South Padre Island Texas

SPI Opening Pic

A couple of weekends ago we took a quick trip to South Padre Island Texas. In all the years I have lived in Texas this was the first time we made the trek down towards the border.

South Padre Island is a barrier island that is apart of the Brownsville-Harlingen Metro area. It is considered a resort town and has plenty of hotels and shops on the island.  It is also a HUGE Spring Break destination.

We were only there for the night since my husband surprised me as part of an anniversary gift. He knows I love the beach and have always wanted to visit SPI. Off we packed the kids to drive five hours from Houston to Brownsville. First stop was to drop Zoey off with my Brother-In-Law so she can have fun playing with her doggie cousins.

Zoey
Zoey on her way to play with doggie cousins. Don’t mind the crusties in her eye she had just woken up.

We stayed in Brownsville because it was more affordable with three kids and it had more restaurants that were geared toward families. Brownsville is a decent sized city with a few major stores and chain restaurants. The hotel we stayed in was very comfortable and right off of the freeway.

The only issue I had with staying 35 minutes from the beach was that the drive back to the hotel was a little uncomfortable due to being sandy. Normally I bring a cheap jug of bottled water to the beach with us in order to rinse the kids off but I didn’t think about that day!

Once on the island you will see lots of beachwear shops, surf boards and restaurants. We didn’t see any spots to park on the beach like you can in Surfside Beach or Galveston. Which, I guess is a good thing if the beach needs to stay clean and protected for the wildlife. We parked on Gulf street and walked across to the beach. You will need to pay attention to the no parking signs but they are very obvious.

As soon as the soft powdery sand hits your feet you sink down a bit. It was a little hard to walk in and keep my balance but it was also refreshing. The blue-green water instantly relaxes you as you find a spot to settle. There are beach chairs for rent if you didn’t bring your own or didn’t want to lug one around.

Needless to say the water is beautiful and the sand is very fine. It was a welcomed change from Surfside and Galveston beaches that we frequent. Galveston beaches are murky and pretty dirty but they are reasons for that. Several big rivers empty into the gulf which bring dirt and trash. Houston is a major city and lots of runoff enters the Gulf as well. The stretch of water near Galveston is so shallow that the water really just churns up a lot of sediment and waste. It’s just a recipie for ugly water.

But I love Galveston for its history and charm and still visit the beaches there. You can even see dolphins, whales and jellyfish.

However, SPI has a brilliance of its own.

SPI Water
Rolling waves of South Padre Island
Sand
Crystal clear edge

Sea Turtles are near and dear to my heart. To me they signify the delicateness and wisdom of the ocean. The endangered Kemps-Ridley Turtle nests mainly in SPI as well as Green Sea turtles. The Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery posted on their Facebook page that 2017 is a record-breaking year for Kemps-Ridley sea turtle nests. There have been 348 nests in Texas with 216 found on the island itself! From April to August you can see hatchlings race for the water or attend a scheduled release. 

Sea turtle
Photo credit: Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery

So, if you see a Sea Turtle report it to 361-949-8173. We didn’t see any sea turtles but it was expected since the beach was full of people.

Next time we go back I hope to spend more time snapping pictures of the wildlife and the many variety of birds. Texas is a great spot to see migratory birds and it seems many of them stop in SPI for a little while.

For now these are the photos I did snap.

Bir SPI
Bri waiting to cross over to the beach.
Dunes
Dunes
Mav spi
Mav after a dip in the ocean.
Deeni spi
Audy after wading in the ocean. My husband doesn’t like to take pictures so I covered him with a Sea Turtle 🙂
Sand toys
Sand Toys! SPI has the perfect sand to build with.
San castle.jpg
Majestic as ever!
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Till next time!

Have you been to South Padre Island? What was your experience?

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park was a fun little place that I had no idea existed! My mom, who is always on the hunt for great photo opportunities, wanted to take pictures of waterfalls here in Texas. We found this little gem in Austin Texas, which is about 160 miles west of Houston and 90 miles north of San Antonio.

Onion creek flows through this park with the Upper Falls closer to the park entrance and Lower Falls a tad bit further down the road.  It has not rained much in Texas over the past few months so the Lower Falls were a bit skimpy and the Upper Falls were non-existent.

