Sightseeing in Galveston, and on to Louisiana!

by William Mclaughlin March. 11, 2014 1929 views

We arrived in Galveston on a beautiful sunny day, planning on staying five nights. The day we left was a beautiful sunny day, but everything in between was cloudy and rainy and windy! Nevertheless, we had a great time there and got to see a few sights. This is the Ashton Villa, completed in 1861. Apparently in the Galveston hurricane of September 8, 1900, water flooded the house up to the 10th step of the main stairway. The house was used as the Confederate Army's headquarters during the Civil War, taken over by the Union Army, and then retaken by the Confederates again.

The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston was destroyed in the 1900 hurricane, and rebuilt in 1904. The Bishop's Palace (on the right), completed in 1892, survived that storm intact.

Galveston is a mix of lovely homes that have new roofs and new paint and hurricane shutters. Most of this sort of work was probably done after Hurricane Ike devestated the area in 2008.

The other side of the mix are lovely homes that have had little or no restoration . Galveston has beautiful sunny beaches, excellent restaurants, and a long and fascinating history. Hurricanes aren't the whole story. However, the specter of violent storms seemed to be everywhere, and our experience there was odd as well as fascinating.

On the west side of Galveston you'll find a street called The Strand. Its buildings now house fun shops, boutiques and restaurants.

The buildings are right next to each other, and have a nice harmony about them.

Most of the buildings on The Strand have tall outer storm doors, which make for shady storefronts and give the street its own look. We had lunch in an outstanding Mediterranean restaurant, and enjoyed walking up and down the street. Mandy got to ride along in her stroller. The sidewalks are several inches higher than normal, and have been modified to accommodate wheelchairs (and dog strollers). Every intersection was different, and it made our walk a new adventure with every block!

After exploring The Strand, we went to the cemetery. As you might expect in this area, there were more Confederate markers than Union Army markers. You can tell which are Confederate markers from quite a long ways away, because they're pointed on top, while Union (and subsequent military headstones) are rounded. This guy survived the Civil War, only to die in the 1900 hurricane.

Storm damage and time take their toll everywhere. The top picture is the cemetery maintenance shed. Most of the mausoleums have issues, although a few seem to be relatively unscathed.

We spent an afternoon touring Seawolf Park. First we explored the USS Stewart, a WWII destroyer escort. This is one of only two surviving destroyer escorts in the USA. It was commissioned in 1943 and struck from the Navy's records in 1972. Today it is a museum ship maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers. We had great fun climbing in/over and through every deck and passageway.

Secondly, we got to explore a WWII Gato-class submarine, the USS Cavalla. This “boat” was commissioned in 1943 and struck from the records in 1969. This sub is most famous for sinking the Japanese Aircraft Carrier Shokaku…one of the six aircraft carriers used to attack Pearl Harbor. And as with the USS Stewart above, we got to climb through every part of this amazing underwater machine.

This is the forward torpedo room on the Cavalla.

This is the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. I'm not sure about the “historic” part. It was built in 2012 after the previous tenant, the Flagship Hotel, was destroyed in 2008 by Hurricane Ike. The Flagship replaced the original Pleasure Pier which was destroyed in 1961 by Hurricane Carla.

We left Galveston on March 6th, and took the Galveston-Bolivar ferry in order to avoid going through Houston. What a great little ferry system this is! There are five boats, and they run as necessary, although never less frequently than one every hour. We were really happy to get loaded upon a boat named for Bob Lanier. The ferry wasn't named after the 6'11" basketball center, but that's okay. We'd never heard of the Houston mayor whose name is on the front. :P

On our short ferry ride we sailed past Seawolf Park and got another look at the destroyer escort and the submarine.

One of the best parts of a ferry ride is crossing paths with another one just like yours. These are open, single-deck boats, and we had no trouble at all getting the motorhome on and off.

Our Garmin might not always have the right answer, but she did know we were on a boat! Check out the icon in the top left-hand corner. We were 300 feet from the dock, according to her calculations.

We drove past the Bolivar Point Lighthouse, but didn't stop. It's made out of metal plates! We were sorry to miss seeing it up close and personal, but we were driving the motorhome and towing the car, and that makes it difficult to make spontaneous stops.

We headed out of Texas on our way to Lake Charles, Louisiana. It isn't a very long drive, and before we knew it, we were in Louisiana. We were only stopping here one night, and found the Cypress Bend RV Park in a town called Iowa.

Iowa is just outside of Lake Charles, so we took the opportunity to meet a friend from Renderosity while we were there. This is Jock on the left, and Bill on the right. (Flash picture with the phone … sorry!) We had a great meal and a wonderful visit with Jock, and got to see some of his paintings in person. A fun stop, and we're glad we got to see him!

Many thanks to our friend Peggy, a Galveston-area native, for turning us on to several of the sights in that area. :)

We've arrived at our primary Louisiana destination, and are camping in a park where our friends Robert & Kathy live from October to May. We're having a great time visiting with them, and they're showing us all the sights. We'll undoubtedly have lots to show you from this part of our trip!

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