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I Found My Silver Lining At Grayton Beach State Park
My husband and I were wandering down the East Coast with our two dogs. We had just made an unplanned visit to West Virginia to be with my family during a medical emergency and, as a silver lining to the sudden and stressful trip, we figured we'd meander down the Atlantic and across the Gulf on our way back to Texas rather than traverse the highways we already knew so well; the ones that run through Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. We didn't have much of a plan, but we had a bed in our van and a small list of dog-friendly beaches we'd be passing through.
To hell with the romantic detour, we decided that night. We agreed to leave town early and just drive straight to Austin. Still, I noticed Grayton Beach State Park on the map as we drove through the panhandle. We got there in time for sunset and although we only spent 20 hours there, that park was our silver lining. The dogs weren't allowed on the beach, so we had to spend our beach time separate. I went first, inhaling more deeply than usual during yoga postures. With my feet rooted in the wet sand and the sun setting to my right, I felt as though, for the first time in two weeks, I could breathe. With each crashing wave that was lapped back up by the ocean, my muscles loosened. My head fell to the ground before me and, just like that, I let it all go.
We got delicious takeout that night from a little Italian place near the beach called Borago. We drank big pours of wine and whiskey at the bar while we waited for the food. We took the boxes back to our campsite and with the headlights turned on and shining toward us, we dined at 10:30 p.m. at the picnic table.
We continued west in the morning. We stopped at the KOA Baton Rouge on our last night of the trip. A woman in an especially sour mood greeted us. She scoffed at us for having a bed in our car and seemed intent on not letting us stay at all until a colleague of hers shooed her away and took over. He told me about his plans to drive straight down to Panama soon. He used to live there and is eager to return. Were it not for the reprieve we found in Grayton Beach State Park, the kind of "hospitality" the KOA woman showed us would have, I am guessing, broken my last nerve. But that 20-hour vacation is just what we needed. It was enough to redeem the two weeks that preceded it. It was enough to keep me focused on the drive to Panama this man would soon be making.