Retirement Means We have Time to See Our Own Country!
|Port Isabel, Texas Lighthouse|
Port Isabel, Texas
Port Isabel, Texas was the first place we stopped after crossing the Pharr, Texas bridge at the Mexican border in mid-May. While the rest of Texas was flooded with torrential downpours, we enjoyed a week of beautiful weather, though it was a bit hot and sticky. Port Isabel appears to be a town of retirees and fishermen as well as a place that is trying to be a tourist attraction.
Port Isabel has its benefits as a retirement and winter snowbird community. The weather from November through April is pleasant with daytime temperatures in the 70's and only one to two inches of precipitation per month. It is definitely an inexpensive place to live with many mobile home and RV developments priced very reasonably. We stayed for a week at the Sandpiper RV Park; it was nothing special but it was across the street from Wal-Mart and it was time to stock up on supplies. Since we don't own a car, shopping convenience is important to us.
The Sandpiper RV Park was also walking distance to great seafood restaurants, banks, and the bus stop for the "Wave", the free shuttle bus to South Padre Island. RV Park living doesn't get much cheaper than the Sandpiper--the rate was $120 for the week and it included all utilities! We chatted with one couple who had first visited in their pickup and camper 26 years ago and never left. They were proud to tell us that they now live in a large mobile home on the property for $180 per month plus electricity--they said they couldn't afford to live anywhere else, and had saved $100,000 by selling their home and renting there all those years!
The nicest beaches in the area are on the Gulf of Mexico side of South Padre Island. The Wave dropped us at the Isla Blanca State Park, a beautiful RV Park on the beach at the south end of the island. We wished we had stayed there for the week and we put it on our list of places to return to. We enjoyed a walk around the peaceful state park then out to look at the beach. The red flag was flying, indicating that the waves were too rough for swimming or boogieboarding, but there were still plenty of people out under umbrellas enjoying the beach. We took a few photos and headed for Laguna Bob's Bar on the Bay for fish tacos and a "Blue Rita".
|Port Isabel Boardwalk|
|First Stop After Leaving Mexico: Sandpiper RV Park|
|Boarding the "Wave" to South Padre Island|
South Padre Island, TexasSouth Padre Island was just a 15 minute shuttle bus ride away from Port Isabel. Since the Wave was free, we rode the entire route several times that week to get a good view of the area. When we saw an attractive beach bar and grill overlooking the water, we hopped off the Wave to have lunch and a margarita. The Palm Street Pier was one of our favorites with an atmosphere that left us imagining Jimmy Buffet might wander in for a cold one any minute.
|Palm Street Pier-- A Hangout for Sailors, Fisherman, & Tourists|
|View of the Laguna Side of the Island From Palm Street Pier|
|Peaceful Isla Blanca State Park|
|South Padre Island Beach on the Gulf of Mexico|
We hopped back on the Wave and rode down to the South Padre Birding and Nature Center where we walked on the boardwalks that extend into the Laguna Madre and did a little birdwatching. We saw a few grey herons and seagulls, but mostly just enjoyed the walk and the view. It was interesting to be in a bird habitat with a row of classy beachfront hotels as the backdrop.
|South Padre Birding and Nature Center Boardwalk|
Galveston Island, Texas
|View from Dellanera RV Park on Galveston Island|
|Beachfront Site at Dellanera RV Park|
|Birdwatching from our RV Site at Dellanera RV Park|
The ten mile long Galveston Island seawall starts near the Dellanera RV Park and has a great concrete boardwalk for walking, biking, or rollerblading. This boardwalk competes with the Malecon in Mazatlan, some of the longest promenades in the world.
|We Rollerbladed to the Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier|
|We Made It in the Heat and Against the Wind!|
We hadn't done a real tourist day in ages, so we decided to rollerblade from the RV Park to the Historic Pleasure Pier where the rollercoaster and merry-go-round looked like fun. Then we had a pleasant mile-and-a-half walk through the Historic District of Galveston to the Bishop's Palace.
|The Grand Bishop's Palace|
|The Bishop's Palace Entry Stairway|
For a fee of $12 each we were able to take a self-guided tour of this amazing 17,420 square foot home built by the Gresham family in 1892. By the time we walked back to the Pleasure Pier, carrying our rollerblades in our backpacks, we were exhausted and ready to have lunch and a margarita at Bubba Gump's. A taxi ride the six miles home was a pleasure at that point!
|Trying out Forrest's Suitcase, Bench, and Shoes|
|Our Smiling Motorhome on the Ferry from Galveston Island|
|Touring the Gulf Coast from Reynosa, Mexico to Port Isabel to Galveston Texas|