We were greeted with a beautiful day full of sun and a light breeze to keep the humidity away, so who could ask for anything more? Once camped, we headed to town and as our usual manner, straight to the Visitor's Center. We met a super nice lady who gave us a mini history lesson about Galveston, tons of brochures, shared about the crazy pay parking situation, but showed us how to avoid it by parking in their lot or other off streets, told us about the great senior discount day at Moody Gardens and other discounts, then suggested we start with the Tree Sculpture Tour as it would give us a good overview of the town itself as well as seeing some of the beautiful homes too. So, arms full, off we went!
She was right! What fun we had, driving all over town, seeing over 17 different sculptured trees that had once been beautiful 100+ year old Live Oak trees, then nearly destroyed in 2008 by hurricane Ike. Then, various area artists decided to turn a "bad situation into something good" and instead of just chopping down all those trees, began carving them into beautiful pieces of art. Of course they couldn't save every tree, and the Galveston Island Tree Committee along with hundreds of locals used much of the wood in recycling projects and more than 100 tons of the former trees were selected for the restoration of America's only remaining whaling ship, as well as other large projects. They have also planted more than 8000 new trees since Hurricane Ike. Good going!
Looking around, except for the signs telling you about it, you would never know that a hurricane had been here. The homes here are so beautiful, so majestic and well cared for. Each one different from the other, you can easily tell that this was a port that brought so many different ethnic groups of people in, Spanish, Germans, Mexicans, and freed African slaves.
Homes that withstood both the devastating hurricane in 1900 and Hurricane Ike in 2008 were mostly built out of brick and stone, like that of the Moody Mansion and Bishop's Palace. However, there are still a lot of Victorian-style homes, but I think they came after the 1900 hurricane. All, different, all beautiful. We enjoyed going through the Moody Mansion, built in 1895 in the Romanesque style.
As the days passed, we visited such attractions as the Galveston Railroad Museum which showed off the Golden Age of rail travel! They have the most marvelous collection of Renfert Dining china & silver I've ever seen! They also decorated their original Gulf, Colorado, and Sante Fe Union Depot in the 1930's art-deco style with "Ghosts of Travelers' Past" with imagined conversations while they wait to board the train....we had fun joining in on them!
We made a quick stop to check out the 1943 USS Cavalla Submarine too, pretty impressive. Jack quickly decided that at 6', he never would have made it aboard such a vessel! Me, I had no problem getting around it! ;-)
On Tuesday, as suggested by our trusty Visitor's Center lady, we promptly went to the Moody Gardens. It's quite a complex, 3 large pyramids, each with different experiences. We chose the Rainforest. Three floors filled with lush gardens of orchids & trees of all kinds, lots of endangered plants and animals from the Giant Amazon River Otters and Komodo Dragons to free-roaming birds and Saki Monkeys, what's not to like?
Afterward, we went on their 1800's replica Paddlewheel Boat, the "Colonel", for a leisurely hour-long cruise along the Offats Bayou. We even passed by where our campsite was and saw our RV! Now that was different!
No trip (for us) would be complete without a bit of antique shopping, and Galveston has some fun shops to explore, from nautical to restoration, as you can well imagine with it's history! Traveling like we do, we've seen all kinds of things...and there are things we've looked for in particular, that we very rarely, if at all, never seem to see. One of those things is "floral frogs". For most people, it's just that round glass thing with holes that you put in the bottom of a vase to put your flower stems in to hold the flowers up right. Well, that's the "common" variety. But...many years ago, they used to make beautiful ones, in all shapes and sizes that you would put in your clear vases, that would hide the stems, and be pretty as well. These floral frogs are hard to find, and over the years, I've seen very few, if any in my many, many searches. Until the other day. We came upon an antique store here that had about twenty different ones! I could hardly believe my eyes, such a find! It was so much fun just to look at each one...lucky me, I bought two, albeit, small...but yea for me! I love those sweet things...
Sandy beaches with sea shells for my collection, sea gulls serenading us each day, cooling breezes to blow away the humidity, sun shinning most the days...Galveston treated us nicely...thank you, we'll be back someday!
...on the road in Texas, Marie
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/