The weather hasn’t really clicked or made its official change to fall here in Austin. It teased us a bit, but has yet to totally commit. It’s not hot like the summers in Central Texas, but it’s not cool like fall either. We have a had a few spells of fall weather that come and go in two-three day increments, but for the most part it seams that the temperature has been settling at mid 70’s to mid 80’s more days that not. Last week we had close to weather breaking forecasts with a couple of days hitting the 90’s so we decided that it was time to take off to the beach.
The kids have a week off for Thanksgiving holiday, so we pulled them out one day early and headed down to the coast to take advantage of this abnormally warm weather for mid November. It can get really hot on the Texas Coast in the summer time, not only hot but it can get unbearably humid, making the beach something you want to avoid during the summer if you can. And since it is a gulf that only has waves that are surf-able during a storm, I have had no desire to take the kids until, well until the weather was good, which does not happen that often here. So when it did get nice, we made an audible and took a beach trip. On Friday morning we packed up the car and made the three hour trek south through San Antonio, via Corpus Christi and on to Port Aransas, Texas, Port A for short.
Lyndsey had been to Port A many times as a kid with her family and grandparents. They use to stay in a little town Rockport just across the way. My mom and dad had also started to go down to Port A years ago as a way to get their beach fix. I even joined them on one of those trips with Lyndsey over ten years ago.
So this was the second time that Lyndsey and I had gone to Port A together but the first time that we had gone together with our young family. It was also the first time that we had been back to the beach together as a family since we moved returned to the States from Costa Rica almost two Christmases ago. I would have to say that it was a little bitter sweet, knowing what the tropical beaches are like in Costa Rica compared to beaches on the gulf, but it had been long enough for all of us that the sand and salt air was all we needed to feel at home.
The kids really enjoyed themselves and immediately got back into the water and waves liked they hadn’t skipped a beat. It was great to play in the sand, the small waves and get them on a surfboard again. The nice weather also made the Texas Coast much more enjoyable than I had ever experienced it before. Without the stifling heat and bugs it definitely had a style and beauty of its own. It reminded me of all the other reasons to love the coast beyond riding epic waves. Having a family that enjoys it as much as you can really make for a great beach trip, even one without waves.
Port Aransas 2 Months After Hurricane Harvey
Oddly enough, the town of Port A felt a lot like a third world country, as it was still very much recovering from a direct hit by Hurricane Harvey just over a couple of months ago.
Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm that hit Texas on August 25, 2017. It caused $180 billion in damage. I would say that over 50% of the town is still just down, rebuilding or just waiting to be demolished. That may be a generous guess as well considering it could be more like 75% of the town, or at least the businesses were still closed. It gave the town a very somber feel, and it felt very much like staying in villages in Mexico or Costa Rica. Homes and businesses half built, trash piles everywhere, locals happily living their lives.
Some houses looked like they were in perfect shape while others were barely sitting on their stilts. We felt like we were some of the first tourists to come back since the disaster, and you got the feeling that some were glad to see you, while some were probably glad to have the break. Either way they just started to rebuild and are years away from getting back to where they left off.
After the Disaster
I was listening to a Podcast not too long ago with Sebastian Junger, an American journalist, author and filmmaker famous for the best-selling book The Perfect Storm. In the podcast Sebastian was talking about a book he wrote called Tribe, which at this point I still need to read. In the book he apparently writes about different tribes and communities and how people bond together. He also writes about how people come together after a natural disaster and how many of them build life long bonds with neighbors and people they never spoke to or even were aware of their existence prior the disaster. Many people who have lived through a natural disaster often refer back to the disaster as being one of the best experiences in their life, and a time where they learned more about themselves and those around them. It is an interesting study in-and-of-itself on what we tend to value as humans as opposed to what really makes us happy.
Already being such a small coastal community that was much further along then most US neighborhoods, the community aspect and sense of pride in Port A felt familiar to what you would experience in a beach town in the middle of a jungle in Costa Rica. The locals learn to rely on each other and develop their own meaning for words and ways of talking. In Port A they now talk in terms of “before” and “after”, in regard to “before (the storm) so and so did this…” or “After… the employees still need to work.”
Sunday morning a cold front came in and our nice beach weather was coming to an end. I tend to wake up quite a bit earlier than my family, or most people for that matter, so I grabbed my stuff and snuck out of our hotel room before any of them woke up. I grabbed some coffee at a local convenient store than headed to the beach early enough to watch the sunrise over the water, something this west coast boy has only seen a handful of times. Perhaps I even had a glimmer of hope that there may be a wave or two forming on one of the sandbars. It was definitely wishful thinking, even with the 20 knot side shore wind blowing in with the cold air that came in the night before. Fall might be back, at least for a couple of days, what better way to end a trip and motivate the family for the journey home.