Bulletin: March 25: I've just returned (somewhat sadly, despite missing friends) after spending the period Jan. 14 - March 24 at the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston.
about galvestion and its history
But public transit, apart from the tourist-oriented trolleys, is something of a disaster, and many residents and enterprises are obviously struggling. In some respects, it seems that Galveston has never fully recovered from Hurricane Ike of Sept. 2008, when a massive storm surge that reached 20 feet in places swamped nearly the entire island (including UTMB, which was closed for a year). Many restaurants and shops have markers showing how high the flood waters rose. The photo below was taken at my favorite Galveston venue, the Mosquito Cafe. The flood marker reads "Hurricane Ike High Water" (above the blue arrow) and "September 13, 2008" (below it). Further damage accompanied Hurricane Harvey in Aug/Sept. 2017, though in respect to Harvey, Houston fared far worse.
Historically, the most famous storm was the Great Galveston Hurricane of September 1900, a category 4 hurricane with a 15-foot storm surge that flooded the city, which was then about 9 feet above sea level. Almost all existing structures were destroyed and about 8,000 lives lost -- it is still considered the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. (The deadliest industrial accident, a 1947 chain reaction of ship explosions resulting from the detonation of ammonium oxide, occurred in nearby Texas City and also affected Galveston). In the hurricane's aftermath, a massive seawall was constructed and the island also raised. Click here for online exhibits (from the Rosenberg Library's Galveston and Texas History Center) on Galveston's early hurricane history including the amazing grade raising and building of the Seawall following the 1900 storm.
Here are some images related to the Seawall, which is great for biking as well as walking and lined with mosaic benches on different themes, and of the adjacent beach, which stretches for 27 miles along the Gulf. The first photos are a melange of two late afternoon biking excursions with one of the UTMB graduate students, Rebecca Permar (shown in the first photo). We are resting in front of the "Pleasure Pier," one of the few structures that exist on the beach side of the Seawall. The second set of photos were taken in the evening from Benno's, a seafood shack overlooking the Seawall. The start of crawfish season coincided with a visit from my West Falmouth neighbor, Susan Garland, and for two nights running we we gorged on platters of the small, spicy, boiled crustaceans.
The Seawall: biking, beaches, benches
poretto beach and pier
I have had other lovely encounters with local folks here including a trolley driver who offered to drive me to a movie theatre (not on the route) if no one else were on the bus at that point and a city bus driver who stopped when she spotted me on the street one evening to yell out, "how is your friend?" (meaning Evelyn).
Below, pics of Shirley at the restaurant on Galveston Bay and nearby statue, and of a later visit to the same area with Gerard and Clare.
ferry trip to the Bolivar peninsula (crystal beach), and visit to Galveston's far east end
the galveston tree sculptures
Carless in galveston
the strand and downtown wharves
birding: west end, matagorda, san luis pass
The first trip was to Galveston's largely undeveloped West End (where there is no seawall, and the houses are on tall stilts), the second an all-day raptor tour to Matagorda, a town/bay/county about 100 miles down the coast from Galveston, and the third another all-day trip to the San Luis Pass, at the western tip of Galveston Island, and Surfside Beach in Brazoria County. The day after the San Luis Pass trip, and thanks to Kristine Rivers (owner of BirdingForFun and an excellent naturalist-guide) and her husband Bobby, Susan Garland and I were also able to join an outing of the Audubon Society group in Galveston.
After a few pathetic attempts with my cellphone camera, I left the bird photography on BirdingForFun trips to Kristine, who is also a talented photographer. Below are a few non-bird photos from the West End and Matagorda trips, and also links to Kristine's terrific photos of the birds we saw.
First, Galveston's West End on a rather grey day: