Wednesday, January 02, 2008

HIGH TIDE, Padre Island

'Tide is High'... Memory of 1981 song? It's in the

'JUKE BOX' highlighted here if you are interested. Stuff a coin in under your monitor. Then just find the year, click on it, then select your choice, when it starts then return 'back' to read this while this old 'Juke Box' plays through all of it's 'Old Classic' tunes. Just close window to 'Juke box' to shut it off when you are finished, otherwise it will keep us all awake. I only recommend it, if you are right/left brain compatible, with multi-tasking... like most Women? Guys you had better not try it! "Good, Good, Good, Good Vibrations"! BEWARE, this Juke Box site is from 'Puerto Rico' so don't click on anything you are not interested in, that's not an angel, it's a cupid! A little advice. "Keep your life simple and just enjoy the music".

For the staff at Il Vicino, turn off the Juke Box because here is

"BUBBA" doin' his Bodhran. I'll bet none of you knew he was Irish did you? BTW great pizza and brew as always, thanks all.

This following Story is a long one, so get your coffee or come back when you have some spare time..

This last trip started out in the Fall to allow some Rest and Relaxation for my wife, who diligently cares for an ageing parent.

Our pre-flight was a bit hasty and many things were left behind. The 'FREEDOM' pushed back from the ABQ Home Terminal tarmac and was rolling out onto the Runway quite a bit past noon, A Departure time, much later than Scheduled.

My Navigator was running along side and swung aboard just as the steps retracted. At that time I fully advanced the Throttles for Take Off roll with 3/4 flaps. Pulling back on the Yoke, Rotation acheived, we climbed out to cruise altitude while retracting flaps. Throttles back to cruise power. Seat belt lights 'off'. Free to move about the cabin. Refreshments may be served. "Ladies and Gentlemen we have clear weather all of the way to Corpus Christi Texas, enjoy your flight"!

My co-pilot, Navigator, (wife) Flight Plan was plotted down the Southerly route. After gaining altitude crossing the Tijeras Canyon Pass through the mountains East of Albuquerque. Cruising down through the little towns of Moriarty, and Estancia, following the long lonely highway toward Carrizozo, then banking East on the climb to 'Capitan' through the mountains. Increase throttle, increase altitude.

Fuel consumption is increasing during the mountainous climb, which is always the case in the Western States. Sunset was fast approaching as we landed in little 'Capitan' (Historic Home Of Smoky the Bear) 200 miles (322km) later, for a nice little restaurant meal.

As we cruised out through the mountains toward 'Lincoln', (Billy the Kid's site of the Historic 1800's Lincoln County Range Wars) the sun had completely set and the sky was filled with a telescopically clear, massive appearing, full moon. The silhouetted mountains were reminiscent of 'Ansel Adams' famous black and white photographs. Actually with the exceptional clear visability, we could have cruised without landing lights throughout the night, VFR in the bright moonlight.

Banking Eastward again toward 'Roswell' New Mexico (Sight of the famous 1947 'Roswell flying saucer incident') The long miles of altitude descent across the plains, brought the fuel consumption back up into the low teens for a couple of hours. Roswell has the famous Space Alien museum and celebrates the 'incident' each year with visitors from around the world.

We got a lot of 'mileage' out of those last 'Flying Saucers' during 'the cold War'. If things heat up again we will bring down another later model with newer technology. This time we will take better care of the pilots. We will sit down with them in the evenings at the local Pubs. Nurse a few pints, smoke a couple of stogee's (Cuban of course) while we talk some serious flying. Those Pilots keep a great 'Log'. They have many excellent stories. It sure helps for them to share their secrets. Plus we like the notoriety. You know, "All That Jazz".

The Walmart terminal where we often spend nights while traveling South, is on the North side of Roswell, so the perimeter highway serves to bypass the city on the West and intersects close to the 'Wally World' as we sometimes call it. WMT ATC gives 'Freedom' a CTL. We begin our descent 20 miles (32km) out, circling in VFR from the North in a 10 degree bank, level out, set flaps and throttle back on final, then settle in for a 'greased' landing in the brightly lit parking lot, (Freedom's pilot is a real 'Stick') taxiing to a secluded area on the tarmac, locking the brakes, power down 'Freedom' and settle in for the night.

