February 9 to February 15
Well, we made it to Galveston on the south coast of Texas of the Gulf of Mexico. Here for a week and hoping for some good weather but the forecast is iffy.
Click on the photo for each day to view that day's photos.
Day 29 - February 9, 2024
It is a hard day today. First, we dropped off Verna at the airport so she could head back home. Bud E. and i were very sad to see her go. She has been a wonderful traveling companion.
Then we walked on a beach that Joy and I walked on in 2018. The memories are not easy.
Then we drove straight to Galveston. Galveston is an island on the Gulf of Mexico with the city on the east end of the island and "cottages" all along the coast to the west. We are staying about 2/3rds of the way down the coast. I managed to get a few shots of a surfer, some shore birds, and then our condo for the next week. I then went back into town for some supplies and shot the lights of the amusement park on the pier in the city. It turns out that the "Mardi Gras" is on this weekend so I might take in some of that.
Day 30 - February 10, 2024
This is my third trip to Galveston, a week each time. And quite frankly, the weather here sucks. All three times it has been foggy and rainy. I am told this is what it is like in the winter season. Apparently, it is very nice (but hot) in the summer. Oh well. At least it’s not -43C. The first shot is the view from the condo this morning.
I went into the city this afternoon and got a haircut in case people started mistaking me for a hippie or something. The nice lady suggested I go watch the Mardi Gras parade, so I did. She told me where to go so I wouldn’t have to pay. I found a parking spot only two blocks away and walked over. It was not the upper crust end of town. Anyway, about a block from the start of the parade route I came across a lovely old house with folks on the front veranda who were very kind and invited me up. I ended up with a front row seat overlooking the folks on the street.
Beads. Thousands of beads. Everyone throws beads to everyone else. The floats in the parade throw them to the onlookers. The bands, the floats, the people. It was a lot of fun. I only watched about half before I said many thanks and went back to the car and to the condo. An interesting day…in the fog.
Day 31 - February 11, 2024
Another day of fog. It was so thick this morning, I could hardly see across the parking lot from the condo. It didn’t start to lift until the afternoon. So, we got a late start and just drove up the coast to the west for a bit.
First a couple shots of some very large homes on the beach. Then a Great Blue Heron posing for Gentleman’s Quarterly. The villages along the coast have waterways built so the homeowners can drive their boats right to the house. There are very large, expensive homes and plenty of smaller ones too. Most are well kept but there are some that are pretty run down.
Along the highway there are many places to access the beach. Some of them you can even drive your car right out on the beach. The sand is hard enough to drive on, but quite soft and beautiful to walk on. We need this in the sand traps at GLR!
Along the way I shot a Tricolored Heron, turtles, White Ibis, a giant seagull that was twice the size of the rest, and a couple gorgeous Egrets and a large ship.
Day 32 - February 12, 2024
Too may pictures today but it was a busy one.
The fog lifted and the sun finally graced Galveston. Galveston is actually quite pretty, when you can actually see it. Who knew? There are shots of the architecture around Galveston City, homes and downtown in this collection today.
First stop, the Bishop’s Palace. This magnificent 19,000 sq. ft mansion was the home of a lawyer and his wife when it was built in 1892, then the Catholic Church bought it for the Bishop in 1923 then turned in a museum in 1963. Absolutely beautiful.
Next, The Grand Opera House, finished in 1894. It was built for live theatre, became a movie theatre then turned back in live. Again, stunningly beautiful. I always try to get into photograph old theatres when traveling as I worked in theatres for a spell when I was young about a thousand years ago. Anyway, this is as nice as it gets. The only one I have seen that may be it’s equal or perhaps better is the Odeon Theatre in Napa, California.
Then we toured a couple WW II ships. One is the USS Cavalla. It is a submarine, commissioned in February of 1944. Shortly after setting sail of her first voyage, she sank one of the Japanese aircraft carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the Shokaku. I was fortunate to have an old submariner who knew the boat, front to back. Very complex weapon of war. And very, very tight, small spaces. A crew of 60 crammed into this boat is hard to wrap my head around.
Then a couple shots of a Crested Caracara, a few more around town and a couple of the sunset behind the Pleasure Pier Amusement Park.
Day 33 - February 13, 2024
Back to the basics and where I am more comfortable. Cities are nice but I love the backroads and wildlife. Today was the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge. This is a large, protected wetland with all kinds of birds. This area is either on the flightpath of migrating birds or their winter and sometimes year-round home. Along with the usual stuff, sculptures, butterflies, bridges, flowers, waterways, houses and alligators, and sunsets, we have many types of birds.
Almost in order: several types of hawks (I am not good at raptor ID) (one with lunch, not for those with a weak stomach), Great Egret, Boat Tailed Grackle, American Kestrel, Meadowlark, Northern Shoveler, White Ibis, American Coot, Great Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Cormorant, Roseate Spoonbill, Loggerhead Shrike, Gallinule, Red Winged Blackbird, Sandhill Crane, Black Crowned Night Heron, Blue Winged Teal, Black Bellied Whistling Duck.
All with no traffic or parking issues!
Day 34 - February 14, 2024
Finally! I managed to get some good shots of a Roseate Spoonbill. What odd looking creatures. Odd, yet absolutely beautiful. The smaller, white bird is a Snowy Egret. The larger white birds from previous days are Great Egrets. They are larger and have yellow beaks, while this one, the Snowy Egret has a black beak. They were taken at the Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve which is in the middle of a lovely neighbourhood. I also got a shot of a small dragonfly, a flock of White Ibis, a single flower and some of the nature trails before heading off.
By heading off I mean I decided to drive over to Louisiana for something to do. This involved a short ferry ride (each way). The land and highway are only about 6 feet above sea level. Look at how high the homes are built! The coastline is miles and miles of beach. It is also miles and miles of oil refineries and ports to handle the oil. So, Canada and more specifically Alberta is demonized and more and more isolated because of our energy industry but they pour it out down here like it is sea water. There are also oil rigs all along the coast out at sea. I am sorry, but I don’t understand. Anyway, we went into Louisiana, had a pop and turned around and came home.
Day 35 - February 8, 2024
Moody Gardens in Galveston is a not-for-profit aquarium, rain forest, wildlife exhibit housed in large pyramids. It is very well done. I usually don’t like shooting in “zoos”, but I made an exception today. I am glad I did. However, I spent too much time in the aquarium. I should have spent more time in the “rain forest”. The colours of the birds are remarkable. It is extremely humid. It took 15 minutes for the lenses of my cameras to clear up enough to shoot.
I have been here twice before, and the weather was suspect at best. Then this trip started out the same. But when the weather improved, so did the experience. Galveston is different. I have grown to like it. Lots of wildlife, miles of beaches and unique architecture.
Tomorrow…off to San Antonio for a few days.