I don't recall hearing anything about El Niños when we were kids. Maybe it's a component of global warming; maybe we just hadn't discovered them yet. According to the Texas weather forecasters, this is an El Niño year, which means that the winter has been colder and wetter than usual. When this happens we start second guessing ourselves - should we have gone to Florida or to Arizona instead? But this winter when the forecast was poor here, it was the same rain and cold that had just been in Arizona and it was the same rain and cold that would be in Florida in a few days. That's good old El Niño. It just didn't matter where we were; this winter was colder and wetter than usual. And whenever we started feeling annoyed, we'd just turn on WGN and check that forecast at home in Chicago. No more complaints.
We've learned not to expect every day to be good and to make the most of the days that are. While the sun was out yesterday, the wind gusts were so strong, it just wasn't fun to be outside. Those are the days that we spend much as we did at home - reading and doing household chores and vehicle maintenance. Or it's easy to kill an hour recording our voices on the Garmin website and downloading them to the GPS. Very cool, but it's rather disconcerting to hear yourself yelling at yourself to turn left in half a mile.
Today the weather was much better and we hit the beach with the new kite we bought at the festival on Padre Island. Ken never had a two string kite before and it crashed many times, including once on my head, before he got the hang of it. You don't just put a two stringer in the air and hold on. It takes your attention every minute to keep it aloft; that's what keeps it interesting. Our first attempt made us appreciate even more the formation flying we had seen at the kite festival.
Then we turned to our bicycles and rode about an hour on the hard packed sand. It seems that almost the entire gulf beach in Texas is hard enough to drive a car on and biking next to the surf is such a pleasure. And unlike Florida, it's easy to get access to the beach, generally without having to pay to park. Lots of large jelly fish had come in on the tide and looked like large plastic bags strewn across the sand. We've also enjoyed bike riding on the seawall that was built after the hurricane of 1900 to protect the city. A civil defense measure has turned into a tourist attraction ornamented with public art. It's also been fun to watch the line up of ships waiting to enter the Houston shipping channel. They make us think of the planes lined up overhead waiting to land at O'hare airport at home. We even saw an oil rig being towed out to sea by tugs. Not a very aerodynamic craft.
If it's cold again tomorrow, we'll enjoy the view through the window and know that another good day is coming soon now that spring is here.