– Day Four: Corpus Christi, Texas to Galveston, Texas –
On Monday morning we got up early and went for another run over at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. It was a lovely morning, and we were back at our hotel for showers pretty early. We packed up everything from our hotel room and headed out of town, with a quick stop at My Favorite Muffin on the way by. I couldn’t eat another muffin today (they’re huge!) but had a croissant instead. Mark went with another bagel sandwich. As always, the little Ripley had a delightful breakfast of kibbles.
We’ve been doing more of the Texas State Parks of late, and since we were planning to drive up the coast anyway, we checked the area for state parks to visit along the way. Only one was really convenient, and that was Goose Island State Park. It’s in Rockport, and it seems to be most famous for its giant coastal live oaks and for the fishing. I’ll bet you can guess which one we found the most interesting.
Goose Island State Park is home to what they creatively call “The Big Tree,” which was the “State Champion Coastal Live Oak” from 1966 to 2003, when another tree finally surpassed it in San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. It is apparently one of the largest live oaks in the United States, regardless, and is over 1,000 years old, with a trunk circumference of 35 feet, and a “crown spread” of almost 90 feet. It’s neat to stand next to something that’s been alive for a thousand years. It makes you feel rather small and insignificant. Imagine the things that tree has survived. You can see knots and scars all over it. In the photo, you can see a few places where limbs have been removed or propped up to help keep it alive and healthy.
The park has several other trees, though none are as impressive. Ripley even got to stand in one, which I think she just found confusing. Mark popped her up there and she stared at us oddly while we furiously snapped photos with camera and phones alike. She’s a good girl. That done, we resumed our drive up[ the coast.
We stopped a few times along the way, mostly for breaks or to eyeball those weird houses you see built along beachfronts. It’s funny how many are empty. They are usually wildly colorful, built on stilts, and vary from almost brand new to so weather-beaten that it is hard to tell what color they originally were. Most of the houses down there these days are only a few seasons old, and most of them look very expensive. It is fun to play spot-the-family-home, too, because you can always tell the difference between a vacation rental and someone’s house, even when no one is home. There’s just something fake-looking about those rentals. Also, family homes are almost always surrounded by the random junk we all acquire over time.
Someday I suspect (if we can find one that is Ripley-friendly), we will try to stay in something like that for a day or two. I feel like they would be a little more fun in Florida. Maybe we will invite both sets of parents along. Some of those rentals are big enough that we could practically move through the house without ever seeing each other for several days.
We finally reached Galveston in the middle of the afternoon, and we went ahead and hauled all of our stuff into our hotel. This particular La Quinta is right on the seawall, and it is very run-down looking. Surprisingly enough, though, despite the woebegone exterior, the rooms have been updated in the last few years, and they are reasonably nice inside. We haven’t ever stayed in that one (since we used to stay in the one in Texas City, before it became something else), and I was glad to find it tolerable, especially with it so close to the seawall and the beach. Just as an aside, if you haven’t been to Galveston, its seawall is one of its most famous features, and the city claims that the sidewalk attached to the seawall is one of the longest continuous (read: without breaks for roads) sidewalks in the word at 10.3 miles.
Since it was still quite hot, and our decision to walk down to the beach from our hotel instead of driving prevented us from taking our canopy easily, we decided to drive around Galveston to take pictures and look around while we waited for the sun to go down. We knew it would be cooler at dusk, and the beach would be quieter. Besides, we wouldn’t have to cake on the sunscreen for an evening beach visit.
Ripley tagged along for the first portion of our trip. She ran out of treats the night before, so we had promised her we would stop by a pet store to pick up a cookie or two. I was hoping for a dog bakery like ours back home in Southlake, but they didn’t seem to have anything, so we had to settle for Petsmart. This particular store was fostering a litter of kittens from the local animal shelter, and Ripley was fascinated with them. She watched them in their see-through cat house for at least 5 minutes before we had to drag her away. After that, we found some treats and loaded back into the car.
We drove around downtown Galveston, which is quite old. The city has something like 60 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. As I’m saying all of this, it may seem strange to hear me say that we actually like Corpus Christi better, since Galveston sounds more interesting. In a way, Galveston is more interesting. It has survived several massive hurricanes and each time, it has leapt back to its former glory with surprising vigor. The problem with that is, not everything in the city comes back. There are abandoned buildings in Galveston that were destroyed several hurricanes ago. People who know another hurricane is coming don’t always bother to paint their shutters or replace rusted railings. This essentially means that parts of the city look very run-down.
I have a friend from Houston that tells me people there call Galveston “The Dirty G,” and it is hard to argue with them. While it can be a nice enough place to visit, it isn’t as nice as Corpus Christi, and likely never will be. It’s all about the culture of the city and its hurricane-prone location. Galveston is fine. Don’t skip it if you’re coming down the Texas coast. But if you are coming down, don’t expect a tropical paradise. You’ll have to keep heading south to see something more like that.
