June 28, 2008 - July 5, 2008
I landed in San Antonio at 23:00 and took the AVIS courtesy bus to the car rental building. The online reservation I made was for a full size car which according to their website would be a Chevrolet Impala or similar. There was no choice for a Ford Mustang like I wanted and even searching other rental companies did not produce such option. While waiting in the line at 00:15 behind a woman and her child I decided that asking Timothy (the AVIS rep at the counter) would be a wise decision. After the woman left I was next. I gave Timothy all the required information in order to find my reservation and while he was clicking away I asked him if he had any Mustangs. My heart skipped a beat when he said he had one. The base rate was only $10 more per day. He chose a red 4.5L Mustang for me as if he read my mind. I was trying not to look excited as I saw the car and proceeded to finalize all the required paperwork as soon as I could. He handed over some papers to sign and initial then wished me a nice time in Texas and I was off!
I do admit that I have a slight weakness towards nice red sport cars and love the sound of the engine as it idles then accelerates. I dropped all the bags in the car and hopped inside. First thing was the "new car" smell. Next I started admiring all the neat features that the car had such as lit cup holders and light purple ground effects on the floor in the front and back. There were nice chrome details and leather seats. The speakers were of high quality and I definitely enjoyed listening to music much more than in my Jeep Liberty.
I finally left the AVIS parking lot in search of my hotel. I made a reservation at the Red Roof Inn. It was a pretty standard hotel. I finally closed my eyes at 1:00.
After a restless night I got up and went out to search for The Cheesecake Factory so that I could have my brunch with someone I was meeting up with. After brunch we went to Austin to meet someone there for some food and drinks. Of course I don't have to mention that I was happy to get back into the Iron Horse. Highway 35 took us to Austin and I took the 6th Street exit. I parked the car and we went to walk around Austin. Since it was a Sunday afternoon there were not too many people or even cars around. The famous 6th street was littered with places to eat and have a good time in. After about an hour the heat got to us and so we decided to take shelter in a Starbucks with some cold ice blended drinks. This is also where I discovered that Texas hates chocolates. I had chocolate bars in gold wrappers turn into chocolate soup. My tip would be to either leave the chocolates in the hotel room or eat them immediately upon arrival in Texas.
Austin, TX - State Capitol
Detail of a water fountain.
Birds drinking water on a hot day from the fountain.
Canon at the Capitol.
Closeup of tree branch at the Capitol.
An interesting twisted tree.
The day was so hot that the squirrel was laying flat to cool off.
Silver water hydrant.
In the evening we headed over to the Elephant Room for some Blues music and a drink. It was interesting when I got ID'd and my Ontario drivers license was not accepted as a valid photo ID so I had to pull out my Passport. Go figure! After about 1 hour we headed back to San Antonio.
Blues night at the Elephant Room in Austin, TX.
She had a very pretty voice.
The guitar player during his solo.
Lamp at the Cheesecake Factory in San Antonio.
The Alamo. If you drive too fast you'll miss it!
Grounds at the Alamo.
The back of the Alamo.
Closeup of the historic window.
Detail of Alamo's front side.
Walkway through the beautiful gardens.
Fountain in the gardens.
Side of the Alamo.
The following day I headed out to South Padre Island in hopes of getting some kiteboarding lessons. The total trip took about 5 hours which included a stop in Corpus Cristei. As I approached Corpus Cristei oil refineries greeted me. The city itself was a standard "small" American city. I ate lunch at a seafood chain with the view of the Gulf. In the distance I could see oil refinery in the water.
Marines training in Corpus Cristei, TX.
Oil rig at the Gulf as seen from the shores of Corpus Cristei.
Corpus Cristei downtown.
Closer to South Padre Island with the sun getting ready to set.
When I finally drove into South Padre Island I had a sense of being in Florida again. I found my hotel and went to sleep. The following day I called Joel at the kiteboarding store (http://www.southpadreislandkiteboarding.com). The wind forecast didn't look that good so we made plans to try the following day. Most of the day I spent exploring. I found, driving North, wild and undisturbed sand dunes and beaches. There were no houses or buildings although I did see a few signs on the dunes that the lot was for sale. I spent most of the day parked on a beach listening to the waves crashing on the shore and reading a book.
My rental for the week, 2008 Ford Mustang 4.5L.
South Padre Island unpopulated beaches with the main road going through the middle.
Causeway connecting South Padre Island and Port Isabel. Road 100.
Took a drive down the beach.
The following day I made my way into the store. I was warmly greeted by Jay and he let me watch an introductory video to kiteboarding. Joel sat down with me and at points explained into more detail certain parts of the video. This day was not looking well for wind so we decided to try yet again the following day. Before closing up the store (yes I was there for a good part of the day) Joel suggested that we should go out and at least try the trainer kite since the wind picked up a little bit. After he closed the store I followed him out to the beach. He showed me how to launch the kite and basic controls. I must admit I was terrible when I started, but after a few crashes I picked it up and could fly the kite without looking at it all the time. He lend me his own kite to practice on and told me to come in the morning the following day to return it. I went to eat dinner and went out to the same beach to fly the kite for about an hour or two.
Blue Herron at the Gulf.
Another silver water hydrant, this one among pretty flowers.
There was great winds in the morning at about 9 am and by 10 am the rain was pouring down. I went back into the store a little disappointed. Joel and I talked more about kiteboarding and equipment. When the rain eased up Joel took me to the back of the shop parking lot and showed me how to use the bars and lines. We also took one of the kites used for training and set it up in the store. On this same day I purchased my first kite. It's a 9M Naish Cult 2008. The plan was to take lessons in my home town since I was unlucky in Texas. Unfortunately with my work schedules, trips and terrible wind conditions I was unable to take lessons in London. The current plan is to go back to South Padre Island in October 2008 for a week and learn kiteboarding plus have the whole week to kiteboard. I left the store more knowledgeable about the sport thanks to South Padre Island Kiteboarding staff. They are very passionate about what they do and like to teach the new comers to the sport. I have also met other people that come into the store and even a dog who likes to lick toes! I went back to San Antonio for a day.
Lousiana Chicken Pasta at the Cheesecake Factory.
Cowboy Boots at the North Star Mall.
My room at the Westin Riverwalk hotel in San Antonio.
View from the room.
View from the back of the hotel.
More of the river shots.
Eateries along the river.
Ducks waiting for food droppings.
My strawberry daiquiri.
More moss balls.
Interesting stone bench along the riverwalk. Close to the Westin hotel.
Bridge over the river.
A rainy day.
A Jazz eatery at the riverwalk.
Howl at the Moon Restaurant.
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