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Touring Galveston

April 12, 2012

The Robert H. Dedman

Galveston, Texas, Wednesday

Today was a day to just run around in the Jeep.  After a morning stroll on the beach, we drove down almost to the east end of the island and onto the Gibb Gilchrist, one of the six ferries that carry people and vehicles between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.

This was Nell’s first time on the ferry.  It’s a part of my history, since I grew up in Houston.  Galveston was a recreational destination for family, and later for friends, and a trip across on the ferry was often part of the activity.

Since 1929, the ferry service was first operated by a private company, then by Galveston County, and finally by the State of Texas.  For some history, including the 25 cent fee that was charged from 1934 to 1949, visit galveston.com.

Very often, dolphins play alongside the ferries, and in fact, today we saw two or three very briefly.

Bolivar Lighthouse

Shortly after driving off the ferry, we passed the old Point Bolivar Lighthouse.  The lighthouse hasn’t been in service for well over 60 years, but still stands as a landmark.  The brick structure sheathed in cast iron plates was once painted in black and white stripes, but weather has blackened the iron over time.  There are some interesting tidbits and stories at http://www.crystalbeach.com/light.htm

Fort Travis Seashore Park

Just up the road is Fort Travis Seashore Park.  According to The Handbook of Texas Online, the first Fort Travis was built in 1836 on the eastern end of Galveston Island by the Republic of Texas, to protect the Galveston harbor entrance.  Like just about anything in Texas named Travis, it was named for William Barrett Travis, the commander at the Alamo.  The bunkers held coastal artillery guns and were occupied by troups during both world wars.  There are old coastal artillery bunkers on Galveston Island as well, part of Fort Crockett (yes, after Davy Crockett).  There is a good photo and information about that at Fort Tours.com.

Fort Travis Seashore Park is currently closed for construction, so all we could do was look through the fence.

We went back on the ferry to Galveston, looking for food.

A benefit of having Facebook friends and blog followers is that, if they know you’re going somewhere, somebody has a restaurant recommendation.  Benno’s had been mentioned, so we stopped and checked it out.

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A crab cake and potatoes for Nell, and fried shrimp and oysters for me.  Good stuff.

We took a second photo just to show that the outdoor patio dining area had a wide view of the seawall and the Gulf of Mexico.

We left Benno’s fully satisfied, but not stuffed.  We decided to explore just a bit more before heading back to the RV.

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Murdoch’s has been a Galveston institution since the 1800’s.  It has been destroyed or seriously damages numerous times by storms, yet always rebuilds.  It is one of the island’s main gift shops.  Read more about it here at Galveston.com.

Built out over the sand in two parts, each with its own entrance, Murdoch’s has a large veranda-style deck in the center.  It’s a good place to take a load off one’s feet, and even enjoy a cold one while being mesmerized by the waves.

We left Murdoch’s, headed back down the street, and noticed a sign at Fish Tales that said they served Blue Bell Ice Cream.  So we found their parking lot behind the building (you can always park along Seawall Boulevard as well), and wandered inside.

Just inside the door, you can be seated for lunch or dinner, or you can step up to the ice cream counter and be wooed by a wide range of flavors calling your name.

Nell got a boring two scoops of something on a cone.  I, on the other hand, took the gourmet route, ordering three scoops of different flavors: peach and vanilla on the bottom, chocolate and peanut butter in the middle, and banana split on the top.  By the time I finished that, it was definitely time to go home.

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Pleasure Pier, under construction

Across the street from Fish Tales is a major construction project.  The Pleasure Pier is forecast for completion by summer 2012.  That’s really close, and it looks like they have an awful lot of work to do to make that deadline.  But when it’s finished… it is really going to light this place up at night.  I have a feeling it will be the entertainment crown jewel of Galveston Island.

We got home a little before 5pm, a couple of tired tourists.

But it was fun.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Loretta Perno permalink
    April 12, 2012 1:26 pm

    We are putting this on our list . Thanks.

  2. William R Moore permalink
    April 12, 2012 3:12 pm

    Ralph,
    We visit my wife’s sister’s family almost ever Summer in Houston and use to go to Galveston often, but not so much lately. My daughter’s family and grand sons usually travel with us and our seeing a school of dolphins jumping, playing and following the ferry is my remaining image of the ferry. Thanks for you pictures. It looks as if after Hurricane Rita,
    Galveston is bouncing back with a nice clean colorful appearence.

    • April 12, 2012 4:08 pm

      William, most of it is. There are still some of the cool, tacky places that made it what it was, along with a lot of new, shiny places. The color is still there, maybe even more of it. I’ve been taking photos of buildings and houses that have not yet been restored, and hope to do a blog article contrasting places that have been refurbished and those that have not. The island is a real mix of old and new, of upscale and not, all sitting side by side in some areas.

      • William R Moore permalink
        April 13, 2012 7:22 pm

        Ralph, A blog article contrasting places that have been refurbished (new)and those that have not (old)would definitely be of interest.

        Good job on the beach painting you painted on April 10 and showed on your other blog today in “Taking it easy” post (isn’t life great). I remember thinking how far away the motif seemed, I would have had a difficult time with something so far away.

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