Spur-of-the-moment, James and I decided to go to Galveston for lunch yesterday. Neither of us had been down there since before Ike hit, so we weren’t sure how much the town might have changed. The first thing you notice as 45S turns into Broadway is that it feels very wide open. Almost naked. It’s because all of the lush old oaks that used to live in the esplanade were devastated – and then chopped down to grass-level – leaving the palm trees standing alone. Definitely changes the vibe right at the start. Once on Seawall Blvd, we saw that a number of the smaller businesses remain closed and don’t look likely to reopen. At least not any time soon. That being said (especially considering the oil disaster in the Gulf) there were a lot of people on the beach and even more in the chocolate colored water. If I’d had a boogie board with me, I would have been tempted to join them.
When I was a kid, my family used to get up before the crack of dawn and head down to the beach. My parents had a van with a retractable awning that was built right into the side of the vehicle (was it sort of like this, Dad? I remember it being more flat on top). So you could park – on the beach – unroll the awning and open the side door of the van, giving you a great indoor/outdoor, beach-ready environment. [Keep in mind, this was before the ozone was shot to shit and you could get a sunburn just being outside for 30 minutes with no sunblock on (which is what happened to me yesterday).] I would love to have a rig like that now, plus a place to drive it. There might still be a couple of pocket parks where you can drive on the beach, but mostly you have to park and walk with all your crap through the seaweed and dunes to get to an over-populated area full of beach chairs/umbrellas for rent. No more vans blasting competing Led Zeppelin and Moody Blues…the world moves on, but sometimes I stay behind.
As an adult, my trips to the beach have often been solo efforts. I’ve always enjoyed going to Galveston when I needed a break – each time the water rolls back out, just send your shit with it. I used to go to a pocket park a few miles away from the activity of the seawall. I’d take a book that I wouldn’t read, bring a journal that I wouldn’t write in and a radio that I did play, but on low. And I’d just sit on a blanket, listening to the sound of the water, sometimes dipping a toe in. In more recent years, James and I borrowed a friend’s beach house every summer for a couple of days. He sold it a few years ago, so we haven’t been down there in a while. I didn’t realize how much I miss doing that until we were there yesterday. I’ve gotten nautically spoiled, having been to northern California twice over the past few years. Hard to look at the water in Galveston without having a slightly calloused eye. But that eye was softened by childhood memories and past good times. Plus, it’s our beach. I don’t make it out to Big Sur very often, but I can get to Galveston in less than an hour.
Since this was a last minute trip, I posted a question on facebook asking for recommendations for a lunch spot. My friends came through with quick responses, with two people recommending Benno’s. It’s a small, old school Cajun/seafood place on Seawall at 12th. Been there for almost three decades. Even though almost all of their customers were inside in the AC, we opted to sit on the deck in the sun so we could listen to the water and watch the gulls. The cold beer in frosty mugs helped balance out the sun, which was already somewhat blocked by a green awning. The food was great and just what we wanted. Then we parked on the seawall and walked down to a jetty. Instead of the usual treacherous trip on wet granite with foot-grabbing gaps between each rock, the jetty now has a strip of concrete going down the middle. Made for a much easier trip to the end, where we found this couple fishing.
The fish was caught on something and the pregant woman walked out on the rocks a little to try to help the fisherman. James and I were caught between wanting to help him get the fish and having enough sense to know not to walk out on rocks that are wet and slimy with seaweed. He finally landed it – a red fish. Which was, actually, not red at all. After that excitement, we headed to the Strand to hit Col. Bubbie’s (army surplus). They had a few items with peace signs on them, something I’ve never seen there before. The place doesn’t have AC – that combined with residual flooding issues made for a hot and stinky experience. It was actually a relief to reenter the 93-degree weather outside.
So that was the big journey to Galveston. I’d like to go back down there and spend the night. It may not be the Pacific, but that’s okay.