Woke up Friday to mid-50's and great sunshine in Port Aransas. Hotel lobby breakfast, packed up, and ready to roll. Did a loop around Port A to see it better in the light, then dropped down onto the beach and cruised the sand until one of the last accesses to get off. Port A has a really wide nice beach that goes a long way down the island.
There is a highway that then runs south down the spine of the island to the harbor at Corpus Christi. The dunes are tall on the gulf side so really not much in the way of views as you run down the pavement. Up and over the channel bridge and into Corpus Christi. At this point I have quite the dilemma. The USS Lexington, a WWII aircraft carrier is at CC. I know however, that if I go there, it's probably a whole day event (at least for me). My goal was to get to South Padre early enough to see a little bit of the island before nightfall in case I move on the next day. I decide that if I see an easy exit to get to the Lex that I'll at least go see it from the dock and get a pic. The Girlfriend and I will likely go tour the USS Midway while we're in San Diego so I'll get my floating airport fix then.
Never saw any signage for Lex so rolled through CC and angled south. I'm sure there's more to see in CC than what I did off of 358 and 665 but all I saw was strip malls and gas stations for the most part rolling through that part of town.
South of Corpus Christi, as I angled SW to get to hiway 77 that would take me down to Padre, the terrain was super flat. You know the optical illusion where land along the horizon looks like it's under water? I've never seen that as much as I did right through there. I was on one stretch of road for probably 20 miles that I swear didn't have a single straight utility pole. I don't know if they get wind through there or if the soil won't hold the poles straight, but they were angled every which way like a bad set of snaggle teeth. Should have taken a pic.
The weather was perfect, getting into the low 70's as I made my way down 77. I pulled off in Kingsville for gas, rode into the King Ranch, decided not to do the tour, but walked through the museum instead. Interesting history and an amazing operation. After being in the corporate world, it makes me wonder what strategy, planning, and "status" meetings looked like on the ranch, especially back in say the 30's or 40's. I'm sure it runs not that much differently than any other corporation now. I'd never put it together that the "King Ranch Edition" Ford pickups you see running around are actually named for a real ranch.
Easy ride south from Kingsville. Although the maps are deceiving... I kept seeing signs with mileage left to South Padre and looking at the map and my GPS and it sure didn't look like it would be as much.
Around Raymondsville, saw one of the biggest electric windmill farms I've seen outside of the Midwest.
Turned back east and started running through marshes with short stretches along bays off the gulf. Through Port Isabel, over the big bridge and landed in South Padre. At least for me, one of my favorite things is a warm sunny day, riding the bike, with a large body of water as the backdrop. Was really feeling good. As I went over the bridge, they had several warning signs about the pelicans. I was looking off into the channel and could see several floating around. One looked different though and kept disappearing. As I got closer, I saw that it was a dolphin swimming alongside the bridge. I'm not sure I've seen a dolphin before, so more goodness. The place I was staying was easy to find and my host met me at the gate to let me into his condo parking lot. 217 miles for the day.
My host for the night, Doug, is the brother-in law of a girl (Beth) I worked with at Principal Financial. She knew I was going to be wandering around Texas and reached out to see if Doug would mind a fellow Iowan stopping by for a night. It really warms my heart and gives me faith in the human condition to see generosity like this. Other than a couple of quick phone calls, Doug had never met me before I pulled through the gate, yet opened his home and donated his time to me. We hit it off immediately, we found we have a lot in common, and I had a great time in South Padre. I can't thank Doug and Beth enough.
After settling in, we took off for the Pier 19 restaurant which sits, as you might guess, on a pier. The pier however used to be the island end of the old bridge/road that connected the mainland with the island before the built the new arched bridge.
I went with Doug's suggestion and got the pan-grilled Grouper with Ponchatrain sauce. Oh my. Not sure I've had grouper before or not. It was fantastic and went perfectly with the Blue Moon.
We did a loop through a park as the sun set and saw several dolphins swimming around. I'd say there was 7-10 of them right there. Most by themselves, one pair was synchronized as they swam across the cove. One was only about 30 feet off the shore. Neat to be that close. No great pictures of them, but if you squint and use your good eye, you can see them out there.
And the sun disappears over the channel...
Feeling guilty because I know The Girlfriend was absolutely love this place...