While staying at Galveston Island State Park, we were alerted (upon trying to extend our stay) that we would not be able to stay at the park on the weekends as the sites were already reserved through the summer. Bummer. What now? We knew of no other park to kill a couple of nights before we could come back to the bayside. As always, our Universe came through. A chat with our neighbor (who happened to be in a similar situation) provided new information about county parks throughout the state and we headed south over 5 (or so) skyway bridges to Quintana Beach County Park.
Once again historical markers on walks near to the park provided information about what was once a bustling port community- swept clean by the hurricane of 1900. We pictured what it must have been like based on the description and talked about what it might be like now had a big storm not turned it into a tiny, sparse vacation getaway. The port is now being used by an enormous liquid natural gas (Freeport LNG) plant. The kids thought the structure of the plant was beautiful. They analyzed the towers and tubes and stacks and thought it could be a brilliant sculpture. It was brilliant to witness this perspective. Wanting to know what this plant was doing, we all went to Google and learned more than we ever needed to know about LNG- way more than we’d ever find had we stopped at the company’s website.
LNG is natural gas in its liquid form. This is especially interesting for us since natural gas drills were being put up all over the DFW metroplex prior to our departure (I wrote a post about it on April 1, 2010 entitled, Eyesores and More). The gas is piped to these plants where it is cooled to -260 degrees F at which point it becomes a liquid. Converting it decreases its volume by a factor of 6 so it is much easier to transport. The plants are located seaside so that the liquid can be transported by enormous tanker ships which we saw consistently going in and out of the port behind our campsite.
Like anything else that is profit-generating on a large scale, LNG propoganda is pervasive. So what are the problems with LNG? According to www.coastaladvocates.com:
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH LNG?
- LNG is misleadingly described as a “clean fuel.” LNG, like oil, is a finite fossil fuel.
Burning it emits CO2 and harmful air pollutants, aggravating global warming and
causing human health problems.
- Importing LNG means increasing U.S. dependence on foreign countries for our
electricity, heating and cooking fuels (like our dependence on foreign oil for
- LNG causes air and water pollution, and harms wildlife and the environment,
starting from the places where the gas is extracted and liquefied, to the coastal
communities where it is delivered, processed and sold.
- If LNG is released by accident or deliberate terrorist attack, it may explode or burn
at extremely high temperatures. LNG accidents have caused serious loss of life and
property around the world, including in the U.S.
Another life lesson for the Parent family (traveling North America in an RV powered by waste vegetable oil). After a little while in Quintana, we noticed breathing difficulties, increased mucus production, and mucus membrane irritation. This may have been attributed to the high chlorination of the park water (we have a drinking water filter but now have been alerted to the gaseous issues of the chlorine coming in through the taps/shower) or to the LNG plant… or both. Though we had a lovely stay beachside here with horseshoes, volleyball, bike riding, etc., we were not sad to leave this little industrial mecca (there are many other industrial plants such as BAE, Dow Chemical, and others quite close by).
We walked/scootered over to the Quintana Nearctic-Neotropical Bird Sanctuary:
We were told by a volunteer at the Sea Center Texas (very cool place!) that the bird sanctuary couldn’t be missed while we were here. Since it was only a block or two distance from our RV, we took at hot afternoon walk. The mosquitoes were horrendous and the birds were nowhere to be found. Sometimes what you don’t see provides as much information as what you do. We talked about where the birds may be (this is a migratory stop) and why this wouldn’t be a great place for them right now (distinct lack of seeds and vegetation necessary to hatch and feed babies). The kids also mentioned the potential air pollution from the LNG plant as a reason this may not be an amenable place or birds to nest…
I mentioned Sea Center Texas- it’s another FREE place! The volunteers were fabulous and gave us so much information. The touch tank was fun, we loved hanging out with the giant grouper, and the walk through the wetlands yielded views of some really interesting birds (including a huge pair of show-off herons) and friendly lizards. We found out that Sadie and I, whilst shelling at Quintana Beach, had actually found a string of egg casings (rare to find) of the dweller of the Texas State Shell (who knew there was a state shell?!)- The Lightning Whelk.
We’ve also started branching out and meeting our RV neighbors. This has been a really exciting experience for us buttoned-up New Englanders gone friendly Texan. While at Quintana, we met LeeAnn and Richard Smith- a lovely couple hailing from just 20 minutes from Quintana. They hopped in their RV and spent a month of their summer at this beach getaway while still going to their regular jobs- like a working vacation! It struck me how similar different people can be. There were so many things that could have created separations for us- age, religion, lifestyles, etc.- and this may have been the most fulfilling aspect of our friendship. We had the ability to have conversations about life, love, raising children, and even religion and lifestyle (!) in whole appreciation for the others’ perspectives. This was big for me and has really opened me up to communicating with our neighbors on the road. It’s become so clear that we only have to be OK with what we do, with our path, and appreciate the paths of others for their own. This may seem simple but similarity is so often the basis for friendship making judgment and persuasion the only means to assimilate new people into our existence. We do not need to find a middle ground but rather a different paradigm altogether for appreciating the lives of others. There is so much to say about this- maybe a new blog post in the future.
LeeAnn and Richard kindly invited us for an afternoon at their gorgeous home. It was a welcome getaway from Quintana- we were starting to feel stuck waiting for the day to drop off our RV at American Greenfuels and head off to the Rethinking Everything Conference! We swam, played pool, watched cartoons, and had some great conversation. I helped LeeAnn to start her own blog and she has really taken off with some deep blog posts to consider.
I know I’m still catching up with these posts but there has been so much thus far in our journey that I can’t skip a bit! Stay tuned…