Sunday, January 29, 2006

California Sunset

This beautiful sunset is at PB Point in San Diego.
How many times has this scene played? How many more will there be? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

C.J. In The Slot At Port A!

C.J. Kuklinski in the slot by Horace Caldwell Pier, Port Aransas. Posted by Picasa

Inside Section At Horace Caldwell Pier

This is a nice inside section at Horace Caldwell Pier in Port Aransas, Texas. The surfer is unidentified.

Posted by Picasa

F2 Lightning On The Laguna Madre

The Laguna Madre is a long, narrow strip of water that separates the mainland of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, extending from Corpus Christi to Mexico. Posted by Picasa

Windsurfing In My Backyard

This is in the Laguna Madre off of Courtland Streeet where I lived through the 80's and into the 90's.
I could just walk down to the end of my block and take off!
Posted by Picasa

Windsurfing On The Laguna Madre, 1981

This is the JFK Causeway in 1981. I am on an old Bic Dufour Wing in the foreground. (...water?)
Posted by Picasa
The JFK Causeway connects Padre Island with Corpus Christi as it crosses The Laguna Madre. I learned to windsurf here and was an instructor here for a number of years.
This spot was called The Mudhole. It has shallow water, never gets very choppy. It's a great place to learn and to go fast! It's rarely sailed today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

No Cars, No Hassles, No Real Access!

Caller/Times Propaganda
Blitz Continues!

The Corpus Christi/Caller Times continues to devote a lot of ink in their campaign to help ban beach traffic and make our beaches "safe" for developers!
Todays issue,(Tuesday, January 24,) features South Padre Island. They show a picture on the front page of a nearly empty beach in front of posh hotels and condos.
What they don't show is the parking lot near the north jetty of the Brownsville Ship Channel.
This is where most of the public goes at South Padre. It is a large, often crowded in season, parking lot. It requires a good walk, over hot sand in the summer time, to reach the water. Twice my car was broken into in that parking lot.
I used to frequently travel to South Padre, we referred to it as "Port Isabel" for a long time, for surfing. The surf there is often very good. But as time went on the place became more and more developed and crowded and it lost its appeal for me. I much prefer Boca Chica Beach, on the other side of the channel. I haven't been there for a while but the last time I went there it was still largely undeveloped and beautiful. And there were no restrictions. Driving on the beach was the only way to get there, as is true of many sections of our beach.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Trade Off Worth The Price?

(Click on pic for larger image)

Caller/Times Launches Beach Propaganda Series.

The Big Tradeoff
As January of 2006 nears its end the issues of beach development and the continuation of the right to access the beaches are entering a new phase.
In the Sunday edition, January 22, 2006, The Corpus Christi Caller/Times, no friend of public rights to beach access, began its propaganda series about how beach development has “improved” the beaches in Destin, Florida, Galveston and South Padre Island, Texas.
The series, written by reporter Nick Nelson, explores many aspects of beach developments, including projects by the Vancouver, Canada based Intrawest Corporation. This company is believed to be the company developer Paul Shexnailder is dealing with in planning to build the resort and condominium complex in the Packery Channel area.
Tim McNulty, a company spokesman has not confirmed or denied that Intrawest is the company involved but he is quoted in the article. “We operate in very challenging environments. They tend to be pristine wilderness environments. When we go into a community we work very closely with the local and state community and look to gain broad support.”
The matter of building community support here locally has largely fallen to City Council member Mark Scott who has lead the City Council and the Mayor as they have wiggled and waffled on just how much beach and Packery Channel access is to be closed off, not just to vehicular access but public control and access as well.
Their efforts have polarized and divided the community among those who want the economic impact, even at all cost to public rights and the environment, basically a public be damned attitude, and those who want development to conform to safe environmental standards and to preserve the traditional manner of beach use locally.
There is much of interest in the article. Paul Milana, lead architect for the Padre Island projects, is quoted in the article. Expressing shock and surprise at how “little” coastal development there is, Milana said “You fly to Corpus Christi and see that there’s this huge city and it’s only thirty minutes from the airport to this site and you say ‘What’s been happening here the last 100 years!” The implied sentiment is that the island and everything else nearby should be even more developed than it is now! Apparently to the developers, politicians and their flacks, wall-to-wall buildings, streets and parking lots are the only acceptable use of land.
Late in this installment Nick Nelson writes “In South Walton County vehicular access is the price locals have paid to bring resort development to the area, and locals have mixed feelings about that.” Well, there is mixed reaction to these kinds of plans here as well.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"Lessons" Coming Soon In Caller/Times!

