Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Heading South, On the Beach
Bucket, rope, check, check.
And lunch, water, towels. And a dishpan to carry the sea shells and sand dollars we find.
It's 9 a.m. and we're ready, ready to drive down island, down about 60 miles to explore the rest of Padre Island National Seashore. Our goal: If we can't go all 60 miles, we want to AT LEAST frolic on both Little Shell Beach and Big Shell Beach.
It's not as easy as it sounds. The "road" we travel is the beach (Highway -1). It's "paved" with hard-packed sand and soft sand (now you understand the supply list).
But we're driven to make it to the top (well, figuratively speaking.) So, we're off.
And, "we" ARE driven, by my brave husband, Allen. The "we" are me and my two new friends, Sherry and Cindy (and Cindy's shitz tzu Bailey). Sherry (in a motor home) and Cindy (in a tent) travel the country alone. Well, not really alone; they both have dogs. My new girlfriends are 55 and 54, respectively, and smile, a lot.
Allen drives Sherry's Jeep and all goes well, for the first eight or so miles. The beach is littered not with debris, but with motor homes, kids playing, dogs running back and forth, and driftwood. We laugh, we smile. We joke.
We are unaware of the beast that lays in wait about 10 miles down until we slam into him, head, um, tire on.
The beast is the soft sand.
Allen captains our ship as we ride waves of that sand, up and down. He maneuvers around driftwood, and guides us through ruts so deep we hear the sand scrape against the Jeep's underbelly. Then we bounce over those ruts, like a jet ski crossing the wake.
Are those perspiration beads I see forming on his brow?
Twice, Allen gets out to walk ahead, to check the viability of the "road."
At 20 miles, we agree we can go no farther. Too soft. The beast wins. How deep are those ruts anyway? 12, 14 inches? Maybe 17?
So we turn back, our goal unmet. But, we're still smiling, still laughing, and still having a great time. We picnic on the gentler sand and search for small shells on Little Shell Beach. Cindy sheds her skirt (she wears a bathing suit underneath) and dips into the Gulf. Pictures here.
We return to the campground by 3 p.m. and unload the emergency supplies we never had to use (because Allen controlled the helm). And we vow to one day return to the high seas sands and dock at Big Shell Beach.
Editor's note: According to the National Park's own Web site, we made our goal. Big Shell Beach stretches from mile 17 to mile 28. We made it to mile 20. So although we saw no big shells, we made it to Big Shell Beach. We made it. We made it.