By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
This weekend is shaping up to be an excellent one for the 31st Annual Sandcastle Days, and I can’t wait.
The beaches are wide this year, free from last year’s king tides which forced the sand sculptors to huddle close to the base of Clayton’s deck, lest the waves lapped at their carefully carved creations. The unusually high tides also forced the City of South Padre Island to construct a last minute sand berm to help keep the surf at bay.
Thankfully, all systems look green for this year’s festivities. The beaches are expansive, the waves are a sparkling turquoise blue, and the skies have been a perfect mix of sunshine and clear azure flecked with fluffy cumulous clouds.
There’s just something about Sandcastle Days that appeals to the kid inside me, I think. Because, who doesn’t remember being a kid and taking a family trip down to the beach? Those are some of my favorite childhood memories.
For us, a day trip to the beach was an affair. It was an orchestration of many moving parts. Dad would pack a tent and a barbecue pit, as well as all the things needed to accompany those, such as a bag of charcoal, some lighter fluid and an ice chest full of meat. Mom, ever the person to be prepared for any situation, would pack everything else.
And I do mean everything else. She’d pack beach towels and sunscreen. Plus a couple changes of clothes per kid. She’d pack another ice chest with cold cuts, soft drinks, water and other snacks. Then there were the wet wipes and paper towels, maybe a blanket or two. And a first aid kit. And some pillows. And extra shoes. And so much more I can’t even remember everything.
All I do remember is that, by the end of it all, Dad had to play real-life Tetris in order to get it all to fit in the back of our Chevy conversion van, and we kids were crammed in like sardines.
And I also distinctly remember the smell — the smell of salt and surf that would waft its way inside the cabin as we drove into Port Isabel and made our way over the Causeway. I remember the cry of the seagulls and that impatient sense of excitement building and building in the way that only happens to children who are oh so eager to know, “Are we there yet?!”
But of course, we weren’t there yet; it would be an agony of several long minutes more before we’d reach the county accesses and set up camp just outside the high tide line. And, oh, the joy of jumping out of the vehicle to feel that very first sensation of powder-soft sand wrapping itself around toes and heels! That’s an incomparable, indelible feeling, and one I still take a moment to enjoy to this day every time I go to the beach.
We’d do all the things beachgoers do — we’d frolic in the waves, and scour the beach for the best seashells. And, of course, we’d build sandcastles, though they were nothing compared to the incredible works of art you can find on display during Sandcastle Days.
So, it is with a sense of excitement not unlike those childhood beach days long since passed that I wait to see what this year’s crop of master sand sculptors create. Happy Sandcastle Days, y’all!
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