Tag Archives: Galveston TX

No Beach Like Myrtle Beach

Mom at her beach.  This was the year she took a wig!

Mom at her beach. This was the year she took a wig!

TRAVEL BUG TALES: GALVESTON BEACH JUST DOESN’T CUT IT

My mom’s happy place was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Part of that happiness had to do with her bestie, Mrs. Lide, who was always with her there.  I have to give Mom credit, though.  She never quit trying to find a happy place closer to home.  Nothing ever seemed to satisfy her like a walk along Myrtle Beach, but she never gave up and she was always optimistic.  So she visited a lot of beaches, but for her, there was no beach like Myrtle Beach.

Galveston

The first beach my mom tried to love in Texas was Galveston.  Our first summer back, we visited family down in Houston and made the trek to Galveston.  That’s when my Uncle Billy lost his wallet while he was fishing – one of my favorite stories, but I’ve already shared it.

The family made another trip down there, but I can’t pinpoint the date from the photographs I have.  It could have even been on one of the family vacations we made from Georgia. In Galveston, you have a seawall and above the seawall you have a road.  We stayed in a motel along Seawall Boulevard, right across the street from the beach.  I thought I’d shared this story before, but I couldn’t find it here, so if you’ve heard it, excuse me.  Even if I haven’t blogged about it, I know I’ve told it a million times, so some of you may be familiar with it.

p-man-o-warMy Drama on the Beach

As soon as we got to Galveston, Susan and I were dying to hit the beach, but my folks wanted a break from the drive. Because we’d grown up hanging out at the beach and were aware of the dangers, Mom and Dad felt parental supervision was unnecessary.  Honestly, I was still young enough to be a little anxious about it, but old enough not to want to admit it.  I was particularly concerned about crossing the busy highway.  I was old enough to know all the rules, but had rarely had the opportunity to use them on my own, in a similar situation.

We crossed the road at the light, found a spot on the beach for our paraphernalia and waded out into the water.  Very likely, I was holding Susan’s hand, because she was quite little.  Within a few seconds of entering the water, Susan was attacked by a Portuguese-Man-o-War.  In case you’re unfamiliar with the species, it’s a particularly nasty type of jellyfish.

I will never forget the absolute terror I felt when Susan screamed.  I knew she wasn’t drowning, but I couldn’t immediately figure out what was wrong.  Her leg was turning red and swelling, so even though I still didn’t know what was up, I knew I needed reinforcements.

Jane to the Rescue

I have become the overly-responsible sort.  My husband laughs at me for my propensity to overthink a situation.  Whether I am planning a party or packing a suitcase, I think through every possible scenario.  This means I usually buy too much food for the party and carry entirely too much luggage, but I’m ready for anything.

 I remember very distinctly, on that day at Galveston Beach, being torn between two necessities.  I needed to get Susan to my parents, but I was also responsible for our belongings.  I was nearly crazy with fear for Susan, but I was also scared to death of being chastised for being irresponsible about my possessions.  I was still under scrutiny for the BBQ joint incident, which most likely contributes to my current state of hyper-worry.

So with a screaming sister in tow, I dutifully grabbed up our beach gear and headed toward the official crosswalk, when what I wanted to do was tear across the street, leaving everything behind and ignoring traffic signals.  As soon as we made it across Seawall Boulevard, I was ready to give up my responsibilities and just be a scared kid.  I made a beeline for our room and by then, I’m pretty sure I was yelling almost as loudly as Susan was screaming.

Sardines and Crackers

I’d be very surprised if we’d been away from the room for more than ten minutes.  When my dad opened the door, I remember my mom was setting up a sort of picnic with sardines and crackers.  Every time I see a can of sardines, I am transported back to this moment (which has greatly reduced my taste for these delicacies of the canned food aisle.)  My parents didn’t immediately pick up on my panic.  I’ve been known to overreact – another thing my husband points out to me frequently.  I’m sure they thought, “What has Jane gotten into now?” (Which I’m sure my husband also thinks from time to time.)

However, in almost the same breath, they figured out this was the real thing and started trying to ascertain what to do, which I am sure was not exactly easy.  I was yelling in panic, Susan was screaming in pain and we had no idea what caused our distress in the first place – only that we wanted it to end.

Almost immediately, someone else came into the room.  Susan obviously wasn’t the first kid attacked by a Portuguese-Man-o-War.  The desk clerk had seen us head to the beach and then return in a screaming panic.  He’d seen that before and showed up with a bottle of ammonia.