It has been documented that the average Walmart Motor Home night guest, spends over 75 dollars in each store. We beat that by hundreds on this particular nights stay. That's what happens when you leave home in haste and with no provisions aboard. Of course the Walmart 'gift card' is also loaded for the Walmart and Sam's Club fuel stations along the route. We thanked Walmart and they in turn thanked us. Morning Liftoff takes us over the distant Eastern plains and eventually out of NM airspace. We cruise over the wide open spaces of West Texas by way of another open highway with no traffic. (eat your heart out, Major City USA)

Morning starts us on down the long stretch of highway to the next Super Walmart and fuel stop in the Oil Patch town of 'Big Springs' Texas. Fueled up and ready to lift off after a night in that Walmart as well, sends us over this days stretch of highway toward the Gulf. Texas is so big that there are many ways to make this trip. Sometimes we stay in San Angelo's City Park for the night. Other times we check out San Antonio's interesting sights like 'The River Walk' with it's countless little shops and unique restaurants. Of course San Antonio's famous 'Aquarium' is not to be missed.

At San Angelo Texas, 12 dollars gets you a quiet night with hundreds of Squirrels of various species, Turkey Vultures, Deer and Wild Turkeys for scenery. All of this while parked along side the beautiful man made Lake Nasworthy. The Corps of Engineers, years ago built many, many wonderful huge dams in the USA to hold back water for Flood control, clean Hydro Electrical Generation, Crop Irrigation and Recreation. Thank You 'Corps of Engineers' for another job well done. Thankfully those were the days of sanity and reason. Engineers way outnumbered Lawyers.

Fredricksburg Texas is a favorite stop along the highway to the Gulf. Another evening Walmart of course and parking near the little grass slope we usually find reserved for our coach with tow car. Fredericksburg is a little, old German flavored town that was the home of brilliant Admiral Nimitz (WWII Battle of Midway). The WWII Pacific Theatre Museum is great and has life size dioramas of the Pacific Theatre battlefields including beautifully restored planes and a very rare, restored, teak wood PT boat. Also plentiful German food of course, so we dine 'out' when in Fredricksburg.

The long easy cruise to Corpus Christi is broken only by the knowledge that you are covering an ancient shallow seafloor of sandstone and limestone laid down during the Mid Cretaceous Period about 100 million years ago when the entire world was without Ice for millions of years, and the North American Plate (Continent) had not yet been forced upward by the Faralon Plate driving under it from the Pacific Ocean.

Approaching Corpus Christi Texas with the fuel gauge solidly on empty and the alarm light lit up brightly, Sam's Club is located and the empty 75 gallon tank refueled. The sun is setting rapidly so we immediately set out for our nights destination, crossing the causeway then 'The High Bridge' over the inter coastal waterway, then on to Malaquite Beach on The Padre Island National Seashore, on the Gulf of Mexico. Arriving as night falls, we refill our 75 gallon fresh water supply and empty the holding tanks at the convenient 'dump' station just outside the paved parking sites.

No large crowds this evening, the pick of the sites is ours. A great sunset again with the fantastic Full Moon rising over the Gulf of Mexico above the endless, sparkling, white crested waves. Freedom's big windshield faces the ocean, the waves are rolling ashore just beyond the low sand dunes, the volume of the repeated waves 'wash' is perfect. The night is partially passed, sitting in the coaches front captains chairs, watching the fantastic moonrise. What else could be better. Natures priceless exhibit.

Morning brings us to watch a beautiful sunrise over the Gulf. The sky turns a dull orange first. The red blazing sun then appears, coming up out of the low lying fog bank on the horizon. After the 'morning show', it's time for breakfast then into the Jeep for a Quiet morning drive along the deserted beach.

My wife loves to walk for miles on the sand enjoying the endless array of seabirds, something virtually impossible at home due to physical problems as well as the lack of an ocean shore. Forgetting the last several months concerns is easy at this location along the seashore on this long barrier Island. The shore birds that are plentiful barely notice her walking along the wet sand while they busily scurry to and fro, gathering their tiny morsels of sea life. I drive on ahead only to find a colorful piece of nylon in the receding tide. The tide was unusually high last night according to the monthly 'tide tables'.

Strangely, Tents were abandoned along the way. Many people were obviously caught by surprise after darkness fell and the tide rolled in after 7 pm. It rose about 2 1/2 vertical feet which is above normal, causing it to reach the distant barrier dunes in places. As I began pulling at the large new Magellan (Academy Sports) tent from the sand. It became apparent to my wife, who came over to see what I was tugging at, while she was looking at the clues, that a woman, possibly with a young child, trying to escape life's difficulties at home, had been camped on the beach alone for the night.

Save for her Coca-Cola body pillow, lace trimmed pillow case with chenille blanket on her new feather bed, drinking a couple of 'Steel's, watching the rising moon, burning her incense and enjoying the roar of the waves. Safely and wisely above the debris line from the previous tides. She mistakenly assumed.

