“It happens every time I cross the Copano Bridge. I breathe easier, my shoulders drop. I smile bigger.”George Strait, “Find Yourself in Rockport-Fulton” campaign
Now, I don’t know if George actually wrote those words himself, but it doesn’t matter. I know exactly the place he’s talking about in the ad he did for the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey back in 2017, and he captured the feeling I have when I cross that bridge perfectly.
Dave and I bought a vacation home in Rockport, Texas back in 2017. In fact, we closed on it exactly two months before Hurricane Harvey made a Category 4 landfall directly over that very bridge, which we can see from our back deck. I wrote something about that experience in the immediate aftermath of the storm, which I’ll post here in the archives. That’s not what this is about.
In the years since, we’ve made the drive from Austin to Rockport at least a hundred times, with many more to come. It’s a little over 3 hours from door to door, and while we now know and love the roads and small towns along the way, there’s a point when we start to cross the bridge across Copano Bay that is our favorite part of the journey.
There is something about crossing over the water that melts away the stress of the work week and assures us that once again, spending some time on the water is going to refresh our minds and renew our spirits. There are magnificent sunsets that welcome us to our home away from home if we’re coming in at that time, and fisherman gathering the sea’s bounty from the piers near the bridge, from the shallow water in their waders or bay boats, or their shrimp and oyster boats make our mouths water. Sea gulls, herons and pelicans glide overhead as seemingly carefree as we start to feel, and every once in while dolphins can be seen frolicking in the water, which is as exciting to see the thousandth time as it was the first time.
Wallace Nichols describes it in his book “Blue Mind” in a much more scientific and thorough manner than I can in a relatively short blog post, but I truly believe there is something to it – the smell of saltwater, the sounds of gulls calling, herons squawking, and the unmistakable “phuuuuuush” sound that a dolphin makes when he comes up for air nearby – that is as effective at reducing anxiety as anything that can be procured at the drugstore. Whether the waves are crashing angrily over the seawall, or whether that same sea is as calm and smooth as glass – the power and majesty of the sea helps keep everything in perspective.