Friday is the New Thursday

I am a little late on my Thursday post this week. So I decided that Friday must be the new Thursday. Although really, since we didn’t have to work this Friday, Thursday was actually the new Friday, but whatever.

Luckily though, my procrastination on my post goes well with this week’s quote.

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”

– Mark Twain

I think Mark Twain may be one of my heroes now.

This late in the school year, that’s pretty much how I feel all of the time. Usually, the end of the rough anyway, but this year, I am teaching mostly seniors. So in addition to the normal being fed up with school thing, most of my kids also have senioritis. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have senioritis at this point too.

desk3Today, we had the day off of work for Good Friday. The weather was perfect, so I decided it would be a good time to go to Galveston. I have been out of the good Galveston Coffee Roasters coffee for a couple of weeks now. I know this sounds a little over the top, but their coffee is so good, it really is worth going to Galveston for. My favorite so far has been the Seashore Blend. They had a new blend today when I went in called the Surfer blend. So I got a half a pound of that to try too. I will let you know how it is, although I am sure that it is going to be equally amazing as the Seashore blend.
Galveston may not have clear turquoise water, but it makes up for it with charm, history, cool architecture and food. Today, I visited one of my favorite restaurants on the island. Nates’s West End. Nate’s is a completely unassuming little local place on the West End (hence the clever name). If you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it, which would be a shame because you would be missing out. I’ve been going there for a while now, and they are just as good today as they were when I started going there.

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(Picture taken from their Facebook page because I forgot to take a picture)

I’m pretty sure this was once a house, but I am just guessing. It looks like it is attached to the grocery store next to it, which by the way is the coolest little grocery store ever. It’s the only regular grocery store on the West End, and is really small, but it is very complete and have pretty much everything you need for a weekend in a beach house. If you didn’t know any better, you would probably turn your nose up Nate’s because of its appearance and location. Once inside though, it quickly becomes apparent why it’s usually hard to find a parking spot. The smells alone are enough to draw you in. The servers are the same ones that were there when I started going there- turn over is extremely low, which has to say something about them. They are super friendly and usually go out of their way to make sure you feel welcome. One time while I was there, one of the servers came in and was talking to the other server about this amazing coffee creamer that she had found next door. She told us about it since we had just ordered coffee and even offered us some of hers. She was right, and we ended up buying some too. Another time when we were there, the tire on our SUV went flat while we were inside. One of the cooks came out because it was the end of his shift and saw us struggling with the tire. He changed it for us! Seriously, the staff here make you feel like family.

Then there is the food! My all time favorite is their pecan crusted snapper with green beans and dirty rice. It is amazing, but I have to say that the stuffed shrimp I had today gave it a serious run for its money. I didn’t think to take a picture until it was too late. I’ll have to go back soon. You know, for blogging purposes. If you aren’t too stuffed for dessert when you finish your meal, I highly recommend their key lime pie. And don’t even get me started on their tartar sauce. Usually I am kind of lukewarm on the subject of tartar sauce. It’s okay. I like dipping my shrimp in it  sometimes, but normally prefer the cocktail sauce. Not so at Nate’s. Their tartar sauce is hands-down the best tartar sauce I have ever had. It’s so good that when I had finished my meal, I found myself dipping crackers in it because it is just that yummy. You could seriously eat it with a spoon. It’s almost addictive.

If you are in Galveston and are wondering where to eat, you should definitely check out Nate’s. It is worth the drive to the West End. Plus, the West End has better beaches anyway. Most tourists park along the Seawall and go to the beach there, but if you really want to enjoy the beach, it is better to drive down to the State Park, about five minutes away from Nate’s, and go to the beach there. They have restrooms that are clean, rinse off showers so that you don’t have to drive home salty and a cute little gift shop. The parking is free with the price of admission and besides just beaches, they have birding and hiking trails on the bay side too. There is even a cool birding tower that you can climb for better views. Also, in case you didn’t know. You don’t need a fishing license to fish at the State Park.

Okay, my battery is low and I am too lazy to get up and plug in my computer (see the first part of this post). So I am going to leave you with a picture from the webcams of the Elissa heading out for a sail last week.

