I picked up some [slightly] discounted Schlitterbahn Galveston tickets a while back and had been trying to find a weekend where we were free and that I could find an affordable hotel on the beach on a Saturday night before they closed for the season. I wasn’t having much luck in the hotel department. Weekday stays (Sunday-Thursday) were affordable, but apparently if you are a hotel on the beach in Galveston you take your normal Sunday – Thursday rate and add $150+ dollars to your regular rate for Friday or Saturday night stays. Talk about highway robbery.
Last week however I finally hit the jackpot with a hotel – I found a quirk on the Sheraton Four Points website where their best rate WITH breakfast ($20 voucher) was $150 LESS than their “best room rate.” A mistake I am sure they corrected quickly, but not before I was able to snatch it up.
So Saturday morning we packed everything up and headed to the beach. We got there around 11:30 and found our hotel. At the time of booking I had requested an early check-in and despite overhearing the people in front of me being told no rooms (of their type probably) were available for early check-in we lucked out. I went ahead and asked anyways and was told probably not, but that she would check. When I gave her my name she perked up and said she remembered assigning me an early room – and sure enough – our room was all ready!
So we unloaded our stuff, changed for the beach, and headed conveniently right across the street. We were a little disappointed at first that across from the hotel just to the right was a granite jetty which meant no swimming near it and to the left was Murdoch’s up on piers. But as it turns out we couldn’t have gotten luckier there either. Given our unbroken entire month of August 100+ degree weather we knew the beach would be pretty warm in the middle of the afternoon so we probably wouldn’t be staying too terribly long. Under the piers however the sand and shade were nice and cool with a great breeze blowing through – so we found a big spot away from the water and sat down to play.
After the boys had loaded and unloaded their trucks, driven them all around, built castles, and knocked them down they were ready to hit the water. That is until they actually got in and got splashed in the face at which time they discovered that it's hard to stand up in the ocean at high tide, ocean water is REALLY salty (blech!), and it stings like crazy when you get it into your eyes - something I actually didn't know until later when the kids were playing happily on the beach with Kevin and I waded out deeper to do some giant wave jumping of my own. :) I was having a blast laughing and chatting with a woman, and her 3 boys who were 8-12ish. And I turned around to check on the kids and got blasted by a huge wave well over my head.
Kevin and I traded out and I played with the boys in the sand for a while while he swam. When he got back he took Connor over to one of the jetty's to see if the folks who were out there fishing were catching anything. Or at least he tried to. Connor happily trotted off with him, got about 50 feet way and came running back yelling "Mommy!!!" So Kevin took Ryan instead.
Apparently the people fishing were catching something - sharks. So Ryan got to see some of the sharks they had caught and were taking back to the seawall. They were relatively small (3 feet long or so), but to think that they caught them within sight of where we were swimming gave me all new perspective. I had jokingly teased the boys in the car on the way down that they didn't go out in the ocean without an adult because there were sharks that would eat little boys who got in the water without their moms or dads (hoping to ensure that they would actually stay on the beach and not run into the water without us - it worked so well that Ryan didn't want into the water period because he didn't want to be eaten...)
When they got back we decided we had been out in the sun for long enough and headed back to the hotel. After a quick shower to try to get all the sand off of us (thanks to Connor and his willy nilly sand throwing...) we headed out to find dinner. While I was checking out things to do and their hours I stumbled across a recommendation for a mexican restaurant called "The Original." I know... I know... we were at the beach - we should have been eating seafood... but boy am I glad we went. It's apparently a local hotspot. The food was fantastic. Like one of my top 5 mexican food places of all time fantastic. And I am picky about my mexican. :)
The boys had insisted that they weren't tired and didn't need a nap all afternoon on the beach, yet they passed out halfway into our 10 minute drive to the restaurant. We picked them up and carried them inside. They hardly stirred. They napped on us while we munched chips, and had one of the most relaxing dinners I can remember - one with actual adult conversation and a marked absence of comments like don't touch that. No, that's not yours. You don't need Splenda. Or Equal. Or Sweet-n-Low. Or Tobasco. And no, I am not going to pick that up for you again. Sit down on your bottom. Shhh!! Use your indoor voice. Again? You can't possibly need to go potty again! You just went!" Wow... I am total broken record.
