A cover of Texas Highways with a beach scene and scrub grasses

Cover image by Tom Urban

February 1991

Freelance photographer Tom Urban captured the sea oats and purslane that decorate the dunes of upper Padre Island for this 1991 cover. The cover story by Jack Lowry and Laura Black explored Padre Island National Seashore’s wildlife, sea creatures, and birds, while an accompanying story highlighted the treasure trove of seashells along the beaches of Padre Island.

While reporting this month’s cover story on seashells, editor-at-large Christopher Collins discovered the extent of Padre Island National Seashore’s wildness. A fierce wind treated his tent like a sail at the Malaquite Campground on his December trip. After a gust ripped his two front tent stakes from the ground a minute after he set up, he improvised and used his cooler and some big rocks to weigh the tent down.

Later, he photographed a prowling coyote about 200 yards from his campsite, while a fellow camper narrowly escaped stepping on a Western diamondback hiding in the vegetation covering the dunes. The wildness became more soothing after nightfall. “The only sound I can remember hearing is the crashing of the ocean on the beach,” he recalls. “It was so loud and rhythmic that a part of me felt as if I had left dry land altogether.”

Along with the national seashore, the Abilene resident visited Port Isabel, Corpus Christi, and South Padre to meet with shelling enthusiasts along the Gulf Coast. The prized souvenir from his trip? A sand dollar gifted by Philip Woods, a volunteer at the PINS visitors center. “The shell collectors I met during the course of this story were all incredibly generous—with their time and with their shells,” he says.

Emily Roberts Stone
Editor in Chief

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