Beach Bums

It’s been 2 years since our feet last hit the ocean, so last week was a special treat as we finally got to relax in the sun & sand!

This was our first trip to Padre Island and we really enjoyed the Texas coast’s warm water. In the past, we’ve usually visited San Diego and the chilly Pacific beaches, so this was a nice change. We met up with our Brady friends and Liam got some expert skimboarding lessons. Although he never truly mastered staying on the board, he put his whole heart into it and never gave up trying. He would definitely be a surfer dude if we lived near a beach!

We arrived just in time for Hurricane/Tropical Storm Don warnings. We knew something was up when news crews starting setting up equipment on the beach—the Weather Channel crew was setup right on the same area of beach where we had been playing all day! We were told to gas up our vehicles and be ready to evacuate the island. It was projected to hit exactly at our location but fortunately it fizzled out before it got there and all we got was a little wind and no rain. We have much stronger winds on an almost daily basis in West Texas.

We pretty much did absolutely nothing but sit on the beach all day and swim in the pool in the evenings and as a bonus, we saw some dolphins playing in the water. I call that a PERFECT vacation!

Padre Island 2011
Click above for photos from our Padre Island vacation trip.

Sunscreen Sundries

sun scale
Summertime is in full swing and you’re probably having lots of fun in the sun but there’s nothing more sure to spoil your fun than a nasty sunburn. So, in addition to reminding you to Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap as you prepare to head out the door, I thought I’d also share some interesting sunscreen trivia & info:

  • The ancient Greeks used olive oil as a type of sunscreen, although it wasn’t especially effective.
  • The first effective, mass-produced sunscreen was invented in 1944 by airman turned pharmacist Benjamin Greene who was looking to protect World War II soldiers stationed in the South Pacific from the sun’s harmful rays. Greene tested the sticky, red substance which he called “Red Vet Pet” on his own bald head. After the war, he refined the formula and sold it under the new company name, Coppertone.
  • Sunscreens work by either blocking or absorbing ultraviolet light. Opaque minerals like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide physically block or scatter UVA (the “aging” rays) whereas chemical blockers like avobenzone and Mexoryl SX absorb UVB (the “burning” rays) and dissipate that as heat. You should select a sunscreen that combines these two approaches for a broader spectrum of protection—look for one with at least 7% of one of the physical blocker ingredients (zinc is better!) and an SPF of at least 30.
  • SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, was introduced in 1962 as a measurement of a product’s ability to block out the sun’s burning rays. Note that more is not necessarily better with SPF. Stick with a product with an SPF of 30-50. Sunscreens with an SPF of 70, 90, or even 100+ certainly sound impressive, but they’re only marginally better, if at all.
  • The FDA has proposed a “star-rating” system to identify the level of UVA protection found in sunscreen, with 1 star indicating low and 4 stars indicating the highest UVA protection available in an over-the-counter product. The proposal also mandates that sunscreens which do not provide at least a minimal level of UVA protection must bear a “no UVA protection” marking on the front label near the SPF value.
  • Researchers suggest the most effective protection is achieved by generously applying sunscreen 15–30 minutes before exposure, followed by a reapplication 15–30 minutes after the sun exposure begins. But you also need to reapply every 2–3 hours and after swimming in order for the sunscreen to remain effective.
  • There’s mounting evidence that sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) should be avoided because when used topically, this ingredient may actually increase your risk of skin cancer. For more info on this and much, much more, be sure to check out the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide. (Link updated for 2012.)
  • Cover up! Although UV rays can still penetrate them, using a wide-brimmed hat and clothing made of tightly-woven fibers can significantly boost your sun protection. And don’t forget to use sun-blocking lip balm and UV-protectant sunglasses!

Bonus trivia: Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in water to stay cool. But while the water prevents the lumbering mammals from getting overheated, it doesn’t offer much in the way of skin protection. So the hippopotamus produce their own sunscreen! They secrete a highly-acidic, blood-red, gelatinous, oily fluid from glands underneath the skin that protects them from UV rays and insects.

Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap

Sid the SeagullIn 1981, the Cancer Council Australia launched their very successful Slip, Slop, Slap skin health campaign.   Ads featured the program’s mascot, Sid the Seagull who encouraged people to "Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat" when going out in the sun to reduce the risks of skin cancer.

The slogan was later extended to Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap or "Slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap on some sunnies" to also promote the use of sunglasses.   (Even though this very effective campaign has resulted in far fewer incidences, Australia still has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.)

It might seem a bit early to be talking about summertime skin care here in the middle of May, but with the forecast already calling for triple-digit temps, it’s pretty appropriate.   So as you gear up for outdoors activities, remember the "Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap" slogan to protect yourself!

Sadly, despite best intentions, many of us will still end up sunburned at least once during the Summer months.   If you find yourself looking rather lobester-esqe, head over to WiseBread for some !
 

Let It Snow!

We've had that “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” tune (complete with Dean Martin's “clinking ice in the cocktail glass” sound effect) playing in our heads all week long as the first nasty blast of '07 winter weather hit the Basin. Here's a glimpse of our snow-dusted house last Wednesday:

Winter '07 arrives in the Permian Basin

The massive winter storm that was supposed to blanket us with 4-8″ of snow this weekend sent everyone running, panic-stricken to the grocery stores earlier this week to stock up on provisions for the long hard winter days ahead…

(Cough!)

Ultimately, we had less than an hour of heavy snowfall yesterday but there's still snow on the forecast for Monday. But even without snow, it's plenty cold and our new digital thermostat is getting a good workout. The damp, cold weather also gave us a perfect excuse to whip up a killer batch of stew — one of Dede's favorite things!)

Soph’s First Snow

We woke up to snow this morning. It is the first snow we have seen here in a long time and it was the first snow that Sophie had ever seen in person. She was so happy as you can see in the photo below.

Soph welcomes the snow

A 100 in the Shade

It was a hot one today – 100° in the shade!   We took Caliente to work today and drove home with the top down.   I guess summer has officially arrived in Texas.   I snapped this picture under a shade tree in our driveway.   Hard to believe its only May and we’re reaching triple digits already!

Thermometer shows 100 degrees in the shade

 

Maybe I Spoke Too Soon…

No sooner was I boasting about the gorgeous SoCal-like weather than the rain came for a visit. Over 10 inches of rainfall in a single weekend!

Odessa's Flooded Streets

The outlook for the rest of the week is a little bleak as well…

Crappy Forecast for Odessa