DAZED AND CONFUSED IN GALVESTON, TEXAS

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Galveston, Texas.

A city literally brimming with a thousand options for entertainment.

Where do we end up?

In the mud.

As you’ve probably noticed, we made it to Galveston in one piece. Since Galveston is a tourist destination and an island at that, all RV parks fall into the resort category. Resort is not usually our cup of tea but we feel the need for a little pampering anyway.  Searching for peace and quiet among all the hubub, we settle on Jamaica Beach RV Resort about 15 miles outside of town.

Jamaica Beach Resort has a lot of activities to keep guests entertained.

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Miniature golf on site. 

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A pool with a lazy river. 

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A pavilion with a barbecue and bar for groups.

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But most of all, wide open spaces…

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…And cool ocean breezes.

What more could we ask for?

How about entertainment?

Galveston has no shortage of options. The pyramid pictured at the top of the post is Moody Gardens. A collection of colorful glass pyramids house a rainforest, an aquarium and a children’s discovery center.

More on that in a later post.

How about Pleasure Pier, an amusement park on a pier?

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This pier based amusement park, operated from the 1940’s until 1961 when it was heavily damaged by hurricane Carla. It was rebuilt and reopened 51 years later, in 2012, under the name Pleasure Pier.

Galveston has some truly beautiful mansions. One of them houses a visitor center and some, like Moody Mansion and Bishop’s Castle offer tours.

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Moody Mansion has 31 rooms. It was commissioned by Galveston socialite Narcissa Willis in 1893. Throughout her life Willis had asked her husband, entrepreneur and cotton broker Richard S. Willis to build her a grand home. Willis demurred as he preferred to keep his assets liquid to be distributed among his ten children on his death. After Richard Willis died in 1892, Narcissa had the home she and her husband shared torn down and began plans to build a more opulent home on the site. For this act, Willis was estranged from her family until her death in 1899. Her family never visited and Willis lived alone with one housekeeper.

Hungry after all that fun? The Rainforest Cafe is more than just a restaurant full of fish tanks, this one has an erupting volcano on the outside and an animatronic, river ride on the inside. 

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I haven’t even started on the entertainment in the downtown area.

That’s a post for another day.

Today we plan to visit the Oceanstar Oil Rig Museum.

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Usually I’m the one who does the navigating, but Jeff had looked at the map last night and he felt confident that he knew how to get there. As I mentioned before we’ve both been sick for weeks and we’re exhausted and not paying attention. The next thing we know, we’ve missed the turn and are driving down a small, dead end road, Seawolf Parkway. I noticed a sign which said Undersea Warfare Center. I knew from my research that the Warfare Center is an historic WWII vessel museum. It consists of two ships, the USS Stewart, the only Edsall Class Destroyer Escort preserved in the United States and the USS Cavalla, a WWII submarine that sank a Japanese aircraft carrier involved in the Pearl Harbor attacks.

You can tour these ships on your own or with a tour guide.

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We’ve toured similar ships before and hadn’t planned to tour them this trip but while looking at them, I suddenly remembered that the wreck of the SS Selma, a WWI cement ship was supposed to be visible from here.

That was something I really DID want to see.

Sure enough, it was visible through a break in the trees.

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The view was ok but I wanted to get closer. I’d noticed a dirt road on the drive out here and told Jeff we needed to check it out.

A bit of a detour from the oil rig museum…oh well.

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The mysterious road.

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It was a truly awful road, full of giant holes. This picture does not do it justice.

We bounced along until it opened up onto a field of mud where we could see the beach and the ship in the distance.

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The SS Selma is a World War I reinforced concrete tanker scuttled decades ago. She is a Texas Historical Marker, a State Archeological Landmark, the Official Flagship of the Texas Army and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

The Selma, a 7500 ton reinforced concrete tanker built in Mobile, Alabama was launched June 28, 1919. Steel was in short supply at the time which necessitated the use of concrete. Building the ship required the solving of several problems associated with the composition of the concrete.

Selma served several ports in the Gulf of Mexico quite successfully until she ran aground in Tampico, Mexico on May 11, 1920 creating a sizable crack about 60 feet long in her hull. She was towed into Galveston for repair but the dry dock crew had no experience in repairing a concrete ship. The government decided not to gamble on the repairs and she was stripped of valuable equipment and towed to her final resting place here in the channel.

