Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Drive to Corpus Christi

July 4th long weekend gave us a chance to visit the coastal city of Corpus Christi, eight largest city in Texas, located 200 miles from Houston. This time around me and my travel companion decided to drive ourselves and hence we rented a car. Being a long weekend there were lot of rental car booking and by the time we went to pickup our car, we were left with only a Pickup truck!. With no other option left we decided to go with the only available option, a blue Mitsubishi Raider a 3.7 litre V6 engine pickup truck.

We started our journey at around 10 in the morning. Google Maps was our route guide for this trip. This was the first road trip for both of us in America and it was just two days after we got our Texas driving license. We were looking forward for this trip. Soon we were on the out skirts of Houston and the US country side started to emerge on the horizon. Texas is much more greener than what we normally think of. The drive was a great experience for us, but rain played spoil sport. Due to rains the visibility was drastically reduced at many places and everyone on the roads drove at around 20 Mph(30-35 kmph). But when it was not raining it was a pleasant drive. We stopped once to refresh ourselves and change drivers. After a pleasant 3 hour drive we were at Corpus Christi welcomed by heavy rains. By the time we reached our hotel raining had stopped. Since were 3 hours ahead of our check-in time we were not allotted a room. Instead we decided to go to the Texas State Aquarium.

A huge crowd had already formed to gain entry into the aquarium. Apart from marine animals they also had Flamingos as well. Next we visited the Dolphin Bay to watch the Dolphins do stunning acrobatic maneuvers. Later we descended in a underwater viewing room to watch the dolphins play around in the pool.

Next we went to meet the North American River Otter. There were two of them and both were....

Next we watched a Bird show in the Wild Fight Theatre. And we met him

Corpus Christi is known for Jelly Fishes lying on the beaches. They are not as yummy as they sound, when they sting they sting pretty bad! We had our fair share of Jelly fish sightings in the aquarium as exhibits and as well as long the shore. Sea turtles swam in pool of their own with a word of caution!

I tried touching a Stingray but it swam away, but couple of others standing around the pool managed to touch it.

After all this roaming we decided to have lunch as we had covered most of things to see. We just stood near the sea shore admiring USS Lexington and the water traffic passing under the Corpus Christi harbour bridge.

It was around 3 in the afternoon so we checked into our hotel and rested for sometime before going to the beach. We stayed in a hotel right on the beach. We took a stroll along the beach enjoying the gentle breeze. The waves were not very high and the water was quite shallow.

As we were walking my thoughts took me for a trip down the memory lane, bringing back the memories of digging along the shore of Marina beach during my summer holidays. Kulfi ice cream, cold drinks and beach were the things that my mom used to promise only after which I would agree to come to Madras during summer vacation. Soon we reached the other end of the beach. We sat down on the rocks watching others fishing and enjoying the fading daylight. On our way back we saw quite a jelly fishes washed ashore.

From the beach we went to a restaurant to have our dinner before the fireworks display began. Soon after finishing our dinner we found a nice place on the beach. Fireworks were arrange from the deck of USS Lexington. Soon after the choppers cleared the air and the coast guards took care of the sea to keep people from harms way the spectacular fireworks display started. It was a 30 minutes spectacle consisting of various mesmerizing fireworks display.

A huge round of applause from the crowd marked the end of the spectacle. Slowly the crowd started to make its way back. We sat for awhile enjoying the cool breeze blowing across the beach and the massive war ship before we went back to our hotel room to call it a day. It was quite an eventful day!

Day two of our trip had an hectic plan ahead of us. Our first stop after breakfast at the hotel was visiting USS Lexington. Its a World War II aircraft carrier converted to a Naval museum after it was decommissioned in 1991. The photo was blurred due the humidity and fog!

Here is a small video about USS Lexington. The tour of ship is divided into 5 different sections. Tour 1 - the Flight Deck and Bridge. One of the aircraft on the flight deck.

Next is the Foc'sle(forecastle). This section is mainly dedicated to the Pearl Harbour attack. Next is the Gallery Deck. This section houses the Combat Information Centre amongst the others. We went down to the lower deck to see the Engine Room. This ship was powered by two massive engines.

As we walked into the lower deck of the ship the smell of the sea and the ship was quite evident. Its a nice experience in itself. The major attraction of the museum is the overnight camping, wherein you will be a peacetime sailor for a day. Inside the museum we have theatre in the Hanger Deck. We watched a movie called "Fighter Pilot", a 45 minute presentation about the pilot combat training programme. After all these tours we had lunch on the deck of the warship itself.

The final destination of our trip was North Padre Island National Seashore. Around 30 miles from Corpus Christi. There are two main beaches on this island North and South Beach. We went to the North beach. This place is quite beach and nothing other than that. Families come here on camping. The biggest thing that I liked about this place is the peace and tranquility, the only sounds that you hear is of the seagulls and the waves. This beach is also quite shallow and we can walk quite a distance and the water wont go beyond our hip. This is also nesting place for sea turtles. We spent quite sometime just walking across the beach and standing in the water enjoying the scenic beauty of this place. We came back to our car and dried our legs before starting our return journey. We started around 5 in the evening and hit the highway to Houston. And we were greeted by quite a heavy downpour almost all the way. At some places we had to drive at very slow speed as the visibility was quite bad. But as we neared Houston rain started to subside and we had clear weather till we reached home at around 8. It was quite a driving experience for both of us. We missed our route twice once while going and once while returning. The best part of losing your way in US is that you wont find people to ask directions for, you have to go by your instincts and common sense. But even that was fun :). All in all it was a memorable drive marked by the majesty of USS Lexington and tranquility of North beach.