Travel Blog 9: Living on the Beach
I love the mountains, rivers, and lakes, but there’s no greater enjoyment than parking on the beach to sleep with the sound of waves. Leaving New Orleans led me to three beach sleeps in Louisiana before crossing over to Texas. Last year, I drove west Texas through Big Bend and a whole bunch of nothing. I’ve explored the various big cities around the Lone Star state over the years. This journey is about learning the wonderful Gulf of Mexico coastline. It’s not like the Atlantic and it’s not like the Pacific; it’s its own natural beast, and I love it!
Beginning with the Bolivar Peninsula, I parked in Gilchrist for a few nights before moving down to Crystal Beach and further along to the Bird Sanctuary. One particularly comical experience took place on a Friday night. The long haired fisherman that owned his dream home told me of a famous rock n roll drummer local to the area, playing a cd release party that night. It had been postponed because of covid and the community was coming together to socially-distance support their rock star. Well, I only knew 6:00pm, somewhere in town. So, I took the bait. I drove to town, visited The Big Store (my favorite grocery store I’ve seen yet), and found out the location of the gig. I showed up to the Community Church to watch Michael Feighan, the drummer for the Christian Rock Band, ‘White Cross.’ He was celebrating the release of his solo album, ‘Someone Prayed.’ Nothing against the genre, but it was quite the experience for me to observe a small beach town in south Texas raise their hands to the air with every lyric and tears streaming down many faces, including the performers. I’m honestly thrilled to be a part of the momentous occasion in their lives, but I sure didn’t know what I was walking into that night.
Leaving the Bolivar Peninsula, I rode the free ferry to Galveston to learn about the 1900 hurricane (deadliest in U.S. history) along the beautiful boardwalk. I wandered around until I filled my belly at the delicious fish and shrimp taco truck. Moving along, I spent Thanksgiving on Surfside Beach. After purchasing all my food from the nearby grocery store, I spotted ‘Hook’ers,’ the shrimpin’ folk. The large man told me to drive 10 miles to the actual market, but I asked if anyone would notice a small handful missing. His response, “Do you have a spare lighter to trade?” This man loaded me up with several pounds of freshly caught shrimp. I sat on the beach, boiling and peeling the tastiest shrimp I’ve had in ages. I made a shrimp and vegetable omelet for dinner that night! That same man pulled up to my car later that night, recognizing the wheels. He and his lovely family invited me to come spend the Thanksgiving holiday with their family, which I took them up on. The Polynesian heavyweights live in a house on stilts a block from the beach. The man’s sister, who weighed more than he did, was afraid the stairs and deck would collapse when she walked up. At one point, five of us crossed on the ancient wood and I grew a little nervous myself. The food was packed on with calories, but it was nice to spend Thanksgiving dinner with family.
I was incredibly grateful and thankful to these people, the Surfside Beach locals. Thanksgiving day had fathers and sons fishing together, families walking and jogging the beach, and folks reunited on the sand for games, swimming, cooking, and love. It was a beautiful place to spend the sunny holiday.