Greetings from South Padre Island!

black dog

Free America
Funny..I visited SPI when I was 14(not saying what year) and all I saw was miles and miles of sand. The only things that I remember is how desolate it was and the 300 yards of hot sand to cross to get to the water.
That's what I remember also, miles of sand. I was there in 72? to see my older sister that married a midshipman that ended up as a P3 jockey stationed at Corpus after flight school.
I fished everyday for the few weeks I was there....
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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Yesterday we did a sunset dinner cruise aboard the Osprey. This was Monello's Christmas present from me (we had a happy hour pirate cruise in Port A, too, but it got cancelled because they didn't have enough people).

The boat was really nice, with a great entertainment director making sure everyone was happy. They served three types of shishkebab - beef, chicken, and shrimp - with raw veggies and a big fruit platter, and there was a cash bar. Cruised around the...I have to find out what that body of water is called, I think it's Laguna Madre...for an hour and a half. Dolphins were following us so we got to watch them frolic around. It was a really nice evening.

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There are a surprising number of Nebraskans down here - at the campground and in general. That's why we all wear our GBR gear - so we can spot each other.

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Here is the SPI skyline from the boat:

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As you can see, there are large hotels and entertainment venues. The Gulf is on the backside of them. The weather here is lovely. Cool, justthisclose to chilly at night, and sunny/70s during the day. We're heading to the farmer's market here in a few, then we'll come back and take a swim.

South TX doesn't get the love that Florida gets, but it should. It's every bit as beautiful, at half the price. We paid an embarrassing $2300/mo for our unimpressive campsite in the Keys. Here we got this on point super cool KOA for $900/mo.
 

Bann

Doris Day meets Lady Gaga
PREMO Member
There are a surprising number of Nebraskans down here - at the campground and in general. That's why we all wear our GBR gear - so we can spot each other.

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:killingme
South TX doesn't get the love that Florida gets, but it should. It's every bit as beautiful, at half the price. We paid an embarrassing $2300/mo for our unimpressive campsite in the Keys. Here we got this on point super cool KOA for $900/mo.
:yay: We'd have to fly out there and rent a vehicle, most likely. But that would even been very affordable when the cabin rental prices are as crazy low-priced as they are there!
 

Monello

Yeah, whatever
PREMO Member
So far we've had 2 pool/hot tub days.

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Yesterday we drove to the end of the road on the highway. The last 5-6 miles is a whole lot of sand and dunes. Where the road ends there's a business that has a zip line and rental horses to ride on the beach. Not sure why they are at the end of the road. There are a few state parks that allow access to the surf.

Winter Texans are a thing here. Most folks are from the midwest. Not too many people from the east coast. Businesses cater to them. It's a smart move. They come with a lot of disposable income. The locals seem to be a bit more price sensitive. Here's an example. In Corpus Christi to wash and wax an RV, they charge $10 per foot. So to get my RV detailed would be $340. Today I had the local guy do it for $145. This guy is here every day working his ass off. He said he can't get enough helpers. He has 4 vans and God knows how many employees. His crew doesn't habla. Just on the island there are probably 900 RV sites. The state park on the south end of the island has over 600 spots.

Speaking about state parks. Isla Blanca state park has a bunch of facilities. A boat launch, convention center, bait & tackle shop, several large parking lots, and basic bath houses. There is something about camping right on the beach.

Food & drink are quite reasonably priced here. There are deals to be found. I got a plate of grilled shrimp, grilled mahi mahi & fresh sauteed veggies for $9. We have 2 grocery stores within a 5 mile drive. There are many hispanic foods for sale that you don't find in other stores. JUst dried chilies alone there are a ton of varieties. I bought a few hot chocolate packets but they were nasty. I'd rather drink moxie.

We get a lot of great sunrises & sunsets here.

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We did a dinner cruise. Space X has a launch pad near Brownsville. From the lagoon you can see the rocket on the launch pad. A few dolphins showed up to entertain us.

