When Travel is Good for the Soul

Fried oysters at Scully's in Port Lavaca on the Texas coast prove that travel is good for the soul.

Fried oysters at Scully’s in Port Lavaca, on the Texas coast.

Is it worth it to drive 30 minutes out of your way to enjoy exactly what you want in a travel experience?

You bet it is.

Despite all the general upheaval in the world, it is still wonderfully true that travel is good for the soul. Sometimes I’ve worried that travel’s magic is gone for me – would travel ever be the same, or have I become too much of an exhausted, cranky cynic?

My soul was rescued by a basket of crispy fried oysters.

After running a social media workshop and doing some exploring in the small south Texas town of Ganado, I realized that the Texas Gulf Coast at Port Lavaca was only about a 30 minute drive south of me. It was really Lavaca Bay and Matagorda Bay, not directly ON the ocean, but close enough to hear screeching seagulls and smell salt water.

Heading south meant that I’d be driving almost directly away from the direction of my home near Austin, and I wouldn’t arrive back until a bit after dark, but there was a travel vision in my head.

Me, sitting somewhere by ocean water, a breeze hitting me on a restaurant patio, with a late lunch of seafood.

(Honestly, I didn’t think I’d really find all that together in one place, but sniffing sea air for a little while was enough, even if I had to get a burger somewhere.)

I drove south, on a two-lane highway where everyone bombs along at 70-80 miles an hour because there isn’t much traffic and the road is as straight as a ruler.

Weird white blobs were stuck on the shoulder for one stretch, which I finally realized were blown bits of cotton from a recent harvest. Of course, I also saw plenty of cattle and some oil pump jacks spread across the flat coastal plain, plus huge packaging and plastic processing plants that dominated the horizon (and made me worry about their vulnerability to hurricanes.)

When I arrived in Port Lavaca, I drove around a little and then pulled over to look for a seafood place. A little Googling and poking around on Yelp (one of my go-to apps for travel) brought me to Scully’s Sports Bar & Grill, with that perfect breezy patio and a bay view.

Working boats near Scully's in Port Lavaca Texas.

Working boats near Scully’s in Port Lavaca, Texas.

Opposite Scully’s was a small group of working fishing and shrimping vessels rocking away at their berths as one pulled in from being out at sea. It almost felt like they were sitting there to add the perfect atmosphere.

I dithered over whether to order the small or large fried oyster basket, but the large (12 of them, nice and crunchy) plus a couple of hush puppies and some fries, was perfect.

Suddenly, I was literally “living the dream” of salty breezes and seafood.

I’d have driven a whole hour or more out of my way to get that, come to think of it.

(All photos by the author.)

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