Back in 1983 a group of us high school students took an awesome trip by bus (that sucked) all the way from Colorado to SPI. I really loved the place. Not many people were there and you could always find a private spot on the beach. I wonder, last time I heard anything about the island was on some network news magazine show...they showed clips of traffic jams, tons of college kids and lots of booze.....is it still nice out there?? And when is the best time to visit to avoid the crowds? I would love to go back out there and bring the family!
-via the internet
Well, here on South Padre Island we like to think we have something for everyone. You want a big messy crowded party? Spring break or the peak of summer (late June to mid-August) are your best bets. You want peace and quiet? Then get your buns down here RIGHT NOW because there is a whole lot of that at the moment, not to mention plenty of elbow room on our big beautiful beaches. An active 1997 hurricane season is looking more and more like some weather forecaster's wistful thinking with water temps below normal and nary a storm cloud in sight.
Early fall and late spring are the best times to visit, but even at peak season you can drive on the beach north of town and find solitude (see last month's Parade column on our Clothing Optional beaches).
Last week four of us Arizonans spent the week on SPI. We all being gearheads of sorts and having inquiring minds have to know how the island developed.
Theory 1 - Man made, dredged?
Theory 2 - Gulf currents created this long sand bar?
Theory 3 - Coral reef caught sand and currents to form the island?
Hope you can help with an answer. Oh, and we'll be back when we have more time.
I believe your 2nd theory comes closest. I know the Island was not man-made, as man does not yet have the technology to create something this beautiful (though he does have just enough to muck it up real good if he's not careful). Not coral because our sand is fine and flat - unlike the angular grains one finds in places like Key West. Plus we are busily building our own artificial reef off shore because those coral guys are apparently doing all their building elsewhere.
Man has done things to the island to change it - the jetties at the south end have caused sand to accrue on the south end and decline on the north. Last winter they dredged a bunch of sand from the ship channel and piped it to the north end to make the beach wider.
There is of course theory number 4 which involves beings from outer space, the lost city of Atlantis and Bill Gates - but we'll save that one for a future column...
What happens when it rains?
Puddles form, tourists whine and smart sandcastlers know to get in out of it.
In a recent column, someone asked you whether anyone had ever died from a shark bite on Padre Island.
A man from McAllen, while fishing in the Gulf, was bitten by a shark in about 1965 and died from that bite. The consensus at the time was that this bite would not have been fatal had adequate medical attention been available. I do not wish to disclose the man's name, but am sure this information can be verified in Harlingen, McAllen or Brownsville newspapers.
Thanks for setting the record straight, Janis.
Attention on-line SOBs: You can catch regular updates of our upcoming on-the-road exploits (San Diego world record attempt sand sculpture and the 1997 World Championships) right here in late Aug. and early Sept. Do stop by!
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