Thursday, July 21, 2016

Riding the Wave -- Saturday, June 25, 2016

Scattered clouds build in the East the morning of June 25 and bring a glorious sunrise painted with oranges and pinks.  A gentle breeze helps to keep the temperature down to the low 80s, and I know it will be a good day.

Herb and I take our morning walk around 7 o'clock before the sun burns the clouds away and we pass a bus stop bench where people are waiting for their ride on the Wave.  We have always wondered where they go and what they do.  The bus provides free transportation from Port Isabel to and from the towns of Laguna Heights to South Padre Island for work or play or shopping.  We return from our walk quite refreshed.  Our conversation now turns to, "What fun thing are we going to do today?"  

"Haven't we always thought about riding the Wave just for the experience and to see where it goes?"

"OK, today's the day!"

So with that thought we take a ten minute walk, or about half a mile, to  the closest bus stop, where he notes the schedule:  Port Isabel bus arrives twice an hour -- at 21 and 51 minutes after the hour.  Well, who knew?  So we have several minutes to wait in the heat of the morning and wish we had a cooler place to wait.

Then very unexpectedly we see the Wave approaching.  Off schedule?  We don't need an answer to that, all we need is to get aboard and ride in this air conditioned vehicle.  How lucky can we get!

The driver turns west toward Laguna Heights, and for the first time, out of the hundreds of times we have driven through the town, we get a closer look at the businesses and homes.  The bus travels many, many streets, turning here and turning there.  Passengers are greeted by first name and sit in their regular seats (I wonder whose seat we took) as they go to their destinations, possibly to work, or maybe they are returning from work.  Maybe they just went to the grocery store or the breakfast taco shop.  

I am amazed at the frequency of stops, one of which is near the Boys' and Girls' Club and the Animal Shelter, where I donated Dr. Jake's grooming tools, shampoo, life jacket, and food and water bowls.  We pass the police station, where we can say thank you, as well as where you can pay your parking fines; the courthouse, where you can plead your case; and the fire station, where we can say thank you!

The Wave stops at a bench stop near Walmart to pick up a man who has a prescription bag in his hand, and drops him off at his trailer park.  I am pleased to see that we drive by the Catholic Church and new Cultural Event Center, which will afford many to attend without having to worry about the limited parking space.

Oh, did I mention the number of restaurants we pass?  We didn't even know some existed.  The last one that get's our attention is Dirty Al's Pelican Station - very popular and with reasonable prices. is almost lunch time.

That is where we turn east and go across the causeway bridge over the ship channel and onto South Padre Island.  Turning to go north up the island the driver slows and asks if anyone needs the South Padre bus.  No one answers, so he continues his drive.  It is then that Herb asks him, "How far do you go up the island?  We want to select a restaurant for lunch."   

He replies, "This is the Port Isabel bus.  The one you want is the SPI bus, the one that just passed."

Who knew?  Who planned ahead?  But we are having the time of our lives.  He stops to let us out, and we begin our trek -- in the increasingly humid heat -- to find the next bus bench.  Finding it, we see there is a considerable wait for the next bus.  But right next to it for our viewing pleasure is the remnant of a recently built sand castle and a sign asking that it not be touched, because it is made of sand.

And the sign I like....

To pass the time while we wait for the next bus and to escape the heat, we decide to step into the nearby strip mall for shade.  We remember that Gabriella's Italian Restaurant previously owned by former neighbors in Port Isabel, should be just ahead.  Hmm...there is a new restaurant, Russo's Italian Grill and Pizzeria, since we visited the island.  Pizza is never Herb's first choice, but we go past the outside seating and into the air conditioning to check the menu.  Yes!  He sees a salad that gets his attention and I see many entrees that interest me.

What a surprise as we are seated, to hear someone call our names, and we look over to see Gail and Alta, our friends and realtors.  We are so happy to see them -- and their food looks good -- so that makes the choice on the menu easy.  I choose Tortellini Brodo soup with a Mediterranean side salad, and Herb goes for a bowl of the soup.  Yum.  

Now for the rest of our tour -- we return to the bus bench just in time for the SPI bus and learn that it is called the Wave because all you have to do is step to the curb and wave to the driver, who finds a safe place near you to stop for boarding.  To disembark, one simply pulls the cord to alert the driver -- no limitation to the number or location of scheduled stops.  How nice.  I always thought it was named for the surfers off the beach of SPI.

As we continue north, we pass some beach access streets, but as hot as it is, I do not want to leave this bus.  I shoot a quick photo of just how close we come to the beach.

Our route proceeds north to the Convention Center, where we return south to wait for the Port Isabel bus to take us back across the causeway and home.

When you live in a vacation destination town like Port Isabel, what does a local do for fun?  This day turns into a really exciting day for us!

Find Willie's ride....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
    and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
    Saturday, June 25, 2016