Illustration by Michael Witte

My addiction to Texas beaches began literally overnight. I was in my early 20s and in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. My husband was in law school and his best buddy’s wife and I had also become great friends. Late one Friday night, we decided in the middle of a game of dominoes to go to the beach. Immediately. Not even wait until dawn.

Such is the energy and impulsiveness of youth. We each grabbed a toothbrush, a change of clothes, and a bathing suit and headed for Corpus Christi. We took turns driving and sleeping. The reward was a sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.

I have strolled pink sugar beaches in Bermuda, stumbled over black volcanic beaches in the Canary Islands, and fought for my spot in the sun on the overpopulated sands of California and Bali. But honestly, my favorite beach in the world is the one that skirts South Padre Island. I have always found it to have a spectacularly unique character, both Texan and exotic, accessible and still unpredictable.

But honestly, my favorite beach in the world is the one that skirts South Padre Island.

There was the summer I accidentally invited a family of relative strangers to join us in South Padre. We’ve all had the conversation: “What are you doing over the summer?” You wax on about your plans. The listener oohs and aahs. It was a casual chat through car windows in the pick-up line at a school where my son Elliott and this mother’s son were both new fourth graders. “You should go with us,” I said.

That’s when the woman I liked, but scarcely knew, said, “Okay! Let’s do it.” Suddenly, our family’s ritual was to be shared. Was the simple visit we treasured really enough to please another family?

It rained four days out of six.

I learned that the beach during inclement weather can be crazy-good fun when traveling companions turn out to be flexible, innovative, and great storytellers. We talked endlessly, tried new restaurants, discovered South Padre’s movie house. We created rainy-day rituals. They are beach umbrellas, after all.

We chased the sun when it did appear. That’s how I got up in time to see my first beach sunrise since that one I drove into all those years before. It’s only gotten better.

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