Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Sunny Shore

Galveston was the destination yesterday, Wednesday, smack in the middle of Spring Break 08. Just getting out of the house was easier said than done, but it didn’t have an effect on the rest of the day. I just thought I was going to need a come-along or a wrecker truck to get them going.

We stopped at Speedy Stop for some gas, drinks, and gum and were soon off to the coast. The weather was beautiful, save the wind from the Northwest. And except for the rude, impatient woman in the gray Camry who HAD to speed up to preclude my merge on to I-45, it was a pleasant drive in to Galveston. We went straight up 61st to the Seawall.

The first glimpse of the Gulf when I come up the ramp to the seawall has always been a special moment for me. The first blast of salt air or sand in your teeth; the wave report from the one who sights the water quickest are all parts of the experience. Yesterday the Northwest breeze (er, GALE) was keeping the salt spray out of my nose, but my eyes beheld a surprise for me; SURF’s UP! Yes, even with El Norte blowing, the waves were a giant blender down there. Usually when the wind comes from Dallas, the waves are flat or at best just gentle swells. I imagine the waves were on Spring Break as well. The water quality was not South Padre or Daytona quality; the sand was roiled up and suspended all the way out as far as they eye could see.

The wind NOT coming from the water afforded me the chance to have the driver’s side window all the way down without blowing my head off as we drove West down the island. Our plan was to play miniature golf at the Magic Carpet Putt Putt right there on the seawall.

We played a full 18 holes on the front course, watching the water sparkle and the golf balls evade the holes. Only a mild case of competition was in evidence as we chased the pretty balls around the whimsical decorations on the course. The giant ostrich that tries to peck your ball out of the hole, the totem pole with sharks and dolphins, the twenty five foot long conch shell, many of which I have seen since I was a kid.

As the frog in the giant fish retired our golf balls, we left to explore the island more. As we drove down the famed seawall, I pointed out in my best geezerly fashion all the things that “used to be”. We stopped on the seawall about halfway down and went out on one of the rock groins, or short granite jetties. The brown water surged and fell, churning like the prop wash of a big ship. I explained authoritatively how the current next to the granite was very dangerous and you’d get beat up good if you decided to go in there. As we picked our way out to the end, we passed small groups of tourists and spring breakers. The spring breakers wearing bathing suits were covered with chillbumps most of the time. Pretty funny.

The surfers were hanging about a hundred yards off the end of the granite, in a line, waiting for the next big wave. The next sandbar held only about three intrepid boarders, apparently unafraid of the gigantic sharks lurking nearby. Not that there WERE ACTUAL sharks out there at the third sandbar, but as far as I’m concerned, no wave is worth the idea of sitting with your legs dangling off your board looking like French fries to a sand or tiger shark. No thanks.
A few of them caught three or four-foot waves, rode for a little way, then kicked out. Not that these are fantastic swells for shredding, but we’re here in Galveston. Not a surf mecca. But the frequency and form of the swells was quite impressive for our geographical location. I was armchair quarterbacking the surfers, of course, since it looked like a lot of nice waves were getting passed over, only to turn perfect. They needed to be in a little closer. Dumb kids.

Down the boulevard we went in search of food. We ended up at Chili’s, mainly because we knew what we were going to get and about how much we were going to pay. The only alternatives were to blindly follow the yellow brick road in to one of the high-end places and blow our budget, or hit a joint with “local flavor” that cooks frozen shrimp in week-old grease and serves wilted lettuce in a “salad”. I’ve been there. Don’t want to repeat that.

Ater lunch, we headed down to the historical Strand. Fairly uneventful, but it was nice just walking up and down the streets watching people. There were tourists galore, with their white legs and sandals, sunburn and sunglasses. Some of the locals were out, as well. Like the lady sporting her fiddle and a milk jug with the top carved out so change could be thrown in to pay for a serenade.

My only disappointment, albeit temporary, was that Col. Bubbie’s was closed. The absolute BEST army surplus store in this hemisphere. Well organized but packed to the gills, this store has anything one could imagine, from military branches all over the world. And it was closed. I haven’t been in there in about fifteen years, but I know there must have been something in there I wanted.

The trip home was somewhat quiet, since we were all tired. The girls thanked me for a great day, and that was as warm to my Daddy soul as the setting sun on my face.


Howlsatmoon said...

Sounds like a Mighty Fine day.... I gotta get a job where I have spring break....hmmm, a little less disposable income vs a whole lot more.....Miami.

You didn't mention, so I shall hazard a guess...

The Girls skunked you at mini golf, didn't they?

aA said...

Master Wollf,
NO, they didn't! The older one beat me by a few strokes and we both looked like pros compared to the wee lass. Her form lacks, ah, refinement.

Mighty Fine, though, yes, Mighty Fine indeed!