Darcie managed to get a Saturday off of work, so we went down to Galveston Island.
People in Houston always like to say that Galveston is crap, but itʼs not. Sure, itʼs a bit run-down, but so is every single seaside town Iʼve been to on the planet, from Seattle to Kowloon to Torquay to Singapore to Üsküdar to Barnegat Light. Thatʼs part of what makes them seaside towns.
Even so, Galveston is much better now than when we last saw it 20 years ago. Far fewer abandoned buildings. Far better streets. And now that Darcie and I are older now, we see Galveston differently and driving around can decipher its history just by looking at the building styles. Weʼll be back.
I mentioned the trip to one of my doormen this morning, and she told me sheʼs never been there. Sheʼs lived in Houston all her life (24 years is my guess), but never bothered to drive 40 minutes to see the ocean. Itʼs both sad and not surprising. There are an awful lot of people in the world who never take an interest in anything beyond whatʼs immediately in front of them.
For generations, hotels have been more than places of rest. They have served as public spaces, places of respite, and cultural institutions.
I have met people who donʼt understand why good hotels have elaborate lobbies, full-service bars, and fine restaurants. They think of hotels as nothing more than a place to sleep. But just as you can use a computer for more than sending messages, hotels are far more than places to be unconscious.
The Hotel Galvez is one of those places. On this day, it serves my and my wife well as a refuge from the heat. A place to recharge with afternoon tea. And an opportunity to reflect on what we did today.
There is no shortage of shorted and flip-flopped tourists to-ing and fro-ing through the space, intent on maximizing their experiences. But experience is about more than checking items off of a list. Itʼs about savoring what life offers you. They can have their precisely-computed schedules of water parks and trinket hunting. A comfy chair, an ocean breeze, and an attentive waitress are what makes a vacation memorable to me.
Today's coffee is the Texas Latte from Day Six Coffee in downtown Houston.
This coffee is probably best taken hot, but even though it's only 93° today, my body still believes it's a hundred-and-bullshit outside, so I got it iced.
It's pretty good, but should be well-swirled to make sure all the good bits at the bottom get properly distributed throughout.
The Day Six menu describes it as a "double shot of espresso with vanilla bean flavoring, caramel sauce, and steamed milk." I usually associate vanilla with Madagascar, and caramel with England. But Texas has milk, so we'll go with that. It's a solid drink, but forgettable. The sort of thing that you can get pretty much anywhere. And at $5.50 a pop, it's not really value-for-money. $3.99, and I'm there.
Rome is renowned as the city of fountains. Itʼs my understanding that Kansas City also considers itself a city of fountains. Houston, on the other hand, is a city of dead fountains.
When I last lived in Houston, the city had recently spent millions sprucing up a slice of downtown, filling it with imaginative fountains, and declaring it “The Cotswold District” in sign and literature.
Ignoring the absurdity of the cognomen, what happened after that is a typical Houston story. Nobody maintained the fountains. Today, there are over a dozen of these bulky, trash-filled wrecks beached across half as many city blocks.
I wrote to my city council representative asking what happened, and didnʼt get a response. I guess he doesnʼt need my vote.
I asked some of the locals about it, and they told me that fountains downtown are a bad idea from the start because homeless people will just use them for bathing. OK, I understand that. But the problem isnʼt the fountains, itʼs that youʼre not taking care of your homeless people. Homeless people sleep on the streets, too. Does that mean we shouldnʼt have streets anymore?
Annunciation is old-school, in both style, architecture, and message. While I did the special kind of musty funk that fills old American Catholic churches, Iʼve never been able to get used to using a Communion rail. Perhaps I have weak knees. Or I donʼt like people looking at my butt.
Still, if youʼre looking for a just-barely-this-side-of-Vatican-Ⅱ experience, this could be the place for you.