Undoubtedly, there are thousands of blog posts flying around in a political uproar over the federal government shutdown. Although there’s a political science degree hanging on my wall, this is not a political blog and it never will be.
But as I sit here on Shutdown Day 2, one particular closure hits close to home.
I spent last weekend at Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi, Texas. I packed up for home on Monday, as scheduled, which happened to be the day before the Shutdown. I must admit I’m having a hard time believing that the beautiful place that I called home for four days is now barricaded and vacant.
I wish I could provide you with a link to the campground I stayed at, but as with all of the national parks, the Padre Island website has been replaced with this ominous closure message:
Due to the lapse in appropriated funds, all public lands managed by the Interior Department (National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management facilities, etc.) will be closed. For more information, FAQs, and updates, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.
So until those idiots pull their heads out of their asses, I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Malaquite Campground is the main campground inside the national seashore boundaries, and it’s situated along the dunes of the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s a semi-primitive campground with fifty sites: eight are tent-only and twenty-six can accommodate RVs. You can’t make advance reservations here, so you have to take your chances and show up to see what’s available.
Sites cost $8 per night here, but you do have the “luxury” of flush toilets and cold-water pump showers. In actuality, these are the most luxurious campsites because the other camping areas have zilch for amenities.
The best place to kayak is Bird Island, but head to the windsurfing area and not the boat launch. You can put in anywhere along the shallow shore, and the waves are much calmer than over at Malaquite.
You can also camp over here at Bird Island, which has a couple pit toilets and a kayak rental shop, but not much else. Be prepared to shell out $5 at the front gate to do any of the above at Bird Island.
If you’re looking for a deal, you can camp for free at North Beach, but you’re pretty far from the facilities if you’re shy about pooping outside. It’s also totally acceptable to drive ON the beach, so your tent could very well come in contact with a Ford F-150.
When I asked a park ranger for hiking suggestions, I was reminded that there are seventy miles of undeveloped coastline to tread along. Silly me. Turns out, this was my favorite part of the park. The sand wasn’t too hot, the waves refreshing, the beaches uncrowded, and the water clean(ish).
Apparently, there are 380 species of birds here, but I can’t recall seeing more than four or five. You can find lots of crabs in the sand and along the shore here. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, and I even had the pleasure of chasing one of out of my shower with a flashlight!
There’s no denying that the mosquitoes were horrendous. Spray yourself with insect repellent ’til it seeps from your pores, but it won’t even make a difference. It’s also crazy windy here, especially when setting up a tent, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Padre Island National Seashore felt like one of the last undeveloped places of its kind. It could have easily turned into another Miami Beach, with sprawling hotels, cocktail bars, and tourist shops.
However, this place was a true example of nature at its finest. To me, there are few finer things in life than waking up on the sand to the sounds of crashing waves and the first rays of morning light.
Political commentary aside, I truly hope that this and the other national parks will be reopened soon so we can continue having these experiences and loving the good parts of our country.