Sunday, September 16, 2007

Galveston, oh Galveston!

Sometime you just have to take a break and head to the beach to get over a case of uninspired.

Not head east, to go the East Coast Shores, or head west, to go to a West Coast Beach.

Nope, for us, when we want to go to the beach, we head south.
That's what Bernie and I did Sunday afternoon.
We hopped in the car and headed a hour south of Kingwood, to Galveston Island, to visit the gulf shore.

"The Beach" around here means Galveston. We left around noon, and had lunch on what is called "The Strand," the main drag along the beach front.

A shrimp po'boy sandwich, and crab Gulf Coast can you get?

I'd never had crab stuffing before. It was good, but I'm not rushing to find a recipe.

After our nosh we drove west, along the beach. You can not imagine how odd it is for me, the girl who grew up three blocks from the Pacific Ocean, to say we drove west ALONG the beach.

But we did.

Along the way we rubbernecked the local beach houses.

Loved that screened in second floor porch.

If that was my house, I would be sleeping out there at night, listening to the sound of the gentle shore break.

I decided if I ever get a beach house on the Gulf, I think I'd like it to be this shade of blue.

I want all the white gingerbread trim and double stair case leading to the front door too.

I'd settle for this one though.

Bernie crossed the street and headed down the path to the beach to an area known as "Pirate's Beach."

The breeze was warm (not hot as it often is at the gulf beaches), and strong enough to whip up a little surf.

And my hair too....

What a pretty beach. There were just a few people, and horse hoof prints in the sand.

We asked on gentleman who was picking up flotsom and jetsome if he would snap our pictures.
Ah yes...our first date was at the beach, and we've had many many happy days at California beaches, Hawaiian Beaches, and Cayman Island Beaches.
It had been a couple of years since we visited our "local" beaches here in Texas.
I never can resist picking up a few shells when I am at a beach. Now I am happy to just take a picture and leave them behind. Thank goodness for that; otherwise we'd be up to our necks in seashells!

The day seemed to have a blue theme. These flowers bloom in clusters, and are the loveliest shade of sky blue.

Pampas grass always looks nice waving in the breeze around beach areas.

How cute is this for a mail box at the beach?

This house had everything I would want.
The double staircase, gingerbread, cute mail box...

And a wave shaped picket fence. How clever!
Not all beach front property is quite so adorable. Some are just boxes on stilts (stilts so when the hurricanes storm surges come through, the houses don't get washed away.)

Some look like someone put a temporary building or tractor trailer on stilts.
Hey, what the heck, once you are inside the house, you have the same view as the people in the fancy houses!

Texas coastal real estate is the most undervalued coastal real estate in America. A house ON the beach could be bought for $500,000. Lots go for $255,000. Amazing. Now granted, they may be blown away at anytime, but mostly, you just build with that in mind, and plan to rebuild regularly.

(Oh goodie! Imagine getting new EVERYTHING every ten years or so!)

One of the reasons that coastal property costs so little is because of the Gulf's water color. Affectionately known as "The Gulf of Yoohoo" after the chocolate drink, the water has a brown tinge, due to the red soil sediment that drains from the inland areas into the water.
The water is quite warm, often warmer than body skin temperature, in the low 90's. The depth is knee to thigh deep for a good quarter mile out.
And of course it is a warm humid area. No cool off shore breezes in the summertime for sure.

San Luis Pass beach was inviting. Hey there beach boy!

Galveston is also home of an awful lot of birds. Bird watchers regularly descend on the area to count birds and track migrations. This little guy was one of about five types of shore birds that I observed just in front of where we sat.

The road to the beach was bisected with a stream of fresh water. (I tasted, yeah, I know, I'm nuts...) This really puzzled me as the shallow water was flowing rapidly, and running parallel to the coast. Local borns: (this means you Kate and Marie...) any insight on this phenomenon?

One thing that I really like are the road side Historical Markers. I totally missed this shot, but the FYI that was interesting was the fact that slaves settled one of the beach in the area in 1816, and had a lace trade going to support themselves.
Seems like I am getting a theme going here, visiting the historic centers of lace makers of the world.
The view as we drove along, heading back to the city of Galveston. Love all the colors of the beach houses!

Back on the strand we got to watch some long boarders trying to surf the wind chop.
At least they got up!

The sea wall. I still marvel at the sea wall. In 1900, Galveston was the world largest sea port. A massive hurricane came ashore that year, killing 6,000 people in less than one day. 10,000 became homeless.

It was, and still is, the most deadly disaster in United States history.

It was simply horrific; the people of the world sent aid and sympathy.

The people of Galveston took all the wreakage and then added excavated sand pumped to the beach area, raising the City of Galveston up by 7 feet. The WHOLE city. The wall is designed not to withstand the winds of a hurricane, but rather the more dangerous storm surge.

Galveston survived as a city, but never recovered as a major port.

Recommended reading on the event: a book called Isaac's Storm. Facinating.

The guy who played Sam in the movie "The Lord of the Rings" owns the film rights to the book. It would make one doozie of a film. I hope he finds time and funding one day to make it happen.

All calm on this day.
Surf's up, sorta.

