Did you ever have a day – or series of days – where little seemed to go right, but everything worked out in the end? That was our vacation this year – a long weekend at Padre Island carefully arranged months in advance to accommodate the five jobs and two summer school classes that bound our family.
This is “Middle of Nowhere, Texas.” Actually – it’s a highway-crossover about 53 miles north of Harlingen, Texas – the location of the closest Ford dealership, which we called when our Expedition made a whirring noise, then stopped. We were on our way to Padre Island (where Julia got that shirt last year), about an hour south of Harlingen. It was 102 degrees, but as Bill Paxton quipped in “Aliens,” “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat.” We saw very little traffic as we waited an hour for the wrecker, but two guys in a pick-up did stop and offer us water. God bless Texas!
Huge kudos to Boggus Ford in Harlingen which sent not only a wrecker for our kaput Expedition and Keith, but also a blessedly air conditioned Expedition for the rest of us. We’d had breakfast but no lunch (planned to stop in Harlingen), so we scarfed up their free popcorn. They brought water bottles to each of us and invited us to cool off while Keith handled the paperwork. Mr. Boggus himself – a 1949 graduate of Texas A&M – stopped by to admire my sweat-soaked “Aggie Mom” T-shirt. They searched for and finally located a rental vehicle big enough to hold the six of us, then helped us unload/reload our small mountain of beach provisions. We thanked them by allowing one of our bags to slip thereby breaking a wine bottle on their service driveway. There’s a letter to Ford Motor Company in their future.
After a five-hour delay, we arrived at Padre in time for the girls to take their traditional first-night walk along the beach. Keith and I walked the aisles at HEB instead. We freeze main dishes to bring and buy bread, produce, etc. there. But this year…omigosh, this year…..Thought I’d bought mixed plastic cutlery. Nope, it was all forks. I thought I packed a lasagna. Nope. It was a Mexican casserole. Thought we had corned beef hash for breakfast. Nope. It was fajitas. First thought I had packed pulled pork, then thought I didn’t then the last night realized I had packed it. Sigh. Lesson learned – next year, food gets double-labeled “beach” plus what it is.
We have loved having Lois home this summer. She goes back to A&M next week, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. (sniff) But a quick word about my husband. Keith is the single best “we’ll figure this out” person I’ve ever known. When he’s around, I know something like a stopped-dead-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, fully-loaded, pulling-a-trailer-hitch Expedition adventure in 102 degree heat is going to turn out okay.
We’ve gotten three or four years out of these wave runners (amazingly.)
Julia l-o-v-e-s the ocean. Can you tell?!
Hannah is our “finder.” If there’s something neat to be found, she’s the one who finds it. This year, it was a barnacle-crusted coconut which Keith surmised bobbed in from Florida. Every year, I look for a deal on beach toys, then we leave them by a trash can our last day. Couldn’t find any deals on beach toys this year, but did find some neat metal gardening buckets and tools at Target on clearance – $3.28@ set. Perfect! I saw kids carrying them off as we walked away.
Saturday we went snorkeling with Breakaway Cruises. We’d been on their sea life excursion before and loved it. This one….not so much. We booked for 9 a.m., got there and were told they’d had engine trouble and had to reschedule to 1 p.m. Well…okay. Kind of threw our day off, but those things happen. But then on the excursion itself, the organization was sloppy, as in they didn’t bring enough snorkel masks to the back of the boat (where we were), and when we went up front after folks starting getting in the water because we were one short, the captain was actually rude about it. Has she not heard of Yelp?! We have.
Very shallow water. You needed the flippers to keep from stirring up the blinding sludge.
Again – “Hannah the Finder” – the only one of us who found critters in shells.
Sea Turtle Rescue is a must for us on every visit. We missed a turtle release by one day – darn it.
I’m sure this is a security thing, too, but what fun to watch!
This one-flippered turtle fascinated me. He’s sporting a prosthetic tail, too. He’ll never be released, though most of their turtles are.
The staff gives the kids fresh lettuce to throw into one of the huge tanks, which Julia was only too happy to do. Julia enjoys puzzles, too. On our way out, we bought a 500-piece turtle puzzle that’s now half-done on our coffee table.
Turns out our Expedition engine blew a rod. Miraculously – Boggus Ford replaced the engine (still under warranty – whew!) in nine days. Keith and I completed a one-day-turnaround drive to the Valley last Saturday to return the rental and get our car back. While we were at it, we crossed the border and ate a fabulouso lunch at the mucho deliciouso Angel’s.
I planned to blog this as soon as we got back, but my laptop fried. Keith’s spent several days building me a screaming-fast desktop. It’s a beast.
Even though this vacation didn’t go quite as planned, we did what we wanted to do, which was have a ton of fun w/the girls. And really – what’s wrong with fajitas for breakfast?!