This one’s for the boys…

… and all the lady train geeks like me! The bright red engine looks so festive. We often put my husband’s childhood train set around the bottom of the Christmas tree. Below is the historic sign for the beautiful art deco but defunct train station in Galveston, Texas. Much like parts of Britain, many train lines were discontinued when cars where in common use. Our township is surrounded by train lines but they only carry freight these days. It’s quite normal to wait for 20 minutes for a train to pass with endless freight carriages. I still love the sound of a train whistle on a quiet night.

As you can see, it was part of the Santa Fe railroad network. As a child, I watched so many American movies with trains, especially Westerns. Just the name Santa Fe Railroad gives me goosebumps, imagining the vistas as you crossed prairie and mountains. We live between Houston and Dallas, and Amtrak still runs passenger trains between the cities. The nearest working station is 40 miles away from us so I doubt we will ever use the current train system.

The museum had ‘populated’ the station with plaster model passengers and it helped to show how glamorous the train station was back in it’s hey day. There are some beautiful art deco buildings and hotels in Galveston – it’s amazing that they have survived so many hurricanes.

The mail sorting rail car was the most exciting part of the museum. It was so perfectly restored after Hurricane Ike damaged it. I loved the idea that the train didn’t have to stop while picking up the mail – and wondered if this technique ever failed!

The Route of the Zephyrs sounds like a dream. I have flown over all of these places and visited some of them. It’s certainly a fascinating view of the vast differences in American landscapes. From steamy, subtropical Houston to pretty Denver surrounded by snow-tipped mountains. Amarillo is my favorite place on the list with the best canyon in Texas.

As we approach Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day as it is known in the US, on Friday 11th November, may we remember all the servicemen and women who perished in war.

Dolphins are jerks…

Before you report me to the CIA (Cetaceous Investigative Agency) for slandering precious dolphins, read my rational explanation. This is the best shot I got on a dolphin watching cruise in Galveston and it is typical of every other photo I have taken looking for the crafty cetaceans – at least you can’t miss a whale. Galveston Bay is teeming with more dolphins than usual because the water is soooo hot. The Captain told us that there are many sharks eating the dolphins too – didn’t see any of them either. They are bottle-nosed dolphins and curiously the most northerly group of bottle-noses lived on the coast close to where we lived in the Moray Firth in Scotland. That’s when they started to annoy me…

For years, I worked as Teddy’s unpaid assistant while he did his Masters by research on a piece of craggy coastline overlooking the Moray Firth. On rare occasions it was lovely and warm but mostly it was just ‘Baltic’ weather. My hands were frozen holding tape measures and other geological stuff. I gazed off into the Firth always looking for a dolphin but never saw one – in almost 20 years. This Scottish group of dolphins had followed the warm gulf stream from the Caribbean to the far north of Scotland. These Cetaceous skinheads also beat up porpoises. Not so cute, now, eh??

When I was scanning the water in Galveston Harbor, I wondered if the Scottish squad had come on a wee holiday to the Gulf of Mexico and they were laughing at me, nearly falling over the railing in my attempt to catch a shot. You know this is a tongue in cheek post – I love all critters even the skinheads! They really did beat up porpoises in the Moray Firth but it was probably overfishing by humans that caused the aggression.

We went for a two day trip to Galveston just to get a sea breeze. The temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than at home (101 F) but it was still overwhelmingly hot. The breeze felt more like a hairdryer. Our boat was filled with two very large extended families. One speaking Spanish and the other were from a south east state. It could have been English but so hard to tell; bless their hearts! The tiny kids could barely see the dolphins but the Captain let them all ‘drive’ the boat and finally see them. There were some reports of a badly behaved dolphin in the of the southern coast of Texas but it had just become too used to humans and lost it’s fear much like bears that have to be removed from the suburbs.

Of course, Teddy got a much better shot with his fancy camera but even he struggled. Do you notice the strange color of the water? Tourists are often disappointed that the water at Galveston is a muddy color but it is glorious in other parts of the Gulf of Mexico (turquoise in the Yucatan). Houston sits at the base of a delta system of rivers that cause the churning of sediment and Galveston is our barrier island. It’s full of really great tasting fish, though.

Dolphin bubbles…