This flag on South Padre Island, Texas kept me puzzling for some time. I came up with several ideas, none of which were correct. Thanks to the Historical Flags of Our Ancestors website for providing an explanation: “Thin Blue Line Flag…a testament to the valor of police officers across the country. The courage exhibited by officers in the line of duty is represented by the Thin Blue Line in the center of the flag. The solemn black background acts as a memorial to the lives lost while shielding citizens from danger.” I’m glad I asked.
From a distance it looked like a lilac bush amongst the mesquite, but no, it’s Texas mountain laurel, rumored to smell like grape Kool-Aid. I wish I could ID the rest of these blossoms–maybe someone out there can help? I also wish I could have included a picture of cavorting lambs, but Steve scared them away.
As we headed across the bridge to visit Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, Steve speculated about the structures across the bay. I was too interested in the pelicans to make a good guess as to what they were, but Steve figured it out. His guess was confirmed at the museum, the ideal place to learn all about those jack-up platforms. The “towers” in the first picture above are actually legs that are lowered to the seafloor and secured, so the platform can be jacked up out of reach of the waves. Lots more to see and learn on the Ocean Star, and probably your only chance to explore an off-shore rig inshore.
Standing on deck, soaking in the masts, rigging, and other nautical necessities* was extra thrilling after seeing Elissa’s history video. Built in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1877, she sailed the seas for 90 years and was bound for a scrap yard in Greece when the Galveston Historical Foundation bought her. It took 4 years just to strengthen her enough to survive the tow ‘home.’ Had the Foundation known how many volunteers, historical craftsmen, and donations her makeover would take, she’d have probably stayed scrap. Little wonder that Elissa is one of the world’s oldest sailing hulls still in operation. Galveston has to be proud of her as well as their fortitude in seeing the […]
Galveston history makes for a strong role model in challenging times. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 is still counted the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States. After a night of battering wind and waves, survivors found much of their thriving city demolished if not washed away. Islanders had no contact with the mainland, no water, lights, fuel, or water. Many had no shelter. Food and clothing were scarce. The task of disposing of over 6,000 bodies was so gruesome that men had to be forced at gunpoint to take part, and whiskey was allotted to ease their anguish. After dumping the bulk […]
The problem with being a slippery sort is that it’s so easy to slip up. Kid Curry–the most wanted outlaw of his time and cohort of Butch and Sundance–probably changed his alias more often than his underwear. He and those he ran with were so careful to ride under the radar that even when they made the mistake of having their picture taken, lawmen spent years looking for someone who could identify them. It was the already widowed bride from the wedding the fellas dressed up for, who finally provided aliases. Even she didn’t know their actual names. I learned the iconic tale […]
Concrete seemed not to be the best choice for shipbuilding. Who would have thought? The U.S. government tried using it during World War I because steel was in short supply. One of those ships, the SS Selma wasn’t completed until the war was over, so she was used as an oil tanker for 11 months. It wasn’t her fault that a reckless steersman put a hole in her, or that no one knew how to fix it. She’s still toughing it out in the shallows off Galveston almost 100 years after she was abandoned there. As a shipwreck she’s a grabber. I wish I […]
Fort Worth’s stockyards as tourist attraction? It didn’t sound like a bucket-list item, but we needed a road trip stopover, so we gave it a try. The historic tour set in turn-of-the-century brick cattle pens, turned out to be a real find. The prime rib and smoked catfish were also exceptional. The cattle drive wasn’t so much — for good reason. Pushing a rambunctious herd of longhorns past a lineup of small children would be insanity. Still a half-dozen deadheaded longhorns escorted by shushing cowhands makes for a laughably lackluster spectacle. Indeed, the saddled photo-op steer on a street corner put […]