Everyday is an Adventure. Embrace it

Posts tagged ‘ocean’

Why is the Ocean Brown at Galveston Island?

Why is the water brown in Galveston?

I asked this question myself the first time I saw the sea at Galveston Island, Texas.

Is the ocean really Brown at Galveston?

Yes

Is the water dirty on Galveston Island?

No, not really dirty in the sense you mean.

Answers… I promise answers.

I wondered these things myself and before I would stick one toe inside the water there, I looked it up. I wanted a scientific explanation (dumbed down enough that I could understand.) I mean… Is brown water in Galveston safe?

Here’s why the ocean water is brown in Galveston:

The Gulf of Mexico is fed in part via the “Loop Current”. This is a nifty term that scientist like to use 😉    This ocean flow (or current) send warmer water from the Yucatan Channel northward into the Gulf of Mexico. As this current comes in it bends and then heads towards Florida.

( I am no artist, but I drew a diagram to help you visualize.)

Loop Current ChrissyAdventures

Loop Current brings in warm water

The Loop Current is one of the strongest and fastest in the Atlantic Ocean. This is what happens in the lower portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

Now… the upper portion of the gulf is affected by other factors. Look at my terrible diagram and notice the pink arrows from Louisiana towards Texas. Notice how the current is kissing the coast of Texas there?

The Mississippi River empties into the Gulf.  Not considering the tributaries this river has, the Mississippi alone carries roughly 2 million tons of sediment each day. This sediment is dumped into the Gulf waters around and near Louisiana heavier than other areas. But this sediment is also joined by sediment from the Red River. You see, the Red River joins up with the Mississippi to create the Atchafalaya River. Guess where that river empties…

Yep, it’s the Gulf of Mexico. Are you starting to see a trend?

Sediment of Mississippi River Map Gulf of Mexico

Sediment of Mississippi River as indicated by red markings

The currents (above in pink) indicate how the sediment in carried in two directions. Those currents carry a large portion of sediment to the coast of Texas.  Sediment in other beach areas of the US have sea flora on the ocean floor that help trap sediment and clear the water. The ocean around Galveston is mostly shallow. Shallow water has a high sand and sediment turnover … literally. Therefore the water has a brown color that cannot be seen through.

The brown ocean water is very warm, almost tepid. Although it is murky water, it’s thoroughly relaxing to swim in the warm water.

Have you been to Galveston and seen the brown water? Did it bother you or did you enjoy it just the same! If you’d like to read more about Galveston Island, please click here to visit a guest post I wrote about it for Mr Roland Millward’s Travel Blog.

The Scent of the Ocean

Each morning I awake and visit my old friend the coffee pot. After creating the juice of joy, I venture outside to smell the day. Immediately my senses are activated as I take that first deep breath of the outdoors. For the last 5 months, that deep breath has been a salty sort.

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The air breathed at the Oceanside is sweet when you come to love it. It grows on you. It is mixed with salt, natural musk, sand, and a hint of marine life. The breeze is constant from the sea. There’s peace, tranquility, and grace.

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To visit a beach is an experience, but to live here is different. There’s a unique oneness that develops as you give your senses over to something larger than yourself. Being no stranger to beach side vacations, I used to think I understood the Sea. Only recently have I truly tuned in though.

Almost everyone I’ve ever known who’s been to the ocean declares, “I want to live here!” Some people even begin to look at real-estate as they dream of one day moving. They have in their minds that living here would be full of relaxation and everyday spent on the beach. Smiling, watching kids play & bury each other in sand, and applying sunscreen again while chilling with a Sangria.

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Reality of living here though is much different. We seek out the places few tourist go and avoid the downtown tourist traps like the plaque. It’s not possible to go to the beach everyday. Some days the beaches are closed due to the massive rip currents that tear away at the beach line, other days it is too cold. (Yes, even Florida is somewhat affected by the weather.) On extremely windy days, which come often, it’s painful to walk on the beach as there’s sand in that wind. If you ever get beach side sand blasted, it goes a few degrees beyond exfoliation. But, even with these things being considered, I love it here.

