By John Toth
My first impression was: What’s with all these people here on Sunday afternoon? Shouldn’t they be going in the other direction, away from South Padre Island? They were all pouring in.
Things have changed since my last time here.
The last time I crossed the causeway to South Padre, we rented a condo in a smallish complex that was cheaper than the rest because I never knew if we were getting a nice, fresh-smelling retreat, or a dump.
I was willing to roll the dice, and if it turned out that we got a dump, the manager often could switch us to one of the better units. Then we unpacked and ran out the back door to the beach.
These good memories flowed through my mind as I sat in traffic, waiting to get on the Island.
We inched along for a while, then traffic opened up, and we got to our hotel, one of many on the Island that was not there when we brought the kids here all those years ago.
This time we came to celebrate 40 years of marriage and walk down memory lane a little.
We checked into La Quinta at South Padre. I could look down the hallway and barely see the end. The only difference between the rooms was the number. The clerks at the front counter were checking in guests expertly. It took only a few minutes before we entered our 70- degree spotless room.
As we began to settle in, children could be heard as they excitedly let out a squeal after seeing the pool for the first time. I felt the same way when I saw the beach.
The pool was not a huge draw for me. It was crowded with children and adults alike. We could have used a bigger pool, but so be it. I am weary of what people do in pools, anyway.
The squealing kids and loud adults presented a potential problem - sleeping at night. The door to the room should have been soundproofed. Surprisingly, at 10 p.m., the noise in the hallway died down. I slept like a baby.
I stuck my foot in the Gulf of Mexico waters. It felt cold. Not as cold as the Atlantic Ocean in Maine, but cold enough that it would take some getting used to.
I had to swim in the Gulf. The water was sparkling, the waves were moderate, and I have not done it in many years.
We went to a far-enough-away spot where people could not see very well what I was doing, and I gradually sank into the water, save my head. Around people, especially kids, I would have been forced to pretend that the water wasn’t too cold to my liking and just run or jump in. That’s why I moved away from the crowd. I wanted to do it the old-fashioned way - the chicken way.
We brought enough snacks with us to feed an army of snackers and took it all back home, untouched.
We instead munched down on the free full breakfast each morning at the hotel. A late lunch was the only other meal we needed.
The anniversary came and went, but the celebration continued. We took long walks on the beach. I kept looking for some dolphins with which to swim. We visited several souvenir shops on the Island and somehow managed to decide what to buy for whom. That took a while.
We needed to visit the turtles. No one should go to South Padre without seeing the turtles.
That was on the agenda for the following day.
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