The first time I saw Shamu… I was 4o years old. The first time my 3.5yr old saw Shamu… he was 2. Every week since then, he asks us when we can go back to SeaWorld San Antonio again and again… and again. We’ve been back probably 4-5 times over the past 18mos. The only other question that trumps Shamu in frequency asked is “Daddy… Can we go to the beach?”. “Soon Cameron… Soon”. That’s my cliche answer. My wife often gives me that look that silently… but oh, so blatantly says “you’ve gotta do better than that!”. Hey, I was able to fool him a few times by telling him Lake Travis and Lake Austin Spa Resort were the ocean; but, he’s watched Finding Nemo and one too many episodes of Hawaii 5-0 to know that his father is a liar.
Living in Texas, we have the luxury of not being a land-locked state, so we actually have a coastline. The challenge with Texas is that everything is BIGGER in Texas. Sounds like a cheesy t-shirt some 38DD Texas gal or a 6ft 9 350lb offensive lineman everybody calls “Tiny” would sport during Spring Break on Panama City Beach, Florida; but, I’m not kidding. Texas is BIG! Story time… I had a friend from Greensboro, North Carolina who drove 9hrs across 4 states to go to school at Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana). He was shocked when I told him I used to drive 11.5hrs from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas to Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. In the same state! Yeah, I only went home once or twice per year, because it was too bloody far! Speed limit was 55mph back then. Now I’m having flashbacks of my driving experience on Germany’s Autobahn. 180km/h. That’s no punk. We could learn a thing or two from the Germans about highway efficiency. But, that’s a whole other topic. Lucky for me, my parents moved to Austin, Texas back in 1991 during my Junior year in college – thus the blog name – Austin GlobeTrekker.
So… now that the anticipation has been built, the question came from Cameron once again… “Daddy, can we go the beach?”. The answer he had been waiting for… “YES! Cameron… we CAN go to the beach!”. It’s kind of like my frequent visits to Starbuck’s. It’s not that I favor the flavor of a Starbuck’s coffee; but, more out of routine and convenience that I’ve become a regular. My drink? Tall raspberry-hazelnut mocha – no whip. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even say anything. They just make it. I just pay for it. One day, I walked in and said “grande black coffee of the day please”. They laughed at me “ha ha ha! yeah right. We’ll have your drink ready in a minute”. But back to Cameron. When it finally registered in his fuzzy little head that I said “YES! Cameron… we CAN go to the beach“, it was as if the angels came down from the heavens, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra started playing Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Ha-lay-eee-loooooo-yah!!! For the rest of the week, he kept callin’ me Moses. A bit much if you ask me; but, I entertained the idea and responded each time politely with a “YES my son?”… in a deep Moses type biblical voice. You know… so he wouldn’t feel awkward. The staff, long grey beard and gold robe may have been a bit overboard on my end; but, I felt it was my responsibility to fit the part.
July 4th Weekend arrived, and the family loaded up in the car for our 4.5hr Texas road trip to Corpus Christi on the South Central Coastline of Texas. As we hit Gonzales, Refugio and Cuero, I kept reminding myself that I recently drove 4hrs from Lake Bled, Slovenia through Austria and Bavaria up to Munich, Germany. Similar… but different. VERY different. All eyes were closed when we reached Corpus; but, the excitement began when we pulled into our hotel at Holiday Inn Express – Corpus Christi. Really nice place for a family stay in Corpus. Clean. Friendly. Close proximity to restaurants, USS Lexington aircraft carrier, the Texas State Aquarium, and not too far from North Padre Island – Port Aransas – Rockport, Texas and the surrounding coastline. We made our way around Corpus for the 1st day; however, it was the 2nd day at Mustang Island State Park, Texas that told the story of the entire July 4th Weekend.
Remember… I was 40 years old, the 1st time I saw Shamu. The 1st time my 3.5yr old saw Shamu… he was 2. At that point in time, I had never been so happy in my life for somebody other than myself. That was until July 3rd, 2011 when my boys – Cameron (3.5yrs) and Jordan (19mos) saw the ocean for the FIRST time in their lives. The entire experience can be summed up like one of those Mastercard commercials –
- July 4th Weekend – Family Road Trip from Austin to Corpus Christi, Texas… 225 miles
- 20gal tank full of premium unleaded gasoline… $75.00
- Seeing the ocean through the eyes of your kids for the very first time… PRICELESS!
Sometimes… a picture says 1,000 words. For everything else… sure, there’s probably Mastercard.
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