Wednesday, January 20, 2010

spring break south padre island

South Padre Island 
Spring Break SPI

While I am in South Padre Island area trying to get my boat ready for cruising, I might as well tell you about the places and people and my adventures here. I plan to give you reports about the places I visit; this Texas paradise is no different. The idea of folding my business tent and setting off under the tent of the sails on La Vida Nueva is to see places and do things. Part of the lifestyle for me is to be an eternal tourist during my travels. Let’s explore!

One of the biggest events on South Padre Island is spring break! It never ceases to amaze me how the young generation and the old generation look at spring break pictures on South Padre and have such different reaction. The young bucks can’t wait to get here and the old cats can’t wait to leave! Sad to say, I am in the old cat category. I just hope it is not snowing in Colorado during spring break!

"The young bucks can't wait to get there and the old cat's can't wait to leave!"

South Padre spring break is one of the biggest places for breakers in the nation. Florida is too far away for many in the ‘middle states’ of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Louisiana Arkansas and did I mention Texas? Airfare from Colorado, for example, is as little as $250 bucks Denver to nearby Brownsville Texas! That is cheap considering March in South Padre is likely to be 50 to 70 degrees. March in Colorado is likely to be 10 degrees below zero!

SPI, as South Padre is often referred to, is the ‘Two nation vacation’. If you happen to be Mexican, SPI is, well not Mexico. It is always fun to visit a foreign land during spring break and the same applies to our friends from Mexico who are avid ‘breakers’ just like the rest of us. As a result, no matter which country you are from, there is a good representation from the US and Mexico so you get a little feel for both countries this close to the border.

Most people don’t know SPI is further South than Florida. The weather is perfect most of the winter. It is not too muggy and it is a lot warmer than Colorado! Nothing in life is guaranteed, and certainly not the weather. If you have the same bad luck I do sometimes, and you find yourself ‘breaking it’ in South Padre during a cold snap, you can count on it being absolutely miserable. But then, that applies to the rest of the world. Try Skiing in Colorado during a mild winter and blazing son! Great weather is a matter of perspective.

So what do you do in SPI during spring break? Of course, there is a lot of sitting on the beach. Then there is the kegger while sitting on the beach. Then there is surfing and sitting on the beach. And of course, there are beach parties while…in the hotel, in restaurants, in parks and…sitting on the beach!

One of the biggest attractions in Padre, besides the beach, is the turtle a turtle, see the turtle lady, have a great time! They call it Sea Turtle Incorporated now. When I was a buckaroo we used to visit a little cottage not far from the ocean side of the island. There was a sweet gal who had turtles crawling around in her back yard. They were rescued by the fish and game folks and since no one wanted to take care of them, left for the turtle lady to bring back to good health. For a modest fee, you could go in and see the turtles and know you were in the house of a Good Samaritan.

The ‘turtle lady’ isn’t a small operation anymore. They moved it to the main drag on the Island with much bigger quarters. Nothing more than that has changed. These are people devoted to helping a creature that lives a lot longer than humans do, given the chance.

A pet project of the turtle people this year is the Atlantic Green. So far this has been a cold year for most Texans. They walk around in jeans and jackets while I bask in my Colorado shorts.

“Aren’t you cold?” They ask.
“No. I am from Iceland” I say with a smile.
"Unlike wacky tabacy, the sea turtle is well worth saving"

Unfortunately, for the Atlantic Green turtle, it has been a cold year indeed. This magnificent turtle is not used to sudden changes in water temperature and go into shock. They end up floating in the waves, and like so many bales of marijuana, get washed up in the surf. Unlike wacky tabacy, the sea turtle is well worth saving. There went that young versus old perspective again!

Here is what the sea turtle people say about the ‘Greens:
"When water temperatures drop quickly in the Gulf of Mexico sea turtles can become "cold stunned". This refers to their systems becoming so cold that they become hypothermic. The turtles will then float and wash ashore. With the help of volunteers these cold sea turtles are rescued and brought to our facility. Sea Turtle, Inc. staff gives the turtles steroids and slowly warm them back up. A photo section has been created for the recent stranding event.

