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Padre Day 2: Hook, Line, and Seagull

We woke the next morning about 9:30a to an overcast and windy day, a perfect day for kite-flying. Only we had no kite. So we set off to find one and to pick up the supplies we had forgotten the day before, most importantly, fishing licenses. We first stopped at the local grocery store, the Blue Marlin. Their computers were down so no fishing licenses were to be had there. As luck would have it, there was a kite store right next door. But our luck ran out. It was closed due to a death in the family. We drove down the strip a ways and found a souvenir shop with kites and bought two. They told us the best place to get fishing licenses was the pier in Port Isabel. So back across the bridge we went and finally, success! While we were there, we threw in some Cajun fried fish and french fries for lunch.
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The condo provided us with some great beach chairs. We loaded up our ice chest, our kites, and fishing gear and headed to the beach in front of the condo.

La Internacional from the beach.
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Mike got the kites out and in the air. There was plenty of wind for flying.
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After he bored with that (i.e., the kites got tangled), he got set up for surf fishing. He'd gotten a pole holder so he could both fish from the water and from his beach chair.
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Unfortunately, the only thing he caught wading in the water was seaweed. So he decided to join me on the beach and lazy surf fish for a while.
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Mike had his line in the water and we were just sitting there talking when we heard the line run out. He jumped up, thinking he had a fish. I looked out at the rod, trying to figure out what was happening as it seemed like something was off. Sure enough, a seagull had flown straight into the fishing line and gotten itself wrapped up. Another lady on the beach saw it, too, and came running over to help us get the poor thing untangled. It was so scared while Mike was untangling its wing that it threw up. Finally, he got it untangled and gave it a little toss and it flew off. Thankfully, it was not hurt.

Our setup.
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After the harrowing bird experience, Mike went up to the condo to make us a couple of pina coladas. The blender blew up. Great. We have a travel one that we could have brought but didn't since the condo came with one. This did not make me happy. We gave up and went to the hot tub.

Our new mission became finding a place for dinner that was open past 8p on a Sunday night. This proved harder than it would seem. I must have called about five places before I found one - Burger Fi, a gourmet burger place just down the street. We stopped in for a quick dinner before they closed up for the night. I had a breakfast burger and fries and Mike had a chili dog with onion rings. Both were really good.
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We went home and called it an early night.

Posted by zihuatcat 14:28 Archived in USA Tagged texas padre vi Comments (0)

Padre Day 1: Can We Get Some O.J....Please?

Our decision to spend a week in Padre in October came about sort of suddenly. We had already taken a big vacation this year to Curacao but wanted to do something more local just to get away after Fall tax season ended. We mulled over a few locations but decided on Padre for a couple of reasons. Mike and his dad used to go there almost annually each Thanksgiving when he was a child. He had so many memories there yet hadn't been there in some 20 years. I had never been there, the farthest south for me was Port Aransas. So we planned a Saturday-to-Saturday trip for late October, flying in and out of Harlingen. Our good friend, Vi, who travels with us frequently, was raised in Raymondville, just a few miles away. She would drive down to visit her family for a few days then spend Tuesday thru Saturday with us. It was a perfect plan. Mike and I would have some alone time at first then we would have friend time to end the week.

We headed to Love Field on a Saturday morning for our flight to Harlingen and I soon remembered why I usually avoid flying on weekends. The Parking Spot was full and we had to divert to overflow parking. Since we're both TSA Pre-check, we got thru security quickly, even with Mike checking his gun, and made our way to Cool River Café for some breakfast fare. We were politely informed that breakfast was over at 10a. My watch said 9:55 but ok. So we ordered some lunch instead with a bloody mary for Mike and a mimosa for me. Nope. No mimosa. They were out of OJ. What? How can a restaurant be out of OJ? I looked across the way at Whataburger which was serving up plenty of it. Are you kidding me? I went with the bloody mary instead which was so spicy I could barely drink it so Mike got two. We finished our food and got to our gate only to have to wait in line during boarding while they took someone OFF the plane who had just boarded. Not sure what that was about. The first leg of the flight was fine. We made a pit stop in Houston but stayed on the plane. A crew of old, fat, drunk fishermen sat in front of us on the second leg to Harlingen. Lovely. We finally made it to Harlingen and got our luggage then stood in line FOREVER to get our rental car. While we were standing there, I noticed Mike had on two completely different colored shoes. I have no idea how he did that or how we didn't notice. Dorkity dork dork! Our smallish SUV was finally ready and we hit the road to Padre. The area had very recently had a lot of rain, evidenced by the floodwaters we drove thru in several places, but we made it to the La Internacional condos around 4:30p.

