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Heading East
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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Heading East
It’s mid March as I’m writing this and my winter trip, Adventure XVI, is winding down, and I’m heading east toward Spring Break in Padre Island, Tx. I did Big Bend National Park this time a little like a tourist with a night or two here and there. Other years I stayed 15 days and mostly in one parking spot/campsite. Next time I’ll stay along the Terlingua Creek longer; that’s about as remote as I can get and it’s wonderfully peaceful. I saw a Harris Hawk, Grey Hawk (both rare), a couple of javelinas, and found an Alamo Jeans button at the ruins of a mining town there. The button may be from the early 1900s or maybe a tourist dropped it recently. I’m in Texas, so it fits my collection of “artifacts.” Yesterday, I carried a lawn chair to the creek, put it in water, and soaked my feet for a long relaxing time. Nice!!!
On the last day, after an unpleasant encounter with a “Ranger Rick,” I was going to leave, put as much distance between me and him as I could, but decided to cool it, stay another day way out in the desert, and go for a walk. I’ve sworn I’ll never talk to another ranger many times. It seems to usually turn bad and result in a $125 ticket. If I could, I’d go to court and I’d beat it, but I won’t come back to Texas for the court date, weeks or months from now, and he knew it.
I had a spectacular walk to a balanced rock, through rocky volcanic terrain that was centuries old. It pretty much wiped out the ranger unpleasantness of the day before and I’m glad I did it, rather than just leaving on a sour note. Why can’t law enforcement people let people alone who are not bothering anyone? Why, because they are being forced to be revenue agents; yeah, I know that!!! And a relaxed, happy person who’s loving life is an easy mark! Being at Terlingua Creek where I finished the steamed crabs I got in Louisiana, the walk to the balanced rock, and paddling my kayak up into St. Elena Canyon was an incredible ending to the western phase of the trip. The rock really signified this trip of balancing remoteness with people/party spots! The rest of the trip heading east should be a “piece of cake.” 
I’ll park at the Port Isabel MegaMart on the other side of the bridge from Padre Island; there’s a free bus that’ll carry me to the party, and there’s several wonderful local seafood restaurants close by, plus a sports bar to watch the NCAA Basketball games. Then I’ll head to O.C. stopping at two Nature Conservancy Preserves, one the Grand Canyon of the east, then to look at carnivorous plants in South Carolina, and thru the outer banks. I’ll be ready for the beach, Mother’s Margaritas, Fager’s Island Deck Parties, and home by then.
I walked through the door to get some fried oysters, but ended up with tamales.  Just too much good stuff to eat! Tomorrow I’ll try for oysters again. There’s another place, Manuel’s, just down the street that makes football-sized Tortillas. This year I’ll be doing Spring Break my way, since a local told me Cancun has stolen the party.  Check the $$$s; a motel bill, food and partying cost, plus an airline ticket is less than what it would cost to be in South Padre and no airline ticket is involved here. Later, the guys who run a beach stand told me there was a big fight, there were many injuries, and the town said, never again!!! Not my problem; I’ll still enjoy!
This morning I tried to get into Manuel’s, but there was a line of people waiting outside all day. It was Sunday. Tomorrow there shouldn’t be so many people. I also saw another place with people waiting outside where I’ve never eaten. It’s incredible how many “mom and pop” sized restaurants there are here in Port Isabel, Tx. Another of my favorite places is Fisherman’s. It’s housed in a faded white concrete brick building and the hours of operation sign has bit the dust a long time ago. I know it’s primarily a breakfast and lunch place. I took the only vacant table of the 13 four-tops inside.  One person was waiting tables and all I could see in the kitchen was one older gal.  Neither one was in a hurry or flustered, but the place was packed with people hungry for their plate of goodies.  There was a table in the middle filled with fresh baked pastries, which the one guy waiting tables peddled regularly.  Some customers served themselves from them and he surely appreciated the break. He kept no one waiting and even refilled all the coffee cups when needed. He had no problem carrying five or six plates of food with one arm and hand.  He balanced the plates from his shoulder to his hand. Amazing, and he never broke a sweat! I had an omelet stuffed with at least a half lb. of shrimp.  Someone a table a way had a burrito that could’ve fed six people easily! I’ll be back! 
I come here for Spring Break. Now that that party is in the past will I come back? Padre Island is near the southern most point, Brownsville, Tx., and I won’t pass it going somewhere else. Are the restaurants good enough to justify the hundreds of miles drive? We’ll see?!?!
In addition to all the good eats, there is a flea market on Sunday with lots of reasonably priced stuff. A couple years ago I bought a bunch of Escard Crystals that are part of my nest’s (slide-in camper on a pickup truck) decorations. This year I had plants on my mind for a gift for the people who are taking care of my mail - you know, all that stuff that shows up in your box that you don’t want? I expect mail is going the way of phone booths, but the guy who delivers that stuff has to have a place to put it, and for the length of time I’m meandering, it won’t fit in my box. I don’t want to make a problem for him, so a neighbor is graciously storing my junk mail for me. I wanted to dig up some cacti in the desert, but never saw any small ones, so the flea market supplied what I wanted.  
One of the cacti I dug up years ago bloomed again here in O.C. It must like it here. My favorite event is about to happen - it’s the O.C. Air Show. The Show is truly a world class event. I’ll be there taking photos. I’ve posted some preview pics on my Fb page, plus I’ve put my list of O.C. Cheap Eats and Bar Specials there, too. Oh yeah, there’s lots of deals in Ocean City!
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