Travel blogs always seem to start with leaving home, followed by the airport and plane experience and continuing chronologically until the story teller has returned home. I’m not convinced that format works for every trip.
I could tell you about the smooth plane ride with impeccable service and early arrival, but I won’t. I have too many other bits to relate. When told of our impending travel plans, friends said how fortunate we were to be leaving the cold behind. Imagine our surprise when we arrived in Houston to find it was only 43 degrees. I didn’t expect to need my winter coat for the first three days on Galveston Island although was glad for it. In fact, the bitter damp cold and the biting winds have been the story, keeping us from enjoying the out of doors and ensuring our long looks through the window at the angry seas just across the street.
Wednesday’s arrival was heralded by somewhat warmer air which brought fog so thick we couldn’t see the gulf just a couple hundred feet away. And, when the fog thinned ever so slightly, threatening to lift, we were teased with quick glimpses of chocolate colored foam crashing onto the sand just beyond the seawall. The local weatherman, among all those who are wrong 70% of the time and still employed, assured us the skies would be clear by noon. He wasn’t entirely accurate but the wind disappeared and the climate was somewhat more like we expected.
Impressions of Galveston are mixed, confused and maybe even a little bit jumbled like the surf. On the one hand you have a well laid out bustling metropolis full of cultured amenities. You can, and are almost expected to, visit a different restaurant for each and every meal. It’s hard to choose a favorite. Shopping malls abound along with the touristy sorts of things, ice cream stands, candy stores, miniature golf, the Pleasure Pier and so much more. Wherever you go, someone is working to get your wallet open and gain your dollars whether its food, amusements, kayak and bike rentals or sand accessories. This end of the island would be Dr. Jeckyl.
Mr Hyde is another matter altogether. I can’t think of two more different halves to a whole. Today we left the “civilized” end of the island and drove 35 miles to Surfside Beach, TX. All of the houses, summer camps, duplex, townhouses and condos, along the way, are raised by 10 or more feet on posts with the hopes the next storm will not bring a surge of 11 feet. In point of fact, since Galveston’s natural inclination is to be at or below sea level, I would imagine it’s almost impossible to purchase home insurance of any kind without these stopgap measures. There are miles of marsh and poor grazing between the road and the bay. Very few cattle and even fewer horses have been seen. Astonishment is the only word that comes to mind when I see the size of some of these homes. They are huge, sprawling and multileveled with sometimes two and three decks attached. Every single building has parking for a vehicle as well as a utility room for water heaters, purifiers, laundry duos and landscaping tools tucked neatly beneath. It appears people are willing to loose those items should the next storm threaten to overrun the island.