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We went to Galveston for the day last week. In the morning we did a walking tour of tree sculptures in the East End Historic District

In 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, and caused a lot of damage. Many trees were uprooted due to the tidal surge, but may more died later on due to being in salty water.

Instead of removing these salt-damaged trees completely, three artists, Earl Jones, Dale Lewis and Jim Phillips turned many of these into sculptures. The carvings are in people’s front yards, but anyone is welcome to stop on by and have a look.

We used a map that was in a brochure for the sculptures. We both severely underestimated how hot it would be at 9 a.m., and how long the walk would take. It took about two and a half hours. I would recommend it to anyone, but perhaps do it in a car, a bike, or walk it during a cooler time. We did come across the Mosquito Cafe about halfway through our walk, which was a nice little break.

A bonus from the sculpture walking tour is that you pass many beautiful, historic homes.

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Hurricane Season

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June 1st is the start of hurricane season, and I have seen an influx of different hurricane related articles and columns the past two weeks.

We went to Galveston for the day (more on that in another post) and there are reminders about hurricane season everywhere. All along the causeway bridge there were big billboards that proclaimed “HURRICANE SEASON, BE PREPARED.” And later on that morning, while we were eating a mid-morning snack at the Mosquito Cafe, there was a small plaque on the wall noting where the high water mark was during Hurricane Ike. It was taller than Derek!

We arrived here at the end of the summer last year, so while hurricane season was on our mind, it was soon over. Now, staring down a full season, it feels different.

We have a weekly little reporters meeting, and during last week’s meeting, our editor gave us advice, because none of the current reporters have been around for the last two hurricane events, which happened in 2005 and 2008.

There were lessons to be learned from both hurricanes. I have been reading up on the impacts of both, and I am glad that, if another hurricane were to come, Houston should (hopefully) be more prepared.

Hurricane Rita formed just a few weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and was barreling towards Houston, which understandably caused a lot of widespread panic. A few days out, Rita was, at the time, one of the strongest hurricanes on record. It seems as if everyone in Houston tried to leave all at once, which caused major problems.

Out of everyone who died in that hurricane, the majority of the people died during the evacuations. All of the highways out turned into parking lots. The opposite sides of the road weren’t opened until it was a little too late. People ran out of gas and then that turned into having heat strokes. A bus carrying senior citizens traveling to Dallas over heated and caught fire. All this for almost nothing. Rita ended up turning east, and didn’t hit Galveston/Houston as originally thought. Most people who evacuated could have just stayed home.

Hurricane Ike, however, did hit Galveston and came onshore to Houston quite dead on. Our editor told us that it knocked out the entire power grid and some people were without power for THREE WEEKS. Now just imagine how that feels in the middle of a Texas summer, when the temperature can easily reach 100 degrees.

The advice he gave if another hurricane like that happens is, to try to stay ahead of the game. Already have batteries and candles on hand (check and check.) Make sure you have plenty of water and non perishable food. And whatever we do, try to make it out to the grocery store and a gas station ahead of everyone else.

He said that, even though we always have a few days notice ahead of time that a hurricane may hit, everyone seems to wait until the last minute, and then it is a frenzy.

I am sure that Derek and I would have this kind of common sense if a hurricane were to show up at our door step, but it is still helpful to hear it from someone else who has lived through two bad hurricanes.

We looked at evacuation routes, and we are just to the west of evacuation zones. So, if there is a mandatory evacuation, we won’t have to go, but depending on how safe we feel, we may leave anyway. The University of Houston is in an evacuation zone, which is good to know. In the event of a hurricane, UH would probably have to close down.

I read somewhere that there is a 32 percent chance of Houston being hit, and I’ve heard talk that “We’re due for a dead on hit again since it’s been a few years.” I don’t think it works that way, but who knows what will happen this summer, or the next.

 

Galveston Beach

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I went to Galveston for the day a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful October day that still felt like summer, so I thought, why not take advantage while I still can?

I decided to park along the Seawall Boulevard. The night before, I downloaded the PayByPhone app. Parking at the seawall requires you to pay by phone. You can park at the seawall by calling a number posted on signs every couple of spaces, or you can do it on your phone, which I think is much easier.

I preloaded my credit card information, so when I parked, all I had to do was type in the parking space number into the app. Easy. They charge $1 per hour, and that fee starts at 10 a.m. Get there early, and you can get some free parking time in to maximize your day.

That day on the beach was half to relax, and half to get my bearings. Growing up by the Jersey Shore, we had a specific location that we went to every time. I wanted to stake out a spot for myself in Galveston as well. I found it around 61st street.

There is a fishing pier there (good for people watching) and if I feel like spending $2, I can get admission to the top deck of the pier, which looks like a nice seating area, plus a free cold fountain drink. Derek gets bored easily on the beach, so I think he would be willing to spend the $2 to get on to the pier, if he chooses to come with me in the future. You can also buy snacks in the little gift shop at the entrance to the pier.

The main reason why I picked 61st street is that I noticed that directly across the street from the beach there is a Jimmy Johns sandwich place, and a Rita’s Water Ice. Rita’s???? Here? I thought I was back in New Jersey for a second when I saw it. It will be nice to know that we can go to the beach for a day, and then get lunch/dinner and dessert before we head back home.

Walking up and down the seawall, I also noticed that there was a lot of artwork on the seawall itself, and statues. It was really neat to stop and look at all of it. There were beautiful wild flowers growing on vines all up and down to seawall too. I also came across the former spot of Fort Crockett. During the WWI, Fort Crockett served as a Army artillery training center.

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Sandcastle competition

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A few weeks ago we went to Galveston for the AIA Sandcastle Competition. A day at the beach, plus a chance to see some really cool sandcastle sculptures!

Fate was on our side because the competition was supposed to be in June, but it was postponed because of bad weather. It was nice to be able to go in August, before Derek started school. Also, the forecast for the postponed date was looking just as bad, but that Saturday ended up being a beautiful day!

Here are some pictures from the event.

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The Strand

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The Stand is a historic district in Galveston. It has lots of shops, restaurants, and gorgeous old architecture. We walked around this area for about an hour or two. One of the highlights was LaKings Confectionery. It looked like an old fashioned soda shop with a candy store inside too. There was even someone making salt water taffy in the back! I was also pleasantly surprised to see that there were gaslights in the district! It feels just like Wellsboro, PA. I am looking forward to coming back.

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Galveston Railroad Museum

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When dad was here for the week helping us move in, we wanted to have one day of fun and go to Galveston.

My dad and I are big train buffs, so we were happy to discover that there was a railroad museum.

The entrance, ticket booth and gift shop were in the actual old train station building, which was impressive in its own right.

There were lots of engines, cars and cabooses to check out. Highlights for me included the mail car, seeing the kitchen inside the dining cars and going inside the caboose. It was also cool to see the old 1950’s style sleeper cabins. So tiny!

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