The local media is about to launch their pro-development media blitz to attempt to swing the public attitude their way.
Now is not the time to become complacent. Don't think the issue is just "going to go away!"
It is going to about be more than just losing our beach rights but about what kind of beach do we want. What kind of environment do we want to live in.
These supporters call South Padre and Galveston "world class" beaches!
If you don't agree with that, and if you like to enjoy our beaches as we have done for decades you need to get busy.
The following is a letter I sent in to the Caller/Times this morning in response to letters to the editor there and to the ominous side-bar ad on the front page. Notice the picture depicts a "nice" walkway to the beach, as if that will take care of the beach access problem if vehicular access is denied. Also notice there is not a building or a person in sight! Blatant propaganda if there ever was!

Be A Son of the Beach! Save Our Beaches!

Dear Editor,
This morning's edition (Saturday, January 21) has several letters on both side of the beach issue.
It is extremely odd that people still write letters concerned about "safety" on the beach to "protect us" from that "awful traffic that is nearly running us over." Or some saying "we must protect the turtles!" Some say "We are not going to "close" the beach, just remove vehicles.
None of these really address the question at issue in this dispute.
The issue is greed, plain and simple. Some want to change beach access for money. The supporters of the status quo want to preserve a way of life and some degree of a natural beach without turning it in to another Miami Beach.
In the same issue, on the front page is a sidebar ad proclaiming "Lessons" in beach building. "Galveston, South Padre Island and Destin, Fla., have blocked car traffic on their beaches and built 'world-class' resorts. A four day series examines how they did it." "Lessons!" Indeed! How condescending can you get!
This is further proof, as if any was needed, that the Caller/Times is now the official propagandist/mouthpiece for the local developers that want to ruin what is left of our beaches.
To call Galveston and South Padre Island a "world class" beach is a gross misrepresentation of that term. Wall to wall development, wild bacchanalia, theft from parked cars, long walks over hot sand or concrete or sea wall steps to reach the beach, over population, continuous restaurant and bar trade and crass commercialism are the hallmarks of these so called "world-class" beaches!
Overlooked in all this is the fact that in the long run we have much more to gain economically, environmentally and for the good of peaceful, meaningful beach experiences by keeping our beach relatively pristine. As the last one of its kind many visitors will come here to seek the more natural experience, with wide open spaces. There is value in undisturbed, pristine places as they become more rare.
It is going to take a major effort from the grassroots public to stop this beach grab being orchestrated by our civic leaders, developers and local media.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Must Be A FlashBack!

(Click on pic for larger image)

I'm still having some fun with this! Posted by Picasa

Cerulean Blue

(Click on pic for larger image) Posted by Picasa


(Click on pic for larger image)

A friend, Kenn Jobe, has been showing me how to have even more fun with Photoshop! This is the first result! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Northern Right Whales Come to Visit!

Right Whale
(Pic by Dicky Neely,click on pic for larger image)
For a few days, January 15-17, 2006, we had sightings of some unusual visitors to our waters. A Northern Right Whale. over forty feet long, and its calf were seen in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, the harbor and in the bay.
According to one site on the web the last time a Northern Right was sighted of the coast of Texas was over thirty years ago.

Right Whales

(I downloaded this info. I'm sorry but I forgot where it came from!)

The right whales are baleen whales with bow-shaped lower jaw and a head that is up to one-quarter of the body length. The head is hairier than most whales; up to 300 hairs are found on the tip of the lower jaw and 100 are on the upper jaw. There are also callosities (a series of horny growths) behind the blowhole, on the chin, above the eyes, on the lower lip, and on rostrum (the beak-like upper jaw). Right whales are similar to bowhead whales, but smaller. These whales are rich in blubber and have 2 blowholes. The eyes are very small and lips are large. Right whales were named by whalers who considered them the "right" whales to hunt, since they were rich in blubber, they were easy to catch (they are relatively slow swimmers) and they floated after being killed.

Northern right whale females grow to be about 50 feet (15.2 m) long, males are about 49 feet (15 m) long. They weigh approximately 120,000 pounds (54,000 kg). Southern right whale females are about 54 feet (16.5 m) long, males are about 50 feet (15.2 m) long. The females are slightly larger than males, as with all baleen whales.

The right whale's skin is usually black to dark gray with white and/or brown patches. Calves are blue to gray colored. Right whales have no dorsal fin and no throat grooves. They have large flippers.

