Not many things say, “I’m ready for a change” quite like letting your local real estate agent plant her sign in your front yard. It was a prominent feature in my rearview mirror as Jac and I headed out of our lakeside community for new adventures about seven hours south of where we now were. Even if we weren’t on the hunt for new digs down on the Gulf of Mexico, this trip was a much needed respite from the madness and mayhem occurring globally and in our own little world.
If you had asked us a few years ago, that little brick house shrinking into the background was where we planned to be until the end of time (our time, at least). But, as often happens to the best laid plans, things change, and sometimes plans have to be altered.
It has long been our dream to spend more time at the coast and most of our vacations find us there. Years ago, we almost moved to Galveston but changed our minds at the last minute and opted to stay lakeside. Lately, the draw for palm trees, salty air and crashing waves has increased and with my sudden job loss, a general disenchantment with our current geographical location and the overwhelming need for a change of scenery, everything just seemed to lead us down the road we were currently traveling.
The late April sun was bright, but cool as we picked up speed. The truck cab was full of the typical couples’ conversation when taking a trip. My beloved better half is quite chatty which makes her an excellent travel companion, and most of her conversation is savvy and interesting.
Sometimes she’ll ask a question like, “Are you sure we didn’t forget anything?” My standard answer varies depending on how far we are from the house. If we’re still in the neighborhood, I’ll give it serious thought before answering, because the ability to go back and retrieve the errant item is a realistic possibility at that point. If we’ve gone more than five miles or so, my answer is a resounding, “Yes,” because if we reach our destination without said item, then we either didn’t need it or it was easily replaceable at our destination.
Eerily Traffic-Free … Almost
Between us and our hotel on Padre Island, were three major metro areas, Ft. Worth, Austin and San Antonio. This was a Friday morning around 8am, and the traffic was eerily light. We hardly touched our brakes through all three of these normally traffic-laden cities. All day, I kept waiting to run into a slowdown, especially in Austin, but for over seven hours, on a Friday, in April, in the middle of the day we maintained close-to-the-posted speed limit the entire trip. We drove past deserted shopping center parking lots, restaurants with nary a vehicle parked nearby, schools and any number of other public facilities that would have normally been bustling with activity but were now idle.
The sight was at once sad and a reality check. Those empty buildings represented much more than just locked doors and hollow hallways, and the sense of seeing it up close and in person was palpable.
We were delighted to see Corpus Christi appear on the horizon and after a long day in the saddle, we were ready to settle into our hotel and start exploring the area that may become our new home.
The Beach Calls Out To Us
It was now just after 4pm, and we eased into the parking lot of the nondescript hotel. There were few choices for places to stay thanks to the shutdown, but there are worse places than the Best Western on Padre Island (an old boat in the middle of the desert comes to mind).
Less than an hour later, we were back in the truck and on our way to the beach. The hotel clerk informed us that the beaches were shut down, but we had to see for ourselves. I’ve never been one to just take someone’s word for things, and this was not a time to start doing so. We had driven all day to stand at the water’s edge, and we planned to do just that, even if it meant climbing over a few sand dunes to get there.
As we neared the beach access gate, we were delighted to see it swung wide open. A sign posted on the gate informed beachgoers that the area would be accessible until 8:00 pm. At that time, everyone would be asked to leave, and the gate would be locked. This gave us about three hours to hang out, and we took full advantage of that time.
The beach stretched out for miles, and as we slowly cruised along, our eyes eagerly soaked up the Gulf waters as they tumbled toward the shore and slipped back out again. Seabirds of all kinds and sizes searched for food that washed up onto the sand and hovered over the breaking waves for fish and other sea life that had been forced to the surface by the never-ending barrage of the turbulent tide.
The smell of salt permeated the gulf breeze and the roar of the waves buoyed our spirits.
Before long, we found a spot that suited us and climbed into the bed of the truck to take it all in. Couples strode along the shoreline, and children laughed and played in the crashing waves. Old men minded multiple fishing rods while seagulls circled over their heads waiting for a morsel of whatever they may have pulled from the depths.
Families lounged together enjoying boisterous conversation and treats that had been carefully packed for the day’s adventure. Young people threw frisbees and chased their dogs. We observed this activity and commented sparingly on what we saw. There was no need to express our joy to one another verbally, as it was obvious in our moods–moods that were suddenly light and as breezy as the air that now engulfed us. All was right with the world, and even if only for this little while, all was right for us.
Deep Thoughts and Long Walks
We were up early the next morning donning our sweats and walking shoes headed back to the beach just as the sun was breaking above the horizon. It was a glorious morning, and we were excited to get four miles of beach walking in before breakfast (okay, Jac was excited, I was only slightly amused).
We parked one mile from the fishing pier that also housed a cool restaurant and bar area (it was closed, unfortunately, so we weren’t able to patronize it during our stay), and planned to walk from the truck to the pier twice, giving us a total of four miles. Though we walked briskly and mostly in silence, we did enjoy some deep conversations and mild musings. After our first round trip to the pier and back, we decided to continue our third mile passing the truck and heading in the opposite direction.
With the discovery of the distance markers during our initial lap, we saw no point in making the same trip twice to measure our mileage. With nothing in front of us but miles of shoreline, we ticked off the markers and kept count of our progress. I realized as we walked along that the fact that we had no distant object that we could see as our goal, this mile seemed to be longer than the other three. But, isn’t that just the way life goes? There truly is a difference between going through life with a clear goal that you can look up and see ever so often versus just trudging along towards an endless nothing, not sure what to expect or when you might arrive.
There truly is a difference between going through life with a clear goal you can see vs. trudging along towards an endless nothing.Tweet
After our walk, we headed back to our room for a breakfast of cold cereal and fresh fruit. A hearty breakfast at one of the many seaside cafes we saw would have been awesome, but since everything was locked down, our meals would consist of whatever we could put together using a hotel fridge and small microwave. We laughed about it on the way home. Our travel budget was kept to a bare minimum since hundred-dollar suppers and fifty-dollar lunches weren’t an option.
Exploring Our Options
The real estate agent we had been in touch with showed us three homes. She was friendly and accommodating and gave us a lot of information concerning home values, areas to stay in and stay out of. Our goal is/was something on a canal with boat dockage and easy access to open water. Nothing much bigger than the home we currently own. I won’t divulge our budget here except to say, anything over $300k is getting out of our comfort range. Surprisingly enough, there were several nice homes that would have worked within our guidelines. We feared that may not be the case before arriving.
For the rest of the weekend, we explored the area on our own. Driving through neighborhoods we thought we would like, making the loop from Padre Island through downtown Corpus Christi and eventually taking the ferry at Port Aransas back onto Mustang Island and of course, back onto Padre Island.
We enjoyed suppers on the beach from the tailgate of our pickup, morning walks along the shoreline and a much needed rest for our minds and souls.
We saw many things that excited us further about the prospect of making this our new home, and our drive home was filled with dreamy conversations about what we saw and how we planned to proceed.
When we left home, we had a contract pending on our house that had fallen through, so for now, we are waiting patiently for a buyer that may or may not come. If they do, we’ll head south as soon as the check clears. If they don’t, we’ll continue to enjoy the life we have built for ourselves here with an eye on someday returning to the coast and all that that means.
My Name is Rob Poindexter. I am a writer + storyteller currently living in Lake Texoma, Texas. My specialties are small business, investor and entrepreneurial content marketing.
With a background in the marine, automotive and careers industries, and a knack for witty storytelling, I have written content that has been picked up by global, B2B and B2C media.