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Thursday Thoughts

Okay, I’m still working on a good title for my random motivational quotes and anecdotes on Thursdays. Anyway, today is Thursday, so I have a random picture from my desk this week.

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(Thursday is my Starbuck’s day- it’s like a reward for putting up with teenagers all week.)

And, I have a quote…

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”

-Abraham Lincoln

This week has been a long one, and at this point, I’m not sure I have the capability of having deep thoughts much less expressing them in an intelligent way. So… I’m just going to end this with a cute puppy picture.

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Teacher Rant- Mental Health in Schools

As a teacher, I see lots of things. I have tons of kids who are on drugs for ADHD and other illnesses. I see kids who are on drugs that are not legal. (By the way, the kids on Ritalin and Adderall are pretty much indistinguishable from the kids on pot- they all sit there like lumps). I’ve even had a kid have a seizure in class. True story. It actually happened this past Friday. I can honestly say that with everything that goes on in a typical classroom, and all of the time I put into trying to get kids to not take out their phones and to actually care and pay attention to the math I’m trying to teach them, the last thing I need to have to think about is trying to decide whether or not a kid is mentally ill.

One of the bills in the Texas Legislature right now is one that would require teachers to go through training to spot potentially mentally ill kids so that they can get picked out for mental health treatment. To me, this is the biggest crock of bullshit ever. I don’t know a single teacher in my school or in any of the other schools I have been to who has a medical degree or is in any way qualified to diagnose kids for anything, much less mental health issues which are extremely hard to diagnose and whose diagnosis is usually based more on social interactions than on actual physical symptoms. Most teachers have their hands full just trying to keep their kids learning what they need to learn. We already don’t make enough. The state voted against giving Texas teachers a raise, but now they want us to also act like psychiatrists in addition to all of the stuff we already do?

As a senior level math teacher, I need my kids to be able to be self motivated. I need them to think for themselves. The kids who are on drugs for ADHD are basically lemmings. They follow instructions. They sit and work quietly. What they don’t do is actually give a shit. A lot of my activities require the kids to be out of their seats moving around. The drugged up kids have a hard time with that. My class is very much project based and requires kids to come up with ideas on their own and then follow them through. It requires self-motivation and action. The drugged up kids completely suck at that. I personally would rather have a class full of high-energy kids who are actually interested in hands-on activities and learning than a bunch of robots who sit quietly in their chairs and just do their work. How 1950’s is that? If I were an elementary teacher, it would completely freak me out if the kids didn’t have any energy at all and just sat in their seats. That’s not what kids are supposed to do.

Kids have a very short window of time where we expect them to soak up all of the knowledge they are going to need to be successful in life. Think about it. If you, as an adult, were required to sit still in a chair and learn things for 8 hours or more a day, everyday, you would be exhausted. Your mind would be absolute mush by the time the weekend rolled around. If you are going to get through something like that, you need a ton of energy, which is what kids have. At least until we drug them up for being too energetic. I personally think that the problem is not that the kids have too much energy. The problem is that we hire teachers who have too little. We hire people who could barely pass their own classes in school and then expect them to make geniuses out of our kids. On top of that, we cut down the time kids get to spend moving around. We take away recess, we do away with music programs as soon as the budget is the least bit tight, and we expect them to sit still for 8 whole hours doing things that aren’t hands on and that are quite frankly, boring as hell!

So now, in addition to requiring all of these things of them, and in addition to asking teachers who don’t have enough energy themselves to teach our kids, we want these same people to decide whether or not our kids are mentally ill?

Fuck that. If I had a kid in a public elementary school right now, I would seriously be thinking of ways to either put them in a private school or home school. If a teacher can’t handle energetic kids, putting them on drugs would probably seem like an excellent idea. What’s to stop them from recommending that perfectly normal kids be put on drugs just so that it makes their job a little easier? Kids have energy. They are supposed to have lots of energy. They need to have lots of energy because they are still growing. Their bodies and minds are still developing, and they are still soaking up all of the stuff they are going to need when they are older.

