Monday, December 18, 2017

Free is good….

As We Go selfie at the beach
...and We like “free”

Yup, we found some fun, free things to do while here in Galveston.

Just a drive along the main drag is fun. You see a variety of houses and businesses, and unlike more “upscale” resort areas, even basic stores and eateries are mingled among high-rise resort hotels and have views of the water. In town, the road goes along the seawall and gives a clear view of the Gulf.

There are a lot of public beach access points along the Gulf side of the island. Many with free parking areas right on the beach. Oh yeah…we took advantage of that, and more than once. While there are some “upscale” homes along the water, Galveston Island has made sure public access stays available. We love beaches and salt water!

historic stone buildings on the Strand in Galveston
This is just 1 section of the Starnd
Historic Downtown (AKA the Strand) and the Waterfront. Free walking, awesome historic architecture, fun shops to browse, maritime activity (cruise ships, freighters, shrimpers, etc.), galleries, La Kings, and more. A thriving area of the city that caters to tourism and cruise ships. Well worth some time to stroll through, (and while there, a small splurge of confectionery goodness at La Kings is a reasonable reward for all that walking! You get a lot of ice cream in a small bowl for the price!) While the walk is free, you may have to pay for parking so watch where you park 😊 There’s free parking just outside the area, but it has a 2 hour limit. We did opt for a paid lot a couple times since we were going to be there several hours. Some of the old downtown buildings survived the Great Storm of 1900.

Ships at anchor as seen from a boat
A nice day for a ferry boat ride. Just a few ships at anchor
Our favorite “free” is literally a free ride, on the Galveston-Pt. Bolivar Ferry. It’s a short 15-20 minute ride across the channel and there’s not too much action on the Pt. Bolivar side. But we did find a marina to get some photos, and a bird sanctuary that we have to figure out where to park before trying to snag more photos of feathered friends.

There is also the old Pt. Bolivar light that was retired in the 1930s and is now privately owned. It provided shelter for several folks during the Great Storm of 1900 (one of the worse storms in U.S. history. If you interested, here’s where you can find more info about the lighthouse: and for more on the storm)

seagulls following a ferry boat
The seagulls get a handout from a  family
Part of the fun of the free ferry ride are the birds. You can see seagulls, pelicans and others and even feed seagulls from the back of the boat. Really. In fact, that’s part of the captain’s departure announcement. “Please feed the seagulls only at the back of the vessel” Our first trip was during wintry weather of wind and rain. No one was feeding the freeloading birds. But on other trips, those birds got their snacks from eager children of all ages.

Up in Houston, admission to the USS Texas park and the San Jacinto Battleground park are free. And if you get blessed, like we did, you may even get that free guided tour of the battlefield by the Texas State Park Volunteers! The only costs there are to take a tour of the battleship or some things at the San Jacinto Memorial, like riding the elevator to the top and special presentations. The park area itself is quite lovely and has areas for picnics and well maintained, clean restrooms.

I’m sure there are more free goodies, we just haven’t found them yet. But then, we’ve only had a couple weeks to explore the area. But here are a few more photos of what we've seen so far...

waves in the gulf of mexico
Driving back to RV park along the seawall

panorama view of sandy beach and waves
Our local beach access

seagulls on boat deck
Even seagulls figure it easier to ride than fly in blustery weather that day

car carrier ship as seen from deck of ferry
Orange ship is a car carrier passing Pelican Island and Seawolf Park

Pleasure Pier amusement park in Galveston
Pleasure Pier is another historic sight along the Seawall

view of light house tower and seaside town across the water
Historic Bolivar Light as seen from ferrt

Ferry terminal buildings silhouetted in the sunset
Bolivar Ferry Terminal at sunset

Shrimp boat at a dock
You can spot a shrimp boat by its green nets

Seagulls following a ferry boat
Seagulls love ferry boat  handouts

sunset on Galveston Bay
Our "free" ferryboat cruise at sunset

Pelican on pilings
Standing Guard
land side view of Bolivar light
Bolivar Light

cruise ship
We get to see all kinds of ship traffic for free

dolphin fin and back in the water
Always fun to spot a dolphin!

black birds sitting on ship handrail
Seagulls aren't the only ferryboat hitchhikers

sidewalk, seawall and water
This time it was a very calm day along the seawall

round house that resembles a teacup in shape
I need to find out the story on this house...

Man flying Kite next to a Jeep on the beach
Kite Flying!
Inside La Kings. We caught it at a very quiet moment.

cruise ship passing behind a tall ship that has men in the rigging
Get to see a lot of Old and New here!
Notice the men in the rigging on the Elissa!

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