From the Strand we headed into the historic down town area. Cruise ships leave from nearby, so there are now all kinds of tourist oriented businesses.

It is kind of weird, as some places try for "Hawaii" themes, others go for Caribbean themes, then there is Texas themes, and New Orleans themes. Talk about an identity crisis!

I noticed a lot more of "Haint" blue being used in the area. That is the color that Caribbean Islander used to paint around their doorways and windows, believing that spirits or "haints" (as in haunted) were repelled by the color. It is a fun color, especially with raspberry. I just recently read an article about the color. Just interesting to know why it is in the area.

Another older building, with palm trees. I'm suspicious about palm trees. Were they really native to the area?
I know Southern California palms are all alien, and are dying off. The City of Los Angeles is debating what to do about replacing them.
Guess if they aren't local here, the same discussion will eventually be held.
Meanwhile, the tourist just LOVE seeing palm trees!

There are rows and rows of Victorian gingerbread type houses in Galveston; they have a feeling that mixes the Painted Ladies of San Francisco, and the Southern styles of New Orleans.

Some are in terrible condition, but little by little they are being snapped up and restored to their original splendor.

Galveston: A southern city, with a wild beach party alter ego, with poverty and wealth, history, and no zoning, a beach town that faces south. Tropical, hot, it's almost New Orleans, but not.

I never feel like I quite get Galveston.

Someday I'm going to go down to Galveston and spend two days taking pictures until I finally understand this curious place.
But for now, we had a wonderful day.
We got home and I made grilled blue cheese and pear on raisin bread sandwiches which I served with white Pinot Noir wine.
It was quite a tasty combination.
Not a bad way to end a day at the shore.
Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed our trip as much as we did.


Lovella said...

Oh Jill your pictures of the beach were just beautiful. I loved this day, thank you Bernie for being a good sport and inviting us along.

What a fantastic date.

Julie said...

Hi Jill...your interesting day at the beach definitely had a 'blue and white' theme...which must have made a deep subliminal impression on you for you went home to a blue and white lunch! smile

I LOVE your photos of the deep blue water and sky..breathtaking. And the blue and white beach houses...and the victorian gingerbread houses...
and was the little sea bird a tern?

Vicki said...

What a nice way to spend your day. Although I lived in Texas for several years, I never made it to Galveston. The photos just don't make me think of Texas, but I just have to remind myself that it's an extremely diverse state. At any rate, your photos and your descriptions had me right there with you! I love all the gingerbread trim on the houses there!

I'm disappointed that your crab stuffing wasn't all that good. It looks to me as though there's more filler than crab - perhaps if it was the other way around (like some of the great crab cakes that I had this past week!), then you'd be experimenting with various recipes like I've been doing!

Thanks for sharing your enjoyable day with us!

Kate said...

Ahhhhhhhh! What a nice walk on the beach. Did you hit any of our favorite vintage shops for old hats and millinery inspiration?

Don't know about that fresh water unless it is someone's hose runoff or possibly a spring from the acquifer??? Guessing since I was born in West Texas not the Gulf Coast. Tho' I did live in G for 6 months.

Interesting about the slave settlement. The nasty side of St. Gallen's lace trade is that lace was carried one way and slaves another on the ships (so I'm told by a Swiss citizen here). Not sure how that worked tho'. The US was the largest market for St. Gall lace 100 years ago.

Love the blue shells too. Galveston's biggest problem is that they have very little in the way of a Middle Class. Very wealthy folks like the Moodys and a lot of welfare cases. Most beach houses are second homes for Houstonians who don't contribute much to the local economy.

Once the Wall Street of the West, the 1900 hurricane and the dredging of the ship channel into Houston ended all that. Now they are passed by economic success.
K Q:-)

Anonymous said...

I am glad you finally got out and got the stink blown off of ya, so to speak.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Julie, you are SO perceptive. I didn't even think about the blue and white connection with blue cheese and white wine.
My dad's the bird expert. I'll have to give him a call and then update the blog.
Kate: We didn't go into any of our hatty "haints", but I sure got a big smile when we drove by the Moody Mansion, and I remembered my first HHN event there.
I really am heading back down there soon. Today was really put a bug in me to get to know Galveston. Maybe when you're out in October we can ramble a bit?

Sara said...

Beautiful. I enjoyed your illustrated tour and learning everything I now know about Galveston!

Kate said...

A Galveston trip would be great if we can fit it in! Some of my best vintage hats I found in dusty old thrift shops there - even a Mr. John - the real Mr. John not the Mr. John Classic licensee. K Q;-)

Scott said...

Ah, I have twice been to Galveston. It is a strange and neat city. So close to Houston, which is awesome. I just wish I hadn't been sick during my trips to Galveston.

But that sandwich you mentioned sounds rather strange. I'm sure my Mom would love it!

Ladygrande said...

We call the little bird a "sandpiper". I spent a long weekend on the Isle in September with "red hat" friends. Visited some of those shops on Post Office Street and the Strand. It wasn't the same without you, Kate! Saw several great hats, but I have plenty so didn't buy. The art walks are great - don't know if there is one in October though. Let's mull it over.


Becky said...

Oh how I wish I could have been there! Today was gloomy in the drizzle.