Coastal Recollections

Our trip to Galveston last week brought back memories of a trip we took during the waning weeks of 2008. We spent several days in southern Louisiana, where we visited Natchitoches, ate Natchitoches’ famous meat pies, and wandered the Tabasco Sauce manufacturing facility. After a week or so in Louisiana, we drove to Galveston, which was still reeling from the catastrophic damage inflicted by Hurricane Ike, a brutal beast whose destruction remains in evidence even today. Testimony was rampant throughout our drive that Hurricanes Ike and Rita had brutalized the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Abandoned cars, flattened homes and businesses, and enormous volumes of debris littered the countryside. Memories of Galveston from last 2008 were reinforced when I read several blog posts from last 2008 and early 2009, detailing various aspects of our trip. I mentioned, in those late 2008 blog posts, some places where we ate lunch and dinner. I described Joe’s Seafood, where we ate lunch, as “a small place operated by an Asian couple.” I went on to say “The clientele appeared to me to be poor, but working, and was quite diverse; Black, Hispanic, White, etc., etc., etc. The oyster po-boys were excellent.”

Last week’s trip reminded me how much I miss life on the Texas coast. Even though it has been many, many years since I lived on—or even near—the Texas coast, memories of that time grab me by the throat every time I’m near. During last week’s trip, we took the Bolivar Peninsula ferry that links Galveston Island with the Bolivar Peninsula. Dolphins followed us across the water, as did seagulls and pelicans. The smell of salt water permeated the air, reminding me of my childhood in Corpus Christi. Unfortunately, though, life on the Texas coast has changed dramatically since I lived there. The housing remains relatively sparse between the ferry landing and Galveston-proper, but even so it is much, much denser than it was in my youth. The same is true further south, along both North Padre Island and South Padre Island, where high-rise condos have overtaken the beaches and changed the complexion of the islands from desolate sandbars to tourist attractions designed for people with poor taste and subpar intellectual capacities. I’m only moderately bitter about the horrors that population growth inflicts on pristine shorelines.

Reading about the world as it was thirteen years ago is depressing. Too much has changed since then. My life has changed into something unrecognizable. I still want to wander desolate beaches and experience life as it should have been one hundred years earlier. Alas, that’s not an option. None of us can live in a time long since gone. We can only dream and fantasize and wish.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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