We did eventually wake them up to eat. Though I am not sure they were fully awake, Connor the little mexican at heart thoroughly enjoyed his food and what was left of mine and might have eyed Kevin's plate too if he hadn't already licked it clean. He got a little miffed when I told him the salsa might be too hot (as if!) and proceeded to eat it anyways.
After we had either licked our plates clean or were stuffed to the gills depending on which member of the family you are talking about we headed to the Bolivar ferry. I had heard you could walk on and remembered that they would let you feed the flock of seagulls that inevitable follow the boat so we bypassed the car line and pulled into the parking lot. We grabbed our cracker jacks and headed to the dock.
We had to wait awhile for the boat to unload, and reload before they let passengers on. It turned out to be a good opportunity to chat with one of the dock workers who suggested that we venture up to the second deck and go to the front of the boat to watch for dolphins (or porpoises). Dolphins?? He didn't have to tell us twice. As soon as they let us on we bee-lined for the front of the boat on the 2nd deck and grabbed spots on the rail to watch.
And sure enough, just as we were leaving the harbor we saw two dolphins a short way out seemingly following in another ferry. We watched eagerly to see if we could spy anymore. And we were not disappointed. At about the halfway mark we saw three pods of at least 2-3 dolphins each. A pair crossed in front of our boat so close that we practically ran over them! I think Kevin and I were just as excited as the boys to see them. :)
The rest of the way we enjoyed the view of other ferries and boats coming and going.
When we got to the other side, another thing the worker had recommended was to make the short trek over to the snow cone stand. So we did. We ended up with 4 snow cones. The boys having picked their flavors based solely on color - Ryan picking a yellow banana and Connor choosing a nice, bright blue, blue raspberry. I opted for my usual variety of cherry and Kevin the copycat ended up with banana like Ryan.
We walked over to one of the water front pavilions and sat down at a table to enjoy our snow cones and watch the ferries come and go.
And enjoy them they did. :) Funky colored tongues and all. They polished them off to the very last bite.
So completely wired up on sugar we headed back on the yellow boat - Ryan was so thrilled! He watched all the cars unload keeping an eye out for any "cool" cars! I pointed out the minivans and SUVs and extolled the virtues of all their cup holders, DVD systems, and roomy interiors while Ryan and Kevin protested loudly.
Meanwhile Connor asked everyone in sight to open his cracker jacks.
I had to remind him that they were for the birds and we couldn't open them until we were on the boat.
And speaking of the birds. The boys had a blast feeding the birds. Ryan in particular had a good time perched up on Kevin's shoulders as the birds dived near him to catch his throws in midair.
After we ran out of cracker jacks we moved over to the side and sat and watched the boat traffic and kept an eye out for the dolphins.
After the ferry ride we headed back to seawall boulevard just before sunset. I had always wanted to rent one of the bicycles we always see pedaling up and down the seawall. So we did.
Though about 10 minutes into a head wind with what felt like a parasail on top of us we were second guessing how good of an idea it was...
But the boys really seemed to enjoy the ride though Ryan threw a fit about wanting to sit in the back with us - only there wasn't a seat for him to actually sit on. Luckily he got distracted trying to steer (right off the seawall!), applying the brakes while we were pedaling, and finally ringing the bell to let folks know we were coming up behind them. He was a bit exuberent with his ringing. I had flash backs to a near death experience with crazy bell ringing bike riders in Amsterdam.
By the time our hour was finally up Kevin and I were absolutely pooped. :) But we did enjoy watching the full moon rise and listening to the waves crash against the beach. In between Ryan's tinkling of the bell that is... :)
And that? That was just Saturday... :)