The idea came to me much the same as all of my great ideas do: in the shower. It was the Monday following our daughter’s senior prom the weekend before and I couldn’t help but notice that the house was much more quiet than normal.
As the clock ticked past the point where the alarm on her phone is supposed to go off (for the first time), to be followed soon after by a frantic race to the bathroom, I hear nothing. No, on this morning, all is quiet. In fact, she’s still soundly asleep, but surely she’s not brazenly skipping school right under our noses? No, she’s enjoying the tradition of Senior Skip Day.
It’s that time honored tradition of schools giving seniors the day off to sleep late and hang out with friends. It’s kind of like an institutionalized “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” But why should high schoolers have all the fun? Why isn’t there an adult skip day I wonder? Then it hits me. I’m going to take my own adult skip day and spend it roaming Galveston. But where to start?
Late April/early May has always been one of my favorite times of year on the island because the weather’s turning warm, but it’s not scalding yet and the crowds that descend on our little playpen have yet to begin streaming in, making this the perfect time to play a little hooky. I begin my sabbatical by walking through the East End Historic District where the majority of the Tree Sculptures live. Born out of the destruction of Hurricane Ike, the sculptures carved out of trees damaged by the storm are some of the most brilliant examples of yard art you’ll ever see.
Next it’s on to The Strand for a casual stroll among the shops, restaurants and bars and some unmatched people watching opportunities. Everyone from skate punks to senior citizens to executives in suit and tie escaping the boardroom for an afternoon of solace can be spotted in the famous district. I stop to buy a cup of some of the most delicious coffee I’ve ever tasted from a bearded guy operating his own coffee cart who looks like a cross between Houston Rockets star and beard purveyor James Harden and Spike Lee.
With my feet starting to feel the pain wrought by several miles of walking, it’s time to pay a visit to the Island Bicycle Company, where I rent a nice cruiser for the next several hours. After pedaling along the Seawall for a bit, I’ve worked up an appetite that can only be sated by a bowl of gumbo, which leads me to the Gumbo Diner. If you haven’t tried the gumbo at this Seawall eatery yet you should have your head—and your taste buds—examined.
Back on the bike, I head over to the Pier 21 Theater for a little respite from the sun. I’m just in time to catch a showing of the film “The Pirate Island of Jean Laffite,” an excellent documentary that reveals why Galveston’s most famous resident pirate was a dangerous mix of brilliant businessman and murderous marauder. Kind of like a 19th century version of Simon Cowell.
With the shadows growing longer and my stomach beginning to make wounded animal sounds, I pedal over to the legendary Gaido’s restaurant for some classic Galveston seafood before I, sadly, realize that my adult skip day is coming to a tragic end. Sure, I’ve had a wonderful day exploring the island, but one day just isn’t long enough to take in even a quarter of the stuff available to see and do. But I hear that the Red Cat Jazz Festival is coming up May 7-10? I feel another adult skip day coming on.