As the 'High Tide' unexpectedly approached the dunes, with the rolling waves soaking her entrance door and bedding, she desperately tried to pack, taking the tent partially down. Out of shear terror she jumped into her vehicle and left all of her possessions to be claimed by the waves. She was over four miles (6.4km) from the nearest escape road off the beach.

The barrier dunes keep a vehicle from escaping the relentless onslaught of the waves. Having been caught by this unpredictable tidal system ourselves last year (previously blogged) We can only imagine her desperation as she drove at dangerously high speed along the remaining wave lashed sand, 4 miles (6.4km) toward safety.

This 63 mile (101km) stretch of desolate beach claims a lot of things (ships and buoys) so cars are easy to digest. We worked for a couple of hours cleaning out the sand that weighed down the colorful nylon fabric. My wife had found a tumbler with a gallon water container in the debris and used it like a scoop to remove the sand. If the woman had returned for her tent we would have happily given it to her. This being a Monday, indicated that she had just returned to her weekly life on higher ground and left it in the surf for scavengers like my wife and I.

The next day we left camp early to drive in the wake of the retreating tide toward the far end of this beach, the Mansfield Cut, 63 miles (101KM) south along the wet, sandy beach. Weekend Volunteers work a lot keeping this long stretch of sand cleaned of plastic and flotsam discarded by unthinking humans. Trash that washes ashore in this 'catch basin' of the Caribbean. The home nesting ground of the Kemps-Ridely turtles, 900 miles across the Gulf from Florida.

Remember there is no way out but the 63 mile (101km) way you drove in, so the tide tables are the best guide book. We noticed many, many buoys indicating heavy storms during this last year, starting with a big white 'mooring' buoy with a heavy chain at '12 mile' (19.3km). 17 mile (27.3km) brought us to the site of 2 more orange buoys of the 'navigation' type. 20 mile (32.1km) a red and yellow 'navigation' buoy and 37 mile (59.5km) another big navigation buoy. The sight of another huge 'mooring' buoy at 40 mile (64.3km). another 'navigation' type at 41 mile (65.9km).

One more extremely large mooring buoy at 45 mile (72.4km). Navigation buoy at 45.2 (72.7km) mile. 57 mile (91.7km), brought us another 'Nav' buoy and finally at 58 mile (93.3km), one more big mooring buoy. During this drive along the Beach, the sound of crunching and popping starts to get your attention about the 17 mile (27.3km) mark.

Little seashells are littered for miles along this stretch therefore the name sticks as 'Little Shell' for the locals. Similarly at about the 57 mile (91.7km) area the name 'Big Shell' is used for the same reason. Many times this area is virtually impassable for most vehicles.

We were able to get turned around barely in time following the Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The shells were just too deep and extended for many miles and no traction was available for our 4 wheel drive. It was like driving in a huge pan filled with marbles. Only by keeping our speed very high and making the complete 180 degree turn were we able to escape during that memorable trip.

At the 63 mile (101.3km) limit the jetty built by the Corps of Engineers to open the Mansfield Cut (shipping channel to Port Mansfield) appears. The shells are now of a variety favored by my wife. A type of spiral, large variety only found near this jetty. She promptly jumped out of the Jeep that I had parked safely up against the dune wall, and began her search. I walked over to a fisherman that had set up a week long camp on the jetty above the beach.

While my wife was busy searching closer and closer to the water near the jetty, unseen by myself or the fisherman, A large 'Sneaker Wave' came in around her and swept her off her feet. She had just regained her footing when another came in and grabbed her, trying to sweep her out into the surf.

She could not get my attention with the incessant roar of the waves against the rocks. My wife's rapidly intensifying fear, was that she would soon loose her battle with the waves without her husband even noticing her last minutes. Each crashing wave took her farther down the slope of slick rocks into ever deeper and more turbulent water.

Standing higher on the jetty rocks, with my attention diverted from her, I was totally oblivious to her desperate plight in the churning waves below the rock Jetty. She was loosing more strength with each struggle against the relentless current. Finally with her last remaining bit of strength, she made one last desperate attempt to get ashore, miraculously the waves relented. She hung on to her little bag of precious shells and slowly retreated to the Jeep, soaked but alive after her extremely frightening ordeal. I very nearly lost my very best friend and love of my life, on that day.

I walked back to the Jeep to leave and only at this time, as she broke down into tears while telling me the story about what had been happening to her, without my even noticing. Our trip back the 63 miles (101.3km) of beach was in silence. Except for one large sand dune drop off we crashed over at 40 mph (64.3kph). It took over a day to regain her composure about her frightening incident.

Leaving this beautiful, accessible area, set aside by past visionaries in the Federal Government, was a slight downer. The film 'Appaloosa' was to use Blogengeezer as 'the Carpenter on the 14th of November. Already 'the Carpenter' had been needed for a couple of unsheduled days while we were traveling. No more could be missed.