Right whales (like all baleen whales) are seasonal feeders and carnivores that filter feed plankton and tiny crustaceans like copepods, krill, pteropods, etc., from the water. Right whales are skimmers, filter feeders that swim slowly with their mouth open, constantly eating. On occasion, they are also bottom feeders, eating benthic prey from the mud on the ocean floor. The fine baleen hairs can filter out very tiny prey including copepods, steropods, euphasiids etc.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It Is Important To Preserve Beach Rights!

Jan. 16, 2006

Dear Editor,
Kevin Kieschnik, writing in Sunday’s Caller/Times(Jan. 16,’06) says “It is time we all put aside our personal bias and begin seeking the overall good of Corpus Christi.”
He goes on to say that “…When an actual opportunity develops we get a major uproar of opposition. … I just don’t get it.”
He is framing the issue incorrectly. The opposition to the Shexnailder beach grab is not opposition to development. It is a reaction to a blatant attempt by developers and some city officials to give away public rights and possession of a section of our local beaches.
Development should be planned carefully, taking into account the environment, necessary infrastructure, city services, density and greenspace considerations and, importantly, public rights. It should not be dictated by fat cat, out of town developers who say it is my way or not at all.
And no city official, council or any other government entity has the right to make such a decision. The voters should have the final say on this.
Folks from all over as well as locals have been using these beaches safely and equitably for decades and it should continue as is.
Dicky Neely
4141 Whiteley Dr. #201
Corpus Christi, Tx. 78418

Friday, January 13, 2006

Big Drop!

(Click on pic for larger image)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

It's A New Year And Beach Battle Still Rages!

The Packery Channel On
Padre Island, Still A Boondoggle!

(Click on pic for larger image)
In todays issue of the Caller/Times(Thursday, Jan.5, '06) there is more of interest concernming the ongoing battle between beach developers and beach preservationists.
Austin developer Paul Shexnailder has now revealed that not only does he want the beach adjacent to his proposed development closed to traffic, thus limiting the area set aside for the public , but he also claims control of a wider corridor along the length of the Packery Channel.
This corridor, which is 300 feet wide, would be reduced to 100 feet for public access. The remaining footage would then be leased out to private businesses.
This area had previously been considered as a possible public park.
Shexnailder is full of "surprises!"
Michael McCutchon, a local anesthesiologist and a member of Surfriders said this latest "surprise" amounts to a case of "bait and switch" by the city.
Unfazed, Mayor Henry Garrett, apparently ever ready to do the bidding of beach developers, said "It's going to happen."
This is yet another "surprise" after the sudden about face by the council on beach restrictions. How many more "surprises" are waiting?

The following is a response I sent in to the paper concerning a piece in today's op-ed page by Gladys Choyke, a beach give-away proponent.

Dear Editor,
There is an op-ed piece in today’s paper by an advocate of the Packery Channel beach resort development.
“Give people a choice of the beach they want,” read the headlines over her piece.
“There are those of us who choose to go to the beach, set up a chair and enjoy the beach without worrying that we are going to be in the path of one of those who choose to drive along the beach,” she says, in an argument that has no merit at all.
If she has her way she will have to carry her chair and what ever else she uses at the beach for maybe a quarter of a mile or more from the parking lots which will have to be built, at a great environmental cost, maintained and have security provided.
At this moment anyone who wants to go to a beach that has no traffic has a number of choices in the city controlled beach area, the Mustang Island State Park, the National Sea Shore and in the Port Aransas city beach park. Also the beach in the Port Aransas city limits allows cars to drive on the beach but separates the traffic from the area immediately along the beach.
For most of the year anyone can go to long stretches of beach where there are no cars, and no people and permit all types of beach use in complete freedom and relaxation.
The author of the piece in question says, “I have lived here for almost 16 years...” as though she has a proprietary right to dictate to others how the island should be used. There are many of us who have lived here a heck of a lot longer than that, does our proprietary rights trump hers? Of course not! That is the point. What is in question has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with money and the giving away of public assets to private interests.
The developer in this case is playing a game of trying to dictate to the public his terms, which now include a taking of even more beach area land alongside the channel which will provide his resort with a private marina and private access to the Gulf.
He reminds one of the subject of an old blues number, “He has a hand full of gimmee and a mouth full of much obliged!”
Dicky Neely
4141 Whiteley Dr. #201
Corpus Christi, Tx. 78418

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Let The Voice Of The People Be Heard!

