On the Gulf-facing beaches of Galveston Island, dedicated surfers known as the Dawn Patrol arrive at first light. Disciplined and motivated, they add their own experience-based knowledge to the apps that help them gauge wind and waves before paddling out into the surf: hoping for a good ride.
The beauty of the sunrise, the uncrowded waves, and a certain edginess associated with still-roaming noctural predators all combine to make membership in the Dawn Patrol irresistable for some. Even in Galveston, where waves hardly rival those in other parts of the country, there are pleasures to be had.
Meanwhile, on the bay side of the island, a different sort of dawn patrol comes to life in the rising light. Herons, egrets, ducks, and ibis stir among the reeds and rise up from the water, ready to begin another day. Arrive early enough, and you may find one basking in the open, touched by that first, golden light.