Going Coastal

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.wp-1484186300319.jpgMany 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.wp-1484277806166.jpgwp-1484277366038.jpgFor the first time, we visited the gorgeous Rosenberg Library. (Full disclosure – we needed a bit of WiFi).20170109_150048.jpg 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. wp-1483993328769.jpgBut 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.wp-1484186230558.jpg

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.wp-1484186267486.jpg 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. 20170112_214212.jpg 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.wp-1484186824967.jpgwp-1484186721578.jpg20170111_200343.jpgInterestingly, 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.wp-1484279123250.jpg 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. wp-1484279189070.jpg 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.wp-1484279153549.jpg 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) 😊

18 thoughts on “Going Coastal

    • Im happy that you and Nancy got your big trip, and that you have so many great memories of it. John and I are newcomers to the whole marriage thing, so our Big Trip comes a bit later in life than yours did. Hope all is well with you – spring is right around the corner, isn’t it?

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  1. Oh dear, I’m sore just reading about that bike ride. We enjoyed staying at Mustang Island SP for that beach and the overall location. Mustang Island in general remains a fave!

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    • And the bathrooms aren’t quite as bad as you had prepared us for, Ingrid. Part of the charm.

      The ride was hard, but what are you gonna do? By the time we knew it was going to be a struggle, we didn’t have other options. All moving parts feel good this morning!

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  2. As usual Judy, we’re right there with you thanks to your descriptive prose! I think you’re there at the best time, certainly wouldn’t visit in August or September! I envy the short sleeves I see on John. Safe travels and have John take some pics of you!

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    • The humidity here is surprising. Our windows are totally fogged over and dripping! We cover up the bikes by 5pm, because things already start to get really dewy by then. Can’t imagine what summer would be like. Also don’t want to be anywhere near here during spring break! For sure.

      John will occasionally take a photo of something with me as a prop and post on FB. But not here…my blog, I get to choose the photos. 🙂

      You get these ocean views everyday – a visit here probably wouldn’t be special for you and John as it is for us.

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  3. I’ve never been there but now that I’ve seen your pics, it’s definitely on my bucket list! Not the bike ride though! I’m thinking hammock. Take care.

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    • Bring your salt-water fishing gear, and fish in the surf. That’s more your style. I don’t think a hammock would be too comfy – the wind blows like a bitch down here. Salt spray and blowing sand are okay for strolling or cycling, but not so fun for napping!

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  4. I thought that the part of the Texas coast where you’re at was all built up, and a destination for college kids on spring break, thanks for the wonderful views of the beaches there.

    I can’t even imagine riding as far as the two of you did in a day on good roads, the beach must have been a killer, at least it would have killed me.

    I never thought about visiting libraries in my travels, I loved the one that you stopped at, I should add them to my list of places to go.

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    • We talked about how the beach at Mustang Island must look at spring break. I’ll bet it’s wall to wall tents and bodies then. But, we were amazed at how quiet it is now. What a treat.

      When the tide is out, riding on the beach really isn’t too much harder than riding on pavement. Plus, it just makes you grin like an idiot. The trouble came during high ride, when we had to ride in stuff that was softer. Grins erased!

      Old, big city libraries almost always have something interesting to see. Plus, you’ll find you need WiFi to upload photos for your blog. All libraries have free WiFi – it sure comes in handy.

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    • Wouldn’t be epic if it weren’t for a 20mph headwind. Kicked our butts for sure. But as we were rolling along (when things were going well), all I could think about was RW Beach Time Trials! Talk about epic!!

      Stay warm, Alison. I hear you all had another snow day up there!

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    • We had the same until we returned during high tide. Riding in the soft stuff was too much for these two geezers. But isn’t beach riding great?

      You may have seen the post before I got all the photos inserted. If so, go back again (slight tablet malfunction)

      How’s your trip going? Where are you?

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      • Currently in Huntsville State Park. We are going to do the Johnson Space Center as that is something we have wanted to do for some time. Patty has a hard time walking very far so we are going to take the VIP tour. It’s a bit pricey but it’s only money!!!

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      • We did the standard tour, and found that we didn’t really have to walk too far. Not sure how much less you’ll be walking with a VIP tour, but it would be great to have the personal guide. We did see a few folks who were having them. Our tour was on Sunday, and we wished we were there on a workday, especially when we were in Mission Control, watching the ISS. The crew aboard also get a ‘weekend’, so the cameras are turned off inside. I would like to have been able to see them. You will love the JSC, Gary. Have fun.

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