Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sticky on Padre Island

Malaquite Beach Campground

We're at the Malaquite Campground in the Padre Island National Seashore (map).

This is the same campground we stayed in three years ago on our first visit. What a difference. First off, the place is nearly empty, with perhaps a half dozen sites occupied out of 50 total. Last visit, we got the very last available site at the end of the day. Also, they have rearranged the place -- on our last visit, there were angled back-ins on the inland side, but the gulf side parking was parallel. We recall it being a tight squeeze to get Odyssey into the parallel site that was only inches longer than the coach, with rigs already parked on either end. The beach-side parking has been rearranged into angled back-ins with tables and ramadas between sites, we presume to increase total capacity of the campground. (At this writing, the aerial image still shows the older layout.)

Another view of Malaquite Beach campground, Padre Island National Seashore

Knowing the campground had plenty of room, we took some time to drive down to the beach to see if we could find ourselves a nicer spot right on the sand. As a bonus, beach camping is free (as opposed to $8 per night here in the primitive campground). While Odyssey could make it onto the beach without trouble, and we could probably drive unimpeded for a mile or so, the sand just inland from the drivable portion of the beach was quite soft. It would have been a challenge to find a spot firm enough to support us yet far enough from the "road" to be out of the way. The beach was also liberally strewn with thick seaweed, and Louise spotted at least one Portuguese Man-of-War, which lessened the appeal. The fact that the water is 70°, not really warm enough for comfortable swimming, was the last straw, convincing us to just come back here to the campground for a few nights.

Firm beach road with trucks, Padre Island National Seashore

The beach road is plenty firm for these trucks to drive on, but the parking area immediately off the road is too soft for Odyssey.

On our way in to the park, we also drove over to the bay side and scoped out the Bird Island campground. This area, extremely popular with windsurfers, allows camping up to the maximum stay of 14 days just for the cost of an annual Bird Island permit, $10. As a consequence, the three dozen or so camp sites there were nearly full when we drove through, and the crowded conditions made the place less appealing to us. We're happier here, where, for a few dollars more, we have a gulf view and empty sites for hundreds of feet in either direction.

Although temperatures have been in the very pleasant 70s for the last several days, the onshore breeze has been steadily increasing the humidity, which is now running at 95%. Our last day at Mustang Island we ran an air conditioner all day, just to dry things out. Here, without power hookups, we're sticking with all-natural ventilation, and we're very damp, although otherwise very comfortable.

Now that we're hitting some of our "old haunts," places we'd been on our first circuit of the country over three years ago, I am finding myself consulting our blog posts from back then to jog my memory. (It is one of our dirty little secrets that the blog is as much for our own memory and reference as it is for the benefit of friends, family, and the following of readers we've developed, which is why I appear, at times, to go into mundane details that are of little interest to anyone but us.) Now that I've been blogging here for over three years, the changes in the blog over that time, as we've learned and refined our techniques, is rather striking. (We just surpassed the 1,000-post milestone a few days ago.)

For example, in the post I referenced above, there is no title, no bolding every few paragraphs, a less useful (IMO) map link, and no photos. There are labels, but only because Louise painstakingly went back through the entire blog when we started labeling, and assigned labels to all of our old posts. We started adding photos to the blog perhaps two years ago, but generally in separate posts. Nowadays, we try to insert a photo of each interesting stop right in the relevant post, although often, as today, we add the photo a day or so after I've posted the text.

I'm not sure how long we'll stay here. We've paid for two nights, but might well extend that until our supplies run out, perhaps another two days. From here, we'll then head into Corpus to see if the Allison dealer can fit us in for a transmission diagnostic.


  1. please take some picture - can you see the seashore from (what looks like) the side of the dunes there where you're parked? We also considered South Padre when we ended up at Goose Island. It looks beautiful there.

  2. harvestmoon, I added a couple of photos to this post. You can see the water from the campsites, but you can't see the sand of the beach. The walk to the beach is very short, maybe 50 yards on the new boardwalk visible in the second picture. It was a quiet and beautiful campground.


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