Of A Galveston Vacation and Hurricane Proof Homes
It was mid afternoon on a cloudy day when we arrived. We went down to the Seawall blvd to see the sea.
After a brief look at the turbulent, murky looking ocean, we went to our motel to check in. We were an hour early. Our room was not made up yet.
A walk and the motel
And so we went back out on foot determined to walk to Pleasure Pier and beyond. We were about two thirds of the way there when I suggested that we go back and get the car. My wife wanted to go on walking and so we did. About three quarters of the way there she spoke of turning back but first she wanted to know how close we were to Ferry road. I did not know exactly how close we were but I assured her that it was over 30 minutes further away at the pace we were going and so she agreed that it was time to turn around.
When we got back to the motel we strolled past the screaming kiddies in the pool and made our way to the front desk.
The desk clerks were nice, informative and friendly. There talk was of the local color, the storm that came the night before and the live band which may or may not play during the evening.
The room was okay but the door was a bit sticky and thus very loud when you finally forced it closed. Both the sink and the tub were slow to drain. The TV clicker was a bit strange. I found that I could not change the channels in the usual way. Rather I had to go to the on screen TV guide and thumb through and select channels from there.
Free ferry ride
When we finally got back to the car and back to Seawall blvd, we made quick work of driving down Ferry road and into the parking lot of the Ferry terminal. We quizzed one of the local employees about the best time to take the Ferry. Earlier, one of the motel desk clerks and indicated that if you came at the wrong time you could be waiting in your car for two hours just to board the ferry. The Ferry employee said that right now was the best time to board. Given that it was a cloudy day the lines to enter the ferry were short. Moreover, the ferry was free. We did not pay a single penny to ride it. So we pulled out of the parking lot and into the short line of cars waiting to board the ferry.
We had briefly discussed not taking our car but when we heard that Bolivar could be driven we decide to explore the place by car.
As the Ferry plied the waves toward the port Bolivar I stayed with the car and the wife ran around with her camera phone taking pictures. When a pack of dolphins swam up she was particularly excited.
When we got to the port we waited our turn and drove inland.
Call it a lack of cleverness on my part but I did not really notice the number of buildings up on stilts and pylons around the Galveston area until we took the ferry to Port Bolivar and the Bolivar Peninsula. What really brought the concept home was seeing a middle school suspended in midair up on pylons. You could run all under the school if you were of a mind.
After that we noticed that most of the houses on the peninsula were up on stilts or pylons. I took to calling them hurricane houses since I believe they were built that way to avoid the tidal surge and sometimes accompanied a major storm.
We tried fruitlessly to get to the end of the “island”. Whilst tilting at that particular windmill we noticed that the hurricane evacuation signs were all pointing inland away from the ferry dock. Later, back in the motel, we confirmed that the Bolivar peninsula was actually connected to the mainland. During a real hurricane no one in his right mind would wait in line to take a ferry. He would drive like a bat out of hell to the mainland.
The return trip seemed quicker. Since we were about the last car on to the ferry we did not need to wait as long for it to fill up.
In retrospect, thinking back on Bolivar peninsula there were many clues that it was not an island. One clue was gas was only about thirty cents more expensive on the Bolivar side—not a huge jump. Also there were for sale signs all over the place. A small island might have hard time supporting those situations.
Back in Galveston we spotted more hurricane houses now that we were looking. There were all kinds of establishments up on stilts or pylons to avoid storm surges.
Waffles at sunrise
The next morning I awoke way too early and left my wife sleeping whilst I took to walking down to Pleasure Pier again. It was closed of course. The eerie predawn darkness was pierced by the lights of fishing boats and what looked like oil tankers. Some of the very, very few folks that roamed that twilight world looked unsavory and one asked me for money. Fortunately there were some hardy souls setting up for a marathon the next day so I did not have to find out what the inebriates and moral reprobates might do on a dark and moonless light with few witnesses.
After I got back to the room my wife got up and made ready and we went out to watch the sunrise. The sky was as clear as a bell. My wife took many pictures of the sea, the sun and the surf.
After sunrise, we returned to the motel and we ate the breakfast that came with the room. I rather enjoyed the flip over waffle maker.
Galveston landmarks and historic buildings
After breakfast I drove my wife to each of the dozens of historic landmarks she had printed out before we left North Dallas and she took photos of each and everyone.
In the evening we ate at a restaurant that neighbored to the motel we were staying at. I enjoyed a pork chop since I don’t really like seafood and my wife had some scallops. The people watching was good at the restaurant since we were seated near the window but it was not nearly good as the beach since there were fewer bikinis!
We returned to North Dallas the next day and my only regret is that I have still never been inside that truck stop that uses a giant beaver for a mascot. I think it’s called Buc-ee’s?