Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winding Down

Plans change and so do I. Yesterday, the plan for today was to go into Houston and explore. Instead, we wandered along backroads to Galveston.

After getting up very late (almost 9:00 am), we ate breakfast and decided to stay another night in the same motel, then head into Houston tomorrow. So, we set out toward Galveston. Along the way, we say considerable evidence of Hurricane Ike, from last September, though none as powerful as in Galveston proper. I took several photos that show the extent of the devastation; I'll post them here when I can hook up my camera to my computer to download images. Suffice it to say the storm was truly catastrophic. And the people who most needed, and still need, help in Galveston are the ones who FEMA somehow manages to ignore or forget.

We wandered all over Galveston, then settled on Joe's Seafood for lunch. It was a small place operated by an Asian couple; I don't know if they own it or not. The clientele appeared to me to be poor, but working, and was quite diverse; Black, Hispanic, White, etc., etc., etc. The oyster po-boys were excellent; I wanted to try the flounder and the shrimp, but I was too full and too concerned about my gluttony to do more.

Then, we headed southwest along the seawall, beyond Galveston proper, to an area where literaly hundreds of homes on stilts (telepone-pole-like posts) had been badly damaged. Photos later. Incredible damage; lots of people who once lived in those homes and others who are working on repairing them, but have no other place to live, are living out of travel trailers. It's a very strange scene.

On the way back, along the same road we took to get there, we came upon a place we'd noticed in the morning, the Bayview Duck Restaurant and Pub. We stopped in to see what it was like and to get, we hoped, a good beer. It was the right place! The guy who runs it is an Engishman who's very nice and accommodating. We asked about the English beers and he offered us samples of a couple he thought we'd like: a combo bitter and Newcastel ale (he calls it a Brown & Bitter) and another one that combines the Newcastle with something else that makes the resulting drink considerably sweeter. I opted not to get a combo, going instead for a Fullers ESB Bitter; my wife got the Brown & Better. We got a snack, too; fried, crab-stuffed jalapeno. Excellent place for a drink and a bite; I highly recommend it. To top it off, its decor is an eclectic mix of old wooden tables, bookcases, artwork featuring books, dark carved furnishings, photos and art of England, and well-worn chairs and tables. A great neighborhood spot.

Then, onward toward the motel. A brief respite there and we were off to an early dinner, aiming to go to a Mexican restaurant just a few blocks away, but deciding instead when we spied a Chinese restaurant to go there instead. We had a buffet dinner at Lee Palace at 6942 Garth Road. I cannot highly recommend it, but it's not bad and I have yet fallen victim to food poisoning, so it's still on the OK list.

Tomorrow, we'll head out before 10 am to my sister's in Houston, where we'll also meet up with a brother and a niece and nephew. We'll treat everyone to lunch (which we may have to bring in because of some medication my sister is on). Then, before it gets too late, we'll head back to Dallas where we have a week's worth of work to do before Monday.

If retirement is anything like this trip, I'm ready for it. The trip was not spectacular, but it was mostly relaxing and took my mind off work most of the time. That's a good thing.

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