Jami Hewankorn, 38, of Victoria, listened to music through her earbuds as she scampered down from the grassy bank at Grover’s Bend to Pebble Beach.

Since the end of May, Hewankorn has brought her 7-year-old son and various friends to the beach on weekday afternoons to enjoy the river and the sunshine in Riverside Park.

“It’s more refreshing, and I’d rather be outside,” she said. “I like the river, and to go any other place like this, you’d have to drive so far away.”

In swimsuit and flip-flops, she made her way to the edge of the Guadalupe River where a large, blue umbrella provided shade and a low-sitting red folding chair reclined in the sun near the water. She and family friend, Gage Majefski, 15, a student at West High School, had set up camp for the afternoon. Scattered around were noodle floats, bags and a soft-sided cooler.

She regularly drops off her son at the boat ramp, and he tubes or kayaks a short distance to the beach.

“I pull up, put up my umbrella, relax and listen to music,” she said.

Hewankorn prefers the serenity of the weekdays to the busy weekends at the beach. Because of recent rains, the current was flowing faster than usual that Thursday, and the water was less muddy and more greenish-blue, she said.

“It’s not hot like a lake,” she said. “It has a steady, cool flow of water.”

Hewankorn said she sees some people who simply like to walk around the river’s bend.

“Yesterday, I saw a lady with two dogs sitting up on the bank listening to an audiobook,” she said. “She moved once in a while to catch the breeze.”

The beach comprises of a layer of river rocks over sand and provides an appealing waterside spot for picnics and barbecues, said Danielle Williams, assistant director of the parks and recreation department.

“People swim, tie off with a tube or float, barbecue, hang out and fish,” she said. “And you need a valid fishing license to fish.”

Years before the beach became an official feature in the park, locals trampled a foot trail through a dense wooded area to get to the site and nicknamed it Pebble Beach. The shallow water and swift current at the river’s bend made the destination so popular that the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department decided to make it legitimate.

The department added a parking lot nearby, cleared a wide path to the area, and erected a park sign designating the area as Pebble Beach. Trash cans also were added, and park staff and beach-goers alike urged people to use them.

“Most people go out of town to enjoy a place like this,” Hewankorn said. “But this is right here.”

Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate.

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