I’ve been thinking about this for a little while anyway. One of my students got herself sent to a mental institution not too long ago and has been using it as an excuse not to be in my class and not to stay even if she shows up. She’s been telling all of the other kids about her experience and has been glorifying it for attention. I’m not saying that there aren’t serious mental issues. There are. I’m not saying that people don’t need help. They absolutely do. But they need help that actually helps them. Like real help. Not just drugs that make them not care about the symptoms anymore.

Did you know that when Prozac went through clinical trials, it only had a 33% success rate? The placebo also had a 33% success rate, as did doing absolutely nothing. Prozac was just as effective as doing nothing at all. The only problem with that is that you can’t make much money off of telling people to do nothing. The clinical trial results were covered up. It wasn’t until somebody sued the makers of Prozac that they were released. Another fun fact. Prozac was never approved for use in kids, and yet it is prescribed to them anyway.

There’s a group called the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights that deals with these kinds of issues. I went to a fundraising dinner for the Texas Chapter over the weekend, and I was blown away. They deal with abuses in the mental health care system non-stop, and it is amazing how many people don’t even know that these abuses exist. You think that if you go to a doctor, that that person is trained to help you, knows what they are doing and has your best interest at heart, but the mental health system is flat out broken. Most of the time, you would probably have better luck in a maximum security prison than if you accidentally ended up in a Mental hospital. Case in point: Shock Therapy. Think it went away ages ago, like when the dark ages ended? Nope. It’s alive and well, only it’s called Electro-convulsive therapy now to make it sound prettier. It has never even been proven to be effective at fixing anything. Literally. The devices they use have never been approved by the FDA- they were grandfathered in when the FDA was created. They cause permanent memory loss and brain damage, but it is still done. Not only that, it is still done to children. Texas is one of only 6 states that bans its use on kids under 18. Up until just a few years ago, they were still shocking kids as young as 6!

It’s absurd. I’m absolutely appalled that stuff like this is even still legal. It really makes me feel like our government is for sale to the highest bidder. How could it not be if stuff like this is still going on. Electro-shock is a 2 billion dollar a year industry. Tell me part of that isn’t winding its way into the pockets of our politicians.

As far as high school goes… High schools are full of teenagers. Teenagers are full of drama. There’s a non-stop string of hook-ups and break-ups going on. It makes a Shakespeare play look like it’s not even trying very hard. But, all of this drama is part of growing up. It is a training ground for how to deal with sort of thing as a grown up. It’s not clinical depression. It’s not mental illness in the majority of cases. It’s just being a teenager. So, how about just letting our kids be kids? How about letting kids have energy? How about letting teenagers have a little bit of depression and angst? At least if they are depressed about breaking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, they don’t have time to be worried about the upcoming standardized testing (that starts this coming week).

How about we just let the teachers teach then kids and leave the mental health stuff to the parents? How about letting the corrupt mental healthcare system find its guinea pigs patients elsewhere?

If you are having problems (involuntary commitments, trouble with abuse or just trouble with the mental healthcare system in general), call CCHR. They are all over the US and in quite a few countries around the world. They can help.

They can also point you in the right direction if you would like to know what you can do to help keep this kind of legislation from passing. Plus, they are really nice. Just give them a call.

 

Thursday Randomness

Okay, so Friday and Saturday get all the glory during the week. Mondays usually get lots of attention and blog quotes devoted to motivation and getting everyone inspired for the week- something that doesn’t help me at all. I mean seriously. Mondays, I am so tired and grumpy about having to get up so early, that the last thing I want to hear is some upbeat, super cheerful quote about how to achieve my dreams and not give up. I get that people think it’s a good idea to go all cheerleader on Mondays. After all, Monday starts with an M just like Motivation. But seriously? Do all of our fun days have to contain alliteration? Throw back Thursday, Motivational Monday, etc. (I can’t really think of any others right now, but I’m sure that they exist). Anyway, Wednesday gets called hump day because it’s in the middle of the week and you are halfway through the week. The day that gets neglected is Thursday. I’m not counting the whole throwback Thursday thing. It’s a little lame, and anyway, how many Throwback pictures do you really need to post?

