The Coastal Bend

I have forever lost a piece of my heart to the Texas coastal bend area. It feels like home and I’ve been finding myself daydreaming about it. Am I actually homesick? Wow. I’ve only visited a handful of times, but the most recent two-week stay did me in.

Rockport is a city without any direct beach access, but is built around channels that feed into the ocean. We rented a house here once and loved it so much it led to further visits. The house was built in reverse from those I usually see – walking into the house from the driveway brings you into a hallway with bedrooms and bathrooms. At the end of the hallway is a lot of light coming from huge windows and glass doors leading from the kitchen and living areas onto a deck built out onto the channel where a boat could be docked, you could fish, or whatever. Reversing the typical floor plan where bedrooms would be in the back of the house allows a clear focus on the waterways from the main living areas. Very nice.

Surfside Beach is a city made up of houses in every color of the rainbow, all built up on stilts because they’re in the immediate Gulf of Mexico flood plain. Entry into the town is from a sky-high bridge. As you come down off the bridge, bam, there’s the ocean spreading out in front of you! The beaches here allow dogs, vehicles, tents, horses to roam freely. This is a highly casual beach town and there are a lot of houses that can be rented right on the beach, which we have done several times. One summer, we rented two houses and took my husband’s extended family for a one-week stay. Needless to say, nobody wanted to go home.

Port Aransas is the only town on a coastal island named Mustang Island where wild horses roamed many moons ago. What a romantic idea! We’ve stayed on Mustang Island three or four times now and still haven’t done everything there is to do. Entry to the Island is either by ferry from the North or by a causeway bridge from the South. The beaches here are clean and rarely crowded, again, allowing dogs and vehicles in a family-friendly atmosphere. We’ve gone parasailing here – gone dolphin watching, deep-sea fishing, bird-watching, the list goes on. I’m convinced I’ll never get tired of this place.

Aransas Pass is a city inland across the ferry channel from Port Aransas. To me, this feels more like home than any other coastal bend city I’ve visited. They have all of the comforts of home, and my husband and I have actually looked at some real estate in the possible interest of a future purchase. This would put us about twenty minutes from the Port Aransas beaches, but far enough from the ocean to feel comfortably protected from unpredictable tides and weather that often plays havoc with easy maintenance of a home. Boats, RV’s, palm trees, and gardens abound.

Brownsville, Port Isabel, and South Padre Island are the most commonly traveled tourist locations in South Texas. While we’ve visited both Brownsville and Port Isabel, we’ve stayed overnight in South Padre and it has fabulous food, it’s beautiful, and it has beaches that have the most seashells I’ve ever seen – even on the East Coast. This is all fabulous, but there are more people here than in any of the other locations I’ve listed above. For me, I’m looking for a little more elbow room, but love visiting. Always the palm trees in the background!

Bottom line, I want to live in Aransas Pass, Texas. LOL. We’ll see if any other place in upcoming travels beats it out. On the other hand, I still want to go back to Hungry Horse, Montana, too!

 

Choices

I’ve been reflecting, lately, on the life-changing impact of those seemingly simple choices we all make in our lives.

A few members of my husband’s extended family came to visit us here in Texas from the state of Ohio this week. As we were sitting around the campfire one night, the nephew that is currently living in Texas had also joined the group for a visit. We have seven first-generation nephews on this side of the family, but he mentioned that it seemed like he and my own youngest son were the two that had taken a different path. The rest of them are struggling a bit to find their way in life, having way too many babies way too young and out of wedlock, losing jobs as quickly as getting them, always struggling to pay their bills. However, he and my own youngest son have good corporate jobs, are climbing that ladder, so to speak, and have no children while they’re spending their money on traveling the world and playing a bit. What is it, he wondered, that caused these two to make different choices? It is, after all, a pretty simple choice to put in the work required to get a college degree because you know what it’ll get you in life; a pretty simple choice to use birth control to avoid having children you know you aren’t prepared to care for; a pretty simple choice to simply follow the boss’s instruction in order to keep a job you know you need if you want money to spend however you might choose.

During the same family visit, my brother-in-law made a somewhat snarky comment about my husband, his youngest brother, being ‘luckier’ than he. Hmm.

‘Lucky’ because he has a loving wife and relationship; ‘lucky’ because he has enough money in the bank to retire at age 55; ‘lucky’ because he has his health; ‘lucky’ because he has a great group of friends he’s known for most of his life; ‘lucky’ because he lives in a state that doesn’t get a lot of cold weather and snow.

Again, ‘hmm.’

Are most of these things not quite simply the result of choices? When things go wrong in a marriage, do you pinpoint the problem and try to fix it, or do you just walk away? When you don’t feel like going to work, do you call in sick or do you suck it up and do it anyway? When you feel like taking a drink or another drag on that cigarette, do you do it, or do you find a way to take control of your own health? When a friend pisses you off, do you refuse to ever speak to him again, or do you find a way to get over it for the sake of the friendship? If you can’t tolerate snow and cold weather, do you choose to stay in that state and complain about it, or do you choose to move somewhere warmer?

My husband has one sister who also is mostly unhappy, has a horrible job in a production line factory, has kids that treat her with complete and total disrespect. Again, to me, this seems to be a case of choices made. She chose not to put in the work for a college degree because she wanted to marry a man that already had three kids and take care of them instead. Three times, she chose to marry and walked away when things got tough. She chose to be her children’s best friend rather than being a parent.

Some of these choices aren’t necessarily better or worse than the others, I’m not here to judge, they’re just different.

My point is: Don’t look askance at me because you wish you had made different choices. I made my own and am living with the result – you do the same. My life isn’t perfect and it’s been truly painful in places, but I chose to work hard and pray for the things I value most. If you wanted those same things, you should have chosen those things. It has nothing to do with ‘luck’ buttercup — it’s a choice.

‘Nuff said…and…thanks for listening.