It’s a sad but too true fact in the world of travel that not all islands are idyllic, coconut-sipping hotspots. Escapes from the daily grind, where sand is delightful in the toes and cocktails shade under paper umbrellas.
And while plenty of tourists still flock to less than desirable destinations — like those mentioned above — not many folks back home take the “wish you were here” postcard seriously. It’s more of a “better you than me” feeling.
Only slightly less famous (and a tad closer to home) is Sometimes Island, a strip of land which rises from the depths of a drought-ravaged Lake Travis anytime the sky decides to really dry up.
Since such meteorological events are a way of life in our grand Texas, the island no one really wants to see (or visit) has become a common sight for the way better part of a century.
Visiting Sometimes Island
With its all but barren, grassy sands and the odd chunk of concrete, Sometimes Island has a reputation that is hardly desirable. And yet, people report having gone there … even taking their children for the day. This was done intentionally mind you — which is shocking and nothing short of abuse. (Not that we’re judging. We don’t do that here anymore.)
At any rate, we admit Sometimes Island sounds intriguing enough.
Has it served as a posh playground for lakeside socialites? Or perhaps some sort of banishment for those (rare to nonexistent) lesser privileged Lake Travis area residents unlucky enough to not have a boat slip?
Or maybe — and this is certainly the most likely scenario — it was a sandy paradise where natives frolicked sans clothing, all without having to go against their Republican roots by entering any local with the word hippie in it.
Sadly this stretch of Texas earth boasting long-dead Juniper stumps has never basked in any such scandalous glory. Instead, Sometimes Island has accomplished little more than pose as a painful indicator of the natural disaster-level dry spells that are part of our Lake Travis history.
Sometimes Island — Est. 1950’s
For much of the 1950’s, Texas suffered a crushing drought which brought water levels on Lake Travis to extraordinarily low levels and set the bar pretty high for prolonged water shortages — in truth, no drought since has had such devastating effects on the area.
Harrison Eppright, manager of visitors services with the Austin Visitors Center, understands both the harsh realities of such a drought and the oddities of gaining an island in the process.
Photo credit Matthew Rutledge CC on Flickr
“This (the 1950’s) was the first time that the island was seen on the lake and the name Sometimes was used,” notes Eppright. “Since then, it makes an appearance anytime there is real drought, so it’s really always been a part of the lake.”
When will it be back?
Considering the implications, you’re probably not too broken up over the disappearance of Sometimes Island last spring, when desperately needed rains started to fill Lake Travis. Since then the island we aren’t missing has been tucked well under the surface of our beloved water playground … but really for how long?
If history is any indicator (and happily for those of us who don’t like surprises, it is) you’ll get to see Sometimes Island again and maybe even visit. Sure you don’t really ever want to lay eyes on that desolate piece of (dust) earth again — but it’ll emerge sooner or later.
So make the best of it lakesiders! Pack a picnic, a bucket of toys for the kids, maybe a sixer of cold beer and head on over next time Sometimes Island makes an appearance. We’re hoping this doesn’t happen anytime soon. But if it does — just remember — no one needs a postcard.