The drive back took a stop by a favorite 'Tanger' and 'Prime' dual Mall near San Marcos Texas. We stay in the Pecan Park RV area. A pleasant day to forget past 'near drowning' experiences. Happy moods slowly returned. Cabelas is my favorite sporting goods store to wander around in and dream, so one side trip there in Buda Texas. The AC compressor clutch was slowly binding itself to the faceplate. A little shop was the only place that was willing to even check it out for us. We determined that we would drive home without AC, it was noisy for a time, but we finished the trip home without further incident.

On the way back Northwest toward Albuquerque New Mexico, a new off highway stop was found to surprise us. Marble Texas has several Corps of Engineers Lakes, now called, Texas State Parks, with Dams and reservoirs. For 22 dollars a night, the space is right on the lake shore. Canoe rentals are a great way to see the ducks and Coots on 'Inks Lake' up close and personal.

We did not even tip over. Paddling along in the morning sunshine, we approached a little canyon with a small waterfall. I must hike that little canyon some time on a future trip. Birds seem to enjoy it's fall through the rocks. Ducks, Coots and a large number of aquatic turtles are to be seen in this little, silent cove.

That Park and water area will be our return path through the Texas Hill Country, to the Gulf next spring. The remaining miles were pleasant with the High Plains of Texas and it's incessant wind, driving the fuel economy into the single digit zone. This entire area is being covered with massive electric Wind Turbines.

Each single blade is 75 feet long and needs its own special permit, over length, flatbed truck. Three blades to each giant turbine. The Highways are endlessly carrying these blades for the new 'wind farms' growing up out of the Cotton fields along side the oil field pump jacks running day and night. Texas is like a Booming economically powerful Nation. It's way too great and powerful to be just a State. Actually it is a Republic, with the capability to allow it to divide into 4 states.

The smooth Texas highway feels good, 'Freedom' is Purring contentedly like a large powerful Cat and we are not tired. We decide to cruise non stop to the ABQ terminal. This means well over 500 miles on this day. We drive lower than the speed limit, so this day is very long. The headlights are the only contact with the road ahead, so we slow down even more after dark. Surprises are not welcome on a vehicle of this size and weight, as the brakes and steering are not equal to a sports cars.

The familiar Tijeras canyon descent through the mountains is always viewed with welcome, but with caution. This is the only highway connecting the City of Albuquerque with all of the East Mountain towns and ranches. Also it is one of the major Southern routes across the USA. The downgrade requires a bit of downshift accompanied with 'Full Flaps' to hold the speed in control without overheating the brake linings.

The big transcontinental highway trucks are always 24/7 using this major East West Runway across the USA Southern Route. It is always crowded with wall to wall, fast moving trucks, bare inches away. We are very used to mountain driving, so nothing extremely dangerous on these last miles toward home, so long as we all maintain our positions on this intensely busy section of I-40 Interstate highway.

As we taxi Freedom in slowly up to the front of our home terminal, it feels good but the long, desolate, open highways will call again in the spring. We will save our money carefully throughout the cold winter months, to pay the fuel bill for the next trip. It is relatively easy for us, as we have lived a frugal life all along. Only now have we begun to enjoy the fruits of our life's labors and saving.

The movie set of 'Appaloosa' was the immediate goal upon return from this trip. It was a great little film and Viggo Mortensen with Ed Harris, Renee Zellweger and Jeremy Irons as the bad guy, made it even greater. The Viggo Fans were all wonderful and drove this little 'family' blog to unexpectedly high world attention. Thank You Viggo Fans.

Jan 13 2008 CBS Larry McMurtry's 'Comanche Moon', Blogengeezer wears a Top Hat like Abe Lincoln, walks around 'Austin Texas' with ladies, rides in carriage with ladies, runs around in street in suspenders (no ladies) Val Kilmer sure looks different. The Blackfoot (they portrayed Comanches) Indians are the greatest as well as their fantastic painted horses. I thouroughly enjoyed working and eating with them every day, even their horses.

Readers be sure to come back again some time when you are bored to tears and have nothing more to do than read this 'essay' blog by Blogengeezer in the USA, the greatest Nation the world has ever seen. "One Nation Under God".

As My 'JUKE BOX' Sings 'Hold On Tight To Your Dreams'


Blogger Blogengeezer said...

When 'Summerflu' lands in this comments section, check her out. What an 'Avatar'. Oooh Yeah!

8:15 PM  
Blogger summerflu said...

You are too flattering, BG. Just for the record, I'm blushing online.

6:24 PM  

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