As the old boy scout motto goes, "be prepared" and we take that to heart here at Texas Avid Outdoors. Our destination for this trip was Padre Island National Seashore (PINS). Since we had never taken any groups down to this area and there was some concern about non-4x4 vehicles ability to go past the 5 mile mark, we thought that a scouting mission might be in order. So myself, Dan and John loaded up for a one day trip down to see what were were getting in to. Let's just say that we were glad that we made that trip. After a customary stop at Whataburger to start the trip we made our way down to Corpus Christi with our Engel fridge full of yummy goodness and our gear packed for a nice overnight camp on the beach. Our intent was to spend the evening watching the waves crash into the beach, relax and do a little scouting the next day before driving back home that afternoon. We arrived at PINS with about 4 hours of daylight left and after paying our way in, made our way to the visitors center to obtain any information that we could get. It was only after talking to one of the Park Rangers on duty that we learned we wouldn't even be able to sleep on the beach. We learned that a tropical depression over the Yucatan was affecting sea levels here. The night previous campers had been evacuated off of the beach as the tide rose and continued to rise into the dunes. Luckily no one was injured but that meant that we weren't going to be camping on the beach. When we asked about any other campsites, we were met with a smile and wry, "Good luck!" After a quick trip into Corpus to top off the gas tank, we decided to take a trip down Malaquite beach to see how far we could go. At the 5 mile mark on Malaquite is a sign that warns you not to go on if you are not in a 4x4 vehicle. One of the main reasons for taking this trip was to see if that was true. However, due to the very high tide the night before, the beach sand was still very packed and thus it felt like we were on a slightly undulating paved road; in other words, nice and smooth. As we drove down the beach we couldn't help but noticed the amount of detritus left behind by the tides. It really drove home the point that our oceans are filled with trash just waiting for a beach to wash up on.
Once we reached mile 30 we decided to head back and get camp set. However, we did stop long enough on the beach to have a nice dinner and wave watching before moving on. Most of the displaced beach combers had relocated to the other campsites such as Malaquite Campground, North and South Beach and Bird Island Basin, so as you can guess, our pickings were pretty slim. It basically came down to gravel at Bird Island Basin or site at Malaquite that was half asphalt and half sand. We decided on Malaquite, paid our $8 (glad we had a place to rest our head) and proceeded to set up our camp in the fading light, finishing by flashlight. After getting our tents set we decided on a little exploring, so we headed down to the beach at Malaquite campground only to see the water rising slowly with every crashing wave. Some tents still on the beach were already in danger of being swamped again. It was an awesome sight! We stayed up for a bit longer until our long day began to wear on us so we turned in for the night.
We woke the next morning to sea gulls overhead, the sound of waves, and the morning sounds of people clamoring around their campsites. We rubbed the sleep from our eyes and walked down to the beach to see the damage of the night before. Surprisingly, quite a few people decided to camp down on the beach despite the rangers warnings and we saw at least 3 or 4 tents that had been flooded. The tide had receded and folks were wringing out their gear as we made our way back to the truck to pack up and head home. It's a this point that I have to tell you about a great little restaurant in Corpus. It bears mentioning because before we broke camp we had to decide; do we make the breakfast we brought or find breakfast on the way home. Due in part to the long previous day before, it was unanimous, pack it up and find something to eat. Find something we did! My relatives have a nice little restaurant in Corpus called Chachos Tacos. My friends, let me tell you, if you ever find yourself down in Corpus and are looking for some of the best food in town, you have to stop in and give them a try. Hands down some of the very best tortillas I have ever eaten (sorry mom!), great prices and great food. Tell them we sent you! So after filling our stomachs, we headed home, very glad we had made that trip and ready for our return trip just a few weeks later.
Armed with the information that we had learned from our last trip and a few more friends and family we made our way back to PINS. This time we broke into two groups. One was to leave early and secure a campsite while the second followed that afternoon after they had gotten off of work. Ken and I rolled in to camp late that evening eager to be off the road and ready to start our weekend. We backed into our slot, I set up my tent and within 20 minutes we were both snoozing away.
