Tuesday, April 22, 2008

California Girls take on another beach: Gail's visit continues.

I asked Gail what else she would like to do while she was here visiting besides seeing the bluebonnets and hang out with Laura and me and the cats.

She said she would like to visit Galveston Island.
So Saturday morning we packed up and drove south to the beach.
(This "drive south" to go to the beach is almost as weird as "drive east" to go to the beach. Lately I have been sooo confused.)

Gail and I both have parents living in the San Diego area, and we often manage to both be in San Diego at the same time. When that happens, we always get together to walk on the beach.
How perfect it is that now we could walk together on a different shore!

Galveston is about an hour and a half drive from my house. The day was clear and beautiful and we yakked a mile a minute all the way there. As we drove over the long bridge to the island we both commented how much it all looked like San Diego. Once we started driving into Galveston we began to rubber neck to see the great old mansions along the main drive. There are some doozies there!

Oddly we started seeing barricades on the side streets and groups of police officers at every intersection. Was there going to be a parade or something? We slowed down and asked what was going on.

Bad news: This was the start of a Spring Break party weekend in Galveston for a nationwide fraternity. Forty five extra police officers had been brought in to assists the Galveston police force for crowd control. We should expect gridlock traffic to begin any minute and for things to get pretty wild pretty fast. In fact, they thought the crowd was supposed to have already arrived an hour ago and were wondering what was causing the delay.

I asked if we could still visit the historical neighborhoods and the historic downtown area. The police officer shook his head, and suggested that if we wanted to do that we would need to do it RIGHT NOW, and we might soon have a problem getting through traffic and around the barricades.

Gail and I looked at each other in disbelief. This must be one bad a** fraternity to cause all this concern. I took a deep breath, prayed quickly and said decidedly:

"This is not going to impact us at all. Let's do lunch first, then we'll go downtown and into the historic neighborhoods, then we'll head west along the beach (boy did that sound odd) and go walk on the sand and dunk our toes in the water."

We drove a little way down the beach front to this restaurant:

Perfect! I wanted Gail to try some Cajun food anyway. The parking lot was jammed pack.
Just as we pulled in, a car right in front of the door pulled out. Rock star parking just for us, as my kids always say.

The menu looked great to me.
Gail announced she doesn't eat seafood.
(Funny how you can know someone for 29 years and still not know something like that...)

I suggested she try the muffuletta. Specifically she should order the half portion.
I went ahead and ordered the fried fish po' boy for myself.
We both agreed on hush puppies on the side.

While we were standing there an order for crawfish came out.
Gail looked at the pile of crustaceans and asked what they were.
The person behind the counter plucked one of the crawfish off the pile and handed it to her. "Here you go, try one!" she said cheerfully.

Gail walked over to me holding the crawfish gingerly.
"How do you eat one of these things?" she asked.

I took "bug" and told her you pulled the meat out of the tail, and then you suck on the head.

Since this crawfish happened to have a rather large claw, I told her she could also eat the meat in the claw. "It's like a tiny lobster" I told her.
"I don't eat crustaceans" she told me.
"You don't eat lobster?" I asked in amazement.
"No. I've seen a program on PBS about crustaceans. I know what they eat, and I don't want to eat them."

(Back to the librarian's trueism: Knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss...)

She agreed to try a bite. I cracked open the tail and pulled out the almond sized piece of meat for her to try. She agreed it was spicy and flavorful, she was glad she had tried it and no, she wouldn't not be eating it again.

I should have been paying more attention when she ordered her lunch. She forgot I had suggested she order a half portion of muffuletta.
She ordered a full portion.
This is what she got:

Yup, everything is bigger in Texas. Muffuletta is a big bun filled with shaved ham, melted cheese and green olive relish.
She managed to eat one quarter and a bite more of the sandwich before she was stuffed.

We watched the ocean waves from the restaurant window as the beach was right across the street. The water was clear and green; another miracle as usually the Gulf of Mexico water is cloudy and slightly muddy. We jokingly refer to it as the Gulf of Yoohoo, after the famous chocolate drink.

I drove her by the University of Texas Medical Branch, a medical center that takes up several large blocks of Galveston. The barricades didn't prevent us from driving to the Historic downtown area, where there was only a rather light collection of tourists wandering the street, despite a huge cruise ship being docked at the end off the street.
(We've both been on cruises and know how a town can become flooded with tourists when a cruise ship arrives.)

We walked and poked around the various shops for awhile.

Nautical themes were common....

I thought she should buy some of these tee shirts for her co-workers to wear on "Casual Dress Friday."

She told me where she works (Focus on the Family) they don't do Casual Dress Friday.
But if she ever wanted a day to be her last day at work there, wearing one of those tee shirts would probably do the trick.

Some local art...

And a brief flirtation, and we were ready for some ice cream.

LOVE this place...an old historic ice cream parlor and candy store. The Houston Hat Net always drops in here when we visit Galveston, and we sit in the old fashion sweetheart chairs and enjoy a delicious cone together and show each other the goodies we have found.

Next we headed to the historic residential neighborhood called Ships Mechanic Row. The houses are all from the late 1800's, and are now being restored.
Gail was fascinated by the outdoor shutters on the houses. Hurricane protection you know. They are not just a decorative feature.

