Saturday, November 2, 2013

Galveston, Texas

After leaving New Orleans, we spent a quiet week at Red Shoes RV Resort at the Coushatta Casino in Kinder, Louisiana. We did a little gambling, restocked the pantry and simply relaxed for the entire week. We then headed for the Texas Gulf Coast city of Galveston Texas. We last visited Galveston in 2007 and enjoyed our visit so we wanted to return. We weren't sure what to expect as Hurricane Ike devastated the area in 2008. Here is the leg from Kinder to Galveston Island.

Rather than take Interstate 10 through Beaumont and Houston, we decided to take the less traveled southern route through Bridge City. Since Texas 87 is closed east of High Island, we altered our route a bit and took Texas 87 out of Orange then Texas 73 south/west to Winnie. 

We are approaching the twin bridges at Bridge City.

It's strange when you approach these bridges due to the steep incline. Called the Rainbow Bridge, it's 680 foot main span rises 177 feet above the Neches River. It was built in 1938 and is still used today for westbound traffic on Texas 87. 

After refueling at Flying J, we headed south on Texas 124. We wanted to take Texas 87 but it's been closed from Sabine Pass to High Island since Hurricane Ike came ashore in 2008.  Texas 124 heads south and connects with Hwy 87 at the Gulf and the Bolivar Peninsula.

Once through High Island we proceeded west on Texas 87 along the Gulf of Mexico. The weather was beautiful and traffic was practically non existent. Pretty nice considering we were bypassing Houston. Traffic has always been horrendous every time we've gone through there, so we were pleased with our chosen route.

Having a home across the highway from the Gulf requires some adjustments. I suspect this home does not meet any ADA requirements. I can't imagine climbing those steps every day, especially after a large shopping trip.

The positives, of course, is there is no flooding of your home, you have parking under your home, and you can convert the area under your home into living space by screening in the area below.

The Bolivar Peninsula does not have a water tower like most of the cities along the Gulf. They use a more traditional water tank. I have not learned the reason behind that as it seems a tower would be more appropriate given its' location.

This portion of Highway 87 ends at Port Bolivar.  The State of Texas explored the possibility of constructing a bridge across the Straits connecting Galveston Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. However, costs, engineering and the large amount of cargo ship traffic precluded them from doing so.

In order to move traffic across the straits, Texas DOT operates a ferry system. There is no cost to use this ferry, a 2 1/2 mile journey across to Galveston. There are a minimum of two ferries operating daily but four more are available during the summer peak season depending on traffic flows. 

So we loaded up and waited for our first ferry trip.

We got some strange looks from some of the people on the ferry as we are 65' long but the traffic lanes were 10' wide so we had sufficient room.

Due to the configuration of the traffic lanes, I knew there would be a challenge getting off at the destination dock. But, you have to trust the workers have experienced this in the past and things will go smoothly.

As you can see, there were several other trucks on board. We were the second in our row. Debi and Jasmine stayed in the coach, but I had a chance to stretch my legs and watch the dolphins who were putting on a show in front of the boat. The trip to Galveston Island takes about 15 minutes.

As suspected, once we were secure on the Island dock, the workers were efficient and knowledgeable on how we were to debark. In retrospect, I should have had Debi get off with the walking passengers and take pictures of the coach coming off the ferry. As usual, hindsight is always 20/20.

This is the approach to the ferry docks at the Port of Galveston.

These guys kept a wary eye on us throughout our journey on the ferry. Then again, maybe they were just looking for an easy meal and knew I was an easy mark.

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