Category Archives: travel blog

travel blog

Undeveloped & Unreal: Camping on the Beach

boca chica sunrise van

It was thrilling to leave the comfort and known of the studio behind.  Just being out on the road felt great. There is something especially stirring when the road is one’s home. When there is no place to be. Freedom, with all its unknown potentials, is a wellspring of joy.

I got out here to Boca Chica Beach expecting it to be deserted for the most part, as it was last time. I suppose the sunshine and warm temps is what brought all the people out. There were people fishing, tanning, and just enjoying the summer-like heat on the beach, but the dunes still held the promise of solitude and an incredible 360 deg. view.

After carefully selecting a path through the soft sand so as not to get stuck, I headed a little ways down the beach and found a spot to camp. I spent the day laying in the sun and meditating out in the dunes on my trips to the use the only facilities here. (bring your own t.p. people!  😉

What I love about the beach, especially when you are alone, (not difficult at an undeveloped beach 20 miles from town like this one) is that it is easy to be in a meditative state all day long. The oceans lullaby, the wide open sky…there is a lot to take up one’s awareness. Like the forest, it can quiet the mind.

I decided a campfire would be cool, and despite the absence of any trees, started collecting what pieces of old firewood I could find. I managed to get quite a bag full of driftwood, half-burned pieces of another camper’s fire, and dried out pieces of the brush that grows in the dunes. I saved it all for dusk.

It was a great day. I felt at peace, and so very grateful for the warm sunshine and the breeze. I did not go in the water past my knees, despite wanting to jump in naked under the stars later that night. It was just a bit too cold out, it seemed. I wanted to be warm in my bed in the van, and not get the jersey sheets salty or sandy.

People started leaving by 4, and by 6 o’clock I was alone on the beach. I felt like this huge stretch of beach, with it’s dunes and wide open sky, was my own personal Walden Pond for the night. I was excited, grateful, and very much at peace.

The sunset was unbelievable. Blood red at it’s climax. I am so grateful that moments like these literally call to me. It is hard to explain, but I can be doing something else and suddenly I feel like there is a fleeting moment  there for me to catch. I love the hair-raising awe I feel whenever I heed that voice.  I have goosebumps writing about it now. I love how nature can call me home, connecting me to the profound beauty that is the Universe, that is Love.

boca chica sunset

My jaw was open for much of that sunset, and my heart was full of joy and excitement. I thought of Chris McCandless, (Into the Wild) and what he wrote to Wayne. “ I think I will live this life for quite some time. The beauty and simple joy is too good to pass up.” I felt the same way.

It took some effort, but I got a great campfire going. I called Melissa back after enjoying it alone for a while. I felt sharing it would make it even more special. It did. I love sharing moments I know we both appreciate. She is a treasured connection.

As the sun set fully, the moon and stars took over the stage that was the vast sky.The western sky had a dim orange glow from the city, the rest of the sky was black and deep blue, with the half-moon lighting up the clouds that hung in the eastern sky.

As the night deepened, my excitement and profound gratitude for what I was seeing only continued. I sat by my cozy campfire and enjoyed what looked like a black hole around the moon. It was a lunar halo, when the moonlight and the moisture create a dim rainbow of cloudy color that encircles the moon. Inside that ring it was black, with very few stars visible. Outside the ring the stars burned through the moonlight between a spiderweb of clouds.

It was breathtaking. I laid on my beach chair staring up at, the flickering light of the fire playing tricks on my eyes, causing a few of the stars to appear to wiggle and the moon itself to flicker. A great sunset and now this?! I was felt smiled upon.

Eventually the fire died down, and I went to sleep. There is nothing like being outside all day in the sun and ocean breeze to get one good and tired. My bed in the van was comfy and warm, and the sounds of the surf put me right to sleep.

I woke up to pee a couple times, and had no problem going back to sleep. When I woke up at 5:30 or so, and poked my head outside, my jaw dropped again, and there was no going back to sleep.

The clouds were gone, as was the moon. It has been a long time since I had seen so many stars. I bundled up for the breeze, and took a walk south down the beach. It was especially dark that way, and the stars were everywhere. I had hit the trifecta of night time magic!