We had one last stop to make, and since we needed to drive down to it and then park the car, little Ripley couldn’t go. We took her back to the hotel and drove a ways down the seawall to Murdoch’s, which is a gift shop (currently) that has been open there on the water along the seawall since the late 1800s. It was originally a bathhouse, and was built directly on piers out on the sand. It’s not built quite that way these days, as they’ve had to change it a bit to comply with state law (which won’t allow the creation of any new piers). Why, you might be thinking? Well, the building has been destroyed by hurricanes multiple times, with the most recent being Hurricane Ike in 2008. It was rebuilt again for the 2009 season at its present location, which is much closer to the seawall. I remember the previous Murdoch’s from when I was a kid. It’s a staple any time we visit Galveston.
With Mark and I planning our summer vacation to Hawaii in July, we decided to specifically search for hats that would pack well, though we didn’t really find any and spent most of our time making a survey of the t-shirts and trying to take a picture of a hermit crab out of its shell. I had two of those as pets when I was pretty young. I can’t say I’d want to do it again. I don’t think Mark had the same experience, because he’s still somewhat fascinated.
After Murdoch’s, we stopped at a local grocery store and picked up a few extra things to make our hotel room dinner. We had egg salad sandwiches with chips and hummus while we waited for evening. It really is the best time to be on the beach if you aren’t trying to get a tan, which we definitely are not.
Ripley was really excited to play in the water, and we all had fun wandering up and down the beach. It was obviously a lot cooler, and there’s something that’s quite pretty about a beach at sunset. I’d say it was almost relaxing, but Ripley doesn’t really let you actually relax, I promise. She even went for a little swim a few feet out into the ocean.
Galveston has this little amusement park that’s built out over the water on some of the existing piers, and trying to get cool pictures of the park’s lights as it got darker turned out to be quite a challenge. I think we played with the camera as much as we played with Ripley, which she did not appreciate. When ignored on a beach, she’s been known to run out to the end of the leash as hard as she can in an effort to get a few feet closer to wherever it is she is wanting to go. Mostly in the case, it was out into the surf. She was quite disappointed with us when we walked back up to our hotel when it finally got dark.
Since there’s no shade on the seawall, and that was our running plan for in the morning, we knew we had to get up early. Back at the hotel, we hurriedly showered and went to bed, trying to get a reasonable amount of sleep before the sun came back up to cook us on our morning run.
– Day Five: Galveston, Texas to Denton, Texas –
At 5:30am in Galveston, it’s still somewhat dark, as sunrise is officially around 6:20am this time of year. Still, it was reasonably light, and we were far from the only people out and about on the seawall. We ended up running about 4 miles, 2 miles down from our hotel and two miles back. Somehow both ways ended up being into the wind. That’s not fun. Poor Mark kept losing his running hat and had to carry it. We did luck out in the weather department, though. The sun stayed behind the clouds until we were cooling down, which was perfect since our location at the very end of the seawall forced us to run into the sun on our way back to our hotel. We never saw it thanks to the puffy blue/white clouds.
We packed up and left Galveston pretty early, but after we left, I realized it was pretty needless. We should’ve stuck around and gone for another swim. It was only a few hours home, and we could’ve stayed in our hotel until noon. We were right there on the water. We should’ve gone for another swim after our run. Unfortunately, we didn’t think of that, so we left the island, but not without first stopping at a Shipley’s Donuts for some breakfast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an apple fritter made the way Mark’s was. It was about the size and shape of a baseball and stuffed with apple pie-filling. Usually an apple fritter is sort of flat and has a few pieces of apple mixed in with the dough. This was like a fried pie, and was not a breakfast food. We couldn’t even finish it between the two of us. We did not approve of this abomination.
The morning was otherwise pretty quiet. We stopped for tea and gas at a Buc-ee’s on the way home. I offered to pick out a state park to visit along the way, but it was pretty hot, and none of them seemed like great candidates. They were either too far away or not something we’d be able to enjoy in a short stop. A couple are even basically inside the Houston city limits, which didn’t sound like fun.
For lunch, we had sandwiches from the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana on I-45. They were decent, if a little expensive. I do quite like their tea usually, but we already had tea from Buc-ee’s, so we were all set. And of course, you can’t leave a Collin Street Bakery without treats, so we picked up a couple of cookies for the road. Ripley had fun being admired by a couple of vans full of kids on some sort of summer trip. She is always making friends.
Home finally came into view reasonably early in the afternoon. We were glad to be there, despite the early hour. We don’t have too many trips planned between now and Hawaii, so I expect that soon enough, you’ll be reading about two more national parks. I hope you’re looking forward to it. I know we are!
– Trip Total : 1,247 miles –