Posted by Picasa
I sent this to the Caller/Times on 12/31/05. Don't know if they will print it. I urge all who agree with this viewpoint to send this to everyone you can, or better yet, write your own letters. We can not relent in our efforts or we will lose our beaches.
Dear Editor,
A couple of months before the holiday season began in 2005 The Corpus Christi City Council, at the urgings of Mark Scott, passed a controversial city ordinance closing 4,200 feet of Padre Island beach front in front of the sea wall to vehicular traffic.
Strong opposition to this idea sprang up immediately and though a series of public forums were held where strong opposition was voiced the council passed the ordinance. Most on the council and the Mayor tried to calm fears expressed by opponents of the measure by declaring that no more public beach would be considered for closing to vehicular access.
The opposition, a loose coalition of environmental groups and concerned individuals, immediately went into action drafting a petition to have the issue placed on a ballot so the citizens of Corpus Christi could take such a decision out of the hands of a city council.
The petition drive was well on its way when, about two months later, council member Mark Scott announced that he had made a “mistake” in supporting the original ordinance. He announced that multi-millionaire Austin Developer Paul Shexnailder had plans to build a 500 million dollar resort development in the area between the seawall and the Packery Channel. Scott also made it known that Shexnailder said the whole deal was contingent on the entire beach in that area, which added another 1,800 or so feet to the original proposal, in being declared a “pedestrian friendly” beach, in other words, “no vehicles allowed.”
In order to rectify his big “mistake” Scott declared that the original ban be rescinded and that a new ordinance be drawn up to accommodate the millionaire’s demands. No matter that Shexnailder has yet to produce any plans or solid information about the size and scope of his operation.
Scott, as usual, was able to entice the mayor and enough of the council to go along with his scheme and it was done. This, in effect made the petition drive moot.
At this time, early in the New Year, a new ordinance has not been drafted and the petition drive is stalled until that is done. It will make it very difficult for the petitioners to be successful but the drive will continue as soon as the council acts.
The council, in effect, changed the rules in the middle of the game. Now a war of words is being waged in the local newspaper, on TV, in emails and other correspondence by both sides as they try to convince the public of their respective positions.
Scott and his supporters argue that it was not dishonorable to go back on their positions concerning no more beach to be closed to traffic because they didn’t have all the facts about this “great new economic opportunity” and it was for a chance to create a larger tax base and about 1,500 new jobs. As mentioned, these figures come from Shexnailder and are not substantiated by any documentation or plans.
Once again Scott and his cronies are saying that there is still lots of beach accessible by vehicles. The opponents are repeating the argument they made in the initial argument; give one developer what amounts to a de facto private beach and all developers will want theirs once the precedent has been established.
At stake is a long tradition of beach use that has allowed visitors and local residents to virtually go anywhere they wanted on the beaches and fish, cook, swim or whatever as they carried their necessary equipment with them.
The supporters of this bald beach grab say they need a place safe for
pedestrians and where they wont have to worry about their kids being
run over by cars. They ignore the fact that there now exists many areas
on the beach where either driving is prohibited or the traffic area and
the use area is separated by physical barriers.
They also ignore the safety record on the beaches where
vehicular/pedestrian incidents are extremely rare and where most of
those have been during spring break and involved spring breakers and
law enforcement officers.
Some argue that cars on the beach damage the environment. Not true!
Cars leave a small, if you will, “tireprint,” which soon erodes away with
the wind and the tides. In order to provide beach access, which is
required by the Texas Open Beaches Act, any beaches closed to traffic
will have to provide public parking lots based on a formula drawn up
by the state concerning how many cars to be accommodated per so
many feet of beach closed. Parking lots in the dunes would be
environmentally destructive in the extreme.
It is my opinion, after spending forty years on these beaches that it is
the beaches not the developments that people come here for. We have a
still unique situation that allows more beach access to more people at
more undeveloped beach than can be found anywhere else I know of in
North America. That is a strength and a draw for people. If people want
to park in parking lots and thread their way to the beach, making
several trips to haul their fishing gear, surf boards, ice chests, BBQ pits,
beach chairs, shade and other assorted beach items, leaving their
vehicles vulnerable to thieves they can go to Miami or South Padre
which don't offer what we now enjoy.
Development? On our barrier islands it needs to be more carefully planned than has been the case so far. The development should not encroach on the current natural areas still left, should not be on the beach or in the sand dunes.
Remember this a barrier island and the more development it undergoes the more sand dunes and beaches are degraded, causing rapid erosion and diminished protection for the mainland. The lessons of the last hurricane season appear not to have been learned.
No city council or mayor should be able to make such a momentous decision, affecting a long held traditional way of life. If it is to be done it must be the voice of the people making such a decision.
Dicky Neely
4141 Whiteley Dr. #201
Corpus Christi, Tx. 78418