All alone on the beach, under a truly breathtaking night sky. It doesn’t get much better than that for this soul. The stars always make me feel expanded, and this was one of the most expansive sights of my life. I wondered for a second if the sunrise would have much color, as I didn’t see many clouds. That thought went quickly…look at how things had gone so far.

I got back to the van and had some water with lemon and cucumber. I started some yoga stretching just as the first inklings of light began to separate sky from sea. As the minutes passed I began to see a cloud bank on the horizon. I smiled. Color was coming. The sun would begin to paint another masterpiece soon.

There is something profound, it has always felt to me, in waking up my body while watching a new day break. It is like attuning the body to the flow of nature. To capture the beauty of dawn with the eyes fills the heart with possiblity and potential. These are the moments it is easy to connect with the Divine. To know peace, and remember who one really is. Gratitude flows over, and there is nothing else to need.

boca chica sunrise me & van

PS. There is a private company called Space X that is beginning construction on a launch pad not far from this oasis of nature, so if you want to see it without that dominating the view to the northwest, get there this year!

Oh, and the second day I couldn’t resist, and jumped in the ocean! The ocean here in January is a couple degrees warmer, it seems, than the beaches in NE in August!

boca chica swim

Out To The Edge

south padre island jetty

It seems to me most of life’s magic happens outside our comfort zone.

It is 3 pm, and I am at Isla Blanca State Park on the Southernmost tip of South Padre Island.  It is nice here, the sun has come out, and despite the breeze it must be in the mid to upper 60’s.

There is a very long jetty here. I decided to walk out to the end. Who doesn’t want to go to the edge, of anything? I always feel driven to know what it feels like, “all the way out there”. It doesn’t matter the place. I suppose in many regards that explains my current journey into so many unknowns.

It was a long walk, and the jetty is made of huge blocks of stone, and once you get half way out, they are not flat or smooth. It was challenging to my legs and feet, and I wondered how sore my feet would be after all of it. I would say it was almost a mile out there from the car.

More than once I stopped, wondering if I should go back. That’s when the symbolism hit me. This is a snapshot of my life these days. It was getting harder, and more slippery in places, and I knew I had to walk all the way back too. But the edge was calling, and the deep green water beckoned. Only out at the end, in the distance, did the ocean look anything but brown, as here the heavy surf churned the sand below.

I wanted to be where the water was green and blue. I wanted to be out on the tip, where I could feel the waves crashing against the rocks, shooting white tipped water 10 feet into the air. I wanted to be surrounded by the force of nature, as far from the known safety of shore as possible.

It always seems like there is magic in such places. Mountaintops, cliffs, deep forests. There is, but it is we who bring it there. We savor the edge of the unknown. When all there is is the known, where then lies the thrill of new experience? I made up my mind and felt the rush of excitement that comes with a bold decision, even a small one.

The sounds of this trek were alone worth the effort. The sea has carved out caves and tunnels below and in between the rocks. The waves crashing into hollow spaces below and spurting out the cracks and crevices was a constantly surprising, sometimes startling cacophony of sound beneath my feet as I pressed on. Water bubbled and hissed out of small holes, and splashed about more freely in bigger chasms between the giant blocks.

It got more slippery as I neared the end. I went as far as I could without being in the splash zone, which would have been a soaking deluge of sea water and spray every time the bigger sets rolled in. I sat and closed my eyes, dangling my legs into a gap between stones. The water was only a foot below my feet, and rose with the surge of the waves.

A huge set rolled in, and the water rushed up over the rocks in front of me to within 5 feet of where I was, smiling with the excitement of being right on the edge of getting cold and wet, and at the mercy of an unusually big wave. To close my eyes became an exercise in trust.

I smiled, and did just that.

When I opened them again, I saw a dolphin emerge for air right off the rocks in front of me. It was about 30 feet away. I stood up, enthralled and with my mouth open in amazement, and two more, one a very small young one, also came up for a moment. I scanned the surf, hoping to see them again, but the moment was gone.

The walk back from a place like this always seems shorter, I guess. Going back to the known is always in some respects an easier road. We take some of the edge back with us, don’t we? What called us is now part of us. In knowing the edge we are expanded.

The cold ocean served as a nice ice bath for my aching feet on my return. Thick wool socks feel good now on my feet as I recline in the van and write out my thoughts. I glance back out to the jetty, and smile. I have taken it’s gift. It is the edge no more.