Port Aransas Bucket List

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A Beach Day in Texas, 1969

tA Beach Day in Texas, 1969

by Phil Strawn

black and white picture of surfer riding a wave in Port Aransas Texas
A Beach Day in Texas 1969

A Beach Day in Texas, 1969: The hint of daylight gives enough  for me to find my way down the steep steps of my family’s beach house. Grabbing my surfboard, wax, and a few towels, I load my supplies into the back of the old Army jeep, Captain America, and leave for the beach. The old vehicle takes time to wake up, and it sputters down E Street, doing its best to deliver me to the water’s edge.

Port Aransas is quiet this morning; fishermen and surfers are the only souls moving on the island.

As I drive to the beach, taking the road through the sand dunes near the jetty, the morning dew on the metal surface of the jeep pelts me like fine rain. The salt air is heavy, and I can see the cloud of mist rising from the surf long before I reach the beach. The seats are cold on my bare back and legs. The vehicle lacks a windshield, allowing bugs to hit my face and chest. Texas is a buggy place. That’s a fact we live with.

Parking near the pier and see two friends, Gwen and Gary, kneeling in the sand, waxing their boards. I am usually the first to arrive, but they beat me by a few minutes today. I join them in the preparation. We are quiet. This will be a good morning, and making small talk might interfere with our zone.

The Gulf of Mexico is glassy and transparent. The swell is four feet, with a right break. We enter as a group of three and paddle past the second sand bar.


Sitting on my surfboard, I see the sun rising over the ocean and feel the warmth on my upper body. A tanker ship is a few miles offshore. The smoke from its stack gives us a point to paddle to.

Today will be hot, and by noon, these beautiful waves will evaporate into a slushy shore break full of children on foam belly boards. But this morning, the three of us are working in concert with our beloved Gulf of Mexico.

We ride for hours. The ocean is feisty this morning. The waves are doing their best to beat us, but we show them who the boss is. The beach fills with other surfers, and now the line-up is crowded, and we ride into shore. Gary and Gwen leave, and I head home to go fishing with my father; the Kingfish await.

We lost touch after that summer. I heard Gary went to Vietnam and didn’t return. I would like to think that we would have kept in touch and shared our surfing stories around a good glass of bourbon at Shorty’s Bar. Three old men catching up and telling lies.


~Check out Phil Strawn’s Memories at 4:00 am, a story of his father fishing the beaches of Port Aransas in 1957.

~To read more by Phil Strawn check out: NOTES FROM THE CACTUS PATCH : “Tall Tales and Ripping Yarns from The Great State Of Texas”



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