Texas Trip: Hello Beaches!

So, yeah: The Queen and I went to Texas. No one is more surprised about this turn of events than I.

We haven’t taken a trip in a long time, and this month was now-or-never time. By our reckoning, once The Squirrelly makes his debut, the era of the noun “vacation” habitually preceded by the adjective “relaxing” is probably over. More specifically, The Queen is wrapping up her second trimester, and we’d heard that most major airlines prohibit women in their seventh-eighth-ninth month of pregnancy from flying (although a little post-vacation Googling revealed this to be, for the most part, an urban legend).

In deciding our destination, I only had one requirement: I wanted to go somewhere. The Queen, on the other hand, had two: she wanted to be warm, and she wanted to look at plants. (This might be explained by the fact that she’s a professional botanist. On the other hand, I’m a professional programmer and I had no desire to go somewhere and look at machine code, so maybe it doesn’t explain anything.) Anyhow, I let The Queen pick the city, and somehow Corpus Christi came out the winner. I think it was the new “Texas: Now With More Republican Legislative Districts Than Ever!” ad campaign that it won her over.

We stayed in the Corpus Christi ‘burbs, which was notable for containing one retail outlet for every single chain store in America. It was ridiculous. We even turned it into a driving game, where one of us would say “I haven’t seen any Krispy Kremes yet!” and then the other — usually with 20 seconds — would shout “found one!” and point it out. We saw a Circuit City, a Best Buy, and a third enormous electronics store all on a single block. We saw a Wal*Mart half a mile from a Target.

In a way, the dismal, generic landscape worked to our advantage, because it drove us out of our hotel room bright n early every morning and out to the Gulf Coast. [11:00 am constitutes "bright n early" while on vacation -- ed.]

The first day we went to the Corpus Christi Botanical Garden, which was quite lovely despite the fact that nothing was in bloom. Fortunately for The Queen, she doesn’t need no stinkin’ flowers to enjoy plants: she can identify them all by their leaf shapes and stem colors and, I dunno, nodes or stamen or whatever. Hand her a piece of bark and she can tell you a tree’s social security number. Fortunately for me, there were plenty of spiders and frogs and lizards and raptors to keep the 7-year old boy in me happy.

The next day we went to the beach. And once The Queen got her tosies in the sand it was beaches from that point on. First we went to Padre Island, which was beautiful but lousy with Portuguese man-o-wars — iridescent jellyfish renowned for their painful stings. They were about every ten feet up and down the tideline, and the question “if this is how many washed up, how many are still in the water?” deterred us from swimming.

When we later went to Mustang Island, though, we discovered there are worst things you can find on a beach than man-o-wars: junk of all types, specifically. Bottles, diapers, syringes — you name it, it was there. We’d seen signs at Padre Island (a nation park) telling us the beach was cleaned every day, but we didn’t understand the need until we visited Mustang — apparently state park aren’t as meticulously groomed. But I did find an enormous washed-up TV — score!

More details to come.


Bromiliads. This is the kind of thing The Queen somehow gets all excited about.

Free TV? Kick ass!

Holy shit! I took a really nice picture!.

Damn those Portuguese.

Okay, see? Now that’s interesting.

Update: The Queen insisted that I clarify a point:

You need to add the third reason I wanted to go to Texas: the Mexican food in Seattle is really, really bad, and, since I’ve been pregnant, I fantasize about burritos all the time.

Duly noted.

* * *

19 comments.

  1. Sounds fun…The great thing about growing up in the spacious (spaced out) West with its abundance of box stores is that when you live on the East Coast and get homesick all you have to do is go to Target. Or a certain kind of mall. And it all comes back to you.

    Glad to hear the Queen is doing OK and the little squirrely is proceding apace.

  2. and raptors???

  3. The coastline here in Texas is great, but the latter times of spring and fall always leave the beaches around there littered with those slimy castaways. You should’ve travelled to Padre back during Spring Break or at the end of summer so that you could witness the biannual return and mating rites of studentum alcoholicus. It’s quite beautiful really. Most creatures feed diurnally, but these crazy critters go at it incessantly, always trying to purge their system of sobriety and coherent thought. Be a sport and try it out the year after next. Especially, if you’re looking for a sequel, Squirrely II: This Time He’s Made Of Liquid Metal!

