Past Gum Bayou — every bit as scenic as its name — the road to the Galveston Bay fishing hamlet of San Leon starts looking like the back of beyond. Here FM 517 spools past slumping cattle mangers, coastal prairie dotted with scrub, hardscrabble trailer parks, front yards awash in rusting machinery. Amid some oaks, a lonely apiary sprouts like a tiny, weathered village. This is the Texas Coast as it used to be, before high-rise condos and McMansions on stilts filled vast seaside tracts. It was funky, laissez faire, independent of city niceties. And proud of it.
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