Posts Tagged With: Texas 2013

Beach Break – Nature Trail at South Padre Convention Center

We took a beach break by walking the nature trail from the South Padre Convention Center. (7355 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX) I had to convince daughter she would see something cool as all she wanted to do was boogie board at the beach.

This was the something cool I wanted to show her, she told me we could have just driven by it. Oh the start of the teenage years, looking forward to them so!


Its Whaling Wall #53. We parked right near it and walked along the side of the property to the nature walks. Free to park and walk around the bay side trails/ boardwalk.There is a little garden behind the conference center and these trails take off from the driveway to the left of the conference center.

For some reason there were tons of butterfly in these bushes next to the boardwalk.



We saw a duck who keep hiding when we walked by.


And this crazy duck kept sitting on the rails…



We took in the scenery.



It took us around half an hour to walk the boardwalk trails, look for fish in the water and take a few pictures.



This boardwalk is located next door to the South Padre Birding Center. From the looks of things they used to share the boardwalk trail. In several spots it looks like they put up new boardwalk trail right next to the conference center trail. They charge $5 a person to walk their boardwalk thru the same shrubs and backwaters to the bay. Same bay and 99% the same trail, I wasn’t going to pay $15 for that same experience that took about half an hour.  During birding season you will see more but in early June it was fun to walk and see the local birds.

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Not such a great idea of mine or aka the day the trail ended

By now you know I like to do fun things that are cheap/free on vacation.  I also like to show our daughter the local area and how it differs from where we live.  And getting off the road and taking a hike is usually a fun way to do this. We have in the past loved our hike around Mount Rainier and we hike in our local state parks.  I searched around and found the Santa Ana wildlife refuge near Alamo, Texas.

They offered an observation tower and canopy walk.  I don’t do heights but this would be right up my daughters alley.  She loves that type of thing. We drove from South Padre the night before to the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Weslaco to fulfill the stay two get 1 night promo.  The plan was to arrive early before it became too hot to walk around.

We arrived at the park around 8:30am and it was hot already! We paid our $3 for our car and received our wrist bands.  I didn’t pay alot of notice, I figured they wanted to know we paid. We went to the bathroom before our walk and noticed MANY signs about reporting people to border patrol.  They were on the mirror, on the back of the stall doors, and on the door back outside.  We got the message, and it was I think the same number on our blue wristbands.  We set off to see wildlife and experience nature!

Here we are all fresh and ready to go!


We saw wildlife!


To be fair Texas was in a drought state, everything seemed to be very dry. I however did not expect things to look like other southern states, somehow I thought it would look different.  We could have been in Florida for alot of these pictures with the moss in the trees.  The trails were nice and wide, easy to walk.


It was hot and I was a gross sweaty mess when we found the canopy walk. I don’t do heights so I sent the family up without me.

IMG_9680  IMG_9681

This was their view and they were not impressed by it. I was secretly glad I didn’t go up there for that!


At this point the walk a trail thing has been a huge fail.  We were hot, sweaty and disappointed.  We saw 1 rabbit and a butterfly the size of a paper plate about took out my child, but that was it.  (Happened so fast I didn’t even get a picture.) The little lake was pretty much dried up so nothing to see there.   I had to redeem this and quick!

I asked if daughter wanted to see the Rio Grand and maybe Mexico from the trail. She wanted to see the cemetery and there was a trail on the map that would make the loop around to do both.

We set off on our adventure to see the shore of Mexico.  I was really trying to salvage this hike, it was really hot even at 9:30am.


We had a nice wide path to follow, remember the wrist bands. They seemed to patrol this pretty often with a vehicle that we never saw.  And there was the Rio Grande.


Daughter found a couple of paths that went down to the river. And there is Mexico on the other side.  The hike was looking successful, we had seen Mexico and were off the to cemetery next!  And then in our path lay this…


And behind it was this odd landslide or washout. Either way the trail was not passable.


I was beyond irritated.  We had talked to people, they put wristbands on us but said nothing. We were in the visitor center and you couldn’t hang a sign, you couldn’t verbally tell me that Vireo trail was closed?  I wanted to call the number on my wrist and complain but I wasn’t sure who exactly that called!  They could have put a sign up when we turned down the trail by the river, anything!!!!!

So we are hot, sweaty, mad and walking back a over a mile in the same direction we had already walked.  The cemetery was not going to happen, it was over a mile in the other direction and I was melting.

This was the prettiest thing we saw on our hike.


We went back over the levee to our car, figured out how to change my shirt without flashing people and turned on the air conditioning.  Now we laugh about the trail to no-where and its turned into a family joke. But at the time I wanted my $3 back.  That cheap adventure was a major disappointment at every turn.

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Learning to Surf with South Padre Surf Company


South Padre Island Surfing

We have spent a lot of time in Florida and my daughter whenever possible has spent hours on a little boogie board. If it’s water she is in it and trying to ride the waves.  We spent $8 on a boogie board for the weekend from Wal-Mart.  This was $8 well spent!  She spent hours on Friday in the water, and then Saturday night, and then Monday afternoon.  It owed us nothing!  At the end of our trip on the way to the airport we gifted it on to another young girl who looked very excited to have it.

