Puttin’ on the Ritz Island Style on Bolivar Peninsula with Friends

A couple of weeks ago, Dan and I drove down to Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula to meet up with friends I graduated with nearly 40 years ago.

Dan had never visited this part of Texas before. I’d been here when I explored the Texas Independence Trail and when I drove around the perimeter of Texas in 2020.

During the pandemic, my friends and I kept up through Zoom and Facebook, but we decided it was time to actually see each other again in person. As a new student in 1980 at Livingston High School in Livingston, Texas, I met Darla, Jami, and Mark. They had been friends for years so I was somewhat of an outsider. Since I didn’t live in town, I spent most of the time getting to know them in class.

Hands down one of my favorite classes was Drama, as my favorite teacher taught us. Mrs. Bass was amazing! Jami, Mark, and I were in several theater productions at L.H.S.

I also played basketball in high school, as did Darla. We later became room mates for a year at Tyler Junior College, where Darla played on the team and I served as a team manager.

While we all haven’t been together regularly over the past 40 years, we have been able to connect occasionally. When the opportunity arose for us to have a long weekend, we took it. We met at The Ritz of Crystal Beach, a beautiful beach home in a gated community located around 50 yards from the beach. With a number of bedrooms for adults and children alike, two decks overlooking the beach, plenty of space to spread out, an elevator, and easy proximity to the water, I highly recommend it for reunions or family gatherings. It provided all the comforts of home and then some. It’s tastefully decorated with beautiful local art painted by an artist the owner knows.

Dan and I arrived a day early, so our hosts Darla and her husband Bubba, joined us for dinner that night at Stingaree Restaurant & Marina in Crystal Beach. It also happened to be Veteran’s Day, so we had a chance to recognize Dan for his service in Vietnam. The food was delicious and the views outstanding.

Jami and her husband arrived the next day and Mark joined us later that evening. Unfortunately, his wife wasn’t able to make it so he was forced to put up with all of us with no back-up plan to escape. We came from different places around the state – San Angelo, Woodville, Livingston, and San Antonio.

At night, everyone chose the adult beverage or regular beverage of our liking and sat on the deck, reminiscing while watching the boats and cruise ships coming into Galveston Bay. I have to say for me, as a travel and tourism professional, it was nice to once again see my industry family have the opportunity to once again work, after many businesses were closed for months at a time and the service industry community didn’t have the luxury of working from home, as did so many others.

Dan and I did take a few hours to explore Galveston on one of the days and rode the Galveston-Bolivar Peninsula Ferry, a quick 18-minute ride that takes you 2.7 miles across the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston Island.

I travel a lot for work so I’ve been to the island numerous times over the past few years. Dan had not so we mostly drove around the city.

A couple of Carnival Cruise ships were in the harbor, awaiting departure, near the Historic Strand when we drove by, and we watched excited passengers getting ready to embark on their great adventure.

We planned our trip prior to Thanksgiving so the Bolivar Peninsula was pretty quiet. Dan enjoys swimming far more than I do, but he chose to walk the beach beside me, as we strolled through the cold water and collected seashells along the way. We saw plenty of wildlife between riding the ferry, walking the beach, and taking in a small portion of the North Jetty, which is walkable for several miles off the coast.

Dan found his happy place in the water.

The sunrises were favorites for us and we spent our early mornings awaiting the light to burst from the horizon to bring us a new day. It didn’t disappoint from any angle.

Though we would have loved to have more time together, we certainly had great laughs and relived many wonderful moments. We’re older and maybe a little wiser. Gathering together for a reunion brought our nearly 60-year-old selves back to a carefree time of being teenagers with no idea what awaited us, what choices we would make, and what direction our lives would head. Hopefully, we’ll all have the opportunity to see each other again in 2022 , when we’ll gather to celebrate at our 40-year high school reunion.

Until next time, when How Big is Texas explores more of the great state of Texas, I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with love, laughter, and time with friends and family. Safe travels!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathryn Haynes says:

    Loved the Bolivar post by Darla!’

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