Almost Warm

On some level it’s never made sense to me to differentiate between oceans — they’re all connected, there’s only one ocean. That said, there are some very different, call them personalities, and ecologies to different oceans, different shores, in different parts of the world. My favorite in these parts is the Gulf of Mexico.

Beach, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf

We’re a little way from warm, but it sure is nice to have sun and sand at least. If the wind died down it probably would be warm. Not bad for January.

Beach, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf

Beach, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf

Beach, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf

If the wind died down though it’d be because we were somewhere else. Wind swept barrier island is a phrase that gets used a lot when you read about the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s the defining factor of these islands. The wind brings the waves, the waves bring the sand. No wind, no islands.

The wind shapes the land too, controlling what can grow here. Anything that grows out here has to deal with poorly drained soil, endless winding bending it and the occasional large dump of salt water from hurricanes — the wind again. Once you get beyond the dunes, the sea oats, prairie senna, and gulf croton, the island is like one continuous marshy sea of bulrush, cattails, and cordgrass. Hardly anything is taller than my waist.

Marshes, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf

Marshes, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf

It’s a beautiful, if somewhat stark and, yes, windswept. We had warm and sunny though. Cold and rainy too. But if the sun was out, we were on the beach.

Beach, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf
Beach faeries
None photographed by luxagraf
Hey what are you doing? “Playing game where you try to hit the other person with a stick.” Oh, okay. Have fun.

The kids had been bugging me to take them fishing for, oh, two years now. A while back I finally got around to buying a fishing pole. Then I read up on surf fishing rigs, since I’ve never fished from the shore1.

I just bought a one day license since I knew we wouldn’t be in Texas long. Naturally it was the coldest day we’d seen. But, after a suitable lecture on how fishing requires patience, we’re probably not going to catch anything, etc, etc, we tossed the line out. It was out for about two minutes when Lilah announced she’d caught a fish. I didn’t believe her, because seriously, I cast the line, It turned around to arrange my chair and she said she had a fish. No way. But, sure enough. She had a fish. Shows you what I know.

It did rain from time to time, never very hard, but enough to force a break from the beach. Fortunately there’s plenty to do inside bus, like learning to sew. And no, no one gets stir crazy anymore. After our long sickness, when no one went outside for a week, being cooped up inside for one day is nothing.

learning to sew, padre island national seashore photographed by luxagraf

learning to sew, padre island national seashore photographed by luxagraf

learning to sew, padre island national seashore photographed by luxagraf

dinner is served photographed by luxagraf
Dinner is served. This is why it’s so cheap to live in an RV, you just eat sand and rocks.
Missing teeth photographed by luxagraf
They each lost a tooth on the same day.

The weather cooperated nicely to let us see the lunar eclipse, which was a super blue blood moon. Because in astronomy adjectives are cheap apparently. But it was really neat. We all got up early to see it, though the kids were considerably less enthusiastic about 5 AM moon viewing than I thought they would be. Go figure. I thought was pretty amazing to see the moon disappear into the darkness of the earth’s shadow and then turn around and see the sun rising behind us a few minutes later.

Blood, blue moon, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf
Lunar eclipse in progress.

Sunrise, Padre Island National Seashore photographed by luxagraf

On a totally unrelated note, several people have asked me for more writing and more photos so I’ve added a couple things to the bottom of this post (and future posts). One is all the animals and plants we see in a given place. Frankly that’s probably overly ambitions, but I’ve been recording the birds I see for quite a while, because I’m nerdy like that, so there’s plenty of birds. In the future you can click on a bird and you might read a story or two about it, but I haven’t had time to add them just yet.

I also started posting shorter notes, things that were interesting, but don’t fit the narrative of a post. So far they’re mostly about stuff that happens on drives, or things I think about on drives. I call them field notes. They’re not edited and the photos are blurrier, but if you want more luxagraf, there you go. If you’re clever with URLs you can figure out where a full list of notes resides. One of these days maybe I’ll add a menu item for notes, but in the mean time…


  1. Like everything else fun, in California you can’t do that.