Galveston Island Happenings

It’s a great time to visit Galveston. Yes, it’s technically in the middle of winter (what’s that?) and not officially beach season, but there’s a lot happening on the island!

Galveston Restaurant Week

It’s the last week of Galveston Restaurant Week – Jan 9- 23rd. Select restaurants around town put together a prix-fixe menu at price points between $10-$40. Along with the celebration of food comes the voting of a winning restaurant. You can vote for your favorite eatery to be crowned “Galveston Restaurant Week Restaurant of the Year!” #CelebrateDelicious

Here’s a list of places with the “Magical Affordable $10 Lunch” a great option to savor food at some of the best restaurants without breaking the bank.

  • The Gumbo Diner 3602 Seawall Blvd.,  (409)762-3232

  • Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar 2107 Postoffice St., (409)744-8626

  • Nick’s Kitchen & Beach Bar 3828 Seawall Blvd., (409)762-9625

  • Nonno Tony’s World Kitchen 2100 Harborside Dr., (409)621-5100

  • Rainforest Cafe 5310 Seawall Blvd., (409)744-6000

  • Riondo’s Ristorante 2328 Strand, (409)621-9595

  • Saltwater Grill 2017 Postoffice St., (409)762-3474

  • Shrimp ‘N Stuff Downtown 216 23rd St., (409)974-4609

  • Sky Bar Steak & Sushi 2102 Postoffice St., (409)621-4759

Vote for your favorite here! http://www.galveston.com/galvrw/

Mardi Gras

Galveston has one of the largest celebrations of Mardi Gras in the country. The festivities begin January 29 and run through February 9. Parades with floats, Golf car parade, concerts and even a 5K race provide something for everyone. For the full schedule and all the details go Galveston.com. I did notice that Cory Morrow will be headlining the entertainment on February 5th beginning at 10:30pm. We saw him play at Stubb’s in Austin last summer at a concert and had a great time!

It’s always a good time for Island Time on Galveston! Spring Break is around the corner!

It's always a good time for Island time! Mardi Gras, Restaurant Week, Spring Break....

Children of guests at beach

 

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Summer Don’t Go Yet!

I dropped one daughter off at college on Sunday and the next one starts school in a week. Temps here in Texas are still hovering around 100 – upper 90s, though I hear we have a “cold” front coming later this week that will lower things to the low 90’s. Summer’s not quite ready to let us go, and that’s ok with me. I’m not ready to let it go either. One of my favorite go to meals for a hot day is Shrimp Pico de Gallo.

This started when I had a great summer of garden produce a few years ago. Husband LOVES salsa and especially pico fresh from the garden. So, I whipped that up one one day – combining jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, red onions, lime juice, cilantro and salt with avocado and cooked shrimp! I don’t really measure out much when I make it, it’s a very forgiving mix – unless you add too much jalapeno! (I usually cut one in half and throw half the seeds away. If you like it spicy, add all the seeds.) So, to start, I’d suggest 3-4 good sized ripe tomatoes, 1 jalapeno pepper, about a cup of cilantro, 1/2 a large red onion, 1-2 avocados, juice of 1 or 2 limes and about 1 lb of cooked, peeled shrimp. Add salt to taste. Chop everything in to bits of the size that will easily scoop on a tortilla chip. I serve it in a bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce topped with the Shrimp Pico de Gallo and scoop it with tortilla chips.

For those of you that like exact measurements, here’s a recipe that will be pretty close (minus the olives) from The Pioneer Woman for her Shrimpo de Gallo – hope you enjoy!

The Water Calls Us

This week, we take our oldest child to college. So I’m feeling a little emotional – nostalgic, scattered, happy, anxious, satisfied, excited and a host of other emotions that seem to flow intermingled throughout my days these past weeks. Many of our family trips have been to places with water (fresh or salt) – California, Massachusetts, Alabama, and of course Texas. As summer comes to a close and I look back over he past years of vacations, I’ll take you along memory lane with me.

Hotel del Coronado 2004 – My mom was dying and she wanted to see the ocean one last time. It was summer and the Gulf Coast was way too hot and she was really to frail to do too much moving around. The Del was the perfect spot – she could sit on the balcony and feel the ocean’s peace. Saltwater is good for the soul.

Hotel Del Coronado 2004

2005 Thanksgiving at Big Bend – the kids had never seen the mighty Rio Grande. Here are the girls at the Santa Elena Canyon

Girls at Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend

In 2004 we moved near Lake Travis and spent summers going down to a nearby park. This picture is from 2006. When the lake was low, the kids could pretend they were at the beach.

In 2007 we visited my uncle in Boston. We were joined up north by my sister’s family and several of our Italian cousins. My uncle rented a beach house in Hull for all of us. It was a constant party for days. The water was wicked cold, but that didn’t stop the kids from getting wet.

For a couple of years in a row, the girls and I had mother daughter camp weekends at Kamp Kickapoo with their girl scout troop and siblings. The river felt great on that hike. This is from 2007.

And as you can seem, most of our water adventures took place with friends. This is from summer 2007 on Lake Austin.

In 2008, in celebration of the kids finishing their time at a private school for kids with dyslexia, we took them to Maui. That black sand beach on the way to Hana was really an incredible site. The girls each brought home a spoonful of the black sand in a jar.