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littlelady

God bless the USA
Y’all are livin’ the life. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through y’all, and Apollo. We, children, grandchildren, two dogs, and a cat appreciate the view of America that you give us. They all seem to be at my house all at the same time; all the time. Safe travels, and happy retirement. :smile:

And, y’all are in my own stoppin’ grounds. After I grad from LSU, I moved to Mobile AL, Marietta GA, and then to Houston TX; being originally from NOLA. Sadly, I was dragged kicking and screaming to Maryland. I divorced the guy that did that to me. :lol: I really didn’t divorce him for that; it was other stuff. But, I do know everything happens for a reason.
 
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Monello

Yeah, whatever
PREMO Member
We just endured 2 1/2 days of wet & cold. It's overcast today but at least it's not raining. This is our 2nd cold & raily spell while we are here. Funny thing is people hunker down then as soon as the rain stops & the sun comes out, everyone comes outside. Today we got a few tips of where to go and what to do from some other campers. That's the nice part about socializing. People have already scoped things out. There are a bunch of places here to eat and drink. No way could you check them all out.

As this is our 3rd winter, I'm in the habit of comparing everything to Florida. I have to say that you get a lot more bang for your buck down here. Last week I went on a 4 hour bay fishing trip. There were 15 people on the trip plus a crew of 3. It was slow and I didn't catch a thing. On the entire boat only about 15 fish were caught. The captain even fished and he got 3 of them. The good news was that it only set me back $20 with my campground discount coupon. Whiting and catfish made up the catch. Some people kept some very small whiting that didn't seem big enough to go through the trouble cleaning. I may give it another try before we leave.

Across the lagoon there is a launch pad for Space X. There is a rocket on the launch pad. It's visible from the boat. Once they launch, this campground will be a great place to watch the fireworks. We found a little community across the bridge in the town of Port Isabel. Long Island Village is 1,100 lots in a canal neighborhood. Many of the residents are winter Texans, since this is what they refer to their snowbirds. Many people are from the midwest states. LIV has an 18 hole par 3 golf course, cafe, banquet hall, 2 swimming pools, rec center, boat launch and a bunch of activities to keep people busy. Most of the lots have park model homes on them. A few lots have motor homes. I think we have to consider this location for when we no longer want to travel full time. On our dinner cruise we went right by the island. The island is attched to the mainland by a swing bridge. The entire section of road pivots to let the boat pass.

These 2 pictures are from the backside of the island.

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I don't know if I posted this already but there is a homeland security blimp here that keeps watch over the southern border. It has a viewing range of 200 miles. There is a Coast Guard base here and I think they have ownership of the blimp. Most days it's in the sky tethered. They occasionally bring it down.

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Hopefully the weather behaves itself so we can continue to run around and explore this place.
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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Hmmm...

We had this idea that we would go to Brownsville and walk across the bridge to Matamoros, but there's a State Dept travel warning and TripAdvisor people are warning that it's not safe. Apparently the crime risk isn't worth it. However, it seems our campground people are unafraid. They do day trips to Nuevo Progresso once a month or so (albeit with a warning list a mile long and in a large group), and so far haven't lost anyone.

Brownsville is considered very safe, by all accounts. Cross that bridge, however, and things change dramatically. PS, there is a border wall between Brownsville and Matamoros - probably why Brownsville is safe.

The other thing is that I've been to places that I've been warned to stay away from and it was fine. Veer off Bourbon St. at night? Check. Alphabet City (before it got gentrified) at 1am? Check. Lost in West Baltimore? Check. Escorted to my Phoenix hotel by young Latino men with guns in their waistband? Check. Still here to tell the tale. Even the young Phoenix guys, I offered them money for the escort, they didn't demand it or menace me in any way. So I tend to disregard these warnings because my experience is that when I've wandered either on purpose or by accident to a scary part of a town, it's been fine.

So I think in writing all that I've talked myself into it. Roll Monello out of bed and run for the border. It would be a shame to be this close and not go take a look.
 

Gilligan

#*! boat!
PREMO Member
Of all those that you mentioned, I'd put New Orleans right at the top of the risk list. Seems like every year (we go there for the International Workboat Show) someone attending the show gets mugged and injured or killed. Rough town in many areas.

I was "relieved" of my wallet and some of my clothing in Baltimore once back in the 70s....but that was my own fault ... :belvak:
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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Okay, ick. We didn't cross over into Mexico, downtown Brownsville was third world enough for this kid. Blocks of flea market grade crap and ugliness. I had to pee and none of the shop people will let you use their restroom (can't say I blame them, considering the clientele), so we headed to the worst most ghetto HEB I have ever seen. The only thing I can compare it to is the "grocery store" in downtown Negril, Jamaica. Filthy, run down, falling apart. And the restroom was a war zone that clearly hadn't been cleaned in months.

