There's an old saying about driving across The Great State that goes like this: "The sun is riz, the sun is set, and here we is, in Texas yet."
I had to drive from LBB to Galveston for a conference this week, and my friends, let me tell you, The Great State is BIG. It just goes on, and on, and on...and on...
So there is this: I live at one end of the state, and Galveston lives at the other. The drive was nice enough, but it was simply too long and stressful, what with taking wrong exits and roads all day, an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction at a lunch stop in San Antonio, and--I swear, this is absolutely true!--a street person stepping in front of my car on I-45 in bumper-to-bumper, 50 mile-an-hour traffic in the heart of downtown Houston, and proceeding to stroll nonchalantly across eight lanes of traffic, all of which stopped on a dime and waited patiently for him to cross. I just about had a heart attack.
And then, finally, Galveston. What can I say? It is a strange, unnerving mix of brand new and battered, the legacy of last year's hurricane. Some buildings still have sagging roofs and plywood up where windows ought to be, and they sit cheek to jowl next to sparkling new structures. But what is most disturbing are the trees, many of which which look tattered and worn out, or in some cases, dying or dead. I know that this is the nature of the coastal environment, and that given time, it will recover, but at the end of the stretched out day, it was dispiriting to see.
I drove to the convention center, set up my booth in a hot and stuffy exhibitor's hall, and went looking for some food. I was so grumpy and out of sorts by that time, I wasn't looking for anything special, so I stopped at the first thing I recognized as a restaurant, McAlester's Deli, on Seawall Boulevard. As the name of the street implies, it is right smack dab on the ocean, and when I got out of my car, this is what I saw:
I waited for a break in the traffic and did my own version of strolling across the street to have a look. The sounds and smells of the sea were all about me, and in the distance the lights of shrimp boats drifted like stars across the black horizon. And my tired, unsettled, chattering spirit went quiet.
The convention this week (The Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching, or CAST) is set at a place called Moody Gardens, the name of which I find promising. I'm down here hawking our degree program, but I'll take a break sometime and have a look around to see if there are in fact any gardens. If I see anything interesting, I'll let you know. In the meantime, y'all be sure to look both ways when you cross the street. Ciao!