Texas Gulf Coast scenery is stunning and it’s slower pace soothing. Off season, days here are typically free of summer tourist and lit by brilliant sun that makes the water sparkle like diamonds. If you recall BP’s deep-water disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, there is no visible evidence on this shoreline New Orleans.
We arrive in Corpus Christi from the north with the wind carrying the smell of the sea. Throughout our week-long gulf exploration, the days will be crystalline with blue skies and breezes a comfortable whisper and never a hint of fog or rain.
This is our first visit to Corpus Christi and we are traveling with another couple, each couple driving their own car. Arriving at the beautiful waterfront, we park and have lunch while watching boats at the edge of the deep blue water, green, blue and white they bob up and down.
Following a seafood meal, we hop on a city trolley aimed toward locals. We are prepared to pay a few dollars, hence amazed when charged 10-cents per person. I step on first and not having smaller change, drop two quarters into the coin slot, more than covering the fare for the four of us.
If the price wasn’t enough to bring smiles, the ride with our friendly informative driver surely did. While staying on his assigned route, our driver used every opportunity to point out land marks and provide us with morsels of Corpus history.
Who would have thought the Gulf Coast region was fortified with underground bunkers to protect against a Japanese invasion during World War II? It is well-known that the American west coast was threatened by possible invasion during the War, but the Texas Gulf coast? Corpus Christi is home to an active naval base and during the War was home to an army air field, and Japanese POW’s were also interned here, thus posing the possibility of a Japanese attack.
Corpus Christi has the nation’s 5th largest port and is Texas 8th most populous city. It is also a community that has seen its share of hurricanes. In 10-minutes a hurricane can release more energy than the entire world’s nuclear weapons combined. Prepared for the worst, Corpus Christi has built a strong, modern seawall and good drainage channels which contribute to the city’s nickname, “Sparkling City by the Sea.”
Nearby is sun-speckled 113-mile long Padre Island, the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island. Once called La Isla Blanca (White Island), Padre Island is beautiful and when the sun sets it glitters and casts a tinted pink over the usually white caps, cyclones of gulls rise and swoop out over the water.