Since we have made few definite plans for this trip, we spend a fair amount of time researching where we are going to go and what we are going to do when we get there. But even with reading tourist literature and surfing on the web, the way the day turns out can still be a surprise. Ken noticed an ad for a campground on the Bolivar Peninsula that offers 50% off to Escapees members. We are skeptical about deals that are too good to be true, but the Bolivar Peninsula is a short ferry ride away, so we decided to take a look at this bargain campground.
The ferry crosses the Houston shipping channel and connects two parts of Highway 87. It would be more convenient to have a bridge, but with the huge tankers passing through here, it may never happen. We had to wait longer than we expected to get across. All the other Texans going to the peninsula, gave us the misimpression that there was a good reason to be going there.
We were ready for lunch when the ferry finally docked, but even though our GPS listed one restaurant after another, there seemed to be no restaurants. Instead we saw scrubby flatness, with an RV here or there. Occasionally, we also saw houses on stilts, a familiar sight in Galveston as well. The GPS indicated that we were passing one street after another. But where were they? We drove and drove and drove. The only stores we saw sold lumber and hardware. There were no restaurants or grocery stores. What seemed to be a bit of fog in the distance, became a huge black cloud of smoke as we drove further east. What was going on here?
After about twenty miles we came to a tiny hotel with a tiny grill that served nothing green and everything fried. A conversation with the waitress, helped us to understand what was happening. The black smoke? - burning the remnants of sugar cane fields in nearby Louisiana. The lack of stores and restaurants? The Bolivar Peninsula was ground zero as Hurricane Ike made landfall eighteen months ago. The scrubby flatness had been a beach resort area. Ike had erased nearly everything that had been there.
On the drive back we turned down what the GPS said were roads and saw concrete driveways and remnants on stilts that had snapped off just above the ground. When we came to the RV’s we realized that these folks were camping on what had used to be their home site. Some of the people were rebuilding; some were still scavenging and filling dumpsters with debris.
This could have been a depressing scene, but on a beautiful Saturday, the first day of spring break, the beach beyond the home sites was full of vehicles driving through the sand. Many were four wheel drive. Some that were not needed a tow back out of the sand. Couples were fishing, families were playing in the waves, spring breakers were drinking beer and hooping and hollering. Every one was enjoying the beach and the sunshine. And so did we.