Yesterday, we finally took mom out on a full day excursion. Lack of places to go out to and our busy academic schedule had us just making quick trips around College Station and an occasional drive to Houston. We had driven down last December to Galveston, the nearest waterfront. But upon the recommendation of couple of our friends we decided to go to Kemah Boardwalk instead and drive up to Galveston later on if we had time.
Kemah Boardwalk is a refurbished fishing pier that offers plenty of seafood cuisine options and a fun time for kids with the regular fairground joyrides. Bought over by the folks that own Landry’s, the famed seafood restaurant, they have developed the waterfront that looks out to the Galveston Bay for commercial purposes. At first sight, it does seem like an artificial commercial place that openly panders to the dollar-spending tourist. But given the lack of public spaces that we can spend a quality time in Houston, it comes off as a welcome relief. If you have been to Atlantic City, you know what I am talking about. Except of course, replace the casinos with seafood restaurants and suddenly the whole place becomes much more appealing, at least to me. The ‘Houston, we’ve a problem’ space center is also on the way but they don’t have much to offer for the touristy kinds. A junk rocket here and there but nothing more.
Although you have plenty of options to try out seafood, The Aquarium was highly recommended by some friends and we decided to try that out instead of the Flying Dutchman that offered typical southern seafood. The Aquarium is exactly that – with indoor and outdoor restaurant seating around a 35 foot deep fish tank stocked with all kinds of exotic fishes including couple of small sharks. If you are lucky, you can spot a man in a scuba suit either feeding the fishes or cleaning the glass [video].
I am no fan of fine dining because the portions although delicious are small and it cannot satiate my bottomless stomach especially when it comes to seafood. But the Aquarium serves you generous portions of scrumptious blackened catfish (the best I’ve ever tasted; the New Orleans experience included). The women chose shrimp. Ash got the shrimp stuffed with crab (I would have expected vice versa) and we got mom the three-shrimp (types) platter. Of course, I helped myself to their dishes as well. I have always been wary of the coconut shrimp but was delightfully surprised by the sweet coconuty taste wrapped around a really giant shrimp.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in losing all those pounds we gained by hogging down the food. The boardwalk is much smaller than others I have seen around the country including Pier 39 in San Francisco, Atlantic City, or South Street Seaport precinct in New York City. The highlight of the trip for my mom was the high speed boat ride out in the bay. Lots of wind in the hair and salty splashes of seawater all over us is definitely an experience you shouldn’t chicken out of if you are down there. Also, remember to drop a quarter in the fish food dispenser machines on the dock and feed the catfish in the holding ponds. You must never have seen so many frenzied fishes (and couple of ducks) jump all over each other to grab that food pellet. Survival of the fittest, eh?
Since Kemah didn’t have much more to offer, we decided to continue down the road to Galveston and give mom a drive on the seawall. Technically a barrier island with no construction supposedly allowed on it, it is a narrow beach with lots of condos, hotels, and restaurants. Hey, this is Texas. No one tells us we ought to be responsible for the environment. God takes care of us…or doesn’t as the umpteen hurricanes that bash us will testify. We walked down the Strand in historic Galveston downtown. Ash and mom picked up some curios and we headed back to the chaos of Houston. A mandatory visit to IKEA and dinner later, we were back in rapidly emptying College Station (the cops were out in full force to catch speedy errants).