AIA SandCastle Competition in Galveston, TX – June 4, 2016

We’ve been wanting to go to this event for years, but things never worked out. This year we finally made plans to attend the 28th annual competition.  Picture below is from their website.

As the day approached the rain in Texas just would not let up.  We had major flooding down south.  We kept checking the weather channel and the Sandcastle Website for updates.  Tuesday’s post was encouraging.


We continued to make plans to attend. We checked out the schedule of events. We didn’t particularly want to watch them build the sandcastles, so we planned to get there around 1 pm.


As the rain continued and the day got closer we started checking the TX Dept of Transportation Website.  The normal route we would have taken to Galveston had closures due to flooding so we carefully planned out a new route that would take us through Alvin, TX.   This would be perfect as I wanted to stop by the WPA built post office (now museum) and see the WPA mural.  I figured we’d get there around 11pm which was when the museum opened.  June 4th would be the perfect day to visit because the museum is only open one Saturday a month… the first one.  Things were looking up.

Thursday as the rain continued we were heartened by this post on the sandcastle website:

june 2

Rain continued to come down in buckets.  We continued to check the TX DOT website to make sure the route we’d mapped out was open and we monitored the sandcastle website as well.  On Friday night just before bed I checked one final time. 

June 3

The website said they were on rain or shine.  They gave instructions on where to park to get a shuttle to the sandcastles.  We went to bed happy with our alarm set for 5:15 to get up and hit the road to Galveston.

We made it to Alvin an hour early, 10am.  No problem, Alvin has enough to see to keep us busy for an hour!  We visited the small war memorial.


We found two statues of Nolan Ryan.  Both he and his wife are from this area.



We visited the old RR Depot. 


We visited two historic homes.



Hurray, it is now 11am and we head back to the WPA build (former) Post Office in search of the WPA mural.


We made our way inside and paid $3.00 admission. A volunteer leads a tour through the museum and we come to a statue of Alvin Morgan (founder of the town). I whip out my camera and take a picture. The volunteer chides me for doing so. She says pictures are not allowed and my heart sank. I wanted a picture of mural. She said she’d let me keep that one picture of Alvin Morgan and the tour continues.


Truthfully, I’ve never been in a museum where they didn’t want you to take pictures. We eventually came to the WPA mural which I looked at longingly. I explained to the volunteer that our whole reason for coming there was to take a picture of the mural.  She finally agrees to let me take a picture. She said that camera flashes damage the paint, but I didn’t need a flash to take the picture so it was good.



So be warned, if you too would like to visit this historic mural in Alvin, TX…   you have to get permission to take a picture. Hopefully you will get a volunteer that will let you do so.

With the picture taken we finish the museum tour and head south to Galveston.  As we cross over to the island there are signs that said there was street flooding. This isn’t good. We continue down Broadway and indeed have to drive through some flooded streets to finally get to Steward Beach Park. Thank goodness our SUV was tall enough to do this.

It is nearly 1 pm and the park is empty. No signs even about the sandcastle event or a shuttle. It was still misting rain, so we assume that since the turnout would be light they had cancelled the shuttle and there would be plenty of parking on the beach.  We head east on Seawall Blvd and come to a parking lot where the island ends. There are lots of people milling around in the misting rain so we park and walk to the edge and look down and all we see are rocks and further out big tanker ships anchored out in the channel.

We strike up a conversation with a lady there and she tells us that she is looking for the sandcastles too.  She says she is going back to Apffel Park Rd to see if it might lead down to the beach.  She gets into her car and leaves.  We quickly get back in our car and follow her.  The park road is flooded in spots like Broadway was.  This is standing water, not moving.  If it had been moving we never would have followed her as she continued toward the beach.

Once in the parking lot we could see the tops of tents set up down the beach.  At this time it decides to start pouring rain again.  I had come prepared with a raincoat and an umbrella but this was coming down hard.  I didn’t want to walk down the beach in the rain.

We turned around and went back to the original parking lot at the end of the island. There was another road that appeared to go toward the tents but it was barricaded off.

The rain stopped and we decided to walk down the barricaded road. It bordered a beach area so it was fun to walk along the beach.


When the beach ended we returned to the road and we could see the tops of the tents again just as we came to a low spot and the road was flooded. There was tall bracken along each side of the road so there was no way to get around the water.  It was wade or turn back. We turned back and found that many people had decided to follow us down the road.  We stopped to talk to the first couple who said they lived on the island and had seen many of the sandcastle events.  We told them the road was flooded, but they opted to continue on.  After all they lived close by and could go home to dry off.  We told several of the others as we passed them that the road was flooded, but most continued on. I was feeling like a real wimp for turning back! The last group we passed had a baby in a little umbrella stroller. When we told them the road was flooded they did turn around and head back to their car.

We ate dinner on the seawall before leaving the island.  I don’t have a “smart phone” so I couldn’t check the website.  It wasn’t until I started writing this blog that I found this.

Update: 6/4   7 AM
Due to road flooding and worsening severe weather, this weekend’s sandcastle competition has been regrettably canceled.

By the time that update was posted we were already an hour into the trip south.  Not sure what we would have done at 7 am if we’d have known the event was cancelled.  Maybe it is better that I don’t have a smart phone and we were oblivious to the impending disappointment.  At least we got to see the WPA mural!


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