Whole Fish

Gulf Seafood + Southern Food

It was my first time back on the island. My first time since last summer, since those seven days without power at REEF, since I painfully tossed $10,000 worth of food in the dumpster, since my newly purchased boat melted in a raging fire at the Yacht Basin. It was my first time on Galveston Island since Ike.

I settled into my not-so-familiar-anymore routine, trying to close out those last few tables after a busy Saturday night at REEF, fighting to concentrate as my mind already starts to wander coastal. One last stop at Little Big’s to check on things, then home to load The Dude and my gear and I’m off. Windows down, music up, unconsciously on edge, waiting for that first sniff, that first scent of saltwater. And when it hits me, I am conscious of the edge, edging away.

On the road, heading South

That's The Dude: he knows how to relax

At my folks’ place with my family and we decide to take a day trip to Bolivar. I had heard that Stingaree on the Intercoastal Canal
had just opened back up. Driving from the West end of the Island, the damage from Ike was still evident, everywhere: boats blown aground, sides of homes ripped open, wayward cars that the storm relocated, still standing proud.

Galveston home, post-Ike

Chevy on pier

Water Line

Waiting in line at the ferry conjured vivid childhood memories of me with my Pops at four o’clock in the morning, Dr. Pepper in one hand and Honey Bun in the other, nestled in his maroon Delta 88, waiting to cross and enter Los Patos, our duck club. We were pretty mad at those ducks back then.

A trip on the Boliver ferry is one of the best day trips from Houston: forty minutes from town and a free boat ride to a soon-to-be-again pristine Texas coastal beach and marshland. It doesn’t get much better than that. It was my daughter’s first ferry ride so she was wide-eyed and excited; I easily played the hero, knowing it wouldn’t be this easy for much longer.

Kennedy's first Ferry ride

Once we crossed, everything changed. There was shit everywhere. I was overwhelmed by so much wreckage and disorder. Chaos theory, the fragility of our lives, people missing homes, children missing toys – my mind and heart were reeling. There were hills of sand on both sides of the street, where the ‘dozers had scraped clear a path on the road. I had seen the TV and You-Tube footage, but seeing it with my own eyes was staggering. It was incredible and hard to take in. I just couldn’t get my head around it.

Wrecked dreams

As we came closer to Crystal Beach, I had mounting doubts about whether or not the rumors were true; how could Stingaree possibly have opened in the midst of this lifeless devastation? But, sure enough, there it was . . . pretty as a picture. After eating my weight in oysters and drinking six pitchers of Stingaritas (hey, I had help!), everything seemed much better.

Oysters at Stingaree

Still Beauty...

Photos Courtesy Courtney Caswell


Jim Gossen said...

Nice platter of oysters!

A. Carlis said...

Thank you for posting this. It bring backs memories of my first trips back to Hatteras after that island was devastated by a hurricane. Everything just seems out of place. Bathtubs in the street, homes and shops completely gone. Quiet and sad.

Good to see that folks are putting the pieces together. The oysters look wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I lost my boat at the Yacht Basin, too. Having grown up with a bayhouse on Galveston, I've been too depressed and disappointed to make the trip down post-Ike and see the carnage. Love Stingaree, though.

Amydell said...

Just took my little 5 yr old Heights'ian Bryce on the ferry this past weekend. Ditto on the hero thing ;) It was his first Bolivar ferry ride too- and brought back so many memories of my own childhood! Nothing like the smell of the salt air as you come over the bridge. Thanks for this post. ;)

Amydell Beardshall

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