The sun is different here (compared to the Smoky Mountains where I’m from). It hugs your skin from every angle even when you’re fully clothed. It penetrates your bones and brings back life. Sunscreen is a definite must as this sun is unforgiving on the skin. The elevation is very low, so there’s very little pressure bearing down against your joints. The low pressure also helps hearing as it is gentle on the ears. The air is always salty and every breath is healing and savory sea flavored. The sweet smell of the sea life is present in every breathe. Vision changes here as well. It’s bright most days, but the eyes adjust acutely and vision improves.

Homeownership is a bit more expensive here with the local, county, and state fees/taxes. Home maintenance is a regular necessity. The salty air eats away at all things man-made. So setting aside a maintenance fund (at least 1\2 your home’s value) will be an absolute requirement unless you are filthy rich. In that case, enjoy yourself freely!

I don’t know if they really can, but it seems as though the island birds begin to know and recognise you. We have a dove that feels very at home with us and receive frequent visits from various cranes looking to eat our endless millions of earthworms. They come regularly, with no fear, perching atop cars and freely walk our neighborhood streets.

Time slows to a crawl. Each palm waves in the wind in slow motion and the locals move in the same rhythm. Annuals become perennials, fruit is harvested in the winter, and palmetto bushes bring medicinally juicy berries.

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The sounds of the ocean are loud & ever present. The waves crash in and out creating their own unique song. It is the sole sound of the night. There are no crickets. The toads & frogs are silent. For they cannot compete with the mighty ocean. There are no morning song birds with their gentle morning wake up call. They live on the main land or bayside possibly, but definitely not seaside. The ocean is jealous of all other sounds and pushes them away with its mighty strength & winds.

Life on the Oceanside is beautiful, peaceful, and calming when you understand the Sea – its power, jealousy, and fickleness. It’s unpredictably majestic and magical…and it smell grows on you over time.

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An Explosive Adventure on Assateague Island

My family & I just spent another wonderful week on Chincoteague Island & enjoyed the Assateague Island National Seashore. I love it here! Life moves at a slow pace & the native islanders embrace their wildlife with care. It’s truly amazing how much peace and serenity can be found on the Virginia side of Assateague.

Family and friends alike questioned us about why we would make such a long drive just to come to a beach. The trip took us over 16hrs from east Tennessee. The most popular beach destination for most east Tennesseeans is Myrtle Beach (a 6hr drive). Here’s why we drive so far for so long:
1. Commercialization – there is very little on Chincoteague! There are no skyscraper hotels, condos, or timeshare on the beach. There is no boardwalk consisting of stores & restaurants repeating themselves for miles.
2. Chaos – there is none here!
3. The best hotel on the small island is the Best Western where they cook a mean breakfast each morning!
4. I’ve only seen 3 franchise establishments! Ledo’s, McDonald’s, and Sunsation. That’s it! Everything else is mom & pop 🙂
5. It’s clean
6. My husband has no cell phone service (which means he can’t work).
7. The wildlife is abundant & protected.
8. The whole town shuts down by 10pm. There are no worries of loud noises late at night.
9. It’s peaceful
10. There’s no pressure or stress. There’s no crowded beach!

We did experience a tad of excitement two days while at the beach while the bomb squad detonated bombs that appeared on shore on the Maryland side of Assateague. My husband & I discussed what the large booms could be. Later in the evening, we discovered it wasn’t a sonic boom, but bombs!! You can read about it here

What can I say? Adventure tends to follow us 😉

Virginia’s only Island Resort

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Our first family vacation was taken on Virginia’s only Island Resort. It’s a beautiful township where the citizens take pride in their community. This island is small, yet has something to offer everyone (especially adventures). I will break up the resort descriptions into a couple (or more) post, because let’s face it…no one likes to read an article a mile long 🙂

The name of my two favorite Islands are Chincoteague and Assateague Island. A connector bridge takes would be sun-seekers from one Island to the other. image

On the way to this serene escape, we travelled across Virginia. We entered and exited some of the other popular beach get-aways: Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Hampton, etc.

We traded them all for another hour or more of driving to come to Chincoteague Island…and it was so worth it!
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