Galveston, Texas: More than it's cracked up to be...

Saturday

Our view from The Galvez Hotel
Granted, it's no secret that the Texas Gulf Coast will never be mistaken for Palm Beach, but if the sound of the sea beckons you - and you live in Texas - Galveston is not so bad. A five-hour drive from Dallas (and only 45 minutes from Houston) means your basic Texan can pack up a couple of beach chairs, an umbrella, some sunscreen and before long you're listening to the sound of waves crashing ashore.  Sure, the horizon may be obscured by a cruise-ship or oil-tanker on occasion but again, it's no Palm Beach.
On the Galveston Beach
We stayed at The Galvez, a historic old hotel on Seawall Boulevard. Built in 1911, it has been refurbished and is just lovely now.  Very reminiscent of The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island albeit on a much smaller scale, The Galvez is not only beautifully decorated with classical music piped in the common areas of the first floor but it as an added extra...it's reportedly haunted.

'Word' has it that there has been a whole lot of Paranormal Activity going on at The Galvez, including a well-known haunting by the “Ghost Bride” of Room 501 who will spook the entire 5th floor on occasion.

As far as we could tell...we were all alone in Room 611.
The Galvez Pool
Next year, I plan on returning in October when for the low, low price of $35, you can participate in The Galvez' Ghost Tour and Dinner package. The tour-guide just happens to be the hotel's Concierge, who brings along an electromagnetic field detector and infrared thermometer - just in case.   

Historically, if ever there was a reason to be haunted, Galveston has every right to be. In 1900 Galveston was prospering as a major US port. Sadly, it was struck by a devastating Hurricane that year, killing up to 8,000 residents. Eventually rebuilding, Galveston bounced back in the 1920-1930's but gained a reputation for gambling, alcohol and prostitution and became known as "Sin-city of the Gulf". 
Galveston Beach
Remnants of Galveston's colorful history can be seen through the beautiful Victorian architecture of The Strand, the vibrant art scene, the funky un-Starbucks coffee shops and most importantly, the residents of the city.


Thanks Galveston.

We'll be back.

An Indecent Proposal

Sunday

'Mix' - The Mandalay Bay
A few years ago, the Annual Girl's Trip was held in the perfect location...Las Vegas. Upon arrival and in keeping with Las Vegas tradition, our group of happily married ladies gave ourselves pseudonyms. I was "Anastasia" along with "Penny", "Yvette", "Cher", "Barbara" and "LaVerne". I may not have our fake-names quite right but you know who you are.

Saturday night dinner reservations were snagged by "Yvette" via an old beau with connections to the restaurant biz. Our table for six was secured at the uber-chic "Mix", an exclusive venue located at the top of The Mandalay Bay.

I was dressed head to toe in black. This is essential to mention as what happened next was...somewhat...indecent.

'Mix' has a beautifully appointed dining room and adjoining balcony that overlooked the Vegas Strip so I just had to take the 'scenic route' to the ladies room.

On my way back to my table, I passed a group of six men having dinner. One of them stopped me as I walked by. He was wearing a tweed blazer. "Excuse me, Miss" he said " But my friends think I need something to put in my breast pocket and I was wondering if I could use your panties". The twinkle in his eye told me he was just having some fun. All eyes were on me as I responded..."Let me get back to you on that."

When I returned to my table, I whispered... "Don't look now, but there is a table full of men over there..."

Everybody turned and looked simultaneously.

"Anyway, the guy in the tweed jacket asked me if I would give him my panties to put in his pocket!" I said without any evidence  of shock or dismay on my face as now the table of guys were all looking in our direction.

"Cher" piped up. "Let me handle this." Knowing "Cher" but not knowing what she was going to do or say, she had my full confidence that whatever trick she had up her sleeve - it would be good.

Without missing a beat, "Cher" locked eyes with "Tweed Jacket". Smiling, she pointed directly to him and in a "come hither" motion of her index finger, she summoned him to our table. He was on the hook.

On his arrival to our table, "Cher" eloquently said "Normally, we would offer you our panties, but we're not wearing any".

He and his table sent us a bottle of wine.

Gotta love Girls Trips.

My Day In Court...

Thursday

Remember when I wrecked my car earlier this year while driving on the highway during a torrential downpour, hydroplaning off of the road, down an embankment, then smacking into a concrete barrier? - As Luck Would Have It - Well, the Texas State Trooper who investigated my predicament actually gave me a ticket for "traveling at an unsafe speed for the conditions".

Who was he to assume I was speeding? He had no proof. What about other factors that could cause one's car to hydroplane like tire size, car weight, road slope, and braking? There would be no way that I was just going roll over and accept the ticket.

And so began my first ever journey into the traffic court system.

Step One: Go to the County Clerks Office and tell them you disagree with your ticket. They will give you a date to return and speak with the D.A.

Step Two: Speak with the D.A. - not much of a conversation, however. She said that my fine was $162 but that she could reduce it to $122. Say what? I told her I disagreed with the ticket. She said I would have to go before the judge.

Step Three: Court date was set five months after the wreck.
I thought I was prepared. Who knew that I would have an opportunity to cross-examine my accuser? There he was, the picture of smugness. All outfitted in his police uniform, bullet proof vest, badge and gun. Sitting in the witness stand.
He touted himself as an expert in the area of crash investigation by saying that he had been educated in the field and had investigated over 300 car crashes. Because of this, he was of the opinion that I was travelling at an unsafe speed.

The D.A. (from Step Two) was representing him, asked him a few questions and then it was my turn...

Standing before the Judge and Bailiff, I was positioned at the desk next to the D.A.. It was all very 'Law & Order'. That being said, the whole situation remained somewhat intimidating but I did manage to squeak out a few questions of Barney the officer...

"You mentioned your education and level of experience with car crashes. Are you familiar with any other factors that could cause hydroplaning...other than speed?" He stumbled and hacked for a moment, then sputtered out "sudden braking". "Anything else?" I asked. "Not that I'm aware of." he flatly responded.

Got'im.

My next question alluded to the fact that it was raining like stink that day..."Do you recall sitting in the passenger seat of my car and writing my ticket?" I asked.  "Yes, I had to or my paper would have gotten wet" he said.

Ha!

"Do you know the minimum speed it takes for a car to hydroplane?"
"No, I don't recall" he said.

It only takes a speed of 30mph or higher to hydroplane.

And he considers himself an expert in car crashes? What a poser.

So after giving my testimony, the D.A. didn't ask me any questions and the Judge told the court he was ready to make a decision. I was found ..."Guilty". The judge said that he had to make his decision based on Texas Law even though he personally may have decided differently. This particular Texas statute does not require proof of speeding.

The good news is that the judge told me the accident will not go on my record if I take a safe-driving course within 90 days. Cost for the course? $162 - in retrospect, I should have taken the D.A.'s deal.


Roller Rink Party

Saturday

So who's idea was it to come up with an '80's themed Party held in a Roller Rink for his lovely wife's 30th birthday? That would be, Ben - the guy up front here, rockin' the pompadour. Oh, and while I'm at it...the blond guy back there in the zebra stripes... is (ahem) one of us.

Planning started about a month ago and it looked like finding an appropriate theme was proving to be a challenge but Ben came through with flying colors! He even packed an '80's costume for The Birthday Girl.

So just what does an '80's Theme Party entail?
Rubik's Cube Birthday Cake
 Disco-ball (goes without saying)
The Birthday Girl - No, that is not her real hair.
Air Guitar - required
Channeling 'The Material Girl' (with Violet)
Flashdance
80's Rockers

Friends and Family,
Celebrating Kara's 30th Birthday.
Once in a lifetime.


Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...