We had a relatively easy four-hour drive to Galveston from San Antonio, arriving at our Airbnb at the check-in time of 3pm. Located on a quiet street, the Del Boca Vista property is a Texas Historical House, the George and Elizabeth Fox House built in 1875. Our lodging would be a two-bedroom apartment above the garage at the rear of the property.
The city of Galveston is situated on Galveston Island, a barrier island off the Texas Gulf coast near the mainland coast. Made up of mostly sand-sized particles and smaller amounts of finer mud sediments and larger gravel-sized sediments, the island is unstable, affected by water and weather, and can shift its boundaries through erosion. A deep-water channel connects Galveston’s harbor with the Gulf and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
On September 8, 1900, the island was struck by a devastating hurricane, an event that holds the record as the United States’ deadliest natural disaster. The city was devastated, and an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people on the island were killed. Following the storm, a 10-mile long, 17-foot-high seawall was built to protect the city from floods and hurricane storm surges. A team of engineers including Henry Martyn Robert (Robert’s Rules of Order) designed the plan to raise much of the existing city to a sufficient elevation behind the seawall so that confidence in the city could be maintained.
We unloaded the car and hauled our gear upstairs for our planned three night stay and with the help of Adana, one of the owners, stored our bikes in the garage downstairs. A beer or two later brought us to dinner time and we drove a few blocks to Harborside Drive, which borders Galveston Channel and its many docks and cruise ship terminals. Our destination was Stuttgarden Tavern, what appeared to be a German restaurant on Harborside and a block or two from the Strand Historic District, a National Historic Landmark District of mainly Victorian era buildings that now house restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops.
The tavern is a large building, three stories high and was nearly deserted when we arrived, landing on the second floor where we were seated. It turned out that most of the customers were up on the roof for Karaoke, so we had our floor pretty much to ourselves. We started with a Bakfish Cold Foam Coffee Cream Ale for Joanna and a Paulaner Original Munich Lager for me, two good picks to start with from their large selection of draft beers.
The menu was a little disappointing in that the only German items were some Brats and a lone schnitzel, so we ordered a House salad (romaine, spinach & kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, parmesan cheese, and croutons) and the Jaeger pork schnitzel (crispy breaded pork cutlet, caramelized onions & mushroom gravy, served with warm potato salad) to split.
The salad came out quickly and was good, but devoid of romaine, kale and spinach and we were only halfway through it when the schnitzel came, an inconvenience as we planned to take our time with the meal and perhaps have room for a second beer. The schnitzel, while good, was a complete departure from the way a Jaeger version is served, typically with mushrooms and a brown gravy.
This one had a creamy sauce, and the potato salad was not warm, nor one I would describe as German in nature. But it was good to eat and so we powered through it all and soon found ourselves back at the car for the drive to the house, eager to start our stay in town with a bike ride up Seawall Blvd. the next morning.
It was a gorgeous morning, clear skies, with a cool but comfortable temperature that would warm up as the day progressed. We rode the bikes to Harborside Drive and turned left and rode for a few miles before making another left to head out to the Gulf side of the island and Seawall Blvd, which we planned to ride for another 15 miles before turning around.
Along the way we passed by an enormous yard full of train engines in various states of operational capacity.
And then a mile or so up the road, I passed through the intersection of Seawall and 69th Street and then paused a little way up to wait for Joanna. And wait. And wait. Just about the time I was going to turn around and ride back down the boulevard to see what might be going on a gentleman pulled his car over, came up to me and said these chilling words, “your wife has been in an accident.”
I rode back to the intersection with my heart in my throat and was relieved to see Joanna lying on her back off the road in a grassy planter at the corner of the gas station’s lot. No visible blood or other abnormalities lowered my blood pressure and anxiety level a notch or two and the afternoon progressed from there. An older gentleman had turned left in front of Joanna and she collided with his car. Given the initial circumstances it would appear that he was at fault.
Joanna was taken by the EMT’s to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), not far from our Airbnb. As we would come to discover as the days went by, this was a fortunate happenstance as this facility, a teaching hospital, provided us with competent and compassionate care, much better than we could have ever hoped for given the circumstances.
As the afternoon progressed Joanna received an over the elbow cast and was released with the advice that we would need to return the following Tuesday to the clinic across the street to confirm that the bone was set correctly. This required cancelling our plans to head to Natchez on Saturday and to begin the task of re-routing the balance of our trip. Our Airbnb host graciously allowed us to stay two more nights for a nominal sum and I made a reservation at a nearby Best Western for Monday and Tuesday night.
On the way back to the house I stopped to pick up Joanna’s pain medicine and a couple of Subway sandwiches for dinner. While she tried to relax on the couch as she dealt with the awkward nature of the cast, I set about cancelling all the reservations we had made previously for the following two weeks (Natchez, Jackson, Tuscumbia, Little Rock, and St. Charles) and several towns along the Katy Trail, which we were going to ride after having to cancel a similar trip in 2018 when I injured my left knee. It is as if some force is trying to keep us from riding on the trail.
And thus ended our first full day in Galveston. It would be our second trip in a row where some factor out of our control caused us to alter our itinerary, but this time in doing so we were thankful that although a broken arm is not something you want to experience, the outcome could have been much, much worse. We settled in that night to stream a couple of our favorite shows, which we would repeat on nights to follow, a welcome diversion after all we, and in particular Joanna, had been through.
Del Boca Vista:
Stuttgarden Tavern: https://stuttgardentavern.com/