The Lower Falls were very easy to find. In fact the entire park was easy to navigate and the park rangers were extremely helpful.

The creek was a bit slow which made it great for families with little toddlers to get their toes wet.  I took my shoes off to walk in the ankle-deep water.

Converse 1Creek toes

The water was nice and warm but I would suggest wearing water shoes or  sandals with good grips.

Many kids were jumping off of the limestone rocks into the pool below. There are lots of people on the shore and on top of the rocks but I tried to miss them with my camera. People were really enjoying themselves while lounging in tubes, pool noodles and some were picnicking on the shore.

Falls Lower 1

Falls Lower 2.jpg

Lower Falls 3.jpg

One thing that disappointed me was the amount of garbage that was caught in the rocks. A lot of this is washed in from the creek but still, I imagine some trash gets away from the picnic areas further up the creek. This trash was lodged here and it did not seem to float into the pool where the kids were swimming.

Lower falls trash.jpg

Onion creek 2dragon flyOnion Creek

I was unable to get any really good photos of the Upper Falls because it was so dry. There was a pool of water and a small cave where people were swimming and hanging out. This looked like the most popular spot. I showed these photos to my kids and they wanted to pay a visit. We will be going back very soon!

If you’re looking for a small park that has water fun, hiking, camping and biking this is a good place to go.

For more information on visiting the park here is the link.

Road Trip To Arizona

RoadTrip Cover Photo

As part of reaching my goal to visit every state in the U.S, I planned a Road Trip with my mom and sister. Unfortunately, my sister was not able to make it which created a noticeable absence. I have several friends who live in Arizona and they moved their schedules to prepare to see me so I did not want to reschedule.

We live in Texas and as Southeast as it gets! Driving towards Arizona was a big deal. The total drive according to Google would take 16 hours with 10 of those hours being used to get out of Texas!


EL PASO, TEXAS

Our plan was to drive through to El Paso and stay the night there. My father was in the Army when I was a youngster and we lived in El Paso at one point. I wanted to visit my old elementary school and apartment where we lived. Can you believe I remembered it? Well, yeah I did.

Old elem
Elementary school in El Paso I attended in Kindergarten

Having the opportunity to visit our old apartment was a blast from the past. I remember playing outside in the dust since there was no grass. You can see from the picture below that grass was just non-existent. Fun fact is we lived in El Paso the year it had this crazy amount of snow dumped on it. We went from desert to winter wonderland over night!

El paso Apt
Apartment complex we lived in

Enough about El Paso and on to the reason for the trip. Along the way we saw desert and Mountains. There was no way I was making a trip to Arizona without visiting Tombstone, the site of the famous gun fight at the O.K. Corral. By the way, I can quote the Tombstone movie word for word but never mind that 🙂


TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA

Tombstone is very hot, dusty and dry. The people were nice and some were dressed up to mimic the old way of dress. Here are some photos of Tombstone.

city hall
Old Tombstone City Hall
GUnfight
Site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In 1881 the Earp brothers faced off against the Clanton-Mclaury gang in this legendary shootout.
Big nose kate
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon was originally called The Grand Hotel. Kate was Doc Holiday’s common-law wife.
Bird cage(1)
Reported by the NY Times back in 1882 to be “the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and Barbary Coast.” NOW that’s a serious reputation!
Birdcage inside
Bird Cage Entrance
Wells fargo
Old Wells Fargo bank

NEW MEXICO

We did not stop at any notable places in New Mexico but I did get this really nice shot of the rising sun. We also crossed the Continental Divide which was a cool check-in for Facebook.

New Mexico
Sunrise over the Mountains in New Mexico

THE GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA

On to one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen in person! We stayed in Mesa Arizona but I did not get any pictures. It was a three and a half hour drive to The Grand Canyon but the scenery made the drive worth it. I tried to capture the beauty and majesty of the canyon but you just have to be there to appreciate it.

A few tips when visiting the Canyon even if you do not think you will hike. Take plenty of water, even if it is not hot. The elevation at 7,000 feet will take a toll on your body. Also, pack some sustainable snacks such as jerky and trail mix. Do not feed the wild animals. We saw Elk and Ravens on our trip but you can see squirrels, mountain lions and California Condors.