As of 1/15/10 a total of 127 Atlantic greens have been affected by the cold waters. Of those 83 have survived and 44 are dead. We have released 70 of the surviving sea turtles."

The sea turtle people rely on donations to keep them going. In a sense, they have been taken advantage of in not receiving compensation from wildlife agencies, as protecting our world and the creatures within it is the responsibility of us all. On the other hand, I am sure they would say the burden has been well worth it! This is one place not to be missed.

O.K., the beach! And the parties! Nudity is frowned upon on most of Padre's beaches.  .Put some underwear on said the gal who can't take hers off  There are lots of little ones, even during spring break, and parents don't think their children should be exposed to naked bodies.  However, if you go up-island to the last beach entrance you may find the bare essentials.  I don't have any problem taking it off, but after gaining plenty of weight over the last two years, other peoople duck when I come by.  So you won't see me in my birthday suit, especially in Colorful Colorado!

One popular party spot on SPI is Louie’s Back Yard. Tie on a Louie, party at Louie's     The folks behind this popular watering hole are movers and shakers on South Padre. They know how to show you a good time! These guys have been at it a long time and have such a great reputation they are featured in tons of places, including MTV, 60 Minutes, the Travel Channel, VH1, ETV, and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. When I was a party boy they called it the Tonight show with Johnny Carson, but most of you won’t remember that!

A popular local spot you should not miss is Dirty Al’s. When I say ‘local’s spot’ this is really one of South Padre’s best kept secrets. It is located in the marina on the Island. While the building is not fancy, the food is divine! Here is one review:
“Atmosphere is not for the faint hearted. The place is a dive, bathrooms are disgraceful and open into the dining room. Tables and chairs are mis-matched. Come as you are gets pushed to the limit by some of the patrons.

The food is a different story. The New Orlean's Style Peel & Eat Shrimp are fantastic! The fried shrimp are crunchy and light and are delicious too! The food must overcome the atmosphere because the place is full during dinner, even in the off season.” trip advisor review from cup cake

I am not sure what cup cake is talking about when he makes a deal about mis-matched chairs. There are no real country clubs on Padre. The owners of this personality come from south of Mexico. The food is divine. Did I say that yet? I will let you in on one secret most people don’t know. If you eat shrimp on South Padre Island it probably came from Al’s, or Alphonso in Spanish, shrimp boat. This is the freshest caught sea food in the gulf. Most of it did not spend the night in the Gulf! They were caught this morning!

If you miss this place you have missed the flavor of SPI.  The service is good and the waitresses are ‘well chosen’, if you know what I mean. They also own Daddy’s and a few other places on Padre. Do the Dirty, Dirty Al's that is!

The schlitterbahn water park-This is a great place to get away from the fools and the sand on the beach and have some real fun in the water! When they first told me about this place I was a little confused. Why put a water park next to the nation’s 7th best seashore?  Ride the autobahn go to schlitterbahn

The answer is, there are two kinds of ‘bahns”. One is the autobahn, the other the Schlitterbahn. These guys know how to do a water park international style!

The Port Isabel Lighthouse in across the bridge is a romantic place.  Take your new boyfriend you met on SPI who you will never see again... 

And then of course, there are the girls. There will be lots of ‘em this year. SPI is going to look very attractive for students with a strapped budget. Depending upon where you are from, a few tanks of gas shared between your buds and you are in paradise!  A good site to check out for spring break 2010 is here: Party Padre spring break 2010

There is so much more I want to tell you about SPI and the places to visit and see. I have a little time here before I have to return to the Mile High City, Denver, Colorado.

George Bernard Shaw says, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I am not sure. After doing this write up being young and wasted wasn’t so bad. I am just glad I moved along.

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