Return to a State of Normalcy

Within moments Susan’s screams turned into whimpers and my eyeballs returned into my sockets.  My parents were extremely grateful for the help and expressed their never-ending appreciation to the desk clerk.  Eventually, I was asked for a recap and during my telling of the event, I am sure that I pointed out that I had remembered to pick up our towels – not that it relived me from hearing about the BBQ joint incident with great frequency.

Poor Susan…she was the cause of so many of my childhood traumas.  She was still an infant when she split open her head by crawling into a piece of furniture.  I couldn’t stand to watch them stitching her up and I couldn’t stand not to.  Then there was the time she got lost at Mount Vernon and the awful bug bite.  A schoolyard feud that followed me into junior high arose because someone accused her of something she swore she didn’t do.  I may not have always been the best big sister in the world, but she knew then what she knows now – when you’re in trouble, Jane will help.

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A Ride to Houston in a Red Convertible

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An on-stage extra, portraying an on-screen extra

TRAVEL BUG TALES: MY DAYS IN THE NFL

FYI, in my life, NFL stands for National Forensic League, not a sports league.  They don’t call it that anymore, but it sounds so much more interesting the way I remember it, than the way they have improved it. Unfortunately,  I find that to be true about more and more this day and time.  A few days ago I blogged about a speech tournament I judged and it brought back memories of my days in the NFL.  I thought I’d tell you about them.

Stairway Way to Paradise

I was unaware of it when I was in high school, (as far as I know the term hadn’t been coined) but I was a nerd.  Chances are my mother realized it, with or without the appellation, and that’s why she encouraged me to participate in pretty much anything that would get my nose out of a book.  One of my high school adventures was the Cothurnus Club, Bryan Adams’ drama club.  According to Dictionary.com, “cothurnus” is “a grave and elevated style of acting.”  I’m afraid there was nothing grave or elevated about our productions, but that was the name.

In my sophomore year, I had a couple of bit parts in a production called Stairway to Paradise.  One part actually involved a few lines, but the other  was more fun.  I played an on-stage extra, portraying an on-screen extra.  As such, I got the opportunity to spend most of my time dressed in the costume of a Southern Belle.

In spite of both parts, I spent most of the time hanging about backstage with the speech and drama students who recruited me into the NFL.  They also talked me into signing up for speech in my junior year, because then I could join the gang on a phenomena called speech tournaments.

The Red Convertible

Fast forward to October of my Junior year.  I was in speech 101 and I somehow convinced my parents attending a speech tournament was exactly the right thing for me to do at that point of my life.  I’d talked them into sending me on a mission trip over the summer and I had come home in one piece, so I was on a roll.

1972_Chevrolet_Impala_ConvertibleWhat was even more amazing to me was Jimmy Jordan had invited me to ride to Houston with him.  Jimmy was my favorite person in the speech department. Jimmy was not a football hero or my latest crush.  He was just my friend, Jimmy Jordan, but he was very groovy.(Groovy was “sick” or “the bomb” back in the days before words became synonymous with their antonym.)  He had a red Chevy convertible with white interior, which I thought was the coolest car I’d ever seen.  (At least it was the coolest car I’d ever seen since that Jaguar XKE at the 1966 State Fair – but that’s another story for another day.)

On the day in question, I threw my suitcase in the trunk of Jimmy Jordan’s car, along with his other passengers’ belongings, and we took off with the sun shining and and our hair blowing in the wind.  We got to the University of Houston early enough to drive around the campus and  feel very groovy.    The signature song of the trip was Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and it seems the disc jockeys were playing it several times an hour.  Or maybe it just seemed that way, because the other hit at the time was The Isley Brothers song, “Brother, Brother, Brother” and the word “brother” got a lot of play in in both songs.  Serendipitously, Marvin Gaye was crooning as we cruised the campus – one of my all-time favorite memories.

My Life as a Compulsive Big Mouth

That’s not a confession of some sort.  That’s the name of the speech-to-entertain I had prepared for the tournament.  I recall a few moments of dread as I was called up to give the speech and the immense relief I felt when it was over.  To my amazement, I made it to the next level of competition.  Another of my all-time favorite memories.  Pretty much everyone from our school made it to the semi-finals.  I was thrilled to be among them.

And Then There Was Galveston…

After a fast food dinner at Prince’s Drive-in (which was supposed to be the “it” place), we returned to our Ramada Inn and got a pep talk from our speech coach.  She was fresh out of college and proud to bursting that all her little fledglings were not only accounted for, but also in the semi-finals on the following day.  Our teen-aged bodies were casually draped across the whimsical components of the motel’s playground, as we listened to her schpiel.  I wish someone had taken a picture, but we didn’t do as much of that in the days before smartphones.  Taking a picture back then entailed posing.

