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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Galveston Island

By the time I left the San Jacinto Monument I was ready to get out of the slow-moving or congested traffic. I was surrounded by cars in all directions.

On CNN I heard a "Severe Weather alert for southwestern Louisiana with possible tornadoes touching down" and was relieved it wasn't my area, but right after the announcer finished saying that she added "...and southeastern Texas." Shit, that's me! I thought. So those darkening clouds off the ocean are more than just a thunderstorm.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to Galveston. I have been there twice before and like the city, but for me it wasn't anything new. The Strand is a tourist haven, but the colorful buildings are worth a visit. I wanted to see something else, so I headed toward Pier 21.

The clouds were getting darker and getting closer. I didn't care. I had discovered some pelicans resting on rocks near the peer and I wanted to photograph them. I've loved watching pelicans since my days in Monterey Bay, when those birds would perch calmly on the wharf railing to entertain the tourists.

I saw more and more birds, but then the raindrops started to fall, and without much of a warning, a deluge. People ran under cover or to their cars. Others ran to the closest building, but here I was on a slippery wooden pier, far from anything to cover me! I was soaked within a few minutes, and I was unconfortable. I was cold, wet and annoyed.

The rain wouldn't let up, either. It was 1:20pm and I had a whole day's plans still to do, yet now the rain put a--no pun intended--damper on my plans. I went inside the Pier 21 Theatre to get out of the rain, then caught a 1:30pm showing of the French Pirate Lafitte and his days off Galveston Island "privateering" off Spanish ships. I could hear the thunder outside. It rained for 90 minutes.

I stopped in the Water Wall restaurant, a small TexMex place with me as the only customer. No one was in the streets anymore. I had a "Hurricane" drink for $5.57 and sipped that down, wishing I had had a hot coffee instead. I looked awful.

"Did you get stuck in the rain?" asked the lady behind the counter of the Galveston Used Book Store. Kevin and I were in here during our trip across the country back in September 2004. The owner had am orange tabby that slept at her counter the entire time. He, Gus, now six years old, was still there today, sleeping. He was featured on not too long ago, the owner boasted. Gus is a well-behaved mellow cat who's well suited for counter-top supervision.

I bought two used books, against my better judgement, and dropped another $8.48. I would have chatted longer but I was worried about getting ticketed for an expired parking ticket.

It rained a few more times in slower increments. I had the heat on as I drove west on Galveston Island and the shore, looking at the white caps and the low-flying birds. The storm had brought in a cold front and my wet feet could feel the temperature change.

Galveston Island State Park was my goal for the night, but it was cold and windy. I walked part of the Clapper Rail Trail but wore my black fleece to keep warm. The trail was soaked from the earlier rain and I only did a short distance of the trail' I was no longer in the mood to walk in any more mud or rain. Now I just wanted to get off the island.

I made it to Lake Jackson for the night, a town divided by Dow Corporation's chemical plants and Freeport. Freeport had nothing but very run-down buildings, and gasoline selling for $2.71, but I grabbed a meal at Jack in the Box and made Lake Jackson with its nicer hotels and better variety of restaurants, my destination for the night. I could look out the window and see the white lights of the chemical plant. It was like being back in Whiting, Indiana.

Temperatures were to fall into the low 40s tonight.

I spent a lot of money today: $37.10 and $15.50 on gasoline, $1.93 and $2.17 on food, $

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