Summer in Texas

Offbeat ways to escape the triple-digit heat

I just don’t know if I can handle another summer in Texas. Triple digit heat, ozone alerts and the threat of West Nile, which will probably never be completely eradicated. You just know that PETA will eventually instigate a catch-and-release program for mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, because of the economy, many of us are still skittish about taking time off, fearing our position will have been eliminated when we return. Yeah, it would be great to finally be in a situation where you never have to worry about losing your job. But let’s face it, there are only three or four jobs in the world like that. Supreme Court justice, Pope, general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, and apparently, athletic director at the University of Texas.

But I decided a few weeks ago that I was definitely going somewhere. So I headed over to the local CVS and started thumbing through some travel magazines. One particular opportunity really caught my fancy. A trip to Mars. The planet. You know, the red one just 50 million miles down the road there. I’m not making this up.

A Dutch company called Mars One is lining up reservations for the initial voyage sometime in 2022. Sadly, there is only room for four and 78,000 are currently on the waiting list. But if you’re lucky enough to be chosen, there are a few things you might want to jot down. First of all, although Mars looks pleasant enough from the Mars rover, don’t be lulled into packing a lot of cargo shorts or sundresses. A balmy day on Mars is around 60 below. Secondly, if you’re prone to allergies, you might want to take some extra precaution. The dust storms on Mars have been known to envelope the planet within a few hours. But don’t worry, they generally subside after several months. Still, it wouldn’t hurts to toss in an extra bottle of Claritin. And finally, during those long idle months of interplanetary travel, try to at least skim through the ship’s owner’s manual. If the pilot should pass away on the way there, chances are you’re going to have to figure out how to land the vehicle yourself.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And the $6 billion price tag for this trip might seem like a great deal. But did I mention it’s just “one way?” You see, Mars One has not quite yet come up with the technology to bring you back. There just has to be some cheaper alternatives for one-way travel. I bet you could fly people to the sun for half that amount. Truth is, they’d only last a minute longer on Mars. They might last two minutes longer in Beaumont, and that’s just a $78 bus ride.

I also saw some packages for northern California. I love that area and have always wanted to go to Napa Valley. I think it would be cool to visit some of those wineries. What really got me interested in going was a wine tasting class that was hosted by Jon Bonnell at his restaurant, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine. He was great. Trouble is, I couldn’t remember what I learned. Or where my car was. However, I did hear something recently about the health benefits of red wine. It contains a chemical called resveratrol that has been shown to extend the lives of mice. Trouble is, for humans to receive this anti-aging benefit, they would have to drink 100 bottles of wine a day. That was a shocking revelation to all of my wine-drinking friends. In fact, some of them are just going to have to cut back.

Then there was this huge ad for Disney World, and I thought it might be fun to take my granddaughter. I started to get fired up, but then I read the small print. “Children must be accompanied by an incredibly wealthy adult.”

I’m just kidding myself. If I go anywhere, I know exactly where it will be. Galveston. And when I get there, I’ll go straight to that little restaurant along Seawall Boulevard. Benno’s. Then, I’ll order the blackened shrimp, sit right by the window and wait. I just know it’s going to happen again. It was 25 years ago this summer when the kids and I noticed a small commotion on the beach. It appeared as though several guys were throwing together a small stage. A few of us wandered up to watch, and when it was finished, this long haired guy in a Hawaiian shirt got up there, plugged his guitar in an amp and started to play. Word spread in a hurry and for good reason. It was Jimmy Buffett. He had just decided to throw an impromptu concert. It was one of the most unbelievable afternoons ever.

Hopefully, everybody will get to take a vacation this summer. I just hope it isn’t one way. And staying in Texas may not wind up being so bad. It all depends on Jimmy.

All complaints can be directed to [email protected].   illustration by Charles Marsh