Monday, June 29, 2015

Tourist-y Summer

We've enjoyed playing tourist this summer; taking nearby day trips instead of longer trips (drive time and duration).  Our most recent excursion was on Galveston Island - ghost tours by Dash Beardsley.  We were surprised at how much we enjoyed this walking tour of The Strand area.  It wasn't a ghost hunting tour, but more of the history around several buildings including people who have died there, later seen by residents and visitors hanging around The Strand.

Dash Beardsley - Ghost Tour Guide/Hunter
Dash Beardsley - 6'4", dressed in all black, 2 rings on every finger, wore sunglasses at night.  If he were to appear as an everyday man -- he wouldn't be as interesting; maybe a bit over the top for some, but the "character" fit the tour.
(Disclosure:  I'm not comfortable taking pictures of strangers - face on (yet), I'm sure he's used to it, but I'm not... so... you'll just have to go on the tour yourself to experience his entire persona.  Let's just say - he reminded us a lot of Dog the Bounty Hunter, but nicer, cornier jokes, and a true interest in preserving Galveston history.)

2202 Strand St, Galveston (W.L. Moody Building)

The W.L. Moody building currently houses the (now closed) Colonel Bubbie's Strand Surplus Senter (as it is spelled on the store sign).  The original building had four floors, the top floor was lost in the 1900 storm. Stories of hauntings within the building must have come from locals and eye witnesses since I wasn't able to track them down through books or internet sites. From what I remember don't think the original owner was too thrilled with the current business. (The tour was over 2 hours long, too many details to remember).  FYI...This building/business is currently for sale - if you're interested.

Inn on the Strand (B&B), 2023 The Strand St (closed)

Again - the stories of this (now closed) bed & breakfast must have come from locals and eye witnesses.  This area of The Strand saw a lot of Civil War action, so naturally death and suffering along with ghosts supposedly haunt this area.  But the facts seem to be that the B&B is too haunted to keep maids employed longer than 3 days and a few never returned to collect their paychecks.  It is the the dark building (1 lighted window - why?) in the middle.

Hendley Market, 2010 The Strand
Hendley Market located within the first commercial building (Hendley Row), built in 1858 The center for the island's shipping and cotton industry, the building has witnessed island history since the Civil War.  The story we were told happened in the street - a case of mistaken identity - a father & son accidentally shooting each other during a Civil War battle.  They and other soldiers have been seen in the street at night.  Currently the Hendley Market is an usual shop and one everyone should visit (expect to spend at least an hour just browsing).  They have very unusual items, books, and sculptures for sale.

It was a great, fun evening and we all learned a lot about the history contained within those few blocks of Galveston's historic district.  Dash also told other ghost stories around Galveston that weren't included in any of his tours (the Face at UTMB for example).  There was a breeze, so no mosquitoes but there was a lot of standing (on concrete).  Walking distance wasn't long in between each location and he did make time for a quick 5 minute break at a carefully placed market with public restrooms and refreshments for purchase.  You can find information about Dash's tours on his website.  We plan to take another of his tours.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tropical Storm Bill 2015

Those of us who experienced Tropical Storm Bill are thankful that it wasn't an intense storm.  Yes we've had rain and wind, and even some storm surge, but along the Texas coast it wasn't that bad on Tuesday. Ironically the day after started out with more severe weather... heavier, steadier rain and wind, and I imagine we'll see more flooding with Bill's trailing bands and training storms from the Gulf.

The kids & I took a quick trip down to Galveston Island to check out the beach and the incoming storm (not what you are supposed to do, but we were responsible about it).  We knew this wasn't a life threatening storm and we were going to the state park beach area.  Call it an educational trip - a study in physical geography.

Red flags were flying along the entire Galveston Island coastline.  We weren't planning to swim - just sight-see.

Tides were higher and there was a bit of storm surge;  much of the beach area was covered in water.

A few people were out - fishing or playing in the surf.  The water was really warm and the incoming dark clouds were definitely filled with rain.

The gulls were spending more time on the ground - not wanting to fight the constant wind.  This is usually a sandy beach path that turned into a rather deep pool in some areas.

Along the seawall, the tide/surge had completely covered up the small beach area.  We stayed on top of the seawall - not a time to venture out onto those rocks/jetties.
On the way home, we stopped at the store for a few (real) food items - not storm supplies.  There obviously had been some panic buying going on in the bread aisle.  The news stations had been covering the storm for 24 hours and although we appreciate their urgency to be prepared - it panicked a few people.

The next day - voila - more bread appeared and there weren't many people in the store.  The rain day turned out to be a decent day (we did get intermittent showers), and the heavier rains came the next day.

I'm sure this storm will cause flooding in other areas as it moves through Texas and other states dropping heavy rains onto already saturated ground (goodbye drought).  But everyone along the coast is back at work and life resumes -- so we go about our business -- in the rain (which was a day late to the party).

My originally planned post about our trip to San Antonio will come later. I wanted to share a few images from Tropical Storm Bill.

For those interested:
lens:  Nikon 16-85 f3.5-5.6 (I use this lens often to walk around with)
last 2 images were taken with Galaxy S5 (& taken quickly)