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January 24, 2006

Texas Gulf Coast

IMG_0012_editedOn Jan 8th, we entered Texas in the very south east corner, and travelled along I-10 til we reached Hwy 124 about 60 miles east of Houston where we turned south to the coast.  The land is very flat here and we drove past quite a large grass fire.  We could easily see the flames as we got closer.

We headed onto a long flat  peninsula where we took a short ferry ride across the mouth of Galveston Bay to the city of Galveston.   The city is on Galveston Island which is a barrier island 2 miles off the mainland and joined to it by a looooong bridge.  We spent most of the next day exploring the city and surrounding area. 

DSC_0110_editedAfter a devastating hurricane in 1900 when 6,000 people died and the island was lashed by 100 mph winds and tides 15 ft high, the city erected a sea wall 17 ft high and 10 miles long.  There is parking along most of it and the views of the gulf are wonderful.  Some piers have been built out into the ocean with restaurants and fishing facilities on them.  I guess they’re hoping there won’t be a repeat of the big one,

The following day we went to Houston.  As it is a city of about 2,000,000 we expected to get into a fair amount of traffic but were amazed at how little there was.  We were able to park at meters downtown with no problem.  They have a tunnel system joining the downtown buildings.  It’s similar to Toronto’s Underground City except there’s almost no retail.  It’s mainly food outlets in the building basements and then real tunnels with no retail between buildings.  It was in the underground that we saw all the people (it was lunch time) – very few were on the street.

DSC_0146_editedWe had reservations that afternoon (they do that for security purposes) for a 90 minute boat tour of the 50 mile Houston Ship Channel.  The Port of Houston handles more than 6,300 vessels and 150,000 barges annually.  It’s the 6th largest seaport in the world and handles 64% of all container cargo in the US. As early as 1837 a bayou near Houston was used as a harbour and gradually was widened and deepened to become this 50 mile long channel. 


The area from Houston to Corpus Christie is very flat and you can almost see for ever.  We stayed just north of Corpus Christie in the town of Rockport.   Remember the white pelican that we discovered in Prince Albert National Park in northern Saskatchewan last September?  Well, we found where they winter – on the Texas gulf coast.

DSC_0185_editedAfter 3 days north of Corpus Christie we headed to North Padre Island National Seashore where we parked right on the beach. (there were about 8 or 9 other rigs on the sand).  The first evening we watched the high tide as it came to within about 100 feet of the trailer. The next evening when we came home in the dark after spending the day in Corpus Christie, the waves were coming right in under the trailer.  An on shore wind of close to 40 mph had developed and it was also a very high tide.  I must admit that we kept checking the tires and supports to make sure that the sand was not washing away when a wave came up too far.  I’m not sure what we would have done if there had been a problem.  By the time we went to bed, the tide was going out and no waves were coming up as far as the trailer.  Interestingly, in the morning when we went to leave, the sand was actually harder than before the water had been on it.

DSC_0200_editedAfter leaving North Padre Island we continued south along the coast to Kingsville.  We took a tour of the King Ranch founded in 1853.  It’s about 825,000 acres (finally Texas size) and has developed its own cattle breed – the Santa Gertrudus – and perfected the quarter horse.  It is still a fully working ranch with about 300 cowboys and each cowboy has a string of about 8 horses.   Most people know of the King Ranch because of the Ford truck that is named for it.  An interesting fact about its size – You could purchase 100 square miles of the ranch and still have room to put the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston inside the current Ranch borders.

Our next stop, Thursday January 19th will be in Brownsville, the most southern city in the US.

Talk to you from that area

Bernie and Ross



Posted by Ross at January 24, 2006 04:53 PM


It's nice to see where you've been. I'm jealous. Hope you are keeping well, sure looks like your're having a good time. Take care, and drive safe. Kathleen

(I'm the Welcome Wagon lady)

Posted by: Kathleen Farrell at February 24, 2006 11:34 PM

Hi Bernie and Ross:

Enjoyed receiving your report. It is well written and so informative. We are looking forward to the next one. Our time here is getting short and there is so much to do.

Jack, Anita & Celtie

Posted by: Jack and Anita Riddell at March 1, 2006 08:04 PM