This sweet roll is pure Texas.
Tired of omelets, biscuits and gravy, toast, waffles, steaks with eggs over easy, diners can opt for a non-politically correct breakfast that Lyle Lovett would feature in song.
This roll fills a plate instead of a saucer. It would go well on Caesar’s table at a fine Roman buffet where elites dine with the Emperor served by slaves and entertained by musicians and dancing girls.
This morning Dave and the Russian Vera join forces, one with a fork and the other a knife. The roll is carefully, surgically divided into smaller bites and by the end of breakfast they have finished half and put the other half in a takeout box.
Caesar’s appetites go beyond normal mortals. For us, this roll is impossible to eat, even with a helper.
I look for togas here but people in Pier 19 are wearing windbreakers and baseball caps and look middle class. We have a Caesar in the White House,but, as far as I know,he doesn’t have a professional food taster.
Vera will have to walk miles to deal recover from this decadence.
Dave never gains weight but he will need a smoke before breakfast is done.
E-Harmony is doing as much for foreign relations as all the American Ambassadors put together.
At seven in the morning, you show yourself down several hallways into the restaurant.
Giovanni or one of the girls gets a pot of coffee and a full cup to me when they see me. When the wind blows I can feel the entire pier swing its hips like a drunk hula girl. It is five o’ clock somewhere and Jimmie Buffet Drive runs right through our dining area to the bar where Happy Hour begins when someone starts a fish story and the bar girl pours her first round.
At seven in the morning, this restaurant has an odd feel. Everything slants to the left and the guys who built the place must have had their heads in Margaritaville when they picked up their hammers and screw guns and measured their cuts.
By seven thirty, my order is on the wheel and cooks are scrambling eggs, frying bacon, making biscuits and gravy.
Sitting near the kitchen I listen to them talking about parties and during Spring Break plates will fly through their serving window as fast as they can fix them as they break their necks looking at girls in bikini’s, or less.
By eight, the sun is warming me through single pane windows and a pelican on top of a close by pier post in my line of sight is grooming.
Deckhands on the Osprey are out swabbing decks, loading poles and ice coolers filled with drinks, sandwiches and bait shrimp. In the gift shop, a clerk runs credit cards for men and women going out to fish this morning on the Osprey.
At seven, the world looks screwy. By nine, kinks are worked out.
South Padre Island, when you look at its aerial photograph on the wall, looks like a shark’s tooth.
I keep a sharp eye out for one legged sailors.
They are my canary in the mine shaft.
The sky is burning and, if it wasn’t, there would be no reason to snap this photo.
Joan points and we all stare as we all walk towards the Shrimp Haus, a South Padre Island restaurant that features shrimp, shrimp, and more shrimp – boiled, breaded, fried, cooked or uncooked with salad bar and side orders of fries, potato salad or cole slaw.
The sky’s colors look like Matzatlan sunsets, sunrise in Ambergris Caye, the sun sinking in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas.
For a moment it seems the clouds are waves and the entire world has turned upside down with the top becoming the bottom and the bottom becoming the top. Palm trees, that the wind shakes, are cheerleader’s pom poms at this heavenly football game..
Mother Nature waves her flag and is impossible to ignore, diminish, or trump.
Tomorrow morning, we will be presented a different light show.
Sunrise and sunset are bookmarks in nature’s novel.
Being together is a good thing.
Isla Blanca Park is owned and operated by Cameron County, Texas.
It is at the southern tip of South Padre Island and has hundreds of full service sites for snowbirds, overnight visitors, campers. It is a destination for most, a stop on the road for some, and it is a good place to enjoy sun and surf. This year has been one of good weather, locals say, but the Gulf is still too cold to swim in, wind gusts, fog rolls in at night and sleeps late into the morning.
Snowbirds who come for the winter make improvements to their spaces, bring out decorations and sports equipment, set up whirly gigs and windsocks, and meet their neighbors. Some have been coming here thirty years for bingo in the recreation building on Tuesday, and Thursday night yoga, or pot lucks. There is an abundance of friendliness. People wave and say hi, stop to chat, help hold a line or hook up someone else’s rv, ride bikes in twos and threes.
Being in a hurry is counterproductive and, for all you care, the rest of the world beyond this little spit of land can sink into the ocean like the Titanic.