Her final words to us were, “and don’t any of you dare to go to Galveston.”  Up until that very moment I sincerely believe not a single soul had even thought of the fact the beach was just a little bit down the road.  We were completely enthralled with being away from home without our parents and hanging out on a college campus.  We were also amazed that all our rehearsal time had paid off and we were all semi-finalists in the tournament.

However, the moment the word “Galveston” was out of her mouth, we had to go.  I forget the logistics of the episode, but soon the red convertible was making it’s way to Galveston.  By the time we got there, we’d all run out of adrenaline.  Jimmy parked his car, we scampered on the beach for a few moments and then didn’t know what else to do.  So we hopped back in the convertible and rode back to the Ramada Inn.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Speech Coach Scorned

Today, there would have been a whole lot of texting going on.  By the time we made it back, there would have been a gaggle of angry parents, ready to snatch their darlings back to Dallas – all the more angry at money spent on airfare.  We might even have made the news or at least been included in an Amber Alert.  In the glorious days before smartphones, all that waited for us was one very mad speech coach.  Had our escapades become known, she would have probably lost her job, but thanks to the lack of smartphones, that didn’t happen either.

Come to find out, we probably hadn’t gotten all the way out of the parking lot before one of the girls went and ratted on us.  For the record, she’d been invited on the spontaneous road trip, but she had decided she didn’t want to join us.  When she turned us down, she’d claimed she needed to work on her presentation. After we returned there was a tearful episode where she testified of a sincere concern for our welfare, but we all knew she was just another brown-nosing snitch.

We were royally dressed down andwe regretted upsetting the coach, but we hadn’t intended any harm.  We were just teenagers – teenagers who needed their sleep.  Most of the presenters who are listed in the final paragraph of the article below were probably in on the escapade (I was Jane Cave in that phase of my life).  Bryan Adams ended up fifth in the tournament, but with talent like we had and a little more sleep, we might have brought home the gold.

My Forensic Career Winds Down

I was not among the talented.  Though I would end up talking for a living, I wasn’t so good at speech tournaments.  The only other tournament I attended was something called a Mock Legislature.  We went up to Denton and were supposed to be debating issues and operating committees like they do in Washington.  I confess I didn’t really understand what was going on, so I spent most of my time flirting with the competition.

We did host a speech tournament at Bryan Adams and I remember thoroughly enjoying the experience.  We had all been forgiven by then and showed our ability to handle responsibility by planning and executing a very successful tournament.  I think my job was to man the concession stand – another career foreshadowing activity.

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Stranded in a Frozen Dickens

2013 Dickens on the Strand Program, Galveston TX

TRAVEL THERE: STRANDED IN A FROZEN DICKENSFEST

Galveston‘s 2013 Dickens-on-The-Strand Suffered from Chilblains! 

“You can’t always get what you want!”  The Rolling Stones were spot on with that one – especially when it came to this vacation.  The Polar Express gypped me out of my luminaries on the Riverwalk and then followed me to the beach.

My mom used to say things like, “If you had the sense God gave a goozle,” (and  I’m not exactly sure what a goozle is) but I’m sure my husband was thinking the same sort of thing as we froze our assets off, strolling down the Strand.

Important, but Chilly Anniversary 

I was expecting big things from this British-flavored festival with its side order of Victorian literature.  This was the fortieth Dickens-on-the-Strand and for the first time, it was a three day festival, not just an overnight flash in the pan.  What I didn’t expect was London!  Actually London has been warmer the few times I’ve been there.  This was more like the cold, wet, windy day I’d visited Coventry Cathedral and had nothing but a thin windbreaker between me and the chill.  I think that’s the coldest I’d ever been up until that day in Galveston.

Bill really does deserve the Champion Husband of the World Award – at least in the travel department.  Anyone with any sense would have headed back to Dallas after our frozen stay in San Antonio, but not me.  I was going to Dickens on the Strand and I had friends to see.  The friends were worth it.  Dickens? Not so much.  The festival may have been in full swing the day before, but on it’s inaugural first Sunday, it was a ghost story, and not in a cozy Christmas Carol way.

Still, we found a cheap place to park, walked several blocks to the entrance, paid our fee and landed virtually nowhere.  A few braves souls strolled the streets in their Victorian finery, but we had to decide who was dumber for showing up – us or them.  A few performers mounted stages and tried to entertain the lost souls wandering the Strand, but it was cold enough out there without stopping and standing in one place.  The greatest hub of activity was an area for steam-punk enthusiasts, an important factor in the popularity of the festival, but try as I may, I have very little, beyond a passing interest, in steampunk – and Bill had less than that.

