Saturday, September 12, 2009

This will be the Labor Day edition. Marie and Ryan decided that they were in for the weekend as well so we carpooled to the coast. The trip out was great. We were all in need of some time out of town. To our surprise, the country east of here looks a lot like Michigan. Tree lined roads with lots of green everywhere.

Very good. I had a route mapped out that involved a near minimum of freeway driving. It was a part of my grand vision for our weekend. As far as I am concerned it worked out beautifully. I may be the only one but such is life. We spent a lot of time on two lane country roads winding through farmland. Around the halfway point Marie said, "There's a zebra over there!" Hmmmmmm, what!!

Sure enough we all turned our heads and there were 3 zebras grazing in a field next to the road. It was an exotic game ranch. The trip was off to a good start. Next we found ourselves following "Harley Mama" Wow!

They were pretty well controlling the road for about a 1/4 mile and so we stopped for some roadside relief. This has never been a problem before but apparently in TX the ditches are alive with every large biting insect in the south just waiting to attack. I jumped off the roadside and was quickly made into lunch by some man-eaters. I guess you had to be there. The humidity continued to rise as we approached the coast and before we knew it we had reached our destination!

Just kidding. This was actually a chemical plant near Freeport. We had to drive through an apocalyptic looking landscape on our way to the beach. There were huge facilities all over the place near the coast. As everyone knows the Texas Gulf Coast is a petroleum rich area. We hadn't really thought much about seeing the evidence of it though. The area was interesting. The topography is very flat and marshy with shipping canals dug throughout. The refineries and the road bridges are the only real protrusions from sea level.

Let me intervene. I had to jump in as I read "apocalyptic" looking landscape. It was truly, an "end of the world" ode to everything dirty and rusty and shamelessly polluting. Aka, a lovely drive through Gary Indiana, if you will. At this point we were unaware of how far we were from the beach, and according to the deceiving map we were going to be sleeping at Dow chemical. Nerves and electricity swam through the car, all exchanging anxious looks, myself realizing, holy crap I dragged everyone out to this crazy place. So we paced ourselves, prayed for a little bit of distance, and drove though, bringing us about four miles away to a beach with only the silhouettes of the plant looming in the foggy distance.

Far enough, we thought, and we were relieved. We drove up and down the eerie hurricane remnants of the strangest place any of us have been to date. We missed the motel a couple of times, in disbelief that this was really it. There is one feeling that ran through all of us simultaneously, and there are no real words to describe it, but it can best be summed up as ..."whoahhh!!!!"

So with relief and disbelief, we found our rooms and unpacked. Sandals off, swimsuits on; it would only get better from here. We had made it through the worst. Now all we had to do was find a spot on the sand and a cold drink and start enjoying this place and ignore the chemical plants in the distance. Don't think: just swim. I keep chanting in my head over and over, "I don't care if this place is a dump, it has character, it's a beach, we'll remember it forever. This is going to be great." We met Marie and Ryan outside of our room and practically ran down the short road to the beach.

The last thing I remember is reaching the crest of the short pedestrian bridge at the foot of the beach before the true horror set in. One after another, we stumbled, in utter stupor open mouthed and google eyed, chanting "!" To our horror the beach was covered wall to wall by F-150's, Expeditions and Silverados. There was a road through the center of the beach, and the trucks were parked all along to the edge of the water. Nothing was to be seen but the backs of bbq's set up before the water beside the trucks. The beach was a hot metal parking lot, at the edge of the petroleum and chemical epicenter of America. Yeehaw!! Let freedom ring!

We stumbled around in circles for a moment, our mouths still open. "There's got to be another beach. This can't happen. We'll just have to find a pedestrian only beach. This is a sea turtle nesting ground. It will be OK." We ask a fellow Texan if she knows of any beaches that you can't drive onto. She looks at us as though we are aliens from another planet, and mutters, ", they're all like this," as if she had never dreamt of a beach free of exhaust pipes.We all look at each other, shrug, suppress our tears and say, well I guess this is it, let's make the best of it.

We jump in the water, throwing our hands up and allowing ourselves to be taken without force on to this crazy ride that is our first Texas vacation. And on it we experienced that Texans apparently don't go to bars, (we found one in an entire 40 mile stretch of road and towns) we found Jesus shrines in a surf shop/bingo parlor/ place where we got breakfast one morning,
the Jesus channel pre-programmed on our hotel TVs, more fried food than any of us have eaten in our lives, some possible relatives of Jay and Marie's with missing front teeth and a marijuana farm in Honduras, (this is not a joke, we are currently researching this claim, and so far it is a definite possibility, something about the "Whitney's" in Climax MI?) and a drunken evening with the biggest hillbillies in the universe in a hurricane ravaged beach plowed over by SUV's. And we all, actually, in spite of it all, had a really good time. I think it was the night with the hillbillies that really took it over to the other side. We finally just got over ourselves, let go, and had fun. :)

One thing is for sure, we will never forget this vacation.

In other news less exciting, we are now back to work. For the first time, we are looking at Austin in a much kinder light. It seems so beautiful and civilized and comfortable. It's funny. If there is anything I have learned from moving to Texas in general, it is that everything is relative.

That seems an appropriate place to end. My interjection is now over.

Love, Leah and Jay