Black shells, empty rooms
Down on the beach in Port Aransas, Texas, black shells are washing up with every wave. I gathered a pocketful this afternoon, walking the sand under a low, gray sky. It is warm down here -- about 40 degrees warmer than Dallas when I left the other day. I saw one other person on the beach and I walked about a mile down and back.
I'm here researching the history of surfing the Texas coast for a magazine assignment. Spent the morning with a local expert who took me through the new Texas Surf Museum. If you find yourself in Corpus Christi anytime soon, check it out. And then eat next door at the Executive Surf Club, where you can chomp fried shrimp salads or juicy wrap sandwiches sitting at a table made out of an old surf board.
Port Aransas is an island town east of Corpus. You drive onto a free ferry to get here. This morning the ferry ride was accompanied all the way across the channel by four dolphins, swimming in close formation. Arching up and out of the water, their sleek backs were just a few yards ahead of the ferry.
My friend pointed out an osprey on a telephone line as we drove into Corpus. This is where the whooping cranes spend the winter, too. Haven't seen one of those.
Life moves a little slower down here. And I seem to be one of the few tourists visiting Port A this week. In the brand new three-story hotel one block from the beach, I'm the sole guest. Just me and the desk clerk, who sounds like she has the flu. As I work on rewrites for the Phantom Prof book (another reason I'm spending time down here), I keep thinking of that scene from The Shining where the wife discovers what her novelist-husband (Jack Nicholson in the movie) has been typing day after day in the empty hotel where they're spending the winter: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Over and over and over again, page after page.
I haven't gotten quite that crazy.