By traveling mainly back roads from Corpus Christi to Galveston, we saw local crops. We stayed at the Sandpiper RV Park located next to Stewart Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, it was convenient to walk on the beach.

Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens

On Friday, we visited Moody Gardens. We were impressed with the 3-D photography for “Secret Ocean,” a presentation by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques. Alongside marine biologist Holly Lohuis, they examine the smallest life in the sea, plankton, on which we all depend. Narrated by oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, we were introduced to more than 30 marine species. The illuminating behaviors are captured using underwater filming in 3-D, ultra-HD, 5K, slow motion, macro, and with motion control. A very special presentation of marine exploration and a plea for conservation. Our experiences in the 4-D Theater and SpongeBob SubPants Adventure Theater couldn’t match “Secret Ocean.” Once again, our museum visit coincided with school field trips. Even our hour-long Colonel Paddlewheel Boat trip included middle school young people. The Aquarium Pyramid officially re-opens on May 27. We got a sense of the awesome 1.5-million-gallon aquarium teeming with sea life. We saw the ten Humboldt penguins as they acclimate to their new home. The Rainforest Pyramid is organized so that you can experience the various levels of a rainforest. Fortunately, hot and steamy segments are interspersed with cooler educational areas. We saw a female white-face Saki which did not have a white-face. The most interesting creatures to me were two prehensile-tailed porcupines that were feeding on leaves. Several beautiful orchids were in bloom. On the grounds of Moody Gardens were several different colorful hibiscuses in bloom.

Bishop's Palace

Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace, originally known as Gresham’s Castle, is a 19,000-square foot Victorian home made of stone and ornately decorated with carved wood, stained-glass windows, and unique fireplaces. Built in 1892, it is cited as one of the 100 most important buildings in the country by the American Institute of Architects. In 1923, the castle was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston. As Bishop Byrne’s home, it became known as the “Bishop’s Palace.” The Galveston Historical Society provides visitors with an iPod tape system for self-guided tours of the first and second level. Across the street is Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The present building was constructed in 1903-04 because the original was destroyed during the destructive 1900 hurricane. It features ornate octagonal towers, flying buttresses, elaborate ornamentation, and a variety of arches.  The design reflects influences of the Moorish, Byzantine, Gothic, and the Romanesque styles.  The buildings’ original dome. damaged in a 1915 hurricane, was redesigned by Nicholas Clayton, the architect of the Bishop’s Palace and many other homes in Galveston.

Elissa

Elissa

The first floor of the Texas Seaport Museum is devoted to a history of Galveston’s role welcoming immigrants. In all, some 133,000 immigrants entered the United States through Galveston including many Germans and later many Jews. The second floor is devoted to detailing different eras of Texas naval history. The 1877 tall-ship Elissa, docked outside the museum, also has an iPod self-guided tape system.  The Museum’s excellent short film documenting the dramatic rescue of the Elissa from a Greek scrap yard and her meticulous restoration should be recommended viewing before touring the tall ship. Nearby, the Pier 21 Theater offers some interesting historical pieces. “The Great Storm,” the story of the 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston Island on Sept. 8 shares the personal stories of survivors and the recovery of Galveston following the deadliest natural disaster in United States history. Some 6,000-people died in the storm. We also saw “The Pirate Island of Jean Laffite” and learned about his complicated life. Was he a pirate or a patriot? Smuggler or businessman? Merciless murderer and thief, or hero in time of war? We may hear more about him when we visit New Orleans.

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