When All Else Fails, Eat

We might have had an interest in chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but most of the heat seemed to be at Yaga’s Cafe.  The crowded interior didn’t seem to suffer from it’s lack of an identifiable theme in the decoration or menu.  The service was friendly, if not adequate, and the food adequate, if not tasty.

Lunch behind us, we explored the island by car for awhile and decided we’d certainly return, but next time, we’d rent a beachside cottage and the weather would be warmer.  For dinner we drove back towards Houston to meet some Pearland friends, Jimmy and Melanie, at Pappas Seafood House. Now that was good seafood and good company.  We are fortunate in our friends, even if we don’t always make the best decisions about when to visit the beach.

So, should you go to Dickens on the Strand?  I might go back someday, but I’d check the weather, go on Saturday and stay somewhere besides the Beachfront Palms.  Come back next week and we’ll start thinking about a new trip!

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On the Road to Galveston

Friends - great excuses for road trips!

Friends – great excuses for road trips!

TRAVEL THERE: THE SOUTH TEXAS CHRISTMAS RAMBLE MOVES WEST TO GALVESTON

As usual, San Antonio served up a good time. I’d been to some of my old favorites and tried out some new things. The biggest disappointment was the Polar Express that blew in, cancelling the luminaries on the Riverwalk, which had been the impetus for my trip. My favorite new thing was the Blue Crab Salad at Boudros or maybe it was the new Briscoe Western Museum or perhaps… I’ll just have to face it. I love San Antonio. I haven’t even finished writing about the last trip and I’m ready to go again.

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel

Speaking of new things, been to the Cracker Barrel lately?  Hubby loves it and in the past, I’ve tolerated it, because breakfast has never been my favorite meal.  However, I discovered something new as we left San Antonio.  For some reason Cracker Barrel doesn’t have it on their website and that’s a real shame, because I forgot what they called it.  Regardless of it’s moniker, it’s an extraordinary frittata with egg, cheese, bacon and who knows what else, with blackberries on the side.  I’m not a fan of omelettes.  I don’t like scrambled eggs and I prefer my veggies to be cooked before they’re mixed with the eggs, but frittatas, I love!  Also, since going on the South Beach Diet, I’ve permanently abandoned potatoes, so I don’t eat those egg casseroles with hash-browns, either.  This new dish, that I’ve forgotten the name of, was right up my alley.     For the rest of the trip I was suggesting Cracker Barrel for breakfast.

Stayed at The Beachfront Palms

We pulled into Galveston around three and found the Beachfront Palms without any trouble.  We’d gotten an expedia deal on the room and it was a decent place to stay, but it was completely no frills and no thrills.  They’d recently done a remodel, but only cosmetic fixes, no upgrade.  The appliances really needed replacement.  The pillows were thin and the bedspread was some sort of slick made-in-china excuse for fabric.  We were there for only two nights and had other places to be, so we lived through it. (A little fact checking on the internet revealed that the Beachfront Palms is now a Red Roof Inn.  It was an indie when we were there.  Good luck with that.)

Our first order of Galveston business was to see Linda and Clay.  In the days before I arrived on the scene, Linda was one of Bill’s best friends.  Since then, he married me and she married Clay, forming a rather syrupy mutual appreciation society.  Now, they’ve retired to Galveston and live in the penthouse of one of those high rise condos right on the seawall.  I’ll go a couple of years without visiting and then walk back into their place -OMG!OMG!OMG!  It’s like living on a cruise ship and having a balcony suite!  You’re so high up that the highway, seawall and beach completely disappear and it seems you’re suspended above an endless sea.  I try to play like it’s only jaw-dropping because I see it so infrequently, but if I lived there, I’d probably still wake up in the morning and say OMG!OMG!OMG!

Clary’s for Dinner

Our friends took us to Clary’s for dinner.  I’ve got to be fair and tell you that they love it and everyone who works there treated us like we were the King and Queen of Dallas on a state visit to Her Royal Highness, the Holy Roman Empress of Galveston – but that didn’t take a lot of effort.  Everyone who knows her, loves Linda.  We just thought the food was mediocre.  Linda and Clay say they eat there several nights a week, so maybe our mouths were just out of joint, but I’d have rather been at Gaido’s.

It’s always good to catch up with good friends, but we were there for Dicken’s on the Strand, so we returned to the Beachfront Palms and tucked the strange feeling bedspread under our chin, because Baby, it was cold down there.

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