I gotta admit, it is strange to be back in Corpus Christi after a 38 year absence. The streets have the same names I remember, but the buildings are sooooo different!! South Padre Island Drive is still the main thoroughfare, but about the only place that is still here is the mall. Now there is a Lowes and a Best Buy and a Olive Garden and a WalMart Super Center and a Target … you get the idea.
One day we took a drive to the neighborhood I used to live in and actually found the little house Ruth and I shared. I was amazed it was still there. It was decrepit then, and it hasn’t improved with age. It is about the size of a two car garage, and sits up on concrete blocks with an open crawl space underneath. I remember coming home to it one evening and finding a tarantula on the door frame right next to the door knob!!!
Today we took a ride out to the Padre Island National Seashore. And that has changed so much. First of all, I remember driving out on a two lane causeway and crossing two swinging bridges as you crossed the channels of the Laguna Madre. Each bridge was manned by an operator who swung the bridge open to let boats through, halting traffic until the boat had passed. Once the bridge was back in place you drove carefully down onto it, clunking across the metal plate onto the bridge and feeling it dip with the weight of your vehicle. Then bouncing across the metal plate at the other end of the bridge, back onto land again and continueing on across the causeway to the second bridge, hoping that you wouldn’t get stuck in a big traffic back-up waiting for another boat. Once on the island there was litte to see besides sand dunes and grasses as you drove the down the island to the park.
Now there is a four lane causeway with two bridges spanning the channels. One is quite high, so that sail boats can pass below unimpeded. The four lane road continues on Padre Island past shops, houses, condos, hotels and motels. Some of the hotels are right on the beach on the Gulf of Mexico, most of the shops are in the middle of the island, and most of the houses are on the Laguna side of the island.
After a few miles of that, the road narrows to two lane, the buildings disappear, and it is the Padre Island I remember from so long ago. Rolling dunes, and waving grasses as far as the eye can see. We drove down to the National Seashore visitor’s center, parked, and walked out to the beach. There were only a handful of people there, even though it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The waves rolled gently onto the beach. A fresh breeze was blowing, so I took out my kite and it jumped up into the sky. It is bright neon colored nylon and looks so fine sailing on the breeze. We strolled along, looking at all the jellyfish on the beach, and watching the birds running back and forth in the tide, and taking turns flying the kite.