My point is that by the time Thursday comes around, I’m exhausted. My “give-a-shit-o-meter” is running on empty (especially when it comes to teenager problems). At that point, I’m basically just hanging on, trying to make it through Friday. I think the real reason that teachers are required to do their lesson plans two weeks in advance is so that they don’t have to think about what to do with the kids on Fridays. The truth of the matter is that no matter how much we like our students, by Fridays, we don’t really want to deal with them at all. If we could let them watch movies every Friday so they would leave us alone, we would totally do it. The problem is that we have too much to teach them within the time that we have to let them watch movies every Friday. You have no idea how much it pains me to say no whenever the kids ask for a movie day. Seriously. I would totally rather watch a movie that try to force them to learn math.

So, usually by the time Thursday rolls around, I am resorting to taking pictures with my phone of random things on my desk.

desk_doodlesI sent one to my nephew, and his response was that he always believed that only the students doodled on their paper. If teachers are doodling now, he doesn’t understand the world anymore.

In my defense, I don’t doodle while I’m teaching. It’s just in my planning when I don’t have anything else to do. I know what you’re thinking, but when you are the only one teaching a subject, planning goes really quickly because you don’t need to agree on things with your team. When I start disagreeing with my team in my planning period, I’ve got bigger problems than I thought.

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deskSo, I decided that instead of doing some kind of Monday Motivation style posts, I should do a post every Thursday with random pictures I took during my planning periods for the week.

Coffee From the Gods

My sister was in town this weekend, and we decided to go to Galveston for the day. We left early and planned on getting coffee as soon as we got into town. As soon as we crossed the Causeway, I made a bee-line for Starbuck’s on 22nd (because it has cooler views that the one on 61st or the ones in Kroger and Randalls). As soon as we approached 22nd on Harborside, we saw them. Tourists. Fresh off of one of the Cruise ships docked nearby.

They were everywhere- completely covering the outside sitting area and practically dripping down the steps- no doubt kicked off of the boats as soon as they were awake. As much as we like coffee, it just wasn’t worth wading through the crowd. We decided to slowly meander through town toward the Starbuck’s on 61st street instead- not because Starbuck’s has the best coffee (they don’t), but because Starbuck’s is everywhere. It’s easy to get to and the coffee is predictable.

As we were slowly driving through the streets of the Strand District- with brick roads and Victorian architecture lining both sides of the street, we noticed a small little business at the corner of one of the old brick buildings. The sign said Galveston Coffee Roasters. At first we couldn’t tell if it was just a place that sold coffee beans or if they sold brewed coffee too. We decided to find a parking spot and check it out.

Just a helpful tip: Sunday is probably the best day to visit Galveston because parking in the Strand area (Galveston’s downtown) is free on Sundays. I think that parking on the Seawall is also free on Sundays, but don’t quote me on that one.

We could smell the coffee before we even got to the door. It was amazing!

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The shop is tiny. It’s run by the owners, who moved to Galveston from Hawaii three years ago, and their shop puppy. They roast all of their own beans and let you sample the coffee they have brewed before you decide what kind you want.

We both decided to try the Pirate’s Blend because, hello. Pirates. We also decided to buy a bag of the Seashore Blend beans, which the owner ground for us. I only bought half a pound, which I instantly regretted as soon as I brewed a cup at home. I should have bought at least a pound. It is easily the best coffee I’ve bought- and I have bought a lot of coffee. Luckily, you can also order coffee on their webpage and they ship it straight to you. They don’t roast it until you order it so you get super fresh coffee.

The owner pointed out the post office right across the street and let us know that as soon as someone orders coffee, it gets prepared and is then taken immediately across the street to the post office. I have a feeling I am going to be trying out this service in the next week or so (as soon as I run out of my little bag of coffee).

