LIVING ON ISLAND TIME, PART 5: “Shoes Full of Sand, Hearts Full of Memories”


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In the corner of our living room stands a rolling cart bulging with vacation clothes. For some reason, I have yet to unpack them. Around one a.m., this morning, my husband and I pulled into our driveway after a four-hundred-plus mile jaunt down to our beloved Port Aransas for a visit with my cousin, BeeGee and our favorite beach cottage, the Wahoo.

Once again, after a hectic semester that led to a scary fever-with-chills spell, I forced myself to be well enough for a jaunt to our favorite coastal area. It would be the perfect getaway to rest, write,and relax.

Monday, 5/18

After a weekend of Oma-and-Opa duty with two grandchildren, we get up around 9:00 a.m., pack the car with our vacation gear, and board Russet with her vet. It feels good to take off and grab a little time for ourselves before I have to start teaching summer school. After a round-about route ending on the ferry across Aransas Pass, we wind up in front of the Wahoo.

After resting and refreshing, the three of us — BeeGee, Jeff, and I– drive to Harbor Grill where BeeGee gives the cook some redfish, ordering half fried and the other half, grilled, before we find a table at The Back Porch, an outdoor bar facing the harbor. After dinner, we come home to visit some more before BeeGee mixes up a special breathing potion in a mister and sends it, along with some peppermint and eucalyptus oil. to cure an annoying cough I had developed during my last day at school.

Sure enough, the salty beach air mixed with peppermint-and-eucalyptus scented mist sent me off to blissful sleep.

Tuesday, 5/19

Feeling so much better after the mister has cleaned out  those nasty toxins, I am ready for a romp on the beach.  After a quick cereal-and-coffee breakfast, Jeff and I head on down to a beach splashed with puddles from frequent, daily rains. Splashing through the puddles, we finally find a place to park. At last, I get to kick out of my flip-flops and squish wet sand between my toes as we stroll the beach. Among a variety of shells and broken sand dollars lay the bluish jelly-like Portuguese man-of-war. Knowing not to touch them, lest we touch one of their stinging tentacles, we dodge around them. Although the water is murky, even early in the morning, it doesn’t dull our fun of finding shells and feeling the cool water on our  toes.

Tired from the sun, we go home mid-afternoon, after stopping for fish tacos and a stroll through at Moby Dick’s souvenir shop. After purchasing a glittery visor and two small Talavera figurines — a turtle and a star — we head for the grocery store on the island for burger fixin’s for supper and then back to the cottage, which Jeff has started calling “home”.

That evening, we get together with BeeGee for a hamburger cookout. Ground beef  mixed with bison makes some mighty tasty burgers. Added to that, fresh melon, tossed salad, and wine provide a satisfying dinner. Afterwards, we all watch the finale of “The Voice”. Soon after Jeff excuses himself to go back to our cottage, I follow suit.

Wednesday, 5/20

After a morning romp on the beach, we strike out to surrounding areas — Aransas Pass and Rockport — for the possibility of homes to retire in.  We were particularly enchanted with picturesque Rockport with its La Buena Vida and neighboring City By The Sea neighborhoods. Although we have not decided, yet, we’re certainly open to the idea of moving closer to the gulf area where I can write and we can take life easy.

That night, BeeGee orders pizza and we watch t.v. until we get sleepy and cruise on back to our cabin.

Thursday, 5/21

As we are packing up our car to start back home, we get a call from the security alarm people. They have received  a “glass break” signal from our kitchen. As there have been bad storms in the Arlington area, the person on the phone admits that the lightning has probably set off the alarm. Still, she asks us if we wanted  to call the police, just to make sure and we say, “Yes”.

After we hug BeeGee, we head out for Padre Island in search of more shells. At the gate to the Padre Island National Seashore checkpoint, I purchase a senior’s pass that is good for a lifetime. Stopping at Malaquite Beach for our turkey-sandwich lunch, we drive along the beach where we find two men coaxing a beached shark back into the water and a number of washed up Portuguese man-of-war, which, according to Visitor’s Center display, is not one animal but many ]in the tentacles of one bluish jellyfish.

From there, we travel onto San Antonio in sporadic but blinding rainstorms. Thanks to Hotwire, I’m able to book our room in the Holiday Inn, near the Riverwalk. We arrive around four p.m., freshen up, and hop a shuttle to the area, lined with gift shops and restaurants catering to a variety of appetites from enchiladas to barbecue and beyond. Our quesadillas and the frozen margarita we share on Rita’s On the River are piquant and delicious.

“I stop picking up at 8:50 p.m, but if you run into a problem, just gimme a call,” said Steve, the shuttle driver.

Although we tried to be through in time to ride the shuttle back to our room, we wind up walking back to the hotel. It is a winding trip, but as there are others finding their way home, as well, we are perfectly safe. Although I had set up my laptop for some work, later,it takes only lying down on our comfy king-sized bed for us to realize how wiped-out we really are.

Friday,  5/22

“Hey, babe. Do you realize it’s nearly eleven?”

My eyelids, as if on hinges, spring open. “Yikes! What time is checkout?”

“Dunno,” says Jeff, picking up the phone in the room. “Let’s check.”

After a few minutes on the phone, I hear him say,”At noon? Thanks.”

Disappointed that our Holiday Inn doesn’t offer complimentary breakfast as its Express versions do,  we scout out a restaurant and find a Jim’s Restaurant which reminds me of the old Fort Worth Kip’s chain. Our egg-and-sausage breakfast tacos with hash browns and sliced tomatoes were generous and filling and the coffee, hot and bracing.

With the car freshly gassed and our tummies full, we head out for New Braunfels, driving through spurts of blinding rain, to see Jeff’s son and daughter-in-law and their sons, Jayson and Bryon and watch Bryon play the first of a three-game basketball tournament. After a stop at the Brackenridge Japanese Gardens, Jeff and I  decide to head on home instead of staying overnight with his son and daughter-in-law. After all, we are still hacking and coughing and don’t want to share that crud with anyone else.

On the way to San Marcos, the site of the game, we find stop-and-go traffic on nortbound Interstate 35. At the time, it is 6:45; the game is at 7:00. Still, there is no hope of the traffic clearing. All we know is that Bryon and his parents are two cars up ahead.

We were glad we went. After watching Bryon play and come out victorious when his team won, we headed on in to Arlington, stopping only in Belton to gas up and grab coffee and iced tea.

When we walk through our door, we discover that the lightning knocked off of a chunk of plaster in our living room, bottles from our kitchen window and even stuff from the window ledge in our office. As our townhome is located next door to the pool, the impact from the lightning must have been strong enough to not only set off the alarm but rattle our door and windows.

Saturday, May 23

Now, with our pooped puppy bailed out of the vet, here we are — sleeping off the trip. The whirlwind trip has been fun; we’re already looking forward to the next one. For now, as we shake the sand off our sandals, our hearts teem with memories. We are mighty glad to be home.

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