San Antonio has the missions which are National Historical Parks and the Lyndon Johnson National Park to the north in Johnson City but Padre Island National Seashore is the closest national park that charges an entrance fee. Now why is that important you may ask? Well, my goal was to get my National Park Senior Pass. It costs $10 and is a lifetime pass for those age 62. As you may remember, I recently celebrated that key birthday. Gloria and I posed with our new passes! Carol was also eligible but she wasn't driving and didn't have her drivers license with her. (She went back later in the afternoon and got it but we didn't know and weren't there to record it). Diana was hoping they might issue her's a couple of weeks early since her birthday is just around the corner but, alas, no exceptions to the exact date were allowed. She can still get it by mail, a new option that was just added last October.
Martha, Diana, Carol, and Karen had some questions for the staff at the visitors center.
They had a very interesting display of shells and miscellaneous sea shore items. The kids, young and old, will love it because you are encouraged to pick things up and ask questions about the items.
There are also lots of display boards with information about the seashore's history.
The Padre Island National Seashore has worked with other agencies in the United States and Mexico since 1978 to bring the Kemp's ridley sea turtle back from the brink of extinction. About 60% of the Kemp's ridley nests found in the US are found here. Ridley and other sea turtle eggs found here are removed from the nest site for protected care. The hatchlings are released on the beach and guarded as they enter the surf so thousands of baby sea turtles have had a chance at life. Nesting season is March through September with most hatchings occurring between May and August.
Heading down toward the beach near the visitor's center, you can find information posted about the dunes. Vegetation on the dunes here is very important to ensure stability.
Birdie pauses to take some photos on the way down to the beach.
Carolyn was also busy taking photos.
This was a nice little area for ranger presentations.
This is the beach area below the visitors center. There were a couple of groups headed that way so we decided to head down to another area.
Malaquite Beach Campground is a developed camping area nearby.
I took this photo of a very small trailer at the campground but we were moving and I didn't catch all of it. It was smaller than the van but the RVers looked like they were enjoying themselves as much as the people in the big motorhomes.
Caught Carolyn again!
You are also allowed to boondock on the beach; however, if you get stuck, the cost for towing your RV out are significant. I've also heard that your towing insurance probably won't cover it. So, if you decide it is for you, be sure to keep an eye on the surrounding conditions.
Diana was down on the sand getting serious about some bird pictures.
It was great having some of very knowledgeable birders like Birdie (Nancy) along to tell us what we were seeing.
We saw this pond on our way in but weren't able to stop until we were on the way out. Have you ever seen so many ducks in one place? There were at least 3 or 4 different kinds.
Next on our agenda for the day was lunch. Liz was getting some bird shots when I snapped her in the parking lot of Doc's. This restaurant along with about three others is located on the access road under the bridge heading back to the mainland.
Birdie is on her way in. Sue and Karen told us about the great fish tacos here as well as the $2 margaritas.
The restaurant was fun, the food was great, and so were the margaritas. We had a great view out of the window.
After lunch, some headed back to Mustang Island park to visit the beach while a few headed across the bridge to a grocery store.
We all gathered for happy hour but the potluck was cancelled so some of us met down at Birdie's and pooled our dinners.