Leaving the Lower Valley

Our final day in the Valley was mostly a travel day, but we did have a chance to visit some Valley tourist attractions.

Although it wasn’t spring break, we did manage to step foot on South Padre Island.  After “missing” a turnoff, we drove over a giant bridge, taking us to the spring-break  hot spot.  Our visit lasted just long enough for a photo op…


…before heading to the Port Isabel Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse was constructed because of heavy shipping traffic. It was completed in 1851 and has been standing for more than a century and a half, with a light that could be seen for almost 16 miles. During the Civil War, the lighthouse was used as an observation point and afterward, it continued to guide ships until it was permanently abandoned in 1905.


The lighthouse now serves not only as a tourist attraction, but also as a community engagement point. For the past twelve years, for example, it has hosted a cinema night, where visitors come to watch films together.

Lighthouse Establishment Cinema (LHEC) at the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse! Fridays, June & July, 9:30 p.m. FREE to the public!

The people who show up for the movie obviously have a great tolerance for humidity, which we found somewhat oppressive.  It did not, however, prevent us from waiting our turn in line to get to the top.  Depressingly, the people who were exiting the lighthouse would tell us, “Gosh, it feels like a sauna up there.”  This was bad news, because we felt like the bottom of the lighthouse was already sauna-like.

Undaunted, we made our trek up to the top, where we admired a view of  an endless sea in some directions, touristy shops in other directions (Pirate Jack’s Gifts!), refineries in still another direction, and a view of South Padre from another.


It was the LEAP Center’s third trip to a lighthouse, the other two being at Tybee Island (next to Savannah) and Biloxi, MS.  Although the Port Isabel lighthouse had a bit of charm, it lacked the local support, the scenery, and the amenities of the other two we had visited.


And, with that, we headed back to Huntsville, where we would have less than 24 hours to prepare for our venture to Austin, Texas, for a trial internship in the state’s legislature.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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