Sometimes the places you dream of don’t live up to your expectations. I had planned this winter getaway since I retired in September. Winter on a beach with sand and shells and shorebirds. Sunrises and sunsets and lazy days strolling the sand with the waves lapping our toes. I have never been a beach person. Florida never held much appeal for me I guess that’s because the majority of the time I spent there was tinged with sorrow over the loss of loved ones. But I had psyched myself up that Padre Island was uncharted territory for me. No memories only the promise of fun.

We arrived at Padre Island on a Monday, making our way along the Gulf coast across a series of bridges that arched high over inlets and bays, where the sight of oil refineries  marred the landscape. Another, very short ferry ride at Port Aransas and we were on Padre Island, I had read that there were no services within 12 miles of the park so we stopped at the HEB in Port Aransas for food and fuel. We promised ourselves that we would hit a fast food joint before we reached the park but there just didn’t seem to be  one along that stretch that appealed to us. By the time we got to the sign that marked the entrance to Padre Island National Seashore, Dave’s blood sugar was very low and I had a headache. We grabbed some snacks from the fridge and pressed on.

There are no RV-hookups anywhere in the park but there is an RV Dump and water filling stations. We checked out the two “established” campgrounds that were little more than parking lots and as the sun was getting lower in the sky headed out onto North Beach.

The tide was starting to come in and the beach was beginning to look rather narrow. I knew we weren’t supposed to camp or drive onto the dunes so we found a spot where there was more of an opening and tucked the Nutshell in for the night. I cooked up garlic marinated salmon and rice and I wrapped the dishes in a plastic bag so washing would be easier in the morning. Exhausted we crawled into bed. Dave was fretting about the tide and as it got to high tide that night it was pushing debris under the tongue of the T@B.

Somewhere in the middle of the night I woke to nausea and a headache that matched the roar of the surf. The smell of garlic hung thick in the air and I put the bag containing the dirty dishes outside and pulled my pillow over my ears to silence the outside roar. The morning air revived me a bit but after a breakfast of oatmeal and a walk in the water while I shot sunrise pictures my head was again pounding and my feet freezing. I retreated to the T@B, closed the windows and the shades against the blinding sun and buried myself in the blankets for the rest of the day. Poor Dave and Max had to fend for themselves and watch the tide rise again.

It took me two days to really get over what ailed me. Dave, in the mean time did some exploring with the FJ. We enjoy our days there at Padre Island but the wind and the surf never let up. I did manage to talk Dave into putting the kayak in at Bird Island and we enjoyed paddling around and watching the windsurfers go whizzing past. It rather unnerved me that there could be any number of ocean creatures below us.

Max was a good if not enthusiastic passenger, it was his first time in the kayak and I often splashed him. I will have to remember to take something along for him to shelter under. Mornings of shell collecting netted us a sand dollar and some other pretty shells.

The FJ and T@B suffered from the sand and salt spray. I think we will be cleaning sand from the nooks and crannies for a long time to come. Friday the 13th, we turned our backs on the Gulf and headed for San Antonio.