My very first completely solo overnight trip at age 49.
Having driven 15 hours from Alabama to Texas and expecting things to go differently, I found myself thinking about what I wanted to do next. I looked at the map of Texas on my phone as I simultaneously wished to be at the beach. Then I saw it, Galveston. Just over a four hour drive from where I was AND on my lifelong bucket list mostly thanks to Glen Campbell. I grew up listening to him tell stories through his songs and Galveston was one that really resonated with me. It was settled, I was headed to Galveston.
I arrived later in the day, shortly before dark. I was tired and just wanted to relax so I sat at the hotel pool and ordered Italian from a place nearby that delivered.
The food was delicious and I nibbled on zeppole for dessert as I soaked in the tub back in the room. I finished my bath and crawled into bed hopeful that I might sleep but insomia once again had me up until early morning. I drifted off sometime after 4 am.
I had set an alarm for 8am, another for 9 am and a third for 10am. Not knowing when I would fall asleep, I figured I could “pick and snooze” in the morning based on how much sleep I’d had when each alarm rang.
10 am was the winner which is actually 2 hours more than I typically can sleep. I downed a Dr Pepper, applied sunscreen and was ready to explore.
I walked across the street from the hotel and down a short sandy road to the beach.
There were already a lot of people out enjoying the day; swimming, sunbathing, building sand castles. I decided to walk down the beach , snapping pictures of whatever caught my eye. A hermit crab curled up in his shell. A single rose that I imagine had been tossed into the waves and returned with the tide. The rocks of one of the jetties. A fisherman in a hat. Before I knew it, I was two and a half miles down the beach and near the Pleasure Pier amusement park which is seen the black and white photo below.
I looked up towards the seawall to see the gift shops and restaurants that pepper every beachside town. A giant sign above two surfboards caught my eye. BAR with an arrow pointing to the entrance below.
I trekked up the stairs of the seawall, crossed the street, and found an open air bar with an array of options including frozen drinks. I settled on an orange dreamsicle and a glass of water. It was amazing! Tasted just like the popsicles I liked as a kid. After drinking most of it while enjoying the banter of the bartenders and their manager who would randomly burst into song, I decided I would have another drink and order lunch. I sat for over an hour listening to music, looking out at the beach and enjoying the day. After lunch I visited a gift shop where the friendliest local worked. I bought a wooden and shell mermaid and a few smaller items.
I put the wrapped mermaid into my backpack with her exposed tail sticking out and started my walk back down the beach to the hotel, taking more pictures along the way. Seabirds perched on what looked like an old fence. A log covered in barnacles that had washed up while I was at lunch.
I stopped for a few minutes and tested out the water. It was a soft brown color along the shore but a beautiful blue/green about 100 feet out. I ventured in up to my waist and then thoughts of unseen sea creatures sent me back to my beach towel. The Texas sun quickly dried me off as I sat listening to the waves.
I grabbed my pack , reapplied sunscreen, and off I went again, looking for life guard stand #5 where I had entered the beach. Once there, I climbed the stairs to a large gift shop/restaurant/shower/restroom complex. I still needed a couple of Galveston magnets for my collection.
This gift shop was busier than the first but another friendly local yelled out as I passed him, “Looks like you caught yourself a fish there!” I turned around with a puzzled look then remembered the mermaid tail peeking out of my backpack. He rang up my magnets a few minutes later, asking where I was from. He was impressed that I was from so far away and asked what brought me to Galveston. I said “Glen Campbell” to which he nodded and smiled even wider.
He asked if I’d seen the sights and told me I needed to visit Moody Gardens and ride the Bolivar Ferry to see the dolphins. I decided to take his advice and after a quick shower I headed to Moody Gardens where I toured the Rainforest and the Aquarium. Both were fill of beautiful and interesting creatures and plants. I took about 200 more pictures between the two. I asked about good places to eat that had live music and ended up at The Spot which was actually 5 restaurants in one, all serving the same menu but with different settings. There was a standard sit down restaurant, an adult only bar with just appetizers , a counter to order food and seat yourself, a bar with live music and a smaller bar that looked out towards the beach and Pier. I chose the ocean view over the live music and found a tiny table. I ordered fried pickles, wings and a pina colada. Not just any pina colada. This one was the best I have ever had, narrowly knocking out the one I’d had at PF Chang’s years ago with an amaretto floater in top.
This pina colada at The Spot was served in an actual coconut that had just been cut open at the bar. It had pretty fruit garnish and a little paper umbrella that embodied that “you’re at the beach” vibe. Just as I was taking the first sip, Amarillo by Morning started playing. Ocean view, best drink ever and my favorite song of all time. This was a sign if I ever saw one. I was right where I needed to be. The food was great, the people were friendly and the music continued to impress with a mix of country, rock and easy listening. The sun went down and the rides on the Pier lit up in neon colors , prompting another picture.
I finished my meal and headed back to the hotel to end the night sitting by the pool until it closed for the night.
The following morning , I loaded the car, checked out of the hotel and set out for the Bolivar Ferry. The line wasn’t long but it was still about a 45 minute wait to drive onto the massive boat that would take us over across the bay ,promising a view of dolphins , a lighthouse and a grounded shipwreck along the way. Once on the ferry everyone got out of their cars to look for dolphins and the other sights. We were not disappointed as dolphins joined us to play in front of the boat as we passed the old shipwrecked boat and the lighthouse appeared ahead of us. Once reaching the other side, the road stretched out along the beach for miles before it slowly gave way to farmland and carried me down the road towards home. I was sad to be leaving the beach but feeling refreshed and proud that I’d spent two days on my first completely solo overnight trip. For someone who strongly dislikes being alone, I had not had a single moment of anxiety or loneliness.
Thank you Galveston!