This week, while everyone else in the country was buried in snow, we traveled further south down the Gulf Coast to Port Aransas and Mustang Island, Texas. We’ve been trying to resist the urge to gloat, but, frankly, it’s not easy. Instead of digging our car out of our driveway, we’ve been digging our toes into the sand, strolling along the long stretches of beaches with the white winter sun glistening on the waves and the seagulls and terns swirling overhead.
We’ve watched pods of dolphins following ferries and leaping in great twisting arcs out of the water in front of the oil freighters. White Pelicans bob on the waves, lazily dropping their pouched beaks into the surf to scoop up whatever unlucky sea creature floats into their paths. Comical toupee-wearing Royal Terns, stand side by side on the beach, all facing into the wind, and the aviary super-models, the Egrets, Ibis and Herons standing patiently on their long, thin legs in the wetlands, watching for the slightest ripple in the water before striking at lightning speed, their prey swimming shell-shocked in fish heaven before they know what hit them.
Snowy egret fishing for dinner
It’s the laid-back, easy way of life here that’s so appealing: friendly, helpful people, lots of restaurants with affordable menus, well-run free car ferries that connect islands to each other and the mainland, a $12 annual beach parking pass that allows camping on the beach for no additional cost. Technically, the restriction is for three nights in a period of 21 days, although, according to the locals, this is seldom enforced out of season. It is pleasant to camp between the sea and the dunes, with the sound of the surf at night, people walking their dogs, and the winter residents’ golf carts zipping along the flat, 18-mile stretch of sand between Port Aransas and Mustang beach. I think we'll dig our toes a little deeper into the sand...
Dolphins playing at the bow of oil freighters