This place is an absolute gem. It’s completely no frills. They sell coffee. They don’t make frapuccinos. They offer hot coffee and iced coffee. They have several choices of creamers, including an almond milk option, and a range of sweeteners. One thing they don’t do is cover up mediocre coffee with a bunch of sugar and syrup. That’s not totally a dig against Starbuck’s. Trust me, I maintain my gold star status on my Starbuck’s card. But, when it comes to coffee itself, Galveston Coffee Roasters has Starbuck’s beat hands-down.

This is my new favorite coffee place in Galveston. I plan on visiting every time I’m on the island. If you are in the area, Galveston Coffee Roasters is located at 23rd and Church St, and I highly recommend them. They are super friendly, and their coffee is incredible.

(Obligatory cool boat picture- from Fisherman’s Wharf, where we had lunch)

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Wandering Puppies and a Stay-cation

So, back at the beginning of January, I had my floors redone- it’s a long story involving a cat living on a roof, using my firewall drain box as a litter box, and a townhouse flooded with a mixture of rainwater and rancid cat urine. I shudder just thinking of how bad the carpet in my living room smelled. Okay, shudder is putting it mildly. Really I want to curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth crying in the corner, but I digress.

Anyway, my insurance eventually came through, and I scheduled the new floor installation for January 2nd so that it could be done before time for me to go back to school. As it turns out, when you have tile installed, you have to stay off of it for a day or two while everything dries. All together, I needed to be out of my house for three nights.

My parents were okay with me staying there, but I didn’t really want to stay at my parents’ house doing nothing for three days. Then I had a light bulb moment.

Stay-cation!

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I went online. First, I was going to rent a house close by, but then I came to my senses. I mean, if you are going to rent a house, you should at least rent one somewhere interesting. So I broadened my search. As it turned out, there was a house in Galveston that was perfect- just the right size, with a big yard for the dogs to run around in.

Living in a townhouse with three dogs, I am constantly concerned about them not having enough space to run. They get a little bit of exercise when we walk and when we go to my parents’ house, but it isn’t the same as being able to actually run.

As soon as I saw the picture of the fenced in yard, I was hooked. I booked it and then counted down the days.

It was my first actual trip with the puppies (not counting the time we camped in my sister’s yard at Thanksgiving), and I packed way too much stuff for them and for myself. On the day of the trip, they were excited about going for a ride but were confused by all of the stuff in the car. They slept for most of the trip, even though it wasn’t much more than an hour long.

When we pulled up in front of the house, they ran around in the back of the SUV looking out the windows trying to see where we were. I was able to pull my car into the yard through gate from the alley behind the house and was able to park by the house, which meant that as soon as I closed the gate, I was able to just open the car doors without putting leashes on first. They immediately jumped out and started exploring.

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As far as yards go, this one wasn’t huge, but compared to the tiny townhouse yard that my puppies are used to, it was g-i-a-n-t.

When I started unloading stuff and taking it up the stairs, they got curious. After they figured out where the stairs started, they discovered the balcony, which to a dog is apparently amazing. They look out of the windows at home, upstairs and downstairs, but windows are just nowhere near as cool as a balcony. It’s like a wide open window where you can see all around, smell everything, hear everything. In short, it is amazing.
aDSC_0122The puppies loved the yard and the balcony and were a little excited to see that there was a nice big couch in the living room. The whole thing was a little confusing for them. They followed me everywhere I went, not wanting to get out of sight. The little one even figured out how to slide the barn style door open when I went to the restroom. They didn’t want to get left alone.

The house I rented was a one-bedroom house that could almost be classified as a tiny house- or at least I think it could, and it was perfect. The kitchen was surprisingly spacious and functional- it had even more counter space than mine. The bedroom wasn’t giant, but it was big enough. The bathroom had a longer than normal bathtub that would have been big enough for soaking. There was even a stackable washer-dryer.

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Anytime I stay somewhere or visit a house that isn’t mine, I always question whether or not I would want to live there and then I ask myself what I would do differently. In this case, I think that the floorplan was very user-friendly and functional. I could totally live there. It would be a little rough having to downsize enough to fit.

