One thing you must know about me is that I’m a biiiiiig weenie about driving long distances. But when I saw, on Facebook, that my cousin’s  daughter-in-law got to spend some time with her, I told Brandy I was downright jealous.

“Well, come on down!” she said.

Sigh. If only it were that easy.

In a few days, the summer-school onslaught would begin. But, two days later, I got a call from school. It was Amber, my Department Chair’s assistant.

“First off, I’m only the messenger, so don’t shoot me,” she began. “We had to give your class to a full-timer. Your Summer II classes are still good, though.”

All right, then. I thought. During the past year, I had become really worn-down with not only teaching four face-to-face classes each semester, but, also, building an online course. I was ready for a break. This was my God-given opportunity to head down to Port Aransas.

Since I’m planning to set my new mystery, Suffer The Little Children, in “Port A”, I saw this as an excellent time to   research motels, restaurants, and fishing areas where Earl Savage and Burrneece Barefoot of  Barefoot Savage Investigation — would most likely hang out on their vacation before he reels in a body  off  Horace Caldwell Pier (or maybe the South Jetty.). It was also a good opportunity to interview the local police.

With that in mind,  I started figuring out a way to make it happen. One night, I priced motels,  bed-and-breakfasts, and BeeGee’s Coastal Quarters into the wee hours. Since this  is the peak season, there was little chance of finding anywhere  that cost less than $125 per night. That is, before I told Beeg I planned to come visit.

My original plan was that I would head on down on June 3 and return June 5.  But, as my sweetheart reminded me, doing it that way would give me  only one day in “island paradise”. Hardly any time at all to turn around before I’d have to head on back.

“Why don’t you go down there on Sunday and return on Thursday?” said Von.

He was right.  Three whole days. Yeah, that would work.

The next concern, getting there.  Round-trip airfare, particularly within Texas, was out of the question. At its cheapest, I’d be looking at $400.  The other option, according to the Port Aransas web site  was landing my plane on the island. Not  a pilot,  I had to laugh.

“But, of course!” I said, smacking my forehead. ” Why didn’t I think of that, first?”

At that time, I whipped out  my iPad and punched in Port Aransas on my Google maps. All three routes had me staying on I-35 most of the way. I was ecstatic.

” Kim, old girl,  this is doable,” I told self. “Even on a shoestring!”

On Saturday night, I turned in early and woke up at 5:30 a.m. After dressing, feeding Russet, and packing the car, I headed up the street for the nearest Waffle House for a jalapeno bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit and a travel mug full of coffee, I hit the road.

From Arlington, I took I-20 West to 35W. At Hillsboro, Interstate 35W turned into just plain old I-35.  When a major accident halted traffic on I-35 in Schertz,  outside San Antonio,  I gassed up the car and headed around the corner to Wendy’s. After a leisurely lunch, the pile-up had cleared in time to switch to Interstate 410 South. From there, it was a short jog onto  I-37.  Texas 358 took the longest, lasting 130 miles. Good thing I had packed plenty of CD‘s to keep me rocking.

Seeing the first palm tree, just outside Corpus Christi, I smiled. Soon, I would smell that salty air and hear waves crashing. Still, State Highway Park Road 22E  and Texas 361, the road into Port Aransas.

As I entered the Port A city limits, I started slowing down to look for street signs.

“Turn right for Royal Palm Drive,” said  “GPS lady”.

Passing it up, I had to look for the next turn-in and double back. The same happened with BeeGee’s street.

 Nearly smacking into an oncoming car while looking for a street sign,  I turned around in someone’s driveway and, in the process, met a new friend (who happened to know BeeGee). When she pointed me in the right direction, I gave Beeg a call.

” I was waiting to hear from you,” she said. ” My street sign’s down. Look for a Port-a-Potty on your right.”

After waving me down in the street, she directed me to drive around back to the Wahoo, a cozy one-bedroom island cottage complete with a full kitchen, living and dining room, a bathroom opening both to the hall and the bedroom. Television sets in both the living room and bedroom and a washer and dryer completed the comforts of home. Outside, a barbecue grill and patio set. All this and Beeg for a  neighbor.  How cool is this going to be?

When I   settled in, Beeg and I met at her house where we kicked back with  snacks and a movie. Most important, we were long overdue for some serious “cousin time.”

Planning to devote Monday through Wednesday to researching my new book, Suffer The Little Children, a murder mystery set in Port Aransas, I knew I had my work cut out for me. However, evenings like my first one were for relaxing. As I drifted off on whisper-soft sheets and pillows, I thanked God for guiding me safely here.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Living on Island Time.  Now, it’s your turn. What is your favorite vacation getaway?