A reunion with good friends at Galveston Island, TX

Winter weather arrived too early to suit us this year, impacting 43 states – including Texas, which got hit hard.  The surge of cold air pushed all the way down to the gulf coast and then moved east.  At least we weren’t in Buffalo!

Our days at Galveston Island were a mixture of blustery cold and wet days, interspersed with a few sunny breaks.  As I write this, strong winds and heavy rain have been lambasting us for hours.  I know I shouldn’t whine, since our friends up north are dealing with record cold temps and piles of snow.

Galveston Island

The ocean was angry during most of our 10-day stay

Storm Clouds

Wind blown clouds over Galveston

When we arrived in Galveston, we immediately saw the prominent seawall along the gulf. We learned that the initial 3.3 miles of it was built after the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history wiped out the town and killed 6000 people in September, 1900.  After that hurricane the island was raised and the seawall was built.

Galveston has been hit with hurricanes several times since then, and over the years the seawall has been extended.  It is now 10 miles long, 17 feet high and 5 feet wide at the top with a curved design that carries waves upwards.  This  protective barrier has helped save Galveston Island from being inundated during several storms, and it has even been designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Galveston Seawall

Seawall at Galveston

Storm Memorial 1900

1900 Storm Memorial

Pleasure Pier at Galveston

As usual, we made the best of what nature provided us.  And this was an exciting stop, as we were reuniting with our good friends, Al and Ingrid whom we first met in December, 2012 at Cave Creek State Park in Arizona.  Since then we’ve been following each other’s travel tales, as they were hanging out mostly in the western states as we were gallivanting around in the East.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago, we were excited to learn that they will also be wintering in Texas, and in fact would be at Galveston Island when we arrived.  Ingrid’s outstanding photography will grab you, so be sure to check her out at Live Laugh RV and see where they’ve been and what they’re up to.

Since they arrived here a few days ahead of us, they instantly became our resource for things to do and see.  And mind you there are plenty of things to do and see on Galveston Island.  Had the weather cooperated, our 10-day stay here would have been packed with outdoor activities.  But it did not deter the four of us from getting together and strolling through the historic downtown one rainy day, filling our time with drinks and laughter.  We’re glad that we were able to get together a few times during our stay – these guys are fun to hang out with!

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Burgers and beer (that’s actually a snifter of good stout in front of Steve) – good stuff!

As you may know, Texas has plenty of birding opportunities – just like Florida.  Knowing that got Ingrid and I pumped up for some birding time with no holds barred, as we snapped pictures of our feathered friends.

So one day we bundled up, grabbed our cameras and went around the island to areas where we could enjoy a variety of birds.  We were not disappointed, for they were there ready to pose for us or just minding their own business.

 

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While the girls were enjoying all of the photo ops, Steve and Al took their own excursion to the Galveston Offshore Oil Rig Museum.

Ocean Star offshore oilrig

Ocean Star offshore oil rig

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Replica of a single link of chain used to anchor an oil platform to the ocean floor.  Each link weighs over 500 pounds!

After getting our fill of of snapping pictures of birds, Ingrid took me to the East End Historical District and we followed the self-guided Galveston Tree Sculptures Tour.

I failed to remember that on September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike covered most of Galveston Island in a tidal surge.  Before that calamity which even the seawall couldn’t prevent, majestic oaks had lined the neighborhood streets. The surge uprooted many oak trees and thousands more lay in ruins.

Today, homeowners and various artists have repurposed these trees into works of art.  There were 21 tree sculptures that could be seen tucked in gardens and side yards throughout the area for us to enjoy.

Along the tree sculpture route, block by block we saw and admired elegant historic homes with very diverse architecture.

Later in the day we continued our birding at Galveston Island State Park, where we were parked (Steve’s review here).  From our big smiles below you can tell we were both enjoying our day – with no hubbies to deter us from taking hundreds of pictures 🙂

Happy birders

Happy birders

The island has a lot to offer, and I would have liked to do more exploring with Ingrid, had the weather permitted.  But part of our stay here had to be dedicated to preparing for our big trip overseas.  Since Al and Ingrid will be here into December and the weather is improving, they will have more opportunities to explore the island.  And it turns out that we’ll be seeing them again further south after we return from our trip – yay!

Next up:  Betsy gets a break as we fly away