Heading east from Magnolia Bay, we bypassed our next destinations to get a Passport America camp spot near the water. Everything in the Gulf Coast is near water. We stayed in the small town of Anahuac (pronounced anna-wock) which was by a lagoon which was by a lake which was by a river which was a short ways from the gulf. Sounds wonderful but we really didn’t have a water view at all. It’s all very marshy.
But we did have a roomy spot and full hookups and a laundry room and it was within our driving radius to get to Galveston and Houston. We stayed at Trinity Bay RV & Lodging – a very well maintained park with large level cement slabs. And on the first weekend of spring break (for Texans) it was mostly empty.
We went to Galveston on Saturday and got an early start so we could take the scenic trip in. We went southeast around Trinity Bay. It was very flat and very stark with cows and barns and abandoned buildings like this old gas station:
Then we got to the coast and it was miles of narrow white beaches with lots of fishermen. Then pastel colored homes on stilts were everywhere – many of them for sale. (sorry no pics). We ended up at another ferry crossing. This was our second ferry ride in the Jeep.
Tom and I had been to Galveston before (just to get on a cruise ship), and at that time did not realize it was an island. Just like Padre Island you can get there by ferry on the north end or by bridge/causeway to the middle.
Our first stop on the island was the visitor’s center at the back of the beautiful 1859 Ashton Villa (mansion). One of the earliest brick homes in Texas, they now rent it out for weddings and such.
We got a city map and other guides, and some advice on what to visit: The Strand and the Museum in the library across the street. We were also able to leave our car parked there all day and avoided parking fees downtown.
The old library was beautiful and interesting. The homes along the streets were magnificent.
The Strand is the tourist area downtown by the ship docks.
Lots of shops and restaurants and bars – and you can walk through town with a cocktail or beer in hand.
We walked a lot, had a delicious meal, and watched a film about The Great Storm: The hurricane in 1900 that completely wiped out this major shipping port town. The loss of life was huge: six to eight thousand in the city, and double that in the gulf area. It was very sad, but made us appreciate the buildings that remained – which are all marked with survivor tags.
Leaving the old downtown area, we drove to the beach area where there was a pier with carnival rides and many more restaurants and bars and tourists. We could tell it was the first Saturday of spring break and we didn’t stop.
It was a full day with awesome architecture and history.
On Sunday we were on the fence about what to do in Houston. The obvious choice was the Space Museum, but we figured it would be packed with spring break families so we passed. Instead we chose the Beer Can House and the Art Car Museum.
We wound our way through a downtown Houston neighborhood to find the Beer Can House which is now owned by the Orange Center of Visionary Art. There was a $5 tour to see inside the house and watch a film which was well worth it. The entire house was covered in flattened beer cans. Yes, all drunk by the former owners it seems! He was very creative and it was an interesting story.
Inside there was a list of other “visionary art environments” around the country. I decided we should see them all, starting with another one not far away in Houston: The Flower Man’s House. Unfortunately the address was a bust. Had I researched it first, I would have discovered it had been demolished. But I still have the list and will do better research to see what’s still around to see in other areas.
At the time we visited, the Art Car Museum only had a couple of art cars (my explanation is cars with weird things glued on) and a couple of old classics along with some interesting art displays. (One was photos of White Sands, NM!)We really wish we could be in the area for the 30th Annual Art Car Parade (on April 8th 2018) which looks like incredible fun. We’re definitely putting on the list for next year.
From there we went to the Japanese Gardens in Houston’s Hermann Park – a really awesome park with lots to see and do. We passed on the Museum of Natural Science, and all the other museums there – again because of the crowds. But the azalea’s were in full bloom in the Japanese Gardens and even though it was a cloudy day threatening rain, it was all just beautiful.
Overall, we had a great impression of Houston.
Even though we could have done more (there’s ALWAYS more!), we felt like we got a pretty good Texas experience for our first time through the state.
Now on to Louisiana!
Peace & Love Joy