The Internacional condos are located on the far northern part of the island, on the oceanside. This is where Mike and his dad used to stay all those years ago when they came to Padre. He really wanted to return there so I found a one bedroom that would work for us.
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The décor of the condo really needed some updating in my opinion.
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The advertised telescope didn't work.
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The condo was much smaller than I realized but was okay for what we paid for it. I didn't realize, however, that the refrigerator was not a full-size refrigerator and was not pleased at all about this. We had trouble fitting our food and drinks in it. In addition, when we arrived, someone had spilled a colored liquid all inside the freezer and this had not been cleaned before our arrival. I had to spend time cleaning this mess up before we could use it.

While it was still daylight, we wanted to go down to the beach for a little bit to see how the water felt. Mike realized he forgot his swimsuit so he wore bike shorts that he usually wears under his suit instead.
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There were some people kitesurfing.
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The dogs were out, too.
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It started to get a little chilly so we went back to the condo and warmed up in the hot tub. This became a favorite for us over the week with its warm waterfall.
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We went back upstairs to change clothes and saw this rainbow from our balcony.
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Before dinner, we wanted to pick up some supplies for the condo so we stopped off at the liquor store and grocery store. We got home and realized that we paid for ice but forgot to get it. We also forgot to buy fishing licenses. But most importantly, we bought champagne for mimosas but FORGOT THE OJ! It's like there's a mimosa troll somewhere trying to prevent me from having one. Give me a break! By now, we are hungry and tired so we just walked across the street to the Wanna Wanna Beach Bar for dinner. There was an awesome band called Pelican West playing so we had some killer pina coladas and peel & eat shrimp, lack of OJ forgotten. We stumbled back home later after closing the place down.

Posted by zihuatcat 12:01 Archived in USA Tagged texas padre vi Comments (0)

TX Camping Day 3: Chillin' on the Frio

We had talked about going into Garner State Park on Sunday and possibly doing some hiking or tubing down the river. But then we decided what the hell for? We have our own little piece of the river right behind the campsite. No need to get in the car and drive into Garner to deal with other people. Plus, the river over on that side looked pretty shallow and dried up. So after more yummy breakfast tacos, we hauled all of our fishing and lazing around gear down to a little patch that was uninhabited.

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We spent the day there until it was time to pack up to cook dinner. For our last night, we decided to have a nice dinner of ribeyes, corn, and potatoes.

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Mike was chef tonight and dinner was perfect. He and Vi played washers for a bit while I took some pictures of the campgrounds.

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After dinner, Mary Kay had to head home so we helped her pack everything up and get on the road. Vi was really tired so she went to bed early. Mike wanted to get a little more fishing in before dark so he and I went down to the river. Again, no luck catching anything but a poor turtle. I'm convinced it's because the water is too clear. The fish can see you coming!

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Mike and I stayed up for a while enjoying our last campfire.

The next morning we packed everything up and drove into Bandera. We met my mother for lunch at the OST. I wanted Vi to see the town where I grew up. The OST's chicken fried steaks and enchiladas were good and greasy as usual!

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After lunch, we drove back to Dallas. It had been a great camping trip with good friends. Mike and I remembered how much we enjoyed camping and committed to not waiting five or six years before the next camping trip.

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Posted by zihuatcat 15:49 Archived in USA Tagged camping texas Comments (0)

TX Camping Day 2: To the Bat Cave!

The next morning, Mike woke up early to go fishing in the river. He didn't catch anything so he was back before breakfast. Vi went up to the bath house for a quick shower then got started on some breakfast tacos. We are lucky....when she travels with us, she always volunteers to be the chef.

