Our vacation in Galveston seems like a pleasant dream now that we're back home in drought besieged Austin again. The beach certainly was lovely this summer. We were relieved to see the island recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Ike. My son enjoyed the beach this year; this time without any surgery worries. What a difference a year makes!
Since the beach house we stayed in last year survived the hurricane we went ahead and rented it again this summer. We wanted to show our support for the area while having a nice vacation. It worked out well.
The owners of the home made many repairs on the house post-Ike, so it looked nice inside.
Of course, there was still a lot of evidence that the hurricane had hit. The sand dunes on the West end of the island were completely washed away, so we did not see any beach bunnies this year. Though incredibly, many of the bunnies survived and are living in the cow pastures behind the houses. As you look southwest from the top deck you can see how flat and rather bare the beach looks now compared to last year.
We were happy to see that some of the home-owners to the northeast are rebuilding the dunes and boardwalks once again. This will be very important for wildlife in the area as well as future storm-surge protection.
The outside of the house was different from last year. Gone are the BBQ area, swing and hammock. The huge waves of the storm managed to pick up the big concrete slab under the house and sweep it away. It's hard for me to even imagine that sort of power to be honest. In the photo below, the entire space you see under the house was covered with a concrete floor the year before. It's amazing that the pilings stood firm.
Speaking of standing firm; KHOU has created a memorial page entitled, Hurricane Ike: One Year Later, which offers moving visual perspectives on the power of the storm and how the people of Galveston are recovering.
I imagine the owners of our rental were relieved to have a repairable structure. The house just up the road leans so precariously on its pilings no one is allowed inside.
It's apparent everyone in the area has been hard at work. The huge piles of debris which once lined the roads are mostly gone from San Luis Pass. But we saw many houses being repaired and several homes wrapped in blue tarps. While rebuilding in an hurricane-prone area might seem an exercise in futility to some, the Wall Street Journal's Susan Warren explains why she is determined to maintain her family's water-front vacation home in the area...
Mother Nature has a way of healing as well. These wildflowers were volunteers growing on what used to be the dune between the house and the beach.
The seagulls are still plentiful. This little guy sat on the piling we used as our 1-mile marker during beach walks.
He may have been watching out for this dude with his powered paraglider a few hours earlier. After watching them whiz by from the relative safety of the deck for 3 years now, I admit I'm still not tempted to try it.
The brown pelicans glide a lot more quietly...though we couldn't resist saying, "Zoooom!" as they rode the wind currents above the decks. We could set our clocks by them. They traveled Northeast every morning and Southwest every afternoon.
My step-father flew his kites once again. The kite he's working with below was a bit trickier this year since the railing he'd tied it to last year was swept away by Ike.
My son's favorite outdoor activity was building sand castles under the shade of his own umbrella. Please notice his straight spine! ;-)
Since the Island is still recovering signs of damage were still apparent as we drove around. Here is the Flagship Hotel with its gaping hole on the end. It seems they plan to tear down the hotel at some point in the near future.
As we drove through the area to look at the beautiful historic homes we saw unhappy proof of the many oak trees that are dying from salt water damage. In the photo below you can see the palms are fine, but the big old oaks look dead.
Despite a great deal of loss the residents are trying to rebuild and move forward. This group of Segway riders brought a smile to our faces one Sunday morning. Amid the ancient and melancholy oaks, they were determined to have a good time.
We found that about 75% of our favorite stores, galleries and restaurants in Galveston had repaired and reopened this summer. The rest are either still renovating or may be closed indefinitely. This recent CNN report explains how well Galveston businesses are recovering...
Fisherman's Wharf is opened for business. The Tall Ship Elissa next door sustained some damage to its fore lower topsail which was repaired by sailmaker Jim Brink. As we ate at the Wharf we enjoyed watching the ships roll by in the Port of Galveston.
I love the Wharf's mosaic floors...
We discovered some new favorites in town including The Mosquito Cafe. The charming owner, like almost everyone we spoke with, shared the story about the damage his business and home had sustained. He said Ike's flood waters reached well over the front door inside the restaurant and stood there for days. He restored everything to its former glory. It looks fantastic and the food tastes delicious!
He even replanted the little garden in courtyard out back.
We found the best antique store on the island: Big House Antiques and made friends with their parrot, Hadley.
Last, but not least, we stopped by our favorite local book store, Galveston Bookshop. We shopped and my parents donated several boxes of books that they'd brought down from Missouri for the owner. If you go to the site you can see photos of the shop after Ike and the incredible cleanup they accomplished. The store looks great and I'm happy to report that Gus the bookstore shop cat is doing very well.
We love Galveston and hope to visit again soon.
"Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?" Rose Kennedy
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