Mechanics Row had more bird song and fragrant flowers that I could imagine. Doves were cooing from every tree. I had always wanted to walk the neighborhood to really look at the houses, but have passed on the chance before due to heat or time constraints.

This time it all fell into place. We even got to talk to several home owners that were out planting their front walkways and happy to visit with us as we strolled along.


The side walks were even historical!

We drove through the area rubbernecking for several blocks. I vowed to return with my bike to properly enjoy the area. Gail pointed out that would be a good idea, as I was routinely running stop signs as I was busily looking around.

Good thing no police officers were around. They were all busy waiting for that scary fraternity to arrive....proof that all things work together....you know the rest....

I wanted to find Garten Verein, a historic building in a park on "O" street. Laura had been in a wedding at the Garten Verein, and it impressed me so much I wanted to show it to Gail.

The Garten Verein gazebo building (above) was built in 1880; it is one of the few buildings in Galveston that survived the horrendous hurricane that demolished the city in 1900.

It was such a great place for a wedding! The wedding pictures were taken just steps away under this wisteria arbor:

Anyway, I was proud of myself that I had found the park again without using a map! Of course since I had remembered it was on "O" street, it really wasn't too hard to find. As a librarian, I do know my alphabet.

What is interesting is that Galveston streets were set up with an alleyway between each street. Houses were built in the alleyways; these were not considered any different than being built on regular streets, except they were numbered as half streets.

This street sign made us laugh: We both drink a lot of water and need to be mindful of where the next potty stop possibility might be. Several times we said things along the line of not needing to "go" right now, but will probably need to in a little bit.

This street sign seemed like a perfect expression of potential future need breaks.

From there we headed west along the coastline.

I found a beach access drive and parked alongside a bramble of berry vines.

Gail caught me berrying at the beach in mid April!

Ripe! And a tad salty too....

Gail kicked off her shoes and called her daughter back home in Colorado Springs so she could hear the ocean while her mom waded into the ocean.
I still can not believe how beautiful and clear the water was!

Simply gorgeous weather too!
Of course we walked and gathered seashells, focusing on ones with holes so we could string them later to make a garland.

The water was pleasant. We had brought our swim suits, but it was already after four, and we decided not to go for a swim. Really, I wish we could have.

Black faced Laughing Gulls chuckled at us as we headed to Walmart for a "break".

Up the road kites of all kinds filled the sky; a large building marked "Kites for Sale" was just off the road.
Nice to see a successful and happy business prospering like that!

I drove Gail though some of the beach house communities that Bernie and I visited awhile back. We decided which house we would want to own if we could.
And what color we would want to paint it!
(She likes yellow, I like blue grey...or maybe pink.)

As we headed back into town we saw gridlock. It began about three blocks from where we needed to turn to get off the island. People were already being arrested; young people filled the beach front walkways and parking lots. It took us maybe ten minutes to get to where we needed to turn off, and after that it was clear sailing all the way home.


Across the bay we could see the oil refineries going full blast. At night the refineries glow orange, and it is not at all uncommon to read about explosions and fires happening there. Facinating to see the enormous facilities where our oil gets processed into gasoline.

The bridge from Galveston. The bridge in has wavy edges; as you drive along it feels like you are plowing through waves.

It was a perfect day.
I still want to go back to Galveston again.
There is just so much to see.
I'm just so glad that I got to see a little bit more of it with my friend.

(Some of these pictures were taken by Gail, some were taken by me. I just LOVE having a friend who is a shutterbug like me!)


Sara at Come Away With Me said...

I love your trip to Galveston....I will need to come back and see it again though; many of the photos were not there the first two times (there were more the second time than the first).

I like your new blog look too. Lots of people seem to be tweaking their templates....perhaps it's a form of Spring cleaning, or just a wish for something fresh and new!

ellen b. said...

Wow, how grand your tour is. I love all the photos!
You asked about my HomeEc degree at my blog. I got my degree at Cal-State Los Angeles. I was so pleased when they made it an academic major and it would qualify for an Elementary School credential. Whoopee! It seemed like the most sensible all around degree for me. I do wish I could go back sometimes and take some classes and be a little more serious about them :)

Lovella ♥ said...

Oh Jill and Gail, your trip to the beach is beautiful. A few of the pictures didn't show for me today, perhaps tomorrow I can see the full sandwich. That was quite sad not to see that.
It is clear to see that you are having some fabulous girl talk time. Enjoy .. .

Marg said...

There is nothing like having long lasting friendships..(especially when they live further away.)Last summer was my girl summer and I loved it...We spent time hiking.
Just made some new plans for girls for next fall and it will be on the ocean celebrating her 60th....

Anonymous said...

Jill & Gail, your trip looked like fun! The sky and water are so beautiful, and there are so many different goodies at which to point your cameras!

I cannot believe that I have always discarded the shells with the holes in them, thinking they were worthless (just another lesson that nothing created by God is worthless!). Stringing them into a garland! Whoodathunkit? Please post a photo of your garland when you're finished.

Marie Christopher said...

Thanks, Jill, for sharing your trip to Galveston.