Tuesday, June 10, 2008

83 Days and Counting...

There are Jet Ski people and kayak people, motorboat people and sailboat people. Gather on the beach with hundreds of other sun worshippers people and walk on the deserted strip of shore people. I’m a kayak/sailboat/deserted strip of shore person, and I miss the Bolivar Peninsula, my Bolivar Peninsula, because for the next three months it will be packed with tourists and daytrippers.

I don’t mind, really. Bolivar will be waiting to greet me in early September, when you have all gone back to work and forgotten about her until next year. Did you take the ferry over from Galveston? I’ll bet you did. Did you get a little thrill when the captain blew the horn, announcing your departure from the dock? Did you get out of your vehicle and walk to the very front so that you could feel the salt spray in your face, and marvel at how much cooler the air is when you are out on the water? Seagulls are a dime a dozen, but the pelicans sure are something, huh? They look just like they are supposed to look, with the huge pouch under their bill, and that wise, seen it all look in their eyes. You probably saw a few pods of dolphins off of the bow, if you were paying attention. Now there’s a thrill for you! Did you hear the theme song to “Flipper” when you saw them? No? I guess that’s just me, then.

When the ferry approached Bolivar, and the captain asked you not to start your vehicle until the ferry was fully docked, did you get that mix of excitement with a little undertow of sadness? Happy to be on the peninsula, sad to leave the ferry? It’s a temporary feeling, because now the deckhand is waving you off, and you are speeding towards the beach.

There’s the lighthouse! It’s great to see the old girl, but she really needs a coat of paint, doesn’t she? Someone should do something about it. She’s privately owned now, but money is tight everywhere. If you knew the owners you could put them in touch with me, and I’d help stage a benefit concert to get the ball rolling.

You’ve passed the lighthouse now, and are looking for the turn that leads you to the beach. Almost any turn will do, because you can drive on the beach in Texas. The road I follow only has a handful of cabins on it, for now. My heart always flutters a bit when I make that right turn, windows down so that I can smell the salt air. My eyes widen with pleasure when I get close enough to see that first strip of green water sandwiched between the blue Texas sky and the golden sand.

It’s loud. I always forget that, and when my Jeep leaves the pavement and takes the sandy path between the dunes I can hear the waves rumbling onto the shore and I smile so much that my face begins to hurt a little. Does that happen to you?

A few hours, a few days, a few weeks even, and it’s already time to leave. I hope you made some good memories, found some interesting shells, maybe even a sand dollar, my personal favorite. When I was a very small boy you could find conch shells on the beach, but now you can only discover them in souvenir shops.
Before you leave the peninsula I hope you drive to the bay side to pick up some fresh seafood. They have several places there. The one I like the best looks like it came right out of a movie, with shrimp boats and a handful of sailboats tied up outside the shop, a brown pelican perched on one of the pilings. I only buy enough shrimp to make two meals, because I want an excuse to come back soon.

Now you’re back on the ferry, and before you know it you are underway. The seagulls are hovering above the stern, waiting for someone to toss them something tasty, the dolphins are racing you to the other side of the ship channel, and all too soon you are being reminded to not start your vehicle until the captain has fully docked in Galveston. Maybe you’ll stop at one last shop, or even drive slowly down a few of the side streets, wondering what it would be like to live in one of the old Victorian houses, before reality and your sense of responsibility takes over and you sigh before turning the vehicle back onto Broadway, getting one last glance at this jewel of an island through a veil of oleander leaves before you head over the causeway bridge to your life on the mainland. You’re a little browner, perhaps, well rested and centered, ready to tackle the world once more.

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