I believe the life we currently live is but one stopover on a long journey of which we know no beginning, a journey that has no end. I was born in West, Texas, a small Czech community where the work ethic is strong and the Catholic Church and a large family was the center of our social life. Given the power, I wouldn’t change a thing. But something happens when I get close to the Gulf of Mexico. Even miles away, I can close my eyes, take a deep breath, and know it’s near. It’s the smell of brine and something ancient and indefinable. I lived in the Pacific Northwest for five years, inhaling brine and pine each morning when I left my apartment. It was fresh, clean and a daily reminder that I was where I needed to be at that time in my life.
Without taking anything away from my hometown and the other places I’ve lived, I have to honestly say that I am a Gulf Coast girl at heart. When I am away, I miss it, when I’m nearby, I feel comfort, and when I’m there, I know I’ve come home. We arrived on the Gulf Coast on December 27, and stayed three nights in the little town of Port Isabel. From there we headed for Rockport and the Laguna Reef for eight nights. I love this place. Out of our hotel window we can watch the sun rise as it throws a blanket of pink across the water. The first morning, I counted nine bird species (ibis, blue heron, tricolored heron, little blue heron, roseate spoonbill, great white egret, snowy egret, white pelican and of course the laughing gulls) feeding and floating along the shore. I’m convinced the two white ibises and tricolored heron live there permanently. Diner at Charlotte Plummer and Alice Faye by the Bay was excellent. I got in two long runs, a 14-mile and a 20-mile; surprising, or not so considering the location, they were easy.
Not wanting to leave, but moving on, we checked into the old Luther Hotel (setting for Murder at the Luther) in Palacios where Billy and Dolly welcome us like family. Last year when we were there, our favorite Mexican restaurant was closed for renovation, so we visited twice this year. Palacios Mexican Restaurant, known locally as PMR, has the best shrimp fajitas anywhere. It’s worth a visit to Palacios just to have the fajitas. Palacios is in Matagorda County. Every year this county has the highest Christmas bird count in the country. Driving along one afternoon, we spotted two bald eagles perched on a berm near an irrigation tank.
We left the Luther; our next stop was the Galvez Hotel in Galveston (sitting for Murder at the Galvez). The place never fails to impress me. The hotel will celebrate its 100th birthday next year, and they are spiffing it up, not that it really needed it. We visited family and friends and hated to move on. After a brief detour to Jefferson, Texas, we worked our way back to the coast—Lafayette, Louisiana, Ocean Shores, Mississippi, Fairhope, Alabama and now we’re in Florida for a very long stay!