The only way I knew I was still in the US was because the toilets flushed.

We did have a terrific lunch at a Mexican place where nobody speaks English. Costillas, fajita, sausage, bisteck tacos, and charro beans, served with that bean soup we love. TIP: real Mexican restaurants give you a little cup of bean soup with cut up hotdogs in it as a side to every entree. If you don't get that soup, you're not at a real Mexican restaurant. And PS, the tortillas were obviously homemade and worth every gram of carbs.

I have been advised that Progreso is where the action is, but only if you drive a $200k motorhome and enjoy haggling over cheap jewelry with someone who lives in abject poverty to save $2. I don't enjoy that and won't do it, so we'll probably skip that.

And my rant:

You'd think people who come from some #### hole and want a better life would leave their filthy ways behind and live like an American, but they don't. They bring their habits and way of life over here and turn American cities like Brownsville into the #### hole they left. On some level I have sympathy and compassion for them, but I have no interest in turning the US into Little Mexico or Little Guatemala.

Anyway, here's what I'm talking about:

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vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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San Antonio has a terrific Mexican market right up from the River Walk. I hope it hasn't changed since last time I saw it.
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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In general, love KOA. But the nicer ones (well, even the mid-range ones) are expensive for someone (like me) on a comfortable (for now) fixed mil pension/VA disability. Curious if overnight cost ever enters into your & Monello's calculations? I ask because we're not yet full-timers (at this point, month-long trips max) and it's the campground overnight expense that scares us the most and keeps us from making the jump.
I forgot to respond to this.

Nightly rates can get expensive, but if you can stay for a month you make out a lot better. I think this KOA has a nightly rate of $80+-, but the monthly rate is $900, which is an extraordinary savings. Our most expensive campground - Jolly Roger in Marathon, FL - was $110 per night, and $2300 for the month. That price is still absurd and I doubt we'd do it again, but you can see the difference in price if you can stay for a full month.
 

lucky_bee

RBF expert
Brownsville is awful. Dad is from there. He did everything he could to get the F out...youngest of 3 boys and first in the family to put himself thru college and then joined the Navy. Thankfully family eventually migrated up to Hondo and Bandera. But we did go back and visit Brownsville once, I think in the same trip as Corpus. A few nights stay on South Padre Island made it all better. Brownsville looked like a total apocalypse town and I was blown away that's where my easy-going-everybody's-friend- dad came from :lol: we walked across the border that day to shop for dust-collectors and various chotchkies but I distinctly remember at 14 my mother was still busy trying to hold all ours hands. To be so young and naive about my surroundings :lol:
 

Monello

Yeah, whatever
PREMO Member
Currently riding out gale force winds at 5am this morning. It's still dark out. We have the shades open. I expect to see Dot & Toto fly by any minute now. Cars are still coming over the bridge. No way would I drive the RV over the bridge in these conditions. Just 1 more adventure on our journey around the country. 55 degrees. Apollo still has to be walked. Ugh.
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
PREMO Member
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Winds at 40mph, gusts up to 50. It's pretty scary, but experience has told me we'll be fine. The first time we had a situation like this I was terrified and convinced we should evacuate.

This KOA is really cool. They have a full time activities director who plans social meals and fun things pretty much every day. Last night was "Fiesta Ya'll", with a Mexican feast catered by a local restaurant and a very good mariachi band. We really don't engage in a lot of the socialization. Our neighbors seem very nice, but cocktail chatter with strangers has a short shelf life with me - I'm good for about an hour of that.
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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Normally the last week at a place we run around doing all the things we should have been doing in the previous weeks we were here, but Monello is dying of the flu so we are homebound. And now I'm fighting it off.

Bleah.

It's been chilly here - yes, south Texas is participating in winter this year. It also rained a lot, with the random sunny gorgeous day thrown in just to break up the monotony. I'm certainly not going to complain, though, when I look at my weather app and see -7* for Lincoln, NE. I still give this place an enthusiastic thumbs up and can't wait to be back next year.
 
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