It’s already time to go back to work. It seems like I just got off!
Yes, I did have a couple of weeks at home. Tomorrow would have been 3 weeks. WOW! It sure flew by. 🙂
I have been pretty busy this time home. I went up to Houston a couple of times. I went to the Houston Rodeo (yeehaw!). Only my 2nd time in all the years I’ve been here. It was fun, I watched the barrel racing and the mutton busting. I tried the fried Snickers ice cream sundae (yummy). Took TONS of pictures. 🙂
I was hoping to meet a friend who was volunteering at the Wine Garden. I did actually meet her, but she was pretty busy by that time and I was on my way out. I was on the way to a meeting with the Sail La Vie sailing club I belong to (check out my post on last Saturdays sail).
That was an interesting meeting. 😉
I spent the night up there in Houston. I had planned to go to the zoo in the morning since the weather looked nice. Apparently everybody else in town had the same idea. I couldn’t get into a parking lot anywhere within a half mile.
I decided to try something else instead. I decided to check out the Houston Maritime Museum. It was actually pretty close to where I spent the night and the Zoo but I drove around for a while looking for it.
I finally found it and was glad I did. Of course, yes, I am always interested in a good maritime museum. 😉
This one didn’t look like much from outside, or even when you first walked in. But the more you wandered around, the more it opened up. There was something interesting to see around every corner.
The Houston Maritime Museum was founded by James L. Manzolillo (merchant mariner and cruise ship lecturer), and opened to the public in 2000. Since then, it’s worked to educate the public about maritime history and the continued importance of the maritime industry to Houston and the State of Texas.
I enjoyed exploring rooms full of models recreating everything from aircraft carriers (including tiny little airplanes on deck) to Liberty ships to semi submersible drilling rigs to the USS Constitution and famous ships of the age of exploration.
The museum counts Master Modeler and restoration expert Lorena Alvarez as a valued member of the team. Her expertise shows! The time and effort that goes into building even one of those models is just unbelievable and they had dozens of models!
They had an excellent collection of navigation equipment: sextants, astrolabes, starfinders, compasses, barometers and barographs, etc.
They had a nice display of ships (and other things) in bottles. I still don’t really know how they get all that done, but it looks like a good project to work on if you don’t have a blog or another hobby to keep you busy at sea. 🙂
They had a mock up of a ships conning station with the ships wheel, compass and engine order telegraph.
They had a room covering war ships and it had a pretty good exhibit on how the merchant marine functioned during war time. Convoys and Liberty ships, sinkings, explosions and other disasters, navy escorts, etc.
They had a room with memorabilia from the old cargo liners and another display of things relating to the passenger liners “Titanic”, “Olympic”, “Britannia” and the SS United States (still one of the fastest ships ever!).
They had a room to tell the history of the Port of Houston. It did a pretty good job of explaining how important the Port was and still is to Houston. How the founders built up Buffalo Bayou and brought cotton and sugar to/from Allens Landing and all up and down the Bayou. Those old photos were really fascinating!
There was another room full of really interesting stuff from the oilfield. There was a painting and write up on Howard Hughes’ (spy ship) Glomar Explorer. There were models of drillships, floating production facilities and semi submersibles. There was a nice little section on whaling (not much of that going on in Houston). 😉
They even had a room just for the kids to learn about maritime stuff. The day I was there, it was still a work in progress. They had costumes for the kids to dress up in and have fun pretending to be ships captains, pirates, mermaids, engineers, etc. 🙂
One of the staff was working on installing a cushion for the floor in the kids room and I started talking to her about the museum. Turns out she was the Director of Operations so I got a really good person to talk to and answer all of my questions.
My biggest one was: why in the world was the Maritime Museum located in such an out of the way place and not nearer to the Ship Channel where people would expect it to be? Turns out, they are in the process of building a new place right over there and it will be opening in 2014 for the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Houston Ship Channel.
That will be a good move for the Museum, for the Port of Houston and for the general public. It should be easier to find and they will have a partnership with the M/V Sam Houston (which gives free tours of the ship channel), that should help both parties.
That tour is a very interesting thing to do too, especially if the weather is nice. Free boat ride! Woot Woot!!
It really is amazing all the things that go on in our own backyards and most people have no idea. The maritime industry is one of those things that I think more people would be interested in if they only knew about it. I think the Houston Maritime Museum will be a good place to go to learn more about it and I hope more people will take advantage of the opportunity. 🙂