Monday, January 29, 2018

Tree Sculpture Tour

Galveston Island RV Resort
Galveston, TX
January 23, 2018

The Tree Sculpture Tour mostly located in the East End Historic District begins at the intersection of 20th and Sealy.  There is a great map at the Visitor Center with details of each sculpture...21 of them.  Back in 2008 the damaging combination of powerful winds and waves uprooted many of the city's old trees.  Some of the local residents had the great idea to turn the downed trees into signs of rejuvenation.    

Whimsical tree sculptures have replaced the majestic oaks that once lined many neighborhood streets.  The sculptures, tucked away in gardens and side yards were paid for by private residents.  These homeowners own a Great Dane.  The tree had actually grown around the fence at the spot where the paws of his sculpture grip the fence.

The sculptures aren't the only draw to this historic neighborhood,  the homes range from small, simple cottages to large...ummm...huge elaborate homes.  

The earliest homes were built around the 1850s and have withstood the devastating hurricanes of 1900 and 2008.

Most of the homes are adorned with plaques...the most impressive to me is the 1900 Storm Survivor.  There are lots of plaques to describe the homes architecture, year built and information about who built and lived in the home.

The self guided tour is open to the public.  We walked, but you could bike or drive the tour...don't forget your map !

Following are a few pictures from the tour...
Tall Ship Elissa Figurehead...homeowners love for ships

Geisha Girl...represents the homeowners love for the Orient and is a reminder to their many trips there...she is facing west to represent the direction you need to travel to get to Japan

Birds of Galveston...this large Live Oak contains 17 birds on the branches
My favorite was a sculpture of dolphins.  I don't remember the name.  Joe reminded me that we did see a sculpture that was not on the map...prehaps a newer one...makes for a nice excuse for not knowing.  The detail was incredible. 
We did enjoy our walk.  Parking is along the street and free.  This time of year, we didn't have any trouble pulling into a space.  Of course we did work up an appetite and chose The Spot for a combo (snapper and shrimp) Po-Boy and yummy onion rings.

Stay tuned for our adventures with Corky and Libby.  Libby loves Galveston and Corky's mom grew up on the island so when they found out we were coming here, they made plans for a visit.  It was a blast !  

Until next time...
I have a thing for doors !


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tuesday's Excitement !

Galveston RV Resort
Galveston, TX
January 23, 2018

Early Tuesday morning, we heard them approaching...the Sandhill Cranes that is.  I grabbed my camera and ran out the door.  It's such a treat to see these grand birds over head...hundreds of them...filling the air with trumpeting calls.  There is a pasture just down the street where the Sandhills like to hang out searching for lizards, snakes, grains, etc.  Imagine my delight when three of these grand birds decided to stop in the field behind our home.  It's a big field and I couldn't get close enough for really good pictures...even so,   my first Sandhill Crane sighting had to posted.  

After breakfast and puppy time at the doggie park, we were off to the Tree Sculpture Tour (It's a walking tour in Historic Galveston with tree sculptures made from trees blown down in 2008 when Hurricane Ike passed over...more on that later.)   As we were heading east on San Luis Pass Road I happened to see pink fly by.  "Follow the pink birds" I shouted (several times) which Joe did...down a side street to a small pond. I jumped out running with camera in hand determined to get pictures.  
Thrilled by our first sighting of the Spoonbills, it was hard to stop taking pictures.  But, sometimes the camera gets in the way of just enjoying the moment so I did manage to simply watch for a long while...captivated by their beauty, gracefulness and individuality.  

Being full-time residents of the Gulf in Florida, Texas, and Mexico they forage in shallow muddy water sweeping their bill from side to side detecting dinner by feel.

I noticed one of these beauties did not have the dark pink  shoulder patch...a sign it is an immature Spoonbill. 
Spoonbills eat a lot of shrimp.  Shrimp eat a lot of algae and algae make their own red and yellow pigments.  

Some scientists believe that the pink coloration that Roseate Spoonbills acquire as they mature is due to their diet.  The more they eat, the pinker they get.  

 Also wading and foraging with the Spoonbills were a few White Ibis.   Another resident along the Gulf coast from Florida to Mexico, 

these slow moving birds use their long curved bills to probe muddy bottoms for crustaceans and insects. 

The brown Ibis in the picture below is an immature White Ibis.  Juvenile White Ibis are brown and creamy white from July through December.  During December, white feathers begin to appear on their backs and by August they will be completely white.   

