Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

What Was That About Padre

TRAVEL BUGS TALES: PICKING UP WHERE I LEFT OFF

Has it really been almost two years since my last Travel Bug Tales post?  Yep, Novemeber of 2016, so that’s almost two years.  Friends, we’ve done a lot of traveling together since then. 

Instead of trying to explain the Travel Bug sabbatical, I’ll just get busy and pick up where I left off.  If you’ve been hanging around here for a long time, then you know, Travel Bug Tales are stories from my pre-blog days – in particular from my youth, when my love for travel first started.

If you’ve just shown up in the last year or so, then let me explain.  Travel used to be different.  You didn’t have a smart phone, flip phone or even a mobile phone.  You had pay phones.  Hence there was no GPS, no texting, no email and no internet.  You just took out on the road with no digital means of support and hoped for the best.  Personally, I thought it was a lot more fun.  Come along with me to the beach.

The Padre Trip

Right before I abandoned Travel Bug Tales, I promised to tell you about a trip to Padre Island, one of the beaches we visited in Mom’s effort to find a Texas replacement for Myrtle Beach, her favorite place on Earth.  For this particular vacation, we traveled with another family.  The Smiths had boys and my parents had girls.  All the Smith boys, but one, were too old to go on a family vacation and Tracy was my sister’s age.  Actually, they also had a son my age, but he stayed home – by himself.  I couldn’t decide whether to feel sorry for him or be jealous.

I can’t imagine what I would have done at home by myself.  I had a car, but I only drove it to school and church.  I’d traveled without my parents before, but only on a mission trip and on church retreats.  So, while a part of me thought it was pretty cool Kieth got to stay home by himself, the other part of me would have been devastated to miss out on the family fun.   

Still I was the odd man out any way you sliced it.  I didn’t quite fit in with the adults, but I when I spent time with the kids, I knew I wasn’t a one of them any longer either.  The picture of me standing alone on the beach sums up my vacation perfectly.

Beach Memories

I didn’t keep travel journals back in the day, so things get fuzzy, but the first stop on this trip was Corpus Christi and it was unremarkable.

Next came Padre.  While I didn’t love Myrtle Beach quite as much as my mom, I did enjoy the days we spent in the Lides’ beach house and getting up early to comb the receding tide for shells.

We three kids, Susan (my sister), Tracy (the Smiths’ son) and I, got up very early on our first morning in Padre.  Light had just begun to suggest it might appear as we hit the beach with our buckets.  Nada!  Not so much as an interesting rock.  I was so frustrated I was almost in tears.  No big deal, I was a teenager.  Tears were always at the edge of erupting.

This was only the beginning of my frustrations.  Perhaps this trip may begin to explain why I’m iffy about beaches now, when I’d lived for beach time as a kid.  I was uncomfortable in my skin.  When I threw myself into the enjoyment of the trip, I was met with frustration, like the shell-less morning on the beach.  The rest of the time I just wasn’t sure what to do with myself.  I can understand, up to a point, why kids live on their phones.  I didn’t feel like me on this trip and a phone full of friends would have been comforting.

Heading Home

The rest of the trip turned out better.  From Padre we went to San Antonio.  I never feel odd on the Riverwalk. We stayed in the Hilton which was at the turn of the river and it’s the first time I remember staying in a hotel that upscale.  My folks usually opted for Holiday Inn.

A highlight of the trip was a riverboat ride.  Susan and the adults weren’t all that interested, so Tracy and I made a round trip.  Without Susan to tend to, something very unusual in my childhood, I ignored Tracy and pretended I was by myself.  It was exhilarating.  I was discovering that while I enjoyed people, I didn’t need them to enjoy myself.

From San Antonio, the Smith’s headed to Dallas, but we made a stop in Temple to visit my beloved Aunt Edie.  Her home was my second home.  I was allowed to go for long rambling walks on my own and I loved it.  We’d go on fun shopping trips and have laughter filled lunches.

So, that was our trip to Padre.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith were good friends to my parents, but we didn’t take anymore trips together.  It wasn’t their fault that Padre didn’t stack up to Myrtle Beach, but I think it was more than that.  No one could replace the Lides for Mom and Dad.  The annual pilgrimages to Myrtle Beach began then and suddenly I was left behind, on my own.  They’d head to Myrtle Beach and I’d stay home.  I would have summer jobs and needed the money for college.

I was growing up.  There are more Travel Bug Tales, but I’m not sure which one I’ll tell you next.  Come back next week and find out where we’re headed.

 

DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Other Beaches Mom Didn’t Love

Except from my scrapbook
Except from my scrapbook

TRAVEL BUG TALES: MORE TEXAS BEACHES THAT DIDN’T CUT IT

In our efforts to find a beach my mom could love in Texas, we visited other beaches along the coast over the years.  While the Caves managed to have their usual good times, nothing could replace Myrtle Beach in Mom’s heart.

Corpus Christi

On another trip we went to Corpus Christi.  In its defense it’s only a bay behind a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, so it starts out with a handicap.  Like Galveston, the beach is on one side of the street and the hotels are on another.  For kids who grew up playing in the dunes along Myrtle Beach and Edisto Island on the Atlantic – well, it’s just not the same.  When we visited Corpus Christi we made a ferry trip to some island and visited something called Searama, but I think underwhelmed would be a good description of our reactions.

I do remember seeing families riding around in bicycle surreys and I thought that looked like a good time.  I guess it was a little out of my parent’s budget, because we didn’t do it.  In those years Mom was all about saving to buy a house, so we were quite economical.  Decades later I visited with Bill and he wasn’t too keen on the surreys either.  I guess I’m going to have to drag my bestie down there, because she’s always game for whatever I cook up.

The highlight of the trip with my parents was dinner at an ocean-side restaurant.  While I distinctly remember the delicious meal and panoramic views of a harbor, I can’t remember the name of the place and in later years I couldn’t find anything comparable.

Padre Island

I love Texas and I rarely tolerate anyone saying anything derogatory about it, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not a great state for beaches.  The East Coast has all those long, wide sandy beaches with pristine sand dunes.  The West Coast has the drama of rocky cliffs and haystacks in the water.  Then there’s Florida, which is just a strip of land with two coasts of gorgeous beaches and the marvel of the keys.  Even the Gulf Coast States have some pretty beaches with amazing seafood restaurants and other attractions, like golf courses to entertain the beach-goer.

Texas just doesn’t.  Padre is the prettiest beach in Texas I’ve been to, but it’s also a national seashore and that has curbed development.  You do get a lot of beach and pristine dunes, but good luck finding anything else.  To me beach means an early morning walk looking for shells followed by a hearty breakfast.  Then you do a little shopping, see a local attraction or play a little putt putt.  Lunch is something quick, because you’ll be in the water all afternoon.  The evening meal is a big deal.  Then it’s time for bed.

Looking for shells on Padre is a waste of time.  There’s nothing to do out there except the beach, so you have to give up a whole day of beach, if you want to visit civilization.  The few restaurants out there are mediocre.  Is there a beautiful beach?  Well, yes, but the truth of the matter is that the adult me is not as crazy about water and sand as my younger version.  Slathering on suncreen and getting caked-over by blowing sand, while my force of nature (my head of hair) goes wild, is just not one of my favorite experiences.  I can take about half an hour of that and I’m done.  Sitting by the pool is more pleasant and with a good book I can last an hour.

With that being said, my family did manage to have a pretty good time in Padre during Mom’s search for a Myrtle Beach replacement, so I’ll tell you about that next week.