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We were expecting Mike's college friend, Mary Kay, to arrive some time today. We were pretty worried about whether she would make it or not. We had planned to call her with directions after we arrived but didn't realize we wouldn't have cell phone coverage. So the day before we had called her from the owner's cell phone and given her his phone number in case she got lost. Based on our conversation with him yesterday, who the hell knows what he'd say to her.

After breakfast, we headed down to the river to hang out in the water and wait for Mary Kay. We didn't want to stray too far from the campsite.

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Sure enough, Mary Kay came walking up about mid-afternoon. Somehow she had found the way. She had been trying to call us but did get our message to call the owner, which she did. When he found out she was lost, he asked her if she was blonde. Typical! But he kindly gave her directions. Mike was very excited to see her as it had been almost 15 years since he'd seen her previously and I was excited to meet her.

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We cooked and ate an early fajita dinner because we were going to see the bats before sundown at the Frio Cave near Concan. Every year, between March and September, about 10 to 12 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to the Frio Cave from Brazil. Most of the bats are female and migrate to the cave in order to give birth and raise their babies. Every night at sunset, the bats leave the cave to feed on insects. It's an unbelievably beautiful event. They return to the cave before sunrise the next morning.

The cave is located on a private ranch. There is a paved walkway up a hill to the cave and viewing area.

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The view from the top over the hills is beautiful.

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Right on time, the bats began flying out of the cave. They came in droves.

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During the flight, you could feel wet drops falling on you. Apparently this is bat pee, not a pleasant thought.

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Periodically, various predators such as hawks would circle through the bats although we didn't see any actual take downs.

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We stayed at the cave for about an hour and a half and the bats were still coming out. It was starting to get pretty dark, however, and they were no longer easy to see. We headed back to the campsite and hung out around the fire the rest of the evening, mosquito free thanks to the bats.

Posted by zihuatcat 15:49 Archived in USA Tagged camping texas Comments (2)

TX Camping Day 1: Finding the Frio

When Mike and I first got together, we went camping once or twice a year. We stocked up on all the equipment and had developed a great system. But then we bought the sailboat and our camping trips were replaced with trips to the lake. So we decided we were long overdue for a camping trip and planned one for May with our good friend, Vi. Mike suggested we return to Park Chalk in Uvalde, the site of our very first camping trip in 2003. But I'm one of those people who always wants to try new places so I started checking out Garner State Park. I did some research and decided that we probably wouldn't be happy staying within the park; it just seemed too crowded for our liking. Instead, I found a private camping ground just down the road called Magers River Camp.

Magers River Camp is located right on the Frio River. There are tent sites on one side of the road and RV sites in another location. All of the tent sites have electricity and water and there is a bath house with flush toilets and showers. We made a reservation for three nights and set off on a Friday morning for the long drive.

On the way down, we stopped in Austin at one of our favorite places, the Texas Chili Parlor. We had lunch and got some chili to go for chili dogs later that night.

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About three hours later, we were getting close to the campground. Unfortunately, as soon as we drove through Leakey, all of our cell phones lost signal. We had no coverage whatsoever so no GPS. The map from the website was less than helpful. We found the right road but couldn't find the turn off to the campground. We also found some wild turkeys along the way.

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We stopped at a house along the road to ask directions. It turned out to be the owner of Magers campground. He told us to follow him so he showed us the way. Once we arrived, he got out and talked to us awhile. Mike had some fishing questions for him so he started telling us all about noodling for catfish. That wasn't exactly what Mike had in mind. This guy was a character. He whips out some pictures of the catfish he's caught noodling and tells us a story of a huge one he caught in the river in downtown Bandera. The fish he caught there had another huge fish in its belly. After he caught it, it was laying in the back of his truck and a woman who works at the Mini Mart in Bandera asked him what was in the fish's stomach. He told her it was the little black boy he'd been using for bait. He thought this story was quite hilarious. We, on the other hand, were quite speechless. He showed us some more pics and let me use his cell phone (which strangely had a signal) and then went on his way.

We were assigned to campground #1.

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Once we arrived, we got our tents set up and a fire built.

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It got dark soon after. We cooked our chili dogs and hung out by the fire, relaxing and enjoying the quiet.

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Posted by zihuatcat 15:48 Archived in USA Tagged camping texas Comments (0)

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