Thursday, November 19, 2009

Victoria TX to Galveston TX

Wednesday November 18, 2009

We were up early and away from the Gateway to the Gulf RV Park by 8:30.

Campsite at Gateway to Gulf RV Park, Victoria

We wanted to see the downtown area of Victoria so headed in to see the old area of town. This town was on the El Camino Real along with Goliad where we were yesterday. We were on the route of this old road when we were in Nacogdoches and it continued on into Mexico. This town had not kept the old flavor of their town square as well as Goliad.After a short tour around the old town area we headed back out to US 59 and were on our way to Houston and Galveston. The territory was rolling but mostly flat – cattle ranches with some agriculture. We finished our Baldacci book just as we came into the outskirts of Houston. We took the Sam Houston Toll-Way around the south side of Houston leaving it for tomorrow. We headed south to Galveston Island.

As we came into Galveston we headed, with the directions of Lady GPS, to the Visitor Center. When we arrived we found what was the visitor center before Hurricane Ike in September 08. The line painted on the outside wall of the building was probably 5-6 feet up the brick wall.

Ike Water Line on Building

Many of the buildings had been repaired. We found we were on the bayside of Galveston Island – the old downtown area along the wharf. We decided to eat lunch at a waterside restaurant – Jane had a fish po’boy and Ben had an oyster po’boy. Both were great and the entertainment was watching a ship being released from the dry dock across the channel. There were also 2 offshore oil platforms in the dry dock area perhaps waiting for repairs.

As we left the restaurant and walked down the wharf past a hotel we saw the Ocean Star Offshore Resource Center. It was a museum explaining how offshore oil rigs worked. We toured it and learned a great deal about the history and technology of the offshore oil industry. They had a film, numerous models of various types of platforms, and of course the actual platform and equipment since the Ocean Star had been an actual working rig before it became this museum. One exhibit showed the living quarters for the workers.

Ben on Drilling Platform at Museum

Then on down the street was the film The Greatest Storm about the 1900 hurricane in Galveston. That film was one of the things Jane wanted to see – so we watched it. It was a compilation of the photos taken by many people and notes from their diaries. The history helped us notice several things as we drove through Galveston headed to the south end of the island where the State Park was located.

A seawall was built around the north end of the island and down about 10 miles of the oceanfront. The sea wall has been successful in limiting the damage of storms since the 1900 storm. The other thing the people did was back fill the land behind the sea wall to make the ocean side of the island higher than the bayside. We saw this rise as we drove to the north end of the island on a street that was midway on the island. There were numerous Victorian homes – but touring them is not in our schedule.

We called and found the Galveston Island State Park had openings for camping so we headed south driving along the seawall. There are a couple lovely hotels, many mid range hotels, motels, restaurants, etc. Everything is on one side of the road as the sea wall is immediately to the ocean side of the road. Most of the hotels, condos etc had aluminum shutters on their windows. The majority of the buildings were repaired from Ike and open. There were a few that were still boarded up. Several did not look like they could be repaired. There were 3 or 4 buildings built out over the water on piers. Several had been repaired but one a hotel built over the ocean was in very poor repair and looked almost beyond repair.

Campsite at Galveston Island State Park

When we reached the state park; we found the only sites left were on the bay side. This was OK with us having just spent 3 nights on the ocean. We hiked around the bay looking at birds for a while and got some great photos of a sunset. The State Park had a lot of damage from Ike; they still do not have permanent restrooms built back for our area of the campground. Good thing we are here for only one night and have our port-a-potty! They have portable bathrooms but I think I prefer my own. The electricity seems to work fine. The view is the best for any location we have camped with the exception of Chisos Basin in Big Bend. The sunset was out the side of the van and the skyline of Galveston is across the bay out the back windows...nice!

Sunset on Galveston Bay

Jane cooked supper and we are reading the Houston notes and map. Ben will visit a client each morning – Thursday and Friday and then we will spend the rest of the time touring around... just not sure what yet. I will need to pack up better for two days in a hotel than I did in Fort Davis!

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