Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good omens

This morning it is warm but not hot or muggy and almost dead calm. Quiet. The quiet that can only mean a storm (of tourists) is approaching. (Savor the moment savor the moment.)

Dogs lead me down a street in the plant district that we don’t usually walk. Guy sitting on his deck strumming and singing a greeting to the morning/me/dogs makes me slow down, linger and smile out loud. Tulip petals the only litter here. Seriously! My day started with a troubadour and tulip petals! 

On the beach there is not a soul in sight. The leashes com off and the dogs are are off and running. “Meetya at the bridge!” I shout, unecessarily.  They are tearing down the shoreline, splashing, terrorizing birds and playing chase me/chase you. They wait for me at the beach access bridge. Lots of pink tongue, happy to re-leash and I remember that I have been wanting to count exactly how many steps from the SandBox Inn to the beach.

I can already tell that today I am going to see cantaloupe blooms in the garden. The inn will be cleaned and ready for the next guests in record time. Web work will be accomplished and invoices sent. The dogs will nap instead of bark. The oil geyser will stop spewing and there will be time for a leisurely bike ride up the island before the SandCastle Days meeting - which will go swimmingly. My beloved nephew Emerson - currently on the road somewhere near Waco - will pull in ready and eager to begin his fabulous South Padre Island summer teaching sandcastle lessons.

And all will be well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SPI - A Walkable Urban Community

I talk to lots of people who are interested in renting my condo. One recent potential guest told me that her family usually vacationed in Corpus Christi but that they wanted to try out South Padre this year so that they could leave the car at home.

It may surprise even some of the people who live here that we are perceived as a walkable destination. But the SandBox Inn website makes a point of telling people all the places that are within an easy stroll, and that includes four restaurants, two with bars and one of those a beach bar, a movie theater, a convenience store, a liquor store,  bike & buggy rentals, a coffee/gelato shop, multiple shops and a public beach access. Add the WAVE and the airport shuttles into the equation and you can see that it is in fact very easy to get by without a car in my neighborhood -- and I am not even in the “middle of things.” (Added bonus: Get enough folks thinking they don’t need their cars here and pfft! our parking problem disappears!)

An interesting article in the June issue of Atlantic Monthly has very nice things to say about high-density walkable urban mixed-use neighborhoods. These locales are retaining their property value better than the sprawling suburbs and they are the type of housing most desired by younger single adults as well as families. These are also the types of places people most want to visit on their vacations. There can be no doubt that as cars become more expensive to buy and maintain, the demand for mass transit between these walkable neighborhoods will continue to rise -- and SPI is tantalizingly close to meeting that ideal. Yay us!

The question is how do we get the high-speed rail that will make it easy and affordable for a family in Houston to pop down to the coast for the weekend? The Atlantic article suggests we look to private enterprise: Access to mass transit makes property values rise, so it is appropriate for developers to help fund their establishment.

Imagine with me if you will the idea of a second causeway that is designed not for cars but instead has just one lane for a high-speed train and another for bicycles - paid for largely by the developers who stand to benefit most from its placement. 

Now _that is a second causeway idea that I could throw my support behind!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

So how DID those shoes get up on that power line?

bulletin boards on SPI

Miss Lori and her canine companion Malia stopped by for coffee and conversation during the morning beachwalk today. We talked of many things, including the town’s lack of a bulletin board.
Sure there is but not everyone is online and here on SPI there is no good place to hang a poster or let your kid advertise his lawn-cutting business (I would hire him!) or post info about the bike you want to sell cheap or an upcoming house concert, etc.

I think bulletin boards foster community. They let you know the services your neighbors are offering or are in need of. They let you know if something fun is going to happen at a local venue or if a neighborhood pet has gone missing....

I think the new WAVE stops would be great spots for bulletin boards. I also know that a vocal minority would squawk about messy boards and how the tourists would find them ugly etc. etc. but I think both tourists and residents would find them useful, and they would help us get to know our neighbors a little bit better.

And that would be a good thing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"I'm very optimistic that the Gulf will fully recover"

So says BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles - the executive in charge of fighting the spill.

Tell that to the turtle that ate oil for breakfast this morning.
Tell that to the nesting birds that have to find food for their babies in the middle of a marsh fouled by oil.
Tell that to the out of work fishermen and the rental home owners who are having to pay back deposits to the guests who are cancelling their vacations...

I am spitting mad about this. The Gulf of Mexico is the beautiful mother that makes it possible for me and millions of others like me to make a living. And our mother is being desecrated daily -- with no end in sight.

Suppose a big oil tanker were to dump a load in Mr. Suttles' dining room. Wonder if he would feel "optimistic" about his happy home "fully recovering" over time?