Eventually the Roseate Spoonbills flew away and we left.  What an exciting Tuesday and such a special time that we can take to enjoy the little things that fly into our lives.  We did continue on to the Tree Sculpture Walking Tour...more on that later.  Until then, 


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

West Bay

Galveston RV Resort
Galveston, TX
January 22, 2018

Monday was marsh day at West Bay.  I love the wading birds and at the top of the list to see were a Roseate Spoonbill and a Reddish Egret.  Here is a sampling of our sightings.  

I couldn't believe it when I spotted a   Reddish Egret and a Great Egret in a small pond when we first arrived.

Reddish Egrets are permanent residents on the island.  These long-legged, long-necked waders are either dark or white for life beginning with the downy stage in the nest. 

Another full-time resident is the Tricolored Heron.  These slender birds prefer to feed alone in shallow waters.  Standing like a statue they patiently wait for small fish, insects and crustaceans to come their way.  


The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the North American herons.  It's always a treat to see these large, grumpy looking birds.  They can be found in saltwater and freshwater habitats and foraging in grasslands.

 The elegant Great Egret is slightly smaller and more svelte (more slender...I had to look that word up.) than the Great Blue Heron.  These birds sparked conservation movements and some of the first laws to protect birds.  It seems they were nearly hunted to extinction for their plumes in the late 1800s.  

It was so much fun riding along with high hopes at what we might find around every turn.  We did walk a lot too...through the muddy reeds and grasses.  

It's very special to visit these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. 

West Bay is wonderful...a delightful way to spend a few hours.  As you probably  guessed, we didn't see a Roseate Spoonbill on Monday, but we are not done yet !

Looking across the bay to the mainland.


Until next time...


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Galveston, Oh Galveston !

Galveston Island RV Resort
Galveston, TX
January, 22, 2018

We landed on Galveston Island January 19th by ferry from Bolivar Peninsula.  

The Texas DOT provides the free ride which takes about 30 minutes. 

What a great welcoming committee we had !
A private company began the ferry service in1929 with two wood-hulled ferries which carried 25 cars at a time and made 6 round trips a day.  By 1930, the ferries were sold to the state and for more than 12 years charged 25 cents for a ride.  The rides became free around 1949 and have remained that way since.  Today, there is a fleet of 5 ferries that can carry up to 70 vehicles each.  Ferries run 24 hours a day 365 days a week.  I also read that according to the national ferry report, its the fifth largest ferry system in the U.S. 
Galveston Island RV Resort  is a perfect spot to call home with spacious, level, concrete pads and a large, clean off-leash puppy park.  It is located on the west end of the island.

Our first wake-up Saturday morning...looking right towards the beach.

We are across the street from the Gulf with easy walking access and the best part...the pups can go too !  
Looking left...our site backs up to a large open space.
Saturday was a busy "errands" day.  Our first stop was the Galveston Island Visitor's Center. 

It is housed in the 1859 Ashton Villa, one of the oldest brick homes in Texas.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike left it's mark.

By the time we were done with grocery shopping, etc. the fog had rolled in and hung around through Sunday with  on/off again rain showers as well.  No worries, we enjoyed a much needed rest/lazy day!

Monday dawned with cool temps and bright sunshine...yippee !  The plan...beach time and exploring the marsh along West Bay via FM 3005.  Seawall Blvd/San Luis Pass Road/FM 3005 are all the same road which parallels the Gulf.  It runs from one end of the island to the other.  It's a pleasant, easy drive with colorful homes on stilts, folks strolling along the tide looking for shells or fishing,  and some surfers enjoying the waves.  The best high-rises !      
At the west end of Galveston, there is a $2.00 toll both and bridge that takes you over to the mainland.  

This morning we headed that way to the Kelly Hamby Nature Trail just across the bridge.  

It is a short boardwalk through "a forrest" of salt cedars (ranchers planted them years ago for the cattle) and tamarisk trees with various sea grasses.     

The trail winds it's way to the ocean...
Joe and I enjoyed a quiet walk on the beach.  There weren't many birds... just a few Snowy Plovers 

 and a lonely Ring-billed Gull.

The waves were to my ears...
and we were the only ones around !  Doesn't get much better.
Our next stop was also on the mainland...San Luis Pass County Park.  

We drove Pearl right down to the beach.  Did you know the beach is a public highway and the speed limit is 15 mph?  We didn't...that's pretty cool. 

We weren't the only ones enjoying a beautiful day.  The pelicans were happy too !

Once we returned to the island, we did more exploring in the marshes along West Bay.  I'll save that for another post so until next time...