Saturday, February 7, 2009

Looking Over Texas

Port Isabel Lighthouse
Looking from the top of the lighthouse over Port Isabel at Laguna Madre Bay and South Padre Island.
Not a great pic but check out that temp.
Nanc at the top.
Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage
Sunset across the bay.
Iwo Jima Memorial
So True
We continue to enjoy South Texas. Even with the winds we were warned of, the temps in the 70's almost every day make it very pleasant. A wind chill of 70 is very tolerable. We explored more of the area and visited the Port Isabel Lighthouse which, at 72 feet, towers over the town. It is visible across Laguna Madre Bay from Brazos Santiago Pass where ships enter the protected waters of the bay from the Gulf of Mexico. We see ships arriving and departing the Brownsville Ship Channel several times a week from our motorhome. Built in 1852, the lighthouse survived the Civil War and many hurricanes and in 1952 became Texas' smallest state park. It is the only lighthouse on the Texas coast that is open to the public and the only one we have visited that allows you to get up into the room were the lens used to be. There is also a replica of the keeper's cottage on the grounds that serves as a visitors center. The view from the top is well worth the climb.

We have discovered that by going to South Padre Island you can get a beautiful view of the sunset over the bay. Since we are more likely to see it set than rise, we have gone across the Queen Isabella Causeway a couple times to enjoy the view from outdoor bars that offer sunset specials. You know you are in the right place weather wise when there are restaurants and bars with only roll up shades and no exterior walls.

Another day we drove to Harlingen to the Marine Military Academy to see the Iwo Jima Memorial. The memorial, which is the original working model that sculptor Dr. Felix de Weldon used to make the bronze castings for the memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, was given to the Academy in 1981. The Academy was chosen because it is the only military school based on the customs and traditions of the U. S. Marine Corps. Also, Harlon Block, a Marine in the memorial, was from nearby Weslaco. It depicts the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, the first Japanese land taken by the US on February 23, 1945 as captured in a photograph by Joe Rosenthal. Three of the five Marines, PFC Franklin R. Sousley, SGT Michael Strank and CPL Harlon Block where killed in later action on the island. The other two Marines, PFC Ira Hayes and PFC Rene A. Gagnon along with Navy corpsman PM2/C John H. Bradley posed for the sculptor which was dedicated in Arlington in 1954. We have seen the Arlington Memorial many times and this one is just as impressive in size and meaning. Just a couple of years ago I learned that my Uncle Art was on Iwo Jima and witnessed the raising of the flag but, like many veterans, never talked about his war experiences. The Academy's museum is honoring the service of all those who where on Iwo Jima by registering Marine veterans who were there.

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