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There were a few ideas of how to use the ship in some profitable way. A fishing pier, a pleasure resort and an oyster farm were some, but none ever came to fruition.

The beach overlooking the ship was littered with debris and broken things.

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This view is looking toward the northeastern tip of Galveston Island.

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Ship traffic is non stop through here. Several oil rigs stand just out of sight in the Gulf of Mexico. Support vessels run back and forth between them and the refineries in Texas City.

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The ferry passes back and forth between Galveston and the Bolivar peninsula.

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We’ve wasted so much time gawking that it’s too late for the museum, we might as well follow the dirt road further. On the map it looks as if it goes all the way around the point and back to the main road. The dirt “track” (at this point it’s no longer a road but a series of mud pits), passes wetlands rich with birds.

I don’t think anyone ever comes out here.

The birds were everywhere.

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I have no idea what this little bird is but he had an incredibly long tail.

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I’m going to need a bird book…

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Either we took a wrong turn or the map lied. The end.

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The only way out, is up, but we don’t know what’s on the other side.

Jeff goes to inspect.

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The top of the hill and the road continues.

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It circles around to follow a pass-through channel where we stopped to watch.

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For some reason the birds LOVED this ship, it’s carrying chemicals and not fish but they clustered on top and rode it.

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The pelicans captained the front.

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Pelicans and other birds raced behind in it’s wake and some rode the waves.

We watched closely, they were not diving for fish, they seemed to be playing.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

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The dirt road finally led to the main road. This is entrance that everyone seems to use to get to the beach for fishing. 

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The dirt led straight toward the industrial part of town and connected to Seawolf  Parkway again.

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Back out at the main road, this raised ramp is Harborside Drive, where we were supposed to turn in the first place. It’s too late for the museum so we decide to drive to the northeast end of Galveston Island just because we can.

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The Northeast tip of Galveston Island has been used for multiple defense fortifications over the years, all have been destroyed by wind and weather. Fort San Jacinto was built here by the U.S. Army in 1897 but it was destroyed in the 1900 storm. The Galveston seawall was extended northward in 1921, the fort was rebuilt and new gun emplacements were added. This is the base of one of the 90 mm gun emplacements. The fort was decommissioned in 1959. I understand that some of the building ruins can be found in the brush nearby.

Bushwacking seems well beyond our capabilities today and it’s lunchtime.

You can sit at this point and see hundreds of ships pass by.

It’s also a popular fishing spot

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After stopping for a bite to eat in town, we figure we might as well stick with our normal routine and drive to the other end of the island.

One of the things I love best about Galveston Beach is the pastel colored houses on stilts. I imagine they experience a lot of storm surge here!

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Stilts are camouflaged behind lattice in these houses. 

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Every single house facing the Gulf in Galveston has stilts.

Except the Kettle house.

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The Kettle House was dreamed up by a man who made oil storage tanks. Said to be able to withstand hurricanes, it was ultimately a failed project when the builder died, leaving it incomplete.

It’s currently in the process of being sold.

Galveston Island’s west end is connected to the mainland by the San Luis Pass Bridge. The bridge is frequently obstructed by fog and is listed on The World’s Most Dangerous Roads website. There is a $2.00 toll to drive across. We’ve driven over it in the past, today we have a different goal.

The beach underneath.

For several miles, this end of Galveston has small beaches fenced off in sections. You’re allowed to drive onto them for fishing or swimming.

The very end of the island, under the bridge, is a large open stretch of beach.

It’s possible to drive the length of this beach.

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The end of the world.

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The San Luis Pass Bridge in the distance.

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Friends at the end of the world.

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A few small shells.

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One inhabited.

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Under the opposite side of  the bridge is a little beach that juts into the bay.

Fisherman frequent this side.

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Back out at the main beach, poles mark the boundary at the east end.

No driving beyond.

  This brings us to the end of our day.

Tomorrow is another one.

2 thoughts on “DAZED AND CONFUSED IN GALVESTON, TEXAS

    • Thanks! There are several mansions on Broadway close together, I so wanted to tour them but between being sick and following our self imposed schedule, we didn’t get a chance to. I want to go back and spend more time.

      Liked by 1 person

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