These Country Roads
I took off my flip flops, jumped out and my bare feet sunk in the loose sand. The waves on the beach told me it was still high tide but beginning to recede. That meant the water was depositing the treasure I was looking for and all I had to do was stroll and pick. As I grabbed my gear and walked to the water’s edge, I could hear the broken shell’s tink-a-link sounds as they struggled with the water to either stay on land or be pulled back to the gulf. The constant push and pull on the former sea creature’s homes that came from destinations unknown was like soft music as I fixated on the path of shells in front of me.
No, it’s not Sanibel Island and I wasn’t shell hunting in the Caribbean although I’ll go if you’ve got an extra ticket lying around. I was just down the road at Mae’s Beach. Oh, you know, Mae’s Beach in Johnson’s Bayou. If you’re puzzled then you are having the same reaction I did when friends invited us to camp the area and enjoy the sounds of the surf and nature’s bounty.
Mae’s Beach has always been in existence but it has never had the drawing power of the Cajun Riviera just 12 miles down the road. Rather than a lively get together, it’s a lonely, somewhat isolated piece of beach that’s largely gone unnoticed. Except for the few who like it quiet. But for those who arrive in Jeeps or other four wheel drive vehicles and park at respectable distances from each other as they set up day quarters, you won’t see many souls.
Because of that, I managed to unwind and relax, walking the shore looking for shells and sea glass. I came home with a nice, surprising assortment of each. There were surf fishermen reeling their catch in and the Louisiana state bird, the brown pelican, patrolling the schools of fish, diving for meals. A few sand crabs headed in any direction other than the one I was going and shore birds stayed within a short distance. On the dunes, you could see the purple flowers of the railroad vine. Our group didn’t have any luck surf fishing but we did haul in a nice catch of crabs from a public area that backed up to the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. You might want to note the moon before you go because, for full crabs, you want to harvest after the half-moon when it is waning toward the full phase.
At the west end of Mae’s is a decommissioned lighthouse that was begun in 1854, where the Sabine and Neches Rivers enter the Gulf of Mexico. Walking or driving the beach westward from its entrance on Hwy. 82 would put you roughly twelve miles from the Sabine Pass Lighthouse. We were told by locals to watch for quick sand so beware to the adventurous if you take that route. Keep in mind that the lighthouse isn’t open for viewing and is in a deteriorating state but would be a great photographic opportunity if you’re willing to get there. An alternative route is by a private, dirt road that will take you to Lighthouse Bayou. At that point you’ll need a skiff to cross where she maintains her historical stand that includes a skirmish with the Union during the Civil War.
If you camp, there are several small, family owned RV parks along Hwy. 82’s Creole Nature Trail that are in close proximity to Mae’s Beach and one directly cross from it. That particular location has several century old oaks that managed to survive natures vicious past hurricanes, including Katrina and Rita, the latter which washed away the historical home on the property. Day tippers to Mae’s should not expect to find public facilities. The nearest store is in Johnson’s Bayou, approximately 2 miles west of the beach entrance.
Galveston is another 72 miles west. So, if you are in the mood for a shorter drive and a long walk accompanied by surf music, Mae’s can yield a nice selection of shells and sea glass, perhaps your dinner and a little adventure. Right there. Practically in your own back yard.
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Mae’s Beach Links