The Good Enough Beach


Let me start by saying that when I moved from Flint to Texas in the summer of 2008, I really didn’t know anything about it. Texas was not a place of interest to me before I needed a job and the whole state seemed to be hiring, whereas Michigan was not. I guess I imagined that being a sort of peninsula itself, it might be similar to Michigan in terms of availability of water to swim in. I was wrong.

First, Texas is big. I mean, most people know that and of course, it is a universal truth that everything is bigger in Texas, but I did not truly grasp the enormity. And the beaches are not of the stunningly clear-blue Great Lakes variety. Instead, they are generally a little dirty, seaweed strewn, slightly smelly ocean beaches. They lack the white sand of Florida or the smooth pebbles of some of our favorite French and Italian beaches.

But, a beach is a beach. So, we often find ourselves loading up the Jeep with coolers and folding loungers, beach toys and boogie boards. Veritable buckets of sunscreen and towels galore are bursting from the back of the hatch. And … we drive. We drive just over an hour to the Gulf Coast near Galveston.

Now, Galveston itself is a popular beach destination. But, it’s a little too busy for my taste. A little overly touristy, a little too dirty. Galveston is an island and I’m certain that some parts are lovelier than others, but I also know that the nicer areas are privately owned and not accessible to a lowly visitor like myself.

You drive along the sand until you reach a likely spot, pull in and park.

Instead, we head nearby to Galveston, to a city appropriately named Surfside Beach. The beach is open to vehicles with permits. You drive along the sand until you reach a likely spot, pull in and park. Families then pop open their tailgates or hatchbacks, bringing out tents and portable grills, umbrellas, surfboards, paddle boards. They unfold beach chairs and start grilling up hot dogs or chicken. They make themselves at home while other would-be-beach-goers drive by every few minutes in their vehicles, looking for an open place to park and set up their own little beach picnic area for the day. It can be a little stressful with cars driving by, something I’m not sure how I feel about (Is this safe? Sanitary?) but the mood is consistently happy, the leisure-seekers uniformly relaxed and enjoying themselves.

Since living in Texas, we are generally pool people; always having a friend or a family member who has a pool or has access to one – but my almost six-year-old vastly prefers the beach. So, we have been making the hour-long trek to the beach pretty often, even though sand seems to collect everywhere as a result. In all of the nooks and crannies of the Jeep, in all unmentionable places of our bodies, inside our sandals and within the fibers of our towels. But, for all of the itchy, scratchy sand, long drive and the brief anxiety of cars driving by our beach chairs, a day at Surfside really is lovely.

There’s a daiquiri shack near the beach where piña coladas can be easily procured, and waves just strong enough to be refreshing without being dangerous. The water is fine and not too cold, and having our own vehicle parked just behind our beach loungers means that there is no hauling and carrying at pack-up-and-go-home time. All in all, it’s not the greatest or most pristine beach, but when you’re craving a beach day, it’s good enough.

I may not have known anything about Texas when I moved down, but the more I get to know, the more I find to fall in love with … especially the daiquiri shacks.


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