Johnnie Mac hearts Stella is engraved on a post by the shore

The immediacy of the “relationship” message scrawled on the wall contrasts with the nearby action of the waves crashing against the shore. Metaphorically challenging? Don’t worry. Build a sandcastle instead.

“The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea.” I’ll settle on the third of writer Isak Dinesen’s salty cures: the sea, with a nod to the coast in general. And the beach in particular.

A few days at the beach, whether touring as a beachcomber (see “Beaching on the Cheap,” page 20) or seeking escape in a picturesque cottage  (“Cottages by the Sea,” page 40) will prove restorative, if not completely curative. The beach evokes wide-ranging reactions: one extreme demands immediate gratification by splashing in the waves and enjoying the thrill of the moment, while the other calls the philosopher to ponder the infinite. Dan
Klepper’s photo (above) brings to mind another quote, this one anonymous, “I dropped a tear in the ocean, and whenever they find it I’ll stop loving you, only then.”

This sentiment suggests a vast body of water. But even though the Gulf of Mexico—one small patch in a corner of the Atlantic Ocean—could be imagined as a body of endless capacity, in some ways it’s a closed system. When snorkeling off South Padre Island, Senior Editor Lori Moffatt learned that flooding in the Mississippi River deposits such a large sediment load in the Gulf that water visibility suffers all the way across to Padre Island. Such events remind us that, far from being limitless, the Gulf of Mexico—and, indeed the oceans—are delicate systems that depend on a fragile balance. (See her feature,
“Happiness Comes in Waves,” on page 50.)

And, of course, the coast is not just about the beach—Texas bays continue to gain more popularity as a destination, with kayaking, fishing, birding, and stand-up surfing now virtually omnipresent activities. With new paddling trails opening all the time, paddling the bays draws adventurers of every stripe.

And we love the more urbane, if not urban, coastal settings. Galveston (“Easy Embarcadero” on page 30) is always a favorite, with the historic Strand and the grand Galvez.

One last quote, this time, by Thoreau, “My life is like a stroll on the beach … as near to the edge as I can go.”

It’s time!

The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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