You can rent a space up to six months at a time if you decide there is no point going home.
I am not to that point, yet.
” Some days you do better in the boat and some days better on the beach, ” the fisherman in coveralls tells us as he opens a cooler and shows us his Pompanos and Whiteys, game fish in this part of the Gulf of Mexico.
The bottom of his cooler has five or six small fish and a small plastic container filled with fresh cut shrimp that baits his hooks.
He and his wife have been here before sunset.
You cast your weighted and baited hooks out as far as you can, plant the handle of your pole into the sand and watch till its tip starts to bend like a scoliosis patient. When you see that peculiar bend, you reach for your pole, set your hook, and fight your catch out of the sea.
This fishing spot is towards the north end of South Padre, past tall condos and hotels. The angler’s big white pickup is pulled off the beach thoroughfare made by tire tracks. Its tailgate is down and a tackle box is close at hand.
” How much is a daily license? ”
” Fifteen bucks…. ”
” What’s the limit? ”
” No limit…. ”
We don’t have fishing poles but next time they will be stowed in RV cargo holds with golf clubs, lawn chairs, firewood, and tarps.
Next year, seeing how things are going, we will probably have to have a license to pick up shells. For cash strapped governments, every day is tax day.
We are, bottom line, squatters on this planet.
If we aren’t fishing, we are biting.
Prospecting is in your blood, or it isn’t.
On a weekday, at the beach, Neal prospects, Joan knits, Scott pulls his hat down and lays back against a dune and watches kite surfers move across the water. The wind is blowing, but it is better here than in a frigid north where a cold front moves down and throws a wet blanket over the Northeast, Midwest, and South.
At the tip of Texas, almost as far south as Florida, we are not immune from restless weather. Palm trees rustle, clouds hang like a boxer’s black eye, fog lounges on street corners like a thug.
Prospecting takes patience.
It isn’t long till our prospector comes back with his find.
He pulls out scrap, beer cans, foil, pop tops and wire. Then, out of his front shirt pocket, he brings the coup de gras – a corroded copper penny.
You know there are gold doubloons and pieces of eight not far from where this penny was found. Newspaper reports of gold doubloons found by farmers from Ohio walking on the beach surface every so many years.
Hope supported by facts is more than enough reason to prospect here.
Sea turtles can grow to five hundred pounds and range widely over the world’s oceans.
They mysteriously return to lay eggs on the same beach where they were born and man has been one of their biggest enemies since their meat is tasty, their shells can be fashioned into ornaments, their body parts dried and ground into Oriental medicine.
A sea turtle rescue center operates on South Padre Island’s Gulf Shores Drive. Volunteers staff it, donations keep it alive, and injured or sick turtles inhabit a series of lined swimming pool tanks inside.
Some turtles are victims of boat propellers, some get injured in fishing nets, some lose limbs to sharks. Life as a turtle has dangers and crossing oceans isn’t for the faint of heart. When the turtles are recovered from their setbacks, they are released back into the Gulf, tagged, monitored, and celebrated.
Allison is a current resident turtle with a prothesis. Losing a tail, she has been fitted with a rubber one that lets her glide in her small tank like a Gulf War veteran with new robotic legs. Victims of carelessness, malice, chance, turtles are easy to love and people love to buy turtle memorabilia in the gift shop.
Man too has tragedies to overcome.
Our safety tanks take the form of halfway houses, hospitals, psych wards, jails, and churches.
There are days we don’t want to be released into the world again, either.
This Padre Island surf isn’t the best but this wind is still strong and steady.
Kite surfers combine kites and surfboards and hitch themselves to the wind for a free ride.
Wearing wet suits, they wear harnesses and are tethered to their kites by fifty foot nylon lines. As their kite is caught by the wind on the beach they walk into the surf, lay back in the water, and let their wind filled kite pull them upright and begin to drag them through the surf as they balance on their boards. Their rides last as long as the wind lasts and in South Padre Island, today, the wind is no hundred pound weakling.
An older surfer with a red kite laments that there ” isn’t enough wind! ”
Still, he follows his kite out into the surf, lays back, and is pulled immediately upright.
Letting nature pull you for a free ride is fun.
Sharing the water with others who love what you love is even more fun.
We live and play in a paradise.