  4. I hope you picked up all those washed-up diapers. Re-use, re-cycle!

  5. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how little your style will be cramped by the baby. (At least, once it is sleeping thru the night.) We thought we were super-parents because we were still up and going here and there and not feeling overly burdened by the whole thing.

    Then we had the second child, and things really started to go. The efforts increase exponentially with each new kid.

    If you stay with one, you’ll still be able to vacation and do things pretty much the way you always have – until they start school. Then you’ll be locked into the “calendar” as to when you can do things and when you can’t.

    Enjoy…thekeez

  6. Who needs all those electronics stores when TVs are washing up on the beach!

  7. Vacationing with a botonist must be almost as frustrating as going on a hike with one.

    I’ve hiked with many a botonist and you are lucky if you travel 100 feet in thirty minutes. It’s bryophyte this and vascular that and stamen, always with the stamen!

    Of course foresters are just as bad, we’re looking up at every tree calculating the board foot volumes and noting the defects in the wood, so who am I to judge.

  8. Travelling with writers is the worst. We’re always stopping and musing, “So, is the wind merely ‘fingering the tips of the trees’ or is it more the wind is ‘molesting the tips of the trees’? No, no! I think the wind is ‘groping the tips of the trees, like a 14 year old on a first date.’ Yes! That’s it.”

    Descriptors can be so vacation-destroying.

  9. your post brought back old memories. We went to Corpus Christi when my wife was 4 months along with our first. this was 18 years ago. we had an old vw bus and drove down to CC from the middle of nowhere texas. can you still drive on the beaches? we drove down the beach until we couldn’t see anyone else and parked. i don’t remember portuguese man-o-wars (we were able so swim), but I do remember the beaches being clean.

  10. I’m a botanist and married to a computer programmer.
    Wow. How many of us are out there?

  11. Where I live a Super Wal*Mart (one of two) is directly ACROSS THE STREET from a Target. The following retail stores exist within a *quarter-mile* radius:
    Toys R’ Us, Books-A-Million, TJ Maxx, Home Depot, Lowes, Staples, Office Max, a whole mall, Carinval Shoes, Old Navy, Linens and Things and Pet Smart.

    This is excluding restaurants, cellular comapnies, gas stations and fast food joints.

    I fucking long for a museum.

  12. Is it possible the spider has just passed gas and you’ve managed to capture the vapor trail? Do you recall if you were you downwind?

  13. > Wow. How many of us are out there?

    I’m a computer programmer, and my wife is a botanist. But we’re both organic farmers as well, so we might skew the data a bit…

  14. you think a target a half mile from a walmart is bad? We’ve got a Walmart, Target, best buy, and a gamestop all in the same PLAZA.

    Excessive? Yes. Gamer’s heaven? You bet.

  15. Cool. Tell the Queen I hear her on the Burrito fantasies. If I eat any more guacamole I may turn into a ??plate of nachos??

    However, as southwesterner from a rival state I must object to the characterization of Texas Mexican food as good. They use yellow cheese!

  16. ANOTHER coincidence: I’m a programmer, my wife ISN’T a botanist, but she did crave burritos when she was pregnant. sounds like 6 degrees of The Queen/df to me…..

  17. Have you taken the Queen to Gorditos on 85th near Greenwood?

  18. three words: chi cag o.

    i could never list the all the stores in a close proximity like that. near my house, there is a mile stretch of car dealers, solid; just name a car type. for shopping: michigan ave, the mag. mile. there is a town for just shopping.
    an eight (i think) story sportmart. and eight level mall. a different mall that has interlevels–the levels slope into each other. three or four apple stores. ohare city. etc etc etc…

  19. DFW is possibly the worst about having fifty million stores all right next to each other. The nice thing about it is that the neighborhoods are generally free of stores and whatnot. It’s also kind of nice to have several similar stores close by to price check or in case one is out of something. (I couldn’t even begin to list all the stores near my house. It would take an hour.)