Friday, December 26, 2008

Day 7 Texas Vacation Xmas 2008

Today is Friday December 26, 2008

As usual, we slept in and then went downstairs to the lobby for breakfast, then we went back up to our room to read and relax. After lunch we are going to go horseback riding on the beach.

I have never been on a horse in my life so at 55 years of age I am a bit apprehensive, but I am sure that I will be fine. We went to the Island Equestrian Center early so that I could scope out the operation and get a feel of what I was getting myself into. Karen has ridden many times and she is really excited to be doing this.

We were asked our skill level so that we could be matched with an appropriate horse. We all waited till everyone was on their horse and then we were given some basic instructions before we headed out towards the beach.

5285 Island Equestrian Center South Padre Island Texas 5286 Island Equestrian Center South Padre Island Texas 5288 Island Equestrian Center South Padre Island Texas

Karen is in charge of the camera, I didn’t think that I could hang onto the reins and the camera at the same time. My horses name is Picasso and he is a gentle horse and is recommended for beginners. Karen’s horse is named Crush and is rated for intermediate riders. We were led out of the equestrian center and along a pathway that leads to the beach. Once we were on the beach we could spread out and not be in a single file. We were divided up into a couple of groups, beginners and intermediates. The intermediates (Karen) went ahead on the beach and we followed along at a much slower pace and we practiced handling our horses. After a bit, we were told that we could trot for short distances if we felt we could do that, so I gave it a try. Actually I kind of enjoyed the faster than walking pace and am feeling fairly comfortable on Picasso.

5289 Horseback Riding on the Beach South Padre Island Texas 5290 Horseback Riding on the Beach South Padre Island Texas 5291 Bill Horseback Riding on the Beach South Padre Island Texas

The two groups joined up again and we stopped for some photos of us on our horses.

5292 Bill and Karen Horseback Riding on the Beach South Padre Island Texas 5293 Bill and Karen Horseback Riding on the Beach South Padre Island Texas 5294 Bill and Karen Horseback Riding on the Beach South Padre Island Texas

That was a lot of fun and we will be back to do this again. So now I can say that I have ridden on a horse.

After the horses, we went back to our hotel to do some laundry and to relax and read. After laundry was done, we went to the IGA on the island to buy a few groceries. Next door to the IGA was a store that sells kites. I have been watching many people flying their kites on the beach and I have been thinking of buying a kite for myself. So we went to B & S Kites to check out what was available for a beginning kite flyer.

The store owner was very helpful and I told him that the only kiting experience I had was as a kid with a little plastic kite on a string. The kites that are sold here range from beginner 1 string kites to advanced 4 sting stunt kites. I wanted something more than a 1 string, but not so complicated as a 4 string, so I opted for the 2 string stunt kite. After a quick lesson in the store and some good verbal instructions, we headed out to beach access area number 5 to try out my new purchase.

As soon as we got there, some horses were riding on the beach. One of the important instructions I had received while horseback riding was to avoid any areas where people were flying kites because the kites startled the horses. If I hadn’t already known that detail, I probably would have launched my kite and startled all these horses. I waited and they thanked me as they went by.

5314 Horses on Beach South Padre Island Texas 5315 Horses on Beach South Padre Island Texas

These stunt kites are very easy to launch and I got mine into the air on the first try. You don’t have to run along the beach into the wind trying to get the kite into the air. What you do is set the kite on the beach, headed into the wind and you walk back unwinding your strings and letting the strings trail along the beach till you reach the end. Then it is just a matter of holding a string in each hand out in front of you at shoulder height, and then quickly drop both hands to your sides, and voila, your kite is in the air flying.

Here you can see my kite laying on the sand, and I am just waiting for this SUV to get by me.

5317 Ready to Fly South Padre Island Texas

And before you can blink, the kite is in the air and flying. It is impossible to get a close up shot of me and the kite in the same picture. The lines are 100 ft long.

5320 First Flight South Padre Island Texas 5321 First Flight South Padre Island Texas 5322 First Flight South Padre Island Texas

I was quite proud that I actually got the thing into the air. I still had to learn how to do some stunts and how to land it, neither of which I knew how to do, I hadn’t read that far ahead in the instructions. Landing it wasn’t such a hard thing after all because suddenly the kite was out of control and it smashed into the ground. I thought for sure I must have destroyed it, but upon inspection it was in as good as new condition. This isn’t your typical $5.00 kite that you buy at the corner store, I can see you get what you pay for with these things. I smashed it into the ground several times over the course of the next hour and it continued to survive to fly again. I really need to go back to the hotel and sit down and read the landing instructions and the stunt instructions, and perhaps go online and see what else I can learn.

Here is a quick little video of me launching and flying my kite. Karen had some difficulty following the kite with the camera, but I think it will give you an idea of what I was doing.

video

For dinner tonight we are going to go to Louie’s Backyard. We arrive for dinner at 6pm and are hoping that we can get a table at the waters edge. We would like to see the sun set from here. Well we didn’t have to worry about not getting a table, there is no one here, we can have any table in the place.

5331 Louie's Backyard South Padre Island Texas 5334 Bill at Louie's Backyard South Padre Island Texas 5349 5 25pm Where are the customers Louie's Backyard South Padre Island Texas

Gradually this restaurant began to fill up, but at no time was it ever more than half full. That seems to be the trend here on SPI, there are no crowds and no line-ups which is perfect for us. We got to watch the sunset as we ate dinner. However there was a low band of clouds which the sun sank behind before it was officially time for it to set behind the horizon.

5346 Sunset from Louie's Backyard South Padre Island Texas 5347 Sunset from Louie's Backyard South Padre Island Texas 5353 Sunset as seen from Louie's Backyard South Padre Island Texas

To see all of our pictures from today, you can click on the link to my FLICKR site.

Here is a good link to the official website for South Padre Island

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