"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

Jan. 9-12 South Padre Island, TX

“Beach: a place of relaxation, rest and tranquility.” –Unknown
South Padre Island is a resort town off the southern coast of Texas. It’s known for its beaches and calm waters. We haven't been to the valley since Kyle and Bryt lived in Harlingen in 2010, and it's been even longer since we've been to South Padre Island. They have 34 miles of beach and enjoy 300+ days of sunshine a year. It's a popular year around vacation spot, but it's most crowded during spring break in March and family vacations in July. January was a great time to be there...the weather was amazing and the only people around were other retirees. This trip was all about relaxing, beach-combing, eating good food and taking in the changing of the sun. We enjoyed beautiful sunsets, sunrises and even got to see an almost full moon rise over the Gulf of Mexico.

We drove down to Boca Chica Beach before we went to our condo. It's as far south as you can go on the Texas coast. The SpaceX Boca Chica launch site is located there. They are currently testing the Starship. The Starship is designed for missions to Mars. It will be a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration interplanetary flights.
A long Boca Chica Beach
Welcome to South Padre Island...leave your cares behind. I loved how there was just a little fog lingering around...it was such a beautiful day.
We stayed at the Suntide III Condominiums. Our condo was on the sixth floor and we had a beautiful view of the gulf.
The view from our deck. We enjoyed watching the sun and the moon come up from here.
Out our front door we had a view of the town and Laguna Madre.
We started our first full day on the island by watching the sun come up and then walking on the beach in front of the condo.
We enjoyed some wonderful mahi tacos at Mahi Nic for lunch. Complete with a little music and a view of the fishing boats in the marina.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at Isla Blanca Beach at the southern end of the island. The blimp in the air is U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Jesus Christ of the Fisherman was built to honor those fishermen who leave this port and don't return.
Looking up the beach at the condos in South Padre Island.
The South Padre Island Jetties
We enjoyed the food so much at The Meatball Cafe that we went back a second night. Everything they serve is made from scratch on property.
About six miles north of town the road just ends. The wind blows the sand onto the road and they have to plow it off. The sand dunes were huge. I don't think I've ever seen anything like these. Nothing but sand for miles and miles. If you have a four wheel drive you can drive along the shore another 20+ miles to the northern end of South Padre Island. 
Clayton's is a popular beach hangout. I'm sure on a weekend or during spring break we wouldn't want to be here, but it was very nice the day we were there...just retirees and winter visitors.
Some of the treasures we found on the beaches during our little getaway.
One afternoon we went to Sea Turtle Inc. It's a turtle hospital, where their main purpose is to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured sea turtles. Unfortunately all their rescues are not able to be released back into the wild and they now live at the center. They help to educate the public on the conservation efforts for sea turtles on South Padre Island. The program was started by one lady in 1977. This is Cowgirl. She has been rescued four times in the past two years, so they have decided to let her stay.
This is Allison, she is an Atlantic Green turtle and is the first turtle to successfully wear a prosthesis.
Poppy is a Loggerhead turtle and the largest resident at the center. She was hit by a boat and the wounds have led to buoyancy issues. To prevent her from floating, she has weights attached too her shell.
Merry Christmas is also an Atlantic Green turtle. Turtles are cold blooded and can go into a hypothermic shock and be washed ashore during extreme cold weather. She was rescued in December in the early 1980's. She has many physical abnormalities that make it hard for her to survive in the wild.
The South Padre Island Sea Turtle Art Trail has 11 permanent sea turtle art sculptures across the city. Each one has a unique shape and charm that comes from each artist's creative vision.  
On our last evening we went to a little place called Driftwood Landing to watch the sunset.
While we were waiting for the sun to set, a fishing boat came back to the dock. As soon as the boat arrived the pelicans began to show up for their free handouts.
We were lucky the sunrises didn't come till about 7:20 so we were able to watch them as we enjoyed our morning coffee.
Our last morning we watched the cold front move in.
A few of the amazing sunsets we enjoyed.
The moon was just as enjoyable to watch rise over the Gulf of Mexico.

Happy New Year 2023

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
Happy New Year from the crew of The Pearl. As the new year begins we reflect on the past year, remembering all the wonderful memories we made and looking forward to the new year filled with more adventures and places to explore.