Pics of Hurricane Ike in Houston

We were residents of NW Houston (Stonegate to be exact) for 4 months in 2007.  That’s the summer it rained every day.  We finally had a neighborhood with a pool but every time we tried to go (we had to drive) it would thunder which meant the pool had to close.  So I think we went maybe 4 or 5 times all summer. 

I’ve tried calling friends to find out if they’re ok now that Hurricane Ike has passed.  Guess the power for the cell phones might be out as well because no one answers; no one calls back.  I’m sure they’re fine.  They’re all smart people.

I found these pictures online that pretty well tell the tale of Houston vs Ike.  You’ll notice mostly the tree damage.  One thing I really liked about Houston was the trees.  I would rename it “Tree City” because they really took the time to care for the nature surrounding each neighborhood, in all the open space and both residential/commercial landscaping.  I think it was against the law to neglect edging your yard or not pruning a plant in your yard as soon as a flower wilted off a branch.  Houstonians are that serious about nature scaping and beautification.  We couldn’t cut our yard much because of the rain.  Drainage was bad and the back yard stayed puddled most of the time.  But, the neighborhood landscapers were cutting open space every Monday, same time each week.  You could count on it.  Anyway, because of all the trees and other vegetation, its no wonder Houston suffered so much damage from downed trees.  Sadly, I viewed these pictures, recognizing most areas and realizing that those shaded yards will have hot Texas sunlight until another tree can grow up in its place…what 50 or 100 years from now? 

The streets flooded easily in Houston.  I don’t know why.  Every time it rained (which, like I said was every day that summer) our street would flood to overtop the curb.  Now, living in rural Mississippi and South Carolina, we didn’t have curbs; we had ditches so the streets didn’t flood.  The first time I was in a “flood” I was coming home from the grocery store and hit a gully-washer of a storm.  It was still light out.  I was really afraid to drive home but I knew the curbs were not even half way up my tire and if the street flooded the rain would spread out over the curbs on the lawns.  Well, I was half right but continued on in my Windstar behind a small car and made it home.  That was the last time I’ll ever do that.  Jim Cantore’s “don’t drive through flooded streets” message was going through my head the whole time, but I “knew” those streets and felt I was safe.  I’m here to tell about it!

Clean up in Houston will take almost forever with all those trees.

Here’s the web link to the Houston Chronicle’s pictures submitted by folks from all over that town.  Enjoy.  http://www.chron.com/commons/gallery.html?plckGalleryID=478fda59-090a-4d05-a477-87fe4aa8da82

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Hurricane Ike

Ike dumped a lot of rain on Siesta Key the past two days.  We stayed in the house and just listened to it pound on the roof.  And it was windy but not windy enough to knock down the trash cans or blow the recycling onto the ground.  Some of the streets on the north end of the Key that normally flood, did and even more so this time.  Some were still flooded today.  But the sun was out, the wind was still blowing and it was a beautiful day.

So I took my usual walk before dinner to check out the beach.  There are road detours at beach access parking lot #5 so I took the detour to Beach Road N and parked at access #4 and walked to the public beach and back.  Glad I did because there is now a lagoon at the #5 access.  Once that parking lot opens I don’t know if anyone will be using it because you can’t get through unless you walk through the lagoon.  Its about mid-calf deep and as long as the birds hang out, I wouldn’t walk through it.  The beach ends in a little hill that slopes down to form the lagoon.  My bet is that its there for a while.

Accesses 7-8 were also blocked from what I could tell.  The usual lagoon has been narrowed but lengthened.  The grasses, though not all, have been covered with sand and the beach is widened. 

The waves were fierce, coming in closely behind each other.  There was a double red flag, rip currents present and the life guard stands were shut, but there were still a lot of people in the water.  Now, if your a surfer (and I’m assuming surfers no how to swim) I expect you to be out there catching waves.  It’s your thing.  But I also saw parents with young children (smaller than mine) way out there in the waves.  Again, double-red flag and rip currents present; would you risk your child in that surf?  My husband didn’t even go to the beach with me because his common sense said “too risky” and he’s a big, strong guy.  Parents…please think about what you’re doing. 