The problem with liking crafts and DIY projects is that you end up with lots of supplies and materials. I love to quilt, but that means that I would have a really hard time doing without a sewing machine. If I were to live in a house this size, I would have to change the living room a little so that I could have a sewing table instead of a credenza under the television.

credenzaThe other change that I would make is that I would change up the bedroom a little. I would try to fit a king instead of a queen if possible and I would opt for a bed that wasn’t so high. The bed in the room was too high for my littlest puppy to jump up. The first night, we slept on the pull out sofa because I didn’t want any of the puppies to fall out of such a high bed. Plus, it is a little tricky trying to lift two 80+ pound dogs up onto the bed. The sofa wasn’t super comfortable. So, the second night, I got creative. I moved the large ottoman from the living room into the bedroom next to the bed so that the puppies could jump up onto that and then up onto the bed. It worked really well, and we slept a lot better.

highbedOverall, I was very happy with the house. It was clean and well-stocked. There was plenty of extra toilet paper in the bathroom, and the kitchen was well-equipped. Everything was clean and well-maintained. The dogs loved the yard and the balcony and were perfectly happy hanging out inside too.

The owners had all kinds of toys in the storage room under the house that we could have used too. There was an assortment of bikes, and my favorite- a hammock. They even included a baby gate which I promptly put and the top of the stairs so that the puppies couldn’t charge down the stairs as soon as I let them out.

My only regret was that it was too cold to hang up the hammock.

I would absolutely go back. I wasn’t there for entertainment, but it was straight down 25th Street within walking distance from the Pleasure Pier and several restaurants. Its location is absolutely perfect for exploring the island and taking advantage of all of the activities. It is centrally located between the beach and the Strand, and being able to use the keypad instead of having to keep track of a key really took a lot of the stress out of going out.

If you are looking for a small vacation house to rent in Galveston that is centrally located and pet friendly, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

For me, on a paws up scale of 0 to 12 (get it? 4 paws per dog x 3 dogs), this one got a 12 paw rating. There’s not really anything that I would change. I do recommend going when it’s warm enough to use the hammock and sit out on the balcony in the evening. Early January was a little too chilly for sitting outside. I plan on renting it again when it’s a little warmer.

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Year Review in Pictures

It’s no secret that I love Galveston. I’ve posted about it several times (like here, here and here). There are many reasons why. Galveston’s beaches aren’t the most spectacular. The water is not crystal clear, but it has a soul like few other towns in the US. There were pirates, cannibalistic natives (and I don’t mean politicians I mean actual cannibalistic natives), tall ships, sailboat races. It was called the New York of the south back in its prime. It has Victorian architecture, brick streets, curbs that were high enough for people to step out of horse-drawn carriages with ease, and charm by the bucket-full. Even its alleys are cool.

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So I decided that it was only fitting for my last post of the year to be a picture post of Galveston over this past year.

Luckily, there are webcams all over Galveston, so you don’t even have to be there all the time to get some good pictures. Like this one, for instance.

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This one was taken on the Cruise Cam, which happens to be right next the Tall Ship Elissa and one of my favorite restaurants of all time, Fisherman’s Wharf.

Here is the Elissa as seen from Fisherman’s Wharf.

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And, Fisherman’s Wharf as seen from the Elissa.

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The Cruise Cam captures some of the coolest sunsets, and some pretty nice sunrises too. Don’t ask me why I’m up early enough to see that every morning. I don’t want to talk about it…

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Another of my favorite cameras is the Surf Cam. Here are some of its views.

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The start of the 2018 Harvest Moon Regatta

Then of course, there is my favorite souvenir shop, Murdoch’s Pier. My aunt lived a few blocks down from Murdoch’s when I was a kid, and my brother and I loved going there every time we went to the beach. The first picture is from inside. The rest are from the webcam on the front corner of the store.

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July 4th Weekend

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Evening Fog in November

I guess the moral of this story is that if you aren’t stalking the Galveston Webcams, then I really just don’t know what you are doing with your life… Unless you live at the beach, in which case, you seem to have life figured out and I’m a little jealous right now.

So, here are a few more of my favorites from this year.

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I hope your 2018 went well, and I wish you all the best for 2019!