Friday, September 24, 2010

Galveston Island, Texas

Two years, and 11 days ago, Hurricane Ike swept through Galveston Island, and it completely smashed 100 years of hard work.  I went three months after the hurricane to the vacation destination I'd been heading to with my Mom, who went with her Mom, who went with her Mom, and I was bowled over by just how completely the hurricane knocked out this island built to stand up to some pretty significant bouts of mother nature.  I wrote about it here.  At that time, the only thing on the island were workers, and their trucks, a McDonald's, a Wing's, and the dust of all the buildings that once were.  I'm sure it was my imagination at work, but I found it hard to even breath.  All my favorite stores and hotels were closed.  You never know if, when, and how a place will start over, but I'm happy to report, Galveston is on the mend.  Galveston certainly doesn't have the best beach, but it has one of my favorite stories.  Once upon a time, it called itself the New York City of the south, and remnants of that life are left in it's downtown area. 
I love the mansions, and the colorful wooden frame houses (which I didn't take photos this time around, next time...), and The Strand shopping district that still tells those stories.  We spent a good part of two days shopping on the Strand. 
This strip of stores houses some of the cutest boutiques on planet earth.  They moved in when the cruise terminals built ports here ten or so years ago.  I think the cruises probably go a long way towards helping Galveston begin the process of recovery.  There are still stores that are closed, there are still stores that are suffering from their loss.  The Strand and ports, along the bay had water 8+ feet flood their stores.  This is also the slice of land the pirate, Jean Lafitte called home.
Mom and I also spent time along the sea wall.  The last time I was here, the only thing left of Murdoch's Bath House were a few walls holding one rack of nothing (seen in the link above). 
There is a picture of my mom's mom standing on these steps on one of their  mother/daughter trips.  I had my Mom and Aunt stand here a few years ago and made a little shadow box dedicated to this girl's tradition. 

Someday my cousin and I will stand on these steps, for awhile I wasn't sure if there would be steps to stand on to take that picture. 
I made them each a shadowbox for gifts one year. 
Murdoch's rebuilt their great porch overlooking the gulf, with rockers, and drink concessions. 
There is still a lot to rebuild along the seawall, and along a huge portion of the wall there isn't much beach left. 
The sea wall was built after the 1900 hurricane.  They elevated the Island 17 feet by pumping in sand, and built this wall, rock barrier, and outcroppings to help combat some of the waves the hurricanes bring in.  This fishing pier appears to be at the beginning stages of it's rebirth, the beach...not so much.  There were a lot of people fishing from these shore lines when we were there. 
They did import more sand for the areas near some of the larger hotels and shops. 
It's interesting b/c this brought the sand higher up along the wall.  One of the things I like most about Galveston is that you can drive down the main street and see the beach b/c there are not hotels and shops blocking your view, like most beach towns.  They have a really wide walking path along the wall as well, though I can't say I've spent much time walking the length of the wall, unless it's from ice cream shop to store. 
We decided on Saturday to take the ferry over to the Bolivar Peninsula (this area got hit the hardest two years ago). 
They have an exposed oyster bed, and some really great birding along the peninsula's water ways. 
I can't wait to see where Galveston is two years from now.  A lot of the buildings are gone, but the history isn't, and the future is definitely well on it's way to being a bright one.  :O) 

2 comments:

RoShelle said...

Hi, As a Galveston visitors bureau representative I wanted to say thank you for your blog post. It is a great depiction of where we are today. Thank you.

Ellen said...

Thank you for the update. I went 2 years ago at Christmas when I was headed out for a cruise. It was devastating. I need to take the kids back so they see it in a different light. Maybe we'll head down for Dickens on the Strand in December, and have Sunday brunch at the Hotel Galvez.