We started off the day in a great way! We met 18 other Heartland owners for breakfast at the Bakery Cafe in Port Aransas. (The biscuits & gravy was YUMMO!) We spent a lot of time visiting with Bob & Connie Sims, another full-timing couple closer in age to us. They’ve been on the road a little longer than us and are originally from Ohio. They’ll be attending the Sweetheart rally in Kerrville next month too so we’re hoping to spend some more time getting to know them.
Our plan for the day when we left the Bakery Cafe was to drive south to Port Aransas and then south on hwy 361 on Padre Island down to the Padre Island National Seashore and then back home….making ‘The Loop’.
I was surprised to find out that once we got to Port Arnasas we drove onto a ferry to take us across the water. It was a short 5 minute ride but fun none the less! Plus the trip was free…can’t beat that price!
We drove along highway 361 and were surprised at how little development there was…just a few RV parks or resorts along the southeast side of the island. We drove through one of the RV parks (Pioneer) and found that it was very big, spots were very close together and there were a LOT of Heartland products there!
We spent quite a bit of time at the Padre Island National Seashore. (We purchased an America the Beautiful pass last month and were able to use it for the first time today….making our admission to the park free. The pass is $80 per year and covers entrance fees to all national parks & national wildlife refuges.) Stopping first at the visitors center and speaking with one of the volunteers that showed us a lot of different items that had washed up on the beach there – a dolphin carcass, the upper jaw bone of a pelican, different shells, a hunk of sand that had been fossilized when hit by lightening etc etc. The really cool thing was that all of the items were displayed on an open table and you were asked to touch them!
We took a brief walk to the beach at the visitors center and I got a chance to dip my feet in the water….quite cold water at that!
When we left the visitors center we continued on down Park Road 22. After just a short distance the road ends and the beach begins and you just keep driving! Just after turning on to the beach we came across 2 small 5th wheels (a Cougar & a Scamp) and a small truck camper that were camping on the beach. We found out later that it’s free to camp on the beach or $8 per night to camp in the campground by the visitors center. No hookups in either place.
There are mile markers every 5 miles along the beach and it goes on to mile marker 60. After mile marker 5 it is highly recommended that you don’t go any further unless you have a 4-wheel drive truck. We drove and drove and drove and finally decided to park and have some lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen on the Bay. After enjoying our lunch and listening to the sounds of the sea we decided to drive down a little further and turn around and head back…we figured we were to about mile marker 15, although we hadn’t seen any mile markers to this point. Ha! About 1/2 mile further we finally saw our first mile marker…5!! Not far past mile marker 5 the sand changed really quickly! It got much deeper and softer and Michael turned on the 4-wheel drive. We probably would have been fine to go on but we didn’t want to take and chances so when he found a chance to turn around…we did.
There really wasn’t a whole lot to see….dunes on one side and pounding surf on the other. But it was almost mesmerizing… Oh…and lots and lots of debris…mostly plastic. It seems that Padre Island is ‘dumping grounds’ for the Gulf of Mexico. The currents work just right so that ‘treasure’ from all over finds its way onto the shores of Padre Island. Much of the ‘treasures’ that the woman at the visit center showed us came from the Caribbean. One specific seed pod (they had several on display) only grows in Costa Rica…fell off it’s tree…landed in a stream…flowed to a river….hit the ocean and made its way to the Gulf of Mexico and eventually washed up on Padre Island. We were just in awe.
We really enjoyed the day….leaving at 8 am and getting home after 4 pm. The sun made and appearance again bringing the temp up to almost 65 again. Unfortunately, that the last we’ll see of it for a little while as we’re expecting storms beginning tomorrow morning (Tuesday) going into Wednesday afternoon.