Going Coastal is a far better course then Going Postal, which many friends have predicted for me. Oh my, how I’ve mellowed in retirement.
My last post followed our visit to the Johnson Space Center, which we visited from our base camp at Galveston Island State Park. But, there are so many reasons to love this area. This is our third or fourth trip here, and new discoveries are made each time. This is a great area to explore.
If you’re a reader, check out Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larsen for a primer to the area’s history and geography. Hurricanes have shaped the history here. High water markers, such as this one downtown are common. Check out Ike, way above John’s head.Many historic houses boast several markers like this.
There was a huge grass fire several miles from the Park on our first night. What a great sunset it made.For the first time, we visited the gorgeous Rosenberg Library. (Full disclosure – we needed a bit of WiFi). What a treat this was. Not only is it a gorgeous building, with many high-ceilinged quiet rooms paneled in oak, with cozy leather chairs, they also have a museum-like area and a rare book collection. I was intrigued by their first edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776), there was also a Quran from the 1600s. But I loved the one-book choir hymnal, hand painted on sheepskin. So huge that an entire choir followed from a single copy, held no doubt by a sturdy choirboy. Sadly, my photo has mysteriously disappeared. Imagine it..
From a visit the day before to Galveston Island Brewery, we learned about the Be Kind project (see, just another way beer makes us wiser). A block-long downtown mural celebrates this- here’s my favorite section.
Hungry yet? We were, so we checked into Gumbo Bar, where we shared a good seafood gumbo prepared before us in an elaborate system of taps, bowls, and flames. Impressive to watch the barside preparation, and good eating to boot.
Now we’re parked (and you can see why I use this phrase) at Mustang Island State Park. This is old-school camping – a parking lot with cramped sites (although not nearly as crowded as some Michigan State Parks, and a faded bathroom/shower facility. Clean, but kinda creepy. But, we love this place! Miles of Gulf of Mexico beach, with only a few pelicans and gulls to share it with. You can walk for miles. Full campground, empty beach.Interestingly, camping is also allowed right on the beach. We saw only two brave campers – although it has warmed up, the fierce wind whips up the salt spray/sand combo. Our campsite is only 200 yards off the beach, and the roaring surf is our day and night companion. Honestly, this place is the bomb. We’re not brave enough to camp in the sand (can you spell towtruck?) but we had a good time cycling and strolling there for hours.
Our big cycling adventure started out as a beach ride. After five miles, we had bailed out onto Highway 361, and across a causeway bridge. Soon, signs say 10 miles to Padre Island National Seashore. We push on into a fierce headwind, consoling ourselves with the fast trip home we’ll get with a big tailwind. Ten miles turned into fifteen, and we were tapped out by the time we limped into the Malaquite Visitor Center. Sadly, it was disappointing -a few shells and artifacts, but no film about this magnificent 70 mile stretch of undeveloped barrier island. Ah, but we needed the time off the bike to charge up for the ride back to camp. Sadly, the wind had shifted, and we faced the same damned headwind all the way back! Even worse, we decided to ride the last five miles down the beach (Why? It’s such a unique privilege). Even worse, the tide had come in in the hours since our outbound journey, forcing us to ride closer to the barrier dines. Damp deep sand! It was like trying to churn through fresh cement. Happily?Y, after a mile or so, we were able to find a road to cut back to Highway 361. By the time we got home, I was bonked and totally wiped out. We are not in prime shape for a windy 50 mile bike ride!
Big fun tomorrow -laundry and grocery shopping. We’ll be leaving the Gulf Coast Saturday, and won’t see the ocean again until we hit San Diego in mid-March. Been fun in good weather and bad (good weather is better) 😊