A Land-locked Girl’s Memories of the Coast

This is the resort we stayed at in Cancun. Swanky!

My husband and I just got back from a few days in Cancun. (Note to Mom: We were not attacked by, nor did we see, one armed bandito, which was a little disappointing after all the hype.) We did manage, though, to successfully escape two snowstorms and windchills below zero here on the mountain.

Overall, it was a good time that included a large quantity of unlimited, top-shelf alcohol, some fun-loving friends and hours spent catching up on some great novels on my Kindle. (By the way, ever heard of a Tequila Boom-Boom shot? I have now. If I could go back and rewrite Blue Straggler, the main character Bailey would definitely be drinking those.)

Now, let me be clear: I am not a beach girl. I do not long to surf or own a long board. My skin’s typically so pale all I have to do is look at the ocean and I’m burned. I never, not once, wanted to be a mermaid. (I wanted legs, dammit!) I couldn’t sail a boat to save my life. I am not one of those women who look good in a bikini, tankini or ini of any kind. Sea water stings my eyes. I don’t particularly care for mold. I don’t like being shark bait. The constant sound of those waves gets to me after a while. And I will never, ever look good with that whole wind-blown hair thing. If given the choice, I would much rather be standing at the top of a 12,000 ft. peak than floating in any ocean, no matter how turquoise the water.

However, every now and then, I need the sea and a break from All Things Mountain. Plus, I do enjoy sea kayaking, snorkeling, building sand castles, shell hunting and a Jimmy Buffet song or two.

Colorado, of course, offers none of that. (Jimmy B., does come to town every five years to play huge stadium concerts, though. Land-locked parrot heads, rejoice!)

This is a lovely shot of Port Aransas, courtesy of Creative Commons/Flickr.

During my childhood in South Texas, we often headed to what we simply called “the coast.” Port Aransas, located on the Texas Gulf of Mexico, was only a few hours away from my  hometown, so my parents could drive us all down in our 1970s-era custom party van with the swivel seats and curtains in the back, spend the day on the beach, and drive back that evening.

I distinctly remember that every day trip to the coast involved a great deal of pre-weather anxiety for us kids: My parents would nix the trip if the forecast called for more than a 10 percent chance of rain. We’d all hover around the kitchen radio the evening before, listening to the local radio station, KCTI, for the latest.

More memory snapshots: Getting to buy a new beach towel at Kmart in Seguin every summer. Feeding large flocks of aggressive seagulls that would swoop down to take bread out of my hands. Floating on large black inner tubes (the kind we’d use to float in the Guadalupe River, too) out in the waves. Keeping constant watch for jellyfish, which were not only in the water but all along the beach. My mom looking so glamorous in her swimsuit and sunglasses. My dad drinking Pearl beerunder the blue tarp we’d put up for shade. Eating summer sausage and blocks of cheddar cheese and greasy bargain potato chips and drinking ice-cold Dr Pepper out of glass bottles from the well-stocked cooler. Being completely unaware of my body and how it might look to others, concentrating only on jumping into the big waves as they tumbled to shore. Feeling the strong undertow grab me and buckets of sand, drawing us quickly out into the surf. A sense of pseudo-panic when I’d take a momentary break from swimming and playing in the water to realize I had drifted so much that the blue tarp and the custom party van were becoming far too small in the distance. Resting on those plastic-tube folding lounge chairs with hinges that got more and more rusted each year. And of course, after we got back home, those large gobs of Noxzema cream we’d all have to apply to our beet-red, sunburned skin.

Remember these?

We may not have had perfect, white-sand beaches or round-the-clock waiters bringing us drinks called Purple Rain and Superman under the shade of coconut trees, or Elvis impersonators as the evening resort entertainment , but we did have fun back then. Too bad there won’t be time for a run to Port A when I’m in Texas in March for my book signing tour.

What are your favorite beach memories? Please share below! I’d love to hear about them.

Random Texas music note: The Court Yard Hounds, wrote and recorded a tribute song to the Texas coast. Listen to it here.

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