Since Dan and John and the boys arrived early the previous day, they had some time to explore prior to us getting there. Now Nathan was the first junior member of TAO and he made us proud again. He earned his Padres Island National Seashore Junior Ranger badge! Each national park has a junior ranger program that allows kids (and adults) to earn their ranger badge by learning about that park, doing activities and completing a workbook to earn the badge, but only after taking the oath and affirming to do the right thing! One of the activities for this badge was to help clean up the beach, so off to South Beach they went. Of course everyone got in on the action and spent some time picking up plastic bottles, trash and assorted other items. Leaving a place cleaner than we found it is a strong belief we all have at TAO. After completing all tasks, Nathan was awarded his 7th Junior Ranger badge! Congratulations Nathan, great job! As the afternoon rolled on Dan, John and boys decided to do a little fishing. While they didn't catch much, it was still a great time. So this point catches us up.
Saturday was a new morning and we woke to a beautiful day. This trip was a bit bigger than the last. Dan brought his son Nathan and John brought Jared. Then there was Ken and I. Lastly, later that day my brother Paul (Hip) and his son Sebastian was set to join us. First order of the day? Make breakfast! While we have lots of options for breakfast, there is one that we love that is simple and easy! First you toast some bagels, slather them liberally with cream cheese and then top them with jiggy ham. Jiggy ham you say? What's that? Well for us it's Boar's Head Maple Glazed ham. For you it could be your favorite ham or whatever else you choose to top it with. We love them and it's a great, light way to start the day. Now that everyone was fed, we had a chance to catch up as the breakfast dishes were cleaned up. This is one of the things that I love about our trips; our ability to enjoy each others company.
With the dishes done, it was time for a swim! While initially I had planned on relaxing instead of swimming, the draw of the ocean couldn't be avoided. So I strapped on a GoPro and we heading into the surf for some excellent waves that were perfect for body surfing. While I did take a tumble or two in the surf, I had a blast! After swallowing entirely too much seawater, we made our way back to camp to change into dry clothes and make our way to the visitor center to meet Paul and Sebastian. It was there that we got to do something I truly enjoy. We inducted Jared as our second Junior Texas Avid Outdoors member! We have established a list of criteria and tasks to be completed to become a Jr. TAO member and Jared did each one happily. I fell that it is our duty to expose people to the outdoors, kids especially. This is a core belief of Texas Avid Outdoors and one we take seriously. With all of the pomp and circumstance that we could muster done and our thirst quenched with some ice cold Gatorade from the gift shop, we headed back to camp to settle in for some dinner and dominos!
Dinner was a simple affair. Grilled pork chops with a honey mustard glaze, baked potatoes with the trimmings and green beans. Once everyone had their dinner we sat around discussing the day and the night fishing that the guys had planned. Myself and Ken stayed back at camp while the rest of the crew went off to try their luck with the rod and reel. Needless to say it was a pretty poor night for them! Luckily, it was much easier to catch some z's than it was to catch fish!
Sunday morning was pretty typical of what a travel home day had become for us. Get up and start packing your gear for the long ride home. We already knew that we weren't going to be cooking breakfast that morning! Once everything was packed it was time to hit Chachos Tacos again. They didn't disappoint. As usual, the food, service, and company was great and we left there very satisfied! After saying our goodbyes, with full bellies and hours of driving yet to complete, we hit the road. Another successful TAO trip was in the books. Most importantly, though, everyone had a great time. I would definitely recommend Padre Island National Seashore. There is plenty to do, the water is great, and you are bound to enjoy yourself. Texas has such a vast wealth of beautiful places for you to explore. From the Piney Woods of East Texas to the rugged beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert of the Big Bend; from north to south, there are so many places to discover. Don't settle for your backyard. Make Texas your front yard. As always, Live Life Outside! Till next time, get outside!
Check out our videos on Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore - coming soon
Driving the Beach - coming soon
Playing in the Surf - coming soon