As far as I can divine, March on South Padre Island is an extended period of debauchery known as Spring Break. Wave after wave of college students descend onto the small spit of land along the Gulf Coast for each of their respective weeks off to experience everything that their parents earnestly told them not to do in the last eighteen years of their lives.

Seagull on the South Padre seashore.
Enlarged “#SP” sitting along the South Padre shoreline.

Arriving in South Padre Island

Fortunately, we arrive in February, a month that schools treat more as a build-up to midterms. Thus, the beaches, as we experience them, are blessedly peaceful. The action is in the waves, which crash with a stormy ferocity. This afternoon, the clouds will clear, but, in the meantime, we will relax in our hotel room and get some work done. One snowbird looks me up and down at check-in. “You aren’t a spring break kid!” He proclaims. I acknowledge his point: “no, I’m here for the birds.” I pat my camera in confirmation. It has my shiny new wildlife lens attached.

The hotel feels like a retirement community or college dorms. Seniors recline in chairs set outside of their rooms to chat with neighbors. Hotel room doors are propped open to welcome in guests. Keepsakes and messages are propped on ledges and posted against windows like freshman dorm room decorations—to establish the inhabitants background and interests. At breakfast, guests linger after eating to chat. Unlike the usually quite corner rooms where one can pick out bowl of cereal, pastry, or (luxury of luxuries) enjoy a freshly made waffle while listening to a pin drop, this room was alive with conversation.

We contemplated deep sea fishing, but such outings require valid passports. As previously noted, I have let mine lapse. Silly me! It’s hard to keep on top of paperwork while on the road. Instead, we will relax.

Brown pelican landing on a dock at sunset.
Brown Pelican chill out on the dock, eyeing nearby fishermen gutting fish.

A Day On The Beach

The next afternoon is all sun and surf. The air smells of sand tossed by the sea and toasted by the sun. I walk with the euphoria of one on the brink of health. The beach is populated with sunning seniors and sports fishermen watching multiple poles. I chase the birds for pictures until I notice what they are after: a large bed of small clams. In the wake of each wave, they rearrange themselves: some snuggling deep into the sand and others pushing themselves above the other crowding mollusks. I shovel away some sand with my toe and watch a clam shift deeper into the sand.

Seagulls hover over the beach, looking for snacks.
A flock of brown pelicans skim the surf with oil derricks in the background.
Hordes of tiny clams shuffle for position in the sea surf.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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