Force of Nature

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Mike and Sharky's

Flag of United States  , Texas
Monday, August 17, 2009

17/08/09 Force of Nature

Today we saw , albeit second hand, the brutal power Mother Nature can wield when she's annoyed, but before we go down that sombre road let me share some of the lighter side of our day with you.

Today Trace and I experienced the true meaning of "Drive Thru America". ..........a drive-thru ATM, yes, we drew cash from the comfort of our car. You could also do normal banking from your car. All deposits or bill payments are simply placed in a plastic capsule which is then sucked up into a network of tubes into the actual banking hall where it is stamped or signed or whatever, and then squirted back out via the same tubes to the driver.....more genius.

When we got thirsty we stopped at Sonic which is a drive-thru fast food outlet. Press the button , place your order, in this case three large cherry-lime-aide’s (nectar of the gods), with what sounds like C3PO on a rusty day , and it is brought out to your car in a just makes sense.

It doesn’t end there, we also saw a drive-thru pharmacy.....Seriously!.....A frikken drive-thru pharmacy. I’m not sure what kind of system they use to dispense their medicines but I’m sure it’s super efficient like most things in this country.

My all time favourite for obvious reasons had to be the drive-thru Booze Barn. You literally drive your car into the middle of the barn, tell them what you want and they load you up and you drive out the other’s like something created by a criminal mastermind. Legal ram-raiding.

Once we had driven passed miles and miles of oil refinery piping we came upon Seabrook and the Turtle Club. This pub is floating on a lake next to a massive marina and is generally a hang-out for power boaters. Today we were the only clientele and were very well taken care of by Darla (not her real name, but I call all the waitresses in America Darla). After a lovely lunch of burgers in a basket we set off again into Kemah. This was a typical seaside town with a fun fair on the sea front. It was here that we started seeing signs of the devastation caused by Ike.

70 percent of the houses along the coast here are built on top of twenty foot stilts because the area is super flat and obviously susceptible to rising water levels. Ike was a bit more than a slight rise in water level. We saw a few houses that had been completely swept away and a few that had been ripped apart by sustained 70 to 90 mph winds. The worst was still to come.

Galveston is a fairly large barrier island that took almost the full force of Ike when he was at his angriest.....but because it is quite a popular beach resort there was some protection against hurricanes ie a sea wall. But you can’t build a wall around an entire island so the waters simply went around the edges of the wall and washed away everything not set in concrete....and in some cases the concrete didn’t help much either. It was quite obvious that a lot of repair work had already been done to Galveston and it was getting back on its feet again. The same cannot be said for Bolivar.

We drove onto a ferry for the short trip to Bolivar....a trip that was made pleasant by the appearance of a pod of dolphin. That’s where the nice stuff ended. The devastation on Bolivar was mind boggling. There were some massive areas that looked like un-developed beach front property, but when viewed on a map, we could see street names where now there was just beach. It was evident that whole blocks of houses had been swept away as if by a giant broom, there was nothing left. Dotted all over were the remnants of some houses and the odd lucky houses that had survived. They seemed oddly out of place. People were now living in trailers on the spots where their houses used to be, possibly waiting for the re-build. Strangely, the one part of the stilted houses that seemed to be the strongest, were the balconies. So as we drove through the ex-neighbourhood, we came across people living in trailers but climbing up onto their 20 foot high balconies, sitting in deck chairs and sipping a cocktail. There is a lot of patriotism about and a strong belief in their country. The Americans do believe in the healing power of the Stars and Stripes. A lot of them flap quite raggedly attached to shattered wooden frames of what were once beautiful family homes.

Good luck and positive energy to all those that have to re-build their lives because of Hurricane Ike.  
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