THE IDLE AMERICAN: Champions on parade

Published 6:25 am Saturday, November 11, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


Others may choose to “paint the town red,” but not Houston. There, they lean heavily toward another hue. In the bayou city, orange paint is in high demand. Since their Astros won the World Series, some humans–as well as a few animals–sport dyed orange hair. And, the city’s nighttime glow seems Sunkist.

We were in H-Town on parade day, when the Astros waved from firetrucks to an estimated half-million fans jamming the streets to honor their heroes’ first-ever world championship. We viewed it on our hotel TV, noting “all things orange” as a common theme.

Except for the parade and an unusual convention in Galveston, we’d have motored down to the cruise port. However, Galveston–a city of some 50,000–was engulfed by the nation’s largest bike rally, and I don’t mean Schwinn. The annual four-day event attracts some 250,000 motorcyclists; there was no room at any inn. Such were the rates that at choice hotels, the price of a night’s sleep was equal to half of our fare for two on a five-night cruise. The former offered no free breakfasts. The cruise, however, featured 15 meals and on-board entertainment at no additional charge, not to mention a visit to beautiful Caribbean waters.

This is not to say there wasn’t “free” entertainment in Galveston. The historic city is replete with many points of interest. Plus, folks into “people watching” could pretty much see whatever, particularly if they were interested in the ‘cycles, which abounded in all sizes and types. Some were painted in flaming orange, and, predictably, the paint seemed fresh. Baseballs hanging from handlebars were another giveaway.

With six bikers to every Galveston resident, it’s little wonder that conversations occurred mostly indoors for 100 hours or so. “Vroom-vrooms” echoed throughout the city, and out to sea.

Galvestonians feel, in general, that the cyclists are a thoughtful, law-abiding and courteous group of conventioneers who are welcomed back each year. After we boarded Carnival’s Valor, we wondered how the departing vessel’s whistle could be heard above all the “vroom-vrooms.”

Maybe it was orchestrated, but there seemed to be a mass silencing of the cycles as the ship’s whistle signaled our departure

Cruising, we’ve long believed, provides a respite; most “land-lubbing” concerns are left behind. We learned on this cruise, however, that one does well to remember “what day it is.”

For example, we forgot to “fall back” from daylight saving time. We filled out our “breakfast card” menu, asking for 8:30 a.m. room service delivery on Sunday.

At 9:20, my body ached for coffee, and I thought I’d caught Carnival in a minor mistake. (After 20 years of cruising, we’ve noted few miscues, and even those have been miniscule.) Just as I called room service to complain that our breakfast was an hour late, there was a knock at the door. The knock meant, of course, that our ON TIME breakfast had arrived.

There is much to be said for arriving a day early at cruise ports. It’s simply the “leisurely thing” to do. For Galveston–already the nation’s fourth-busiest cruise port–more than 1,000,000 visitors will board cruise ships in 2018. Folks who are interested in economizing might consider Houston for lodging the night before boarding. Galveston is but one hour away by freeway, and parking/luggage checking/boarding are easily done. This trip, Houston hotels seemed generally unaffected by the motorcyclists’ convention. We “Pricelined” the Houston North Hyatt-Regency, a wonderful four-star hotel, for $49, a figure perhaps one-sixth of the tab at a comparable hostelry in Galveston.

Walking the deck after dinner, my wife and I enjoyed the beautiful November evening. The temperature was in the low 70s, and there was a gentle breeze.

About 50 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, we glanced back toward Houston. Brenda and I are pretty sure we saw an “orange glow” never before seen in the City of Champions


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook, don newbury.