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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Galveston Island

I got to the island just after 1pm. Twenty minutes later, while photographing pelicans off Pier 21, I got hit with a deluge. Within minutes I was wet and stayed cold the rest of the day. The storm brought in a cold front, and lows in the 40s were forecasted for tonight.

I had been to Galveston before, more recently in September 2004 with Kevin. We both liked the town, I for the birds and pretty buildings, Kevin for the nice walking. But today there were few people on the streets, and after the rain there were even fewer. That didn't stop me from walking around town photographing the colorful Victorian buildings.
I watched an 18-minute movie on Jean Lafitte, the pirate off Galveston Island who loved to "privateer" off Spanish ships in the early 1820s. I could hear the thunder of the storm outside. Thirty minutes later, while sipping a Hurricane in a small Mexican eatery off The Strand (another $5.57), The Water Wall, I wished I had ordered a cappuccino instead of a cold slushy because the drink only made me colder.

"You're taking photographs in this weather?" asked one man.
"Oh yes, the dark sky adds character I replied! Shortly after I said that I saw a man walking around taking photos as well. A dark grey sky adds more to a photograph than an otherwise overcast sky.

This storm was the same storn that caused CNN to announce "Severe Weather Warning, possible tornadoes in southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas." I could see the billowing dark clouds roll in from the ocean just north of Galveston, but shortly after I got to Pier 21 the darkness was more prominent.
"Did you get caught in the rain?" asked the bookstore owner as I walked into her store. I looked horrible--I hadn't showered yet and was wet on top of it--and affirmed her suspicions. Her orange tabby, six-year-old Gus, was napping on the counter. Gus was in the store three years ago when we first walked into the place, and little Gus followed me around the aisle before deciding to get back on his perch and nap. "He's been featured in" she said. Gus has the mild temperament to be a good store cat.
I told the lady about the story I read a year or so ago, of a 19-year-old tabby who used to be another bookstore's mascot. The cat finally died and the small Iowan town mourned his demise. Everyone in Iowa knew about this cat and traveled to the Iowa town just to see him. I couldn't remember the name of the cat or the name of the town. "It's in Iowa, that's such a small state!" she said. Coming from a Texan, just about every other state is "small" when compared to Texas!
I bought two used books, much against my better judgment, and dropped another $8.46. I was more worried about getting a parking ticket for my expired ticket than chatting with the owner longer. Galveston Used Books is a nice store.
The cold rain dampened my mood, both figuratively and literally. I couldn't get out of the wet clothes right away and had the heat on as I continued my drive down the island. It wasn't good birding weather now anyway, and the winds didn't help much. I didn't feel like walking on any more wet or muddy trails, and when I got to Galveston Island State Park (a great little retreat for camping) I cut my walk on the Clapper Rail Trail short. By now I just wanted to get off the island, out of the wind, and back an terra firma.
I wanted to stop in Freeport for the night but that town was a sad, depressing smelly little place beween two big chemical plants.

I spent a lot of money today: $37.10 and $15.50 for gasoline, $7.60 for tolls and parking, $1.93, $2.17 for food plus all the other things I already noted.

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