I have a crazy amount of photos from the Canyon but these are the ones I feel will give you a sense of just how beautiful it really is. Let me get on and show you the pictures!

Canyon 2
The Grand Canyon
Canyon Colorado
The Colorado River
canyon script
View from the Desert View Watchtower
Canyon shoes
Resting my toes for a bit 🙂
Canyon
Beautiful shot
Me Canyon
Sitting on top of Split Rock with the Colorado River behind me
me side canyon
Side of the Canyon
MountainPeak
Humphrey Peak as part of the San Francisco Mountains. This was on the way up to the canyon.
Watchtowe
Mary Colton’s Desert View Watchtower

The Grand Canyon was place I will never forget. I am so happy I was able to see it in person and take pictures for memories.

The trip back to Texas was driven all at once starting at 9 am on a Sunday. We arrived in home 20 hours later!! It was an unforgettable time and I hope to bring the kids when they are a bit older. I have officially updated the Life List.

Have you been to the Grand Canyon or Tombstone? If so what was your experience.

Looking For Something That Is Not Lost

Today the kids and I went Geocaching. Geocaching is the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.  This activity was part of my life list and I can now update the date!

edited-geo-slpark
Before hunting for the hidden objects.

The first search was conducted at a park near our home.  We used my phone in order to find the coordinates of the hidden object.

It was hard to know what to look for but the description and hints were  extremely helpful. Be sure to read up on Geocaching etiquette and terms.

Edited-Geo-SL.jpg
Success! The first object we found.

We moved to our second location to a business park further down the road and found this one in a muddy field. Our shoes and socks got wet but the kids had fun getting messy.

Edited-Geo-Staff.jpg
The second object we found.

We had so much fun looking for these that we plan on hunting for more in the coming weeks. I will be taking a vacation soon so I plan on looking for more objects where I will be headed.

Have you tried Geocaching? If so what was your experience?

An Unexpected Trip To The Texas Capitol

We took the kids on a day trip to visit a little place where we love to get pecans. It is about 20 miles from Austin.  We live about two hours from Austin so it was not an entirely long trip but with three kids in the car they can get fidgety. I will say this, the kids did not appreciate my 80s/90s karaoke session!

While visiting Berdoll, we stopped at the 14 foot squirrel and snapped a photo. It was a lot of fun and the now the kids can tell people they have seen a 14 foot squirrel!

Squirell.jpg
Friendly little fellow!

Once we finished with our pecan trip, the kids suggested we keep driving to Austin in order to see the Texas State Capitol. The husband and I thought it was a great idea. I more so because it is on my Life List!

capitol front.jpg
It was a great trip and the kids go to experience Texas history. Homeschoolers never stop learning!

Here are a few pics inside the Capitol.

We had a great time and finished it off with some great Texas BBQ! I consider this trip a success and can update the Life List Page!

Fulfilling The Life List

Quick post today!  The kids are on their winter break so it has given me some down time. I have been planning on which Life List items I want to focus on in the coming new year.  Travel is definitely a must!  New York and Arizona happen to be spots I want to visit.  I have never been to either of those places and I am greatly looking forward to it.

Have you been to New York or Arizona?  What are the best spots to see? Comment below!

Find my Life List here.

Life List

life-list

All too often we can get so absorbed with living our day-to-day lives that we forget to truly live our life.

Creating a life list has been something I have wanted to do for quite some time. Most of the things on my list will be done with my family. However, there are other tasks that I want to accomplish by myself for my own fulfillment.

As each event is completed I will update the list with the date and record the details of the adventure! I am really excited to get started. Having a life list just helps me to make sure that I am getting out there and really living.

Lots of things on my list do not require much money. Whereas other items such as travel, may cost a bit more and naturally may take more time to achieve. Nevertheless, with a bit of budgeting and planning it will all come together.

The List List is on menu tab and is by no means complete. I will add to it as I think of more adventures.

Do you have a life list? What are some things you want to accomplish? Share in the comments 🙂

Quote Credit: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kevynaucoi358534.html?src=t_life