Holiday 2020 on the Beach

2020 has been something else, even for a Llama. With very few exceptions, Llama has hung around the hometown. But enough is enough. We found an Airbnb in South Padre Island that accepted Llamas and dogs and in the words of Hawaii 5-O, “Book it Dan-O”.

Llama’s travelling companions planned out the trip and packed the car the night before. Not only was there Karol and Michael, but Kent and Ottr were along for the trip as well. Everyone was limited to one bag and backpack. Ottr had his crate and his bag as well. Adding in a cooler and food, pillows, and other random stuff, the car was pretty packed but Karol and Kent are efficient packers and there even seemed to be extra room.

Everyone was up before the sun to get started on the 10-11 hour drive to the coast. The reward for leaving in the early morning was a magnificent sunrise. Since we were heading south and east, it was beautiful. Couldn’t complain.

Rich colors of a Windmill Sunrise. To learn more about wind energy, visit the Wind Energy Institute at Texas Tech University https://www.depts.ttu.edu/nwi/

Except for gasoline and fuel stops, there wasn’t much diversion for most of the trip. Llama did hop up on the dashboard to watch the downtown San Antonio skyline to go by. The San Antonio Riverwalk is a wonderful place to visit – food, culture, history. One of Llama’s favorites. To learn more about the fun there visit to https://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/.

The drive out of Lubbock is flat, but the drive between San Antonio and SPI is a different kind of flat – coastal plain. Since the drive is 10+ hours, we saw a sunrise and a sunset on the drive.

Sunrise the next morning at South Padre Island.

Llama’s dog friend, Ottr, had never been to the coast before. Llama already knew Ottr wasn’t a water dog, but Ottr did love running the beach without others around.

Ottr running down the beach.
Llama really enjoyed the rays. It was a bit too chilly to “sunbathe” but the weather was pleasant to just hang out. After the chilly weather in Lubbock, not having to put on layers was nice. There were not a lot of people on the beach, so it was quiet and calm. Good for the soul.

South Padre Island is filled with kitschy shops basically selling the same things. To attract customers? A giant shark mouth!

One afternoon of the break we participated in an online escape with Go Ahead Tours. This one was all about make traditional Hungarian Christmas mulled wine and candies.

Even with coronavirus, Wanna Wanna had the deck open and we were able to enjoy an adult beverage and watch the waves. The drink in our take away cup is the Wanna Wanna, basically a bunch of alcohol and juice. Learn more about one of our favorite places here https://www.wannawanna.com/

For one dinner we drove across the bridge to Port Isabel. Yelp said 5 ✴ for Joe’s and it did not disappoint. The inside reminded everyone of Ole Tyme Grocery in Lafayette. So good.

Everything was very fresh and didn’t not disappoint. 5 Stars!

After dinner walk around the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse. http://portisabellighthouse.com/lighthouse/

The best part of staying in an Airbnb is being able to whip up a yummy brunch for everyone. Kent brought the pancake mix and Llama had the fruit and some syrup. It was a great way to use up what we had at home and save a little money for other things. Plus, probably healthier all the way around.

SPI is located less than an hour from the International Bridge to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. We love going over for some food, shopping, and semi-annual visit to the pharmacy, Jessica’s Center. We have a couple of necessary drugs that would basically bankrupt us if purchased in the USA. For the cost of 1 month in the USA, we can pick up 6 months plus some extra things. Arturo is the pharmacist who runs Jessica’s Center. He is wonderful and knows his stuff. If you email him a list before you visit, you get 5% off your order. We won’t go anywhere else. https://www.facebook.com/Jessicas-Center-560267757406653/

As you walk across the bridge, there are women below asking for a few coins. We don’t carry cash, so I never have anything to toss down. On this trip, we watched a family carry bags of toys from the US side. Looked like they had been purchased at Family Dollar or Dollar Tree. Not far from the border crossing, they stopped and started tossing down the toys into waiting arms. Puts things into perspective.

Oh to be in another country for the first time in over a year. Just felt good walking across the border. Nuevo Progreso is a small town right across from McAllen, Texas. It is gets it economy from medical tourism. Winter Texans flock here. Even during the pandemic, there were plenty of people there. There was not a question about wearing masks. The folks in the shops know that an illness could ruin it all.
Some live party music

Jessica’s Center is wonder and when you drop $500 in medicine, they treat you to margaritas and nachos.

We only expected to have one round of margaritas and chips, but the waiter brought us another (stronger) round and some cheese on chips. We tried to pay but the waiter insisted that Arturo wouldn’t hear of it. We left a LARGE tip for the waiter with the little cash we had on us.
Jessica’s Center restaurant grill. This chef was rockin’ it and the smells were amazing. No pre-packaged food here.
Walking the streets in Nuevo Progreso. A couple LLama met the day before at Wanna Wanna’s told us about the Red Panty Bar, one of their favorites. He has probably pasted this place dozens of times and never looked up. What a hoot. Next visit (we’d already had 2 drinks by now). https://restaurantguru.com/Red-Panty-Bar-Nuevo-Progreso
Almost bought one of these beauties for Cooking with Groot, Llama’s cooking blog! https://cookingwithgroot.wordpress.com/
After a little more shopping in Mexico (needed some spices from the grocery store on the main street), we headed back across. We wanted to have a linner at one of our favorite restaurants, Nana’s. Llama found this restaurant a few years back and it is a must stop. The weather was perfect and we sat outside.
The meals are so large and Llama has just had margaritas and nachos at Jessica’s, so the guys picked two meals and we split it between all of us. More than enough fresh tasty food. Llama as so happy to see Nana’s back open. For months they were only doing take away due to COVID.
Gotta get a shot with son when you can.

Upon returning to SPI, Llama, Ottr, and Karol took at walk on the beach. They met a few friends along the way. These birds basically ignore humans. Smart birds. They also stopped to admire this sand castle. Someone took a long time to construct this majesty. We were impressed.

It was such a beautiful evening, Llama and companions headed over to the Laguna Madre Trail to enjoy the sunset. https://www.sopadre.com/listing/laguna-madre-nature-trail/1079/ It is so beautiful here when the clouds cooperate like it did tonight. You find the entrance to the left of the Convention Center. A nice boardwalk takes you around the trail. You can see ducks, flamingos, cranes, fish, and crabs.

Mural at the Convention Center. Entrance to the trail is to the left.
Michael taking some sunset shots.
Birds at sunset flight.
It was a full moon but cell phones never do the the moon justice.
Posing wildlife

The last clear morning we heading north up the island to the County Parks. You literally have to crawl up the dunes to get over to the beach. Very few folks were there and Ottr loved running around.

Ottr tracks!
Go Ottr Run!
We wondered why this was left and why one bottle cap?
Horseback riding tour coming down the beach. Ottr wasn’t too sure about the horses.
This couple enjoyed flying their kites for a long time on the beach.

After the beach, Llama and company decided to indulge in a little “junk” shopping. There are many shops on the island and Llama thinks they all basically carry the same stuff.

Stylish eyewear
Do you think Llama would look good in these? And where is a llama towel?

Before bad weather set in, Llama and friends rang in an early New Year on the deck of a local restaurant. Nice to kick back and relax with your hooves up sometimes.

You can see the clouds rolling in. Storms cancelled the New Year’s fireworks that evening.

Across from the restaurant was this spectacular Sand Castle Holiday display. How do these artists do it?

On a cold last day, we visited Sea Turtle, Inc. They rescue and release sea turtles. In 2021, they save thousands of cold shocked turtles when the big freeze hit the Texas coast. https://seaturtleinc.org/

Good night South Padre Island and welcome to 2021.

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