I had planned to come to Texas by a certain date since I had tickets to attend a screening of some Banff Film Festival winners, which I did for a couple of years after a friend invited me and I got hooked. This was like a little piece of my usual annual routine while away and I”m glad it worked out. The movie was in Houston and whether due to not huge interest, people staying home, or a weird reason a bunch of seats were left reserved and unused, I had the whole row to myself at this Alamo Drafthouse (so decent sized seats) except one man on the opposite end, and no one right behind me, so I felt pretty okay being there and eating the massive amount of bottomless popcorn. The movies were great, as usual. The following day the festival tour announced they were suspending all other showings going forward, so for once it was perfect timing.

Houston itself didn’t really interest me much. I stopped off at a few roadside attractions like when I creepily took pics of a house adorned with beer cans, tabs, bottle caps, the whole shebang. It was a sight. I wonder what the neighbors think? I wonder if the owner was just looking for an excuse to consume enough beer to make it, or maybe it was an inspired recycling project? We may never know (because I didn’t see anyone to ask). What requires less deep thought was a statue of girls taking a selfie, which I laughed at and of course immediately took a selfie with. I wonder whether this will still be here 20 years from now, and what kids will think it all means.

While my movie timing worked out, the comedy show I was scheduled to see in San Antonio was, as expected, postponed, so my timeline opened up. Rather than go straight to San Antonio I decided to escape to the beach, and drove south to Corpus Christi. The drive was mostly monotonous, but as I approached the coast there were beautiful marshes, some giant windmills, and eventually a bunch of oil refineries (side note- the street names near the refineries were spectacular. Corn Products Road was my personal favorite) dotted the landscape as it turned into one giant strip mall for miles. Over the bridge from Corpus Christi though I reached Padre Island National Seashore, which was so calm and relaxing. Only occasional cell signal, not many visitors so I could claim a spot on the beach well away from anyone, nice breeze and occasional sun peeking through the waves. The water was warmer than I expected but I didn’t go in for real, just up to the knees.

Padre Island offers beach access and camping for vehicles, which is pretty cool and I think the van would be okay on super packed sand but I was not going to risk it with my 2-wheel drive heavy mess that slips a little even on just gravel or slick rainy surfaces. There was ample room at a campsite, though, so I played it safe and got a space in the area behind the dunes that was fully paved. After I’d set up all my stuff an started to cook dinner I was told that if I wanted I could set up a tent on the beach, which I considered- one voice in my head said ‘that’s super cool, how often are you gonna do that??” while the louder thanks to inertia voice said “um, sand everywhere… who knows how high the tides come up… wet sleeping bag… nope” and stayed put. It was still lovely for the nights listening to the waves and getting the breeze in, but in retrospect wish I had done it anyway.

Went for walks on the beach, set up my chair and read, got takeaway pizza for Pi Day to fill my belly, all in all just a nice time away from many people. On an early morning walk timed to coincide with sunrise, I spent about 5 minutes watching something I wasn’t sure whether might be a sea turtle eggshell washed ashore, but turned out to be a golf ball. Too cloudy to get any good sunrises, but at least got one nice sunset moment.

On my way back from the coast towards San Antonio I made a quick side trip to the strawberry capital of Texas to see their strawberry water tower and all their other proud displays. If only it had been strawberry season!! I would have loaded up and gone full glutton. As it was at this time of year I saw maybe one person out and about and zero activity in any shop or stand. Already missing the beach, but excited to see what San Antonio had in store and just listened to Ali Wong’s audiobook since my evening with her was off the table 😦

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