In 2009 we went to Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee – my husband’s old stomping ground. We went with dear friends and took the mother of all hikes along the river to the falls. Trail wasn’t marked but we made it. It was an adventure for sure. This photo was taken at one of the several small waterfalls in the park.

In 2010, my grandmother turned 100, so back to Boston we went for a delightful family reunion at my uncle’s beach house in Scituate. This beach house has remained one of our favorite places to go. So many memories and good times have been had there. It was the inspiration for us to purchase our own beach place. 

After 2010, many of our trips centered around going to the beach houses in Port Aransas and Galveston, combining business with pleasure. We’ve loved having the houses to take the girls, friends and family. They’ve provided us exactly what we had hoped for – places of joy and family memories. Sometimes it’s been a stretch and a challenge, but the moments we’ve created for the family have really been invaluable. We’ve loved hosting extended family Thanksgivings in Galveston for several years.

 

 

The next chapter will hold new things for all of us. Wherever life takes us, I know we’ll still gather by water, whether it’s at the Texas coast or elsewhere – it’s where we slowdown and share stories, laugh and renew. The water is where we are at home.

 

Desperately Seeking Shade

Beach days on the Gulf coast require a little bit of mid-afternoon shade. In preparation, we purchased a pop up tent for the Galveston beach house for guests, but we have never actually used it. I had no idea how to set it up!

The heat index in August in Port A was 105-109 degrees on the last trip, so it was either stay inside or figure out how to put up some shade. Guests had left a 99.9 UVA/UVB umbrella and we borrowed a giant deadly looking metal contraption from a friend that is supposed to secure the umbrella in the ground. We used the giant metal screw like thing that we twisted into the sand about 10 inches down. The first attempt in moderate wind was pretty good but as the afternoon went on, the umbrella became loose. So, we took off the bottom section of the umbrella and tried it again for some success. While we sat under the low umbrella I checked out the varieties of methods to secure umbrellas and tents to tried to figure out the secret science of securing shade.

Our umbrella and holder

Our umbrella and holder

Tents

Every beach trip I see at least one tent either mid tumble or post tumble. Tent skeletons collect around the trash cans. The wind that comes of the water is strong! This trip the tent next to us was secured with Lowe’s buckets filled with sand. Ropes attached the tent frame to the buckets. Excellent – that tent didn’t move in the wind at all. Bring the kids and sand shovels and put them to work! We also saw folks to the other side of us employing our tactics of putting the shade low….

Tent held by sand buckets

Tent held by sand buckets

Short tent

Short tent

Umbrellas

I saw all kinds of umbrellas stay put, but never was able to see one actually being put in. So, I googled it. Some sites recommended various forms of sand screws like we used. However, several sites had videos of people placing an umbrella in the sand and moving the umbrella back and forth about an arms length. This moves the umbrella down into the sand to a recommended depth of about 18 inches. Point the umbrella in the direction of the wind so the wind blows the umbrella into the sand rather than catching it and blowing it away. Step on the sand around the pole to pack it down. One post I read said they pour water around the pole to help pack down the sand around the umbrella.

Umbrella and sand chairs

Umbrella and sand chairs

What’s your solution to securing umbrellas and tents? I’d love to know!

Horses on the Beach

horse group on beach with heading

My youngest daughter is an animal whisperer.  All her extra curricular activities revolve around animals – horse riding, goat raising and she even works in a vet clinic. Every time we go on vacation, if there’s salt water, she wants to do two things – swim with the dolphins or ride horses on the beach. She’s been asking to do this for YEARS. We finally checked one of those things off her bucket list this week in Port Aransas. (Can you hear the angels singing!!) The girls and their friend rode at Horses on the Beach – Corpus Christi.  It was awesome! The stable is about 30 minutes from the beach house in Port A. It was a quick drive down the island with a left at Park Road 22. Horses on the Beach is on the left side, just past the entrance to the Bob Hall Pier and Padre Balli Park.

I reserved two early bird (10:00 am) spots online about a week ahead of time and for this hot August day, that early ride was the right time for us. There were several other time slots, including a sunset ride.  I wasn’t sure the oldest daughter was going to be able to make the trip, so I made a last minute call the day before to ask if they could add her to the reservation. Happily, they did. We arrived at 9:30 am, filled out waivers, got helmets and waited on some swings for the rest of the group to assemble.

Waiting to ride

Waiting to ride

The group had about 30 riders total, including 5 guides. The riders were assigned a horse based on level of riding experience. Once on the horse, the guides helped get the gear situated.

Matching the horse and rider

Matching the horse and rider

Stirrup adjustment

Stirrup adjustment

They left right on schedule at 10:00 am and headed out across the dunes to the beach. The spring rains formed large “lakes” in the lower areas of the dunes. At this point, the water was only about ankle deep on the horses. It was a good way to begin the ride!

Splashing through the dunes

Splashing through the dunes

After the kids left, I went in to chat with the staff who told me how to get to the beach with the horses. I jumped in the car and was on the beach in about 5 minutes – just at the group came out of the dunes.  I had so much fun photographing them! That stretch of beach is gorgeous – narrow and not crowded.

Walking on the beach

Walking on the beach

Stepping into the Gulf

Stepping into the Gulf

The kids had a fantastic time. The ride lasted exactly an hour. They walked down the beach a bit then back tracked to come home through the dunes again.

Coming home!

Coming home!

The group felt a little large, but even so, the kids were able to maneuver the horses to where they wanted them to go. It was a leisurely ride on a wonderful day.