As soon as we crossed the state line the dry heat sweltered as though we hadn't entered a state, rather we had encountered a ferocious desert. The flat Texas terrain resembled a smooth table with nothing but orange sand reflecting the sun into our eyes like a magnifying glass. Upon what the captain of our airplane called our, "final descent into the Harlingen, South Texas Regional Airport, I began to feel the variation from the moderate Minnesota climate I was accustomed to. I thought to myself, "One whole week stranded on a desert island with temperatures in the upper 90s during the day?" Sleeping with one fellow peer in a makeshift tent that looked more like a camouflage green cabin made of strong cloth and wooden boards as supports was not my idea of a good time. After settling in to the raggedy home, I subconsciously began to fall in love with the tourist-inhabited South Padre Island, Texas.
Nothing was visible from our campsite along the Brownsville channel but sand, water, a few lonely desert plants, and numerous small desert buildings. The land was so beautiful and so lonely. The sparkling ocean gave way to a perfect sunset. I was unable to tell where the water actually ended to make way for the horizon. The flaming ball in the sky began to relax as though it too would be tucking into bed for a night of well- deserved rest. I began to gaze into the night sky and I discovered why Texans refer to their home as, "The Lone Star State." I had never seen the constellations shine with such brilliance sorting through Orion's Belt, the Big Dipper, and the North Star had never been easier. After such asphyxiating splendor, I retired for the evening in a state of awe, the big state really was what our triple-A travel guide said, "like a whole different country." As the sun rose in the morning with the same grace it had when it made way for nightfall to settle in the region, I stepped out of the sleeping quarters refreshed and wondering what the day had in store.