Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day in Houston: Featuring a Trip to a Beach

Rental surrey pedaling along the beach in Galveston

For only the second time in my young life, I got to spend Christmas Day at a beach.  The firsts time was Christmas 1997, in Salvador, Brazil, which fulfilled a dream of spending Christmas on a beach in Brazil.  The second time was the unseasonably warm Christmas 2015 in Texas.

I had some time to kill before my late afternoon flight.  And seeing as it was Christmas, there was nothing really open.  So I drove down to Galveston.  And I hit the beach.

It was foggy, despite the temperatures being so warm.  And the sea was very choppy, probably the roughest I've personally seen the Gulf of Mexico (admittedly not many times).

Not many people were on the beach.  There were a few surfers, probably loving the ocean-like conditions.

Galveston is a fascinating place.  It is the site of the most devastating, the most deadly, "act of God" in American history.  In response to the killer 1900 hurricane, the City of Galveston built a seawall, and raised the ground on Galveston to the level of the seawall, to better protect it from the elements so that it could maintain its status as the Gulf Coast's pre-eminent cotton port.

Seventeen feet, I believe, is the height of the Galveston sea wall, pictured above.  The city was raised, I believe, by an average of six feet in the futile attempt to protect its status as a major Gulf port.  The Houston city fathers intelligently dredged out the Houston Ship Channel so the major Texas Gulf port was no longer in the sweet spot for major hurricane destruction.

I do need to spend more time exploring this fascinating historic city, even though the old Historic District, the business core of pre-1900 Hurricane Galveston, is a collection of precious antique and curio shops.  But I did not budget enough Galveston time this trip.

As an aside, one unhappy observation I made driving down to Galveston on I-45, listening to the Christmas "Traditions" channel on the Sirius XM rather than "Holly," which is their "contemporary Christmas" channel.  Glen Campbell singing a very good "I'll Be Home for Christmas."  A Carpenters instrumental version of "O Holy Night."  Both these would have been from the 1970s, from my "contemporary era."  I am so frickin' old that "my" contemporary Christmas is now deemed traditional and gets played with the Jerry Vale and Glenn Miller.

Well, at least I didn't have to listen to Mariah Carey belching up a horrific "All I Want for Christmas Is You."  At least for another couple of years.  Then she'll get relegated to the Old People's Christmas Music channel so those youngsters listening to Taylor Swift and various offshoots of One Direction don't have to put up with OLD people like Mariah Carey or Usher.

Part of the problem is that I did not plan my Christmas very efficiently.  I went to a Midnight Mass, which, let me tell you, was NOT the Express Mass.  Every last detail was dragged out just because.  I then went to an all-night diner (the awesome 59) for a post-mass snack.  Which meant I did not get to bed until a very late hour.  And I first took a trip to downtown Houston, to check out Tranquility Park.  But first I checked out the giant Christmas Tree in front of City Hall.

I had heard the park was designed to mimic the lunar surface.  Hence the name Tranquility Park, which is a direct homage to the "Sea of Tranquility" on the moon, where the Apollo 11 landed and Neil Armstrong took his one small step for a man and his simultaneous giant leap for mankind.

Imagine my disappointment when it turned out to be an ordinary green park, except one that's not all on the same level.

Half-dried out turned-off water features aren't my idea of "lunar."  But the skyline of Houston is always interesting to see.

Even without the pretense of a faux-lunar-scape of a park.

Houston is an awesome three-night getaway.  It would have been awesomer if I had budgeted more Galveston time.  And been here when The Orange Show was opened.  But those are for another trip to H-Town.

No comments:

Post a Comment