Okay, it wasn’t actually a sauna, but it was a room that was somewhere north of 110 degrees, so close enough. But more about that later… (Yes, I enjoy foreshadowing, even in my blog posts.)
Galveston itself felt a bit like a sauna. The humidity, yes, but the whole time we were there, it was either about to rain, or actually raining. I woke up about 6:30, looked at my phone and saw that it was already 83 degrees. And raining. We don’t get weather like that back home.
If you know Galveston, it might be because of the Glenn Campbell song, or, you heard about the 1900 hurricane that nearly wiped out the city. If I asked you what the greatest natural disaster in US history is, in terms of lives lost, you might think about The San Francisco earthquake, or Hurricane Katrina. The answer though, is that 1900 storm, which took somewhere between 6,000 and 12,000 lives.
Humans are a resilient bunch, though, and instead of packing up and moving to higher ground, they raised the entire city, built a seawall, and went on with life. Galveston has been hit by a number of major hurricanes since then, but nothing has approached the devastation and damage that leveled the city 116 years ago. The first thing we noticed when we drove onto the island was all the houses built on stilts, ready for an onrushing wall of water.
We saw hundreds of houses built like this. After a few miles, they stop looking odd and just become part of the scenery.
We started exploring the island, looking for interesting sites. We saw a statue against the seawall, but we were driving on the opposite side of a four lane highway, so we pulled over, waited out the cars, and dashed across the street. The statue wasn’t much of interest, but as we were once again waiting to cross the street, I felt a single raindrop. I turned to say something to Dawn when we finally found ourselves standing in a shower with all the jets trained precisely on us. Or, so it felt. We were both as wet as if we had jumped directly into the Gulf of Mexico. We ran for the car, but there was really no reason. No matter how long we stood there, we couldn’t have gotten any wetter.
The inside of the Silver Bullet kept foggimg up off and on the rest of the day. We also went from smelling shower-fresh to slightly mildew-ish in 60 seconds. Life goes on! Down the road a bit, we found the statue we were looking for – a memorial to the victims lost in the 1900 storm and flood.
The man, praying for help, the woman, holding the infant, knowing 6,000 people died, was somber and moving. Across the street, we found something a little less serious.
I named him Bruce. Dawn says that if I drop dead on the trip, she’s coming back for this guy as her new boy toy.
After spending a few quiet moments with Bruce, we took the Galveston Tree Tour. When Hurricane Ike tore across the island in 2008, it took many of the island’s proud old trees with it. Many of the residents took that strong blast of lemon and did their best to turn it into lemon-aid by hiring sculptors to carve the dead trees into something beautiful, as well as meaningful to them. Here’s one:
I know the carved tree is cool, but my eye kept wandering back to that slightly crumbling castle structure in the background. By the time I was back in the car, I had the makings of a new story. 🙂
Here’s another cool carving, with a small story attached:
Yep, it’s the Tin Man and Toto (I miss the rains, down in Africa… wait, wrong Toto) from The Wizard of Oz. The reason it’s here is because King Vidor, one of the directors of the movie, was born in this house. In fact, according to legend, it was in the bedroom right behind the carving.
After the statue tour, we grabbed a quick bite to eat, then headed for the Galveston Island – Port Bolivar Ferry. The ferry is a well-oiled machine. Even with the weekend rush, boarding and exiting the ferry was smooth and fast. We really enjoyed the ride and wished that it had been a little longer. The cool ocean breezes were nice and went a long way toward drying out our still-wet clothing. On the trip, I took another seagull shot. This one reminds me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull – starring the flying gull as Jonathan, and the others as the flock.
One other cool shot from the short ferry ride:
That’s the SS Selma, a WWI tanker scuttled off the coast of Galveston many years ago. It looks every bit the shipwreck it now is. From far away, it looks a bit more like a half-sunken pirate ship than it does up close. Or maybe that’s just me.
We had a great afternoon drive through the back roads of east Texas/west Louisiana. No traffic, nice weather, and really lovely scenery. We drove straight through to Lafayette, LA, because there are a couple of fun things I have planned here in the area before we depart for New Orleans.
Also, we hadn’t been able to do laundry in about six days, and our pile of dirty clothes was reaching critical mass. So, we checked into our little motel, which happily has a laundry room, and I volunteered to do the laundry while Dawn relaxed. I took the pile of dirty laundry, soap, dryer sheets, my laptop, and camera, all to the laundry room, figuring I would do the clothes while writing the blog – double duty.
I opened the door to the laundry room to receive a blast of heat in the face. Hot, humid day plus small, completely enclosed room, with large appliances constantly running = a near-sauna. I shrugged, got to work separating the clothes, getting the machines started, and doing a profuse amount of sweating. I realized I was never going to be able to write the blog in that hotbox, so I decided to risk someone stealing our clothes and go back to our air conditioned room. I reached for the door… and it didn’t budge. I twisted, I turned, I pushed, I pulled. It wouldn’t budge. The room immediately felt even hotter smaller, and more oppressive.
I called Dawn and asked if she would run down with her room key and open the door from the outside. A minute later, she was there, inserted her card… and it didn’t budge. I sensed a small article in the Lafayette Advertiser tomorrow: Travel blogger saunas himself to death.
Dawn made an “I’ll be right back,” motion and disappeared. I hoped that she had gone to get help, but as the will to live slowly faded from me, I realized she had probably gone back to Galveston to see if Bruce was really single. After about six hours, or five minutes, depending on how you measure time, she brought the desk person with her. A lovely woman with a sadistic sense of humor, she couldn’t contain her laughter upon seeing me, now weighing sixteen pounds less than I had at check in.
She managed to stop laughing long enough to put a firm shoulder into the door, popping it open. It wasn’t locked, it was just stuck. Dawn and the desk clerk were having a wonderful time, laughing so hard tears were running down their legs. I was just trying to determine if I’d actually had heatstroke or not.
So, my day started with an involuntary second shower, and ended with a near-death experience in a tiny laundry room. All in all, it was a good day!
Cheers, and safe travels!