Knowing how much my daughter loved the water we found South Padre Surf Company. They offered either a 1 hour class at $40 or a 3 hours surf camp at $80. Talking it over with my husband we agreed to sign her up for the 3 hour.  We figured by the time she mastered it the hour would almost be over, so why not do the camp?


We arrived at Isla Blanca Beach Park promptly at 7:45 to meet up with the other surf campers.  The group was 4 adults and 3 kids for this day.  Each person is assigned a 10 foot soft coated board and a red rash guard type shirt to identify you as a student.  It’s a short instruction on land with the basics for paddling out, where to stand on the board and practice on rising up to a standing position.  Then they hit the water for the real thing.


Rachel the instructor held the back of the board the first couple of times to get everyone the feel of catching a wave.  A couple of wobbly rides and our daughter was standing up, grinning ear to ear!  The first thing she said when she took a break on shore was that she wants a surf board.  The child was hooked!


She spent the next 2 ½ hours riding the waves in, playing with another girl in the class and sitting on her board like the local teenagers were doing. We would laugh because she didn’t like to wipe out in the water so she would ride her board close to shore and just hop off into ankle deep water.  Then she turned around and drag the board back out again to catch her next wave.Image

The next time we are down near South Padre Island we will definitely be contacting South Padre Surf Company either for another surf camp or to rent a board for the day!

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Beach Break – Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island, Tx

Beach Break- Sea Turtle Inc. South Padre Island, Texas

When it gets too hot, I get off the beach.  My goal is to avoid frying my family so we head off the sand to get some shade and some lunch.  Saturday’s beach break was to Sea Turtle Inc.  Each person in our family picks the one thing they want to see/do/visit/eat or whatever and we do our best to make it happen.  Sea Turtle Inc was my pick for this trip.

Sea Turtle Inc is open 10-4 Tue thru Sunday and closed on Mondays.  It’s a $3 donation per person to visit and when we went it was pretty busy. But I think busy is a good thing for them; it means the word is getting out about their work!  And it was really hot at 3pm on a Saturday, so that might have helped increase visitors.

Inside the hospital are large tanks filled with the different sea turtles.  There are Loggerheads, Greens, and Kemp’s Ridleys.  The smaller Kemp’s are my favorite kind.  The turtles are kept at the hospital until they are well enough to be released, but sadly some will never be able to live in the wild.  The tanks are large and spread out a bit so it was never too crowded to check out the turtles. And there were lots of volunteers answering questions and explaining about some of the resident turtles.


In the summer the turtle nests are released after hatching and often those releases are open to the public in the early morning. We were really hoping to catch a release on our visit but we were about 2 weeks too early for this year’s hatchlings.  I think seeing a release would be incredible, where else can you do that?


They even have a live camera if you want to check them out at  We were even able to see a poor turtle have a sharks hook removed from his mouth during our visit.  Another turtle was getting his shell fixed up with zip ties and tape. The work they do is amazing!


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Beach Break – Port Isabel, Texas


High lights of our trip – Port Isabel, Texas

When it gets hot in the afternoon we head off the beach for some shade.  One day we did a quick run across the causeway to Port Isabel for our break. After a great lunch at Joe’s Oyster Bar we walked around the lighthouse and pier area.  The little town area by the water is small but very picturesque with the Lighthouse. This is a great place to spend the afternoon either as adults or with the family.

First the parking is free and we had no problem finding a spot to park close by.  That is a huge plus for me, I hate to pay to park and I hate to look for parking spaces.  We parked right next to the Lighthouse but chose not to tour it on this trip.  There are cute little shops that line the 2 blocks for shopping or browsing.  The Pirates pier square for dining and ice cream.  Also the Dolphin Research and Sea Life Center is on the same block.

We did not eat at Pirates Pier, if you know my husband you know we ate at Joe’s every day.  (He really liked the place and I have NEVER seen him be so excited about a restaurant to visit it daily.) At Pirates Pier there is a courtyard to the right before you enter the pier area that has artisans and parrots.  Also the world’s largest fly fishing pole and pirate statues dot the area.  We walked out on the fishing pier to see if anyone was having any luck.  Watched a fire eater perform and saw the pirate cannon fired off the pier before the pirate cruise left.

Just around the corner we found the Sea Life Center entrance, it was $3 a person to visit. In large tanks in the middle were puffer fish and rays.  A center worker held up the puffer fish and let the kids quickly touch it, a first for my daughter.  Other touch tanks held crabs and starfish.  It was not overly crowded and it was easy to access the tanks.  They had aquariums full of local fish, sea horses and a turtle to view.  My child loves touch tanks so this easily took over an hour to visit and my husband seemed happy to view the local fish tanks.


On Friday nights in the summer they show free movies on the side of the lighthouse.  We had planned to view Madagascar 3 during our trip but a thunderstorm canceled the movie for the night.

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