Q: I live in Arkansas but recently visited Port Aransas with my family for our summer vacation. We had never been to the Texas coast and were really looking forward to the trip, but it turned out that what could have been four beautiful days on the beach were marred by all the traffic! On the beach! Why on earth is driving allowed on Texas beaches? It’s not safe.
The Porters, Little Rock, Arkansas
A: The Texanist is glad that the Porters were able to escape their home in landlocked Arkansas and enjoy themselves on a nice stretch of the long, sun-drenched, and beautiful Texas coastline. There’s nothing quite like the restorative effects of that salty Gulf air on both the body and soul, as you are now surely aware. Did you kick off your shoes and let that fine Texas sand work its warm magic on the old dogs as you reclined in your beach chair, sipping a koozie-clad Mexican beer with a little salt and a wedge of lime, while the white gulls cawed to one another and the brown pelicans soared in formation overhead and the sandpipers skittered nervously along the edge of the softly undulating surf? Cures what ails you, doesn’t it? Speaking of the local fauna, it sounds like, in addition to these seabirds, you may have also been treated to a few sightings of the common Texas beach yahoo. These colorful beasts owe their existence, in part, to the Texas Open Beaches Act, passed in 1959, which at its core guarantees that “the public, individually and collectively, shall have the free and unrestricted right of ingress and egress to and from the state-owned beaches bordering on the seaward shore of the Gulf of Mexico.” It’s important to note here that the state owns the entirety of Texas’s 367-mile coastline and that while some of the aforementioned public do indeed opt to make their ingresses and egresses vehicularly, the beach yahoo stands out by accenting his arrivals and departures with a signature yell and a couple of engine-roaring, sand-spewing doughnuts. The beach yahoo can be a dangerous bird, especially when in close proximity to young family members, and your outrage is understandable. It’s also worth noting that the Open Beaches Act leaves the particulars of “public access” up to local jurisdictions along the coast and that some of them have opted to disallow vehicles from motoring upon the seashore. Such serene settings do not make good habitat for the yahoo, and it is generally found there only if it has become lost. The Porters ought to consider this when planning their next Texas getaway.
Q: Can I get married at the Capitol? And if I can get married at the Capitol, can I also have my reception on the Capitol grounds? And if so, will I be able to have a band and serve alcohol to my guests?
Holly Johnson, Dallas
A: Yes, Holly Johnson, it turns out that you can get hitched at the grand old pink-granite statehouse. The Texanist asked, and it is indeed allowed. Actually, the rules are somewhat loosey-goosey. You don’t need written permission and you won’t have to pay a fee, but since the building is, as it happens, the seat of our state government, it is a very busy place and cannot be reserved for the purpose of your nuptials. This goes for both the interior and the exterior, which means that an affair of any real size is out of the question. Also, booze is prohibited (but not firearms!). However, the Texanist, who has now exchanged his advice-giver hat for his wedding-planner hat, has already decided that we don’t want to do the event there anyway. If it is a truly Texas-style affair that you are envisioning, which is to say possibly a little raucous, then the Capitol, even though it is itself prone to fits of raucousness when the Legislature is in session, is just not the venue we’re looking for. But there’s no need to panic! Austin is a great destination for a wedding, so before you go all bridezilla on him, the Texanist has another option to run by you. Have you ever heard