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of http://www.kztv10.com/news

Now with the “Polar Vortex” this week, we are seeing temperatures with highs in the 30’s. Brrrr! (By the way, what the heck is a “Polar Vortex?” A frozen hurricane?) Normally Winter storms are very rare this far south with a few exceptions. Snow just doesn’t tend to happen here, but it did once back in 2004 which was a wonderful Christmas gift (or a freak of nature—however you view it) on the eve of that Christmas.

Photo courtesy of http://www.srh.noaa.gov/crp/?n=whitechristmas2004

Well, all I have to say, is bundle up for the month, and make sure you have plenty of firewood in your chiminea. Spring and all its breakers will be here soon enough! And… don’t forget that when the heat of summer is here, we may be wishing for a little sub-arctic weather to pay us a little visit.

Chimineas.
Photo courtesy of http://www.mexicanimports.co