Ok, I’m off my soap box.  What I saw on the beach was too cool.  Jelly fish.  Tons of them and I’m not exaggerating…ok maybe a little.  They were huge!  I actually measured the biggest ones I saw and their diameter was mostly the length of my leg from my ankle to my knee.  Yeah!  Roughly the size of a large pizza…like a 16″ pizza.  I’m not exaggerating.  I did see a few little ones maybe the size of a tennis ball.  On my trek back to the car I was walking in the water until a huge one floated by in front of me.  I kept to the sand the rest of the way. 

Ike is heading toward Houston.  I spent summer 2007 living there on the far NW corner.  Traffic was awful 24/7.  I couldn’t imagine having to evacuate that city or even part of it.  Hopefully Galveston’s sea walls can withstand the raging sea.  We’ll wait and watch and meanwhile pray for the people who live there.

I’m getting older

Yesterday I officially became a year closer to 50.  It was my birthday and I had a nice time. 

Gary and the boys took me to lunch at the Columbia Restaurant at St Armand’s Circle on Lido Key.  I actually requested it.  The Columbia is a fantastic place and I especially enjoy the 1905 Salad.  So now you know what I ordered.  Also good there is the Cuban sandwich but I’m not big on eating meat so I seldom eat it, but its a must to try if you’re planning lunch there.

Gary had to go back to work (no they didn’t give him the day off for my birthday) so the boys and I took off to Long Boat Key and stopped at one of the public accesses just past the fire station.  It was unbelieveable.  The surf was a little rough, the wind was kicking up loose sand (Hurricane Ike’s in town) but it was beautiful.  The surf line was filled with shells.  Mostly kitten paws so we decided to rename Long Boat Key as Kitten Paw Beach.  We’ve spotted many areas along that Key with multitudes of kitten paws so it was fitting.  Along the upper shell hash were tons, and I literally mean tons, of sea urchins as far as the eye could see.  Wow!  I hustled back to the car and pulled out our 3 sand buckets.  We filled them all to overflowing and also carried some in our hands.  There were tiny ones, huge ones and a lot of broken ones we just left.  They must have been there for a few days because they were dead as dead could be.  Most with deteriorated innerds so it’ll be easy to clean them.   The beach was lined by a vacated condo building (all the units had their hurricane blinds on) and a few small homes and a vacant lot so no one had been in the area, except a few folks on their daily walks.  I should go back once Ike leaves our neck of the Gulf, and get some more.  Sea urchin tests are so cool.  Sometimes you can find one with the spine well preserved and if you handle it ultra carefully and soak in tap water until clean the spines may stay on.  I have a few like that…thankfully unstinky. 

So what am I going to do with all of these sea urchins?  What am I going to do with all the shells and sand dollars I’ve been collecting?  Who knows.  But I’m open to suggestions.  Want to buy them?

So we were heading back and crossing over the north bridge to Siesta Key when a common thought of mine popped in my head…it would be so cool to have a sail boat.  I used to sail competitively on other people’s boats on the Chesapeake Bay before I met Gary and began my adventure across the country.  I saw a boat in the bay and it was beautiful.

The boys presented me with my gift.  A bouquet of flowers and a small wooden sail boat…for the coffee table or book shelf.   I got my sailboat!  I was amazed.  What a really cool coincidence.  I’ve always admired the wooden sailboats people display in their homes and always wanted one.  Somehow, though, shoes and haircuts and groceries always trumped any purchase of a wood decorator sailboat.  I guess my family thought it was about time I deserved it.

After a delivery of flowers from my in-laws (oh, so pretty) we finished the day at Bonefish Grill for dinner.  I ordered the grilled shrimp and scallops.  Yum!