Friday, November 30, 2012

DAY 100- Sunrise and Never a Sailor…

I got up early in my north Padre Island hotel to watch my first sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.  It was something unique having never saw a sunrise over an ocean area.  Living in the west, I had seen sunsets over the ocean.  It was still dark out when I was putting my shoes on but the sun was rising steadily as I walked out to the beach with my camera.  I wanted to capture the moments.  I wasn’t the only one out there.  There was another gal in a cowboy boots and hat with a fancy camera.  I said hi and she walked away from me.  Okay, maybe not a morning person that talks; oh, well.  I just watched and enjoyed the silence as the sun rose.  It was beautiful and I’m glad that a friend had suggested that I do it.
Photos- Of the sunrise I watched over the Gulf of Mexico.

Later on, I was heading south on Padre Island for the Padre Island National Seashore which is part of the National Park system.  I got to use my annual parks pass again; bonus!  I’m always amazed at how many National Parks or Landmarks that I just stumble across and am able to use this pass.  It’s the best investment that I could have done during this adventure.

I drove to the visitor’s center after showing my annual pass at the entrance gate.  I walked into the visitor’s center and there was a group with a national parks employee going through a display of unique things that people had picked up along the beach.  I joined in with listening.  The coolest thing I thought that was on the display table looked like a piece of petrified wood but it wasn’t.  It was fused sand from a lightning bolt that had struck the beach.  You could see where seashells were captured in the fused sand.  All kinds of things wash up onto the shore of Padre Island because of its circular coastline and the ocean currents there are thing that come from Cuba, the Caribbean and South America; most of the items on the display table were seed pods, nuts, or coral.  

I walked around the visitor’s center a little more.  They had samples of the Kemp turtles that had been almost extinct but with help from programs and local support they’ve been assisted in the protection of their birthing places and releasing them afterwards the numbers are slowly rising.  They had one of the large Kemp turtles on display but I guess that currently they were releasing smaller ones in the early, early mornings at this time of year. 
Photo- Butterflies and flowers on the way to the beach.

I went out towards the beach area.  On the way, I saw a grouping of yellow wild flowers where there were quite a few monarch butterflies landing and flying around.  I stopped and watched for a bit.  While watching I also saw a small sand crab run across the sand and into a hole.  I walked along the beach for a while.  Down a little ways there was a father and son fishing along the beach area.  I watched them for a bit and then continued walking down the beach.  I saw all kinds of birds and a couple of Portuguese-Man-O-Wars that had washed up on shore.  The day before near the hotel beach I had seen a jelly fish washed up on shore. 
Photos- Father and son fishing on the beach and their catch of the day.

I must have walked a couple of miles and decided to turn around.  The father and son were collecting their gear and as I got closer I could see a line full of fish that had been caught.  I commented on their catch and the father said that it was just the first catch of the day.  There was a campsite nearby where I guess they were staying.  I wished him a good day and continued on.  I went into the gift shop and looked around for a bit.  Then, I figured it was time to head north to Corpus Christi for my next planned visit of the day.

I followed the Google directions to the USS Lexington Museum which is in a bay area near downtown Corpus Christi.  The USS Lexington War Ship is an actual warship that has been permanently made into a museum.  I paid my entrance fee and got a token for the parking lot across the street.  I hung out looking at displays in the Hanger Bay #2 area while I waited for the next film to start in about 10 minutes.  There were a couple of restored planes, some airplane motors that were on display; along with some game like things to interact with.  When they opened the theater a few minutes later, I took the 3D glasses and found a seat.
Photo- The outside of the USS Lexington from the shore.

The movie was focused on air races and restored planes.  It had some cool effects with the 3D.  A row back a woman said she thought that the movie would be about ships since we were on a ship.  Her husband nicely told her that it was an air carrier ship and that’s why the movie was about planes.  Oh, she said.  She still sounded a bit disappointed.  I just chuckled a bit.
Photo- Inside the USS Lexington in the Bay #4 area.

I next went on one of the four other tours where you go through parts of the ship.  I did the #2 Tour which was the officers’ quarters, a Pearl Harbor Exhibit, and anchor equipment.  I climbed in and around and up into the upper deck areas of the ship.  It was like chutes and ladders with a bit of a maze thrown in.  I was finding it fun and I looked out at the outside windows as I went along.  Next, I did the #1 Tour which was the flight deck.  I went up and out onto the open area where they had old restore airplanes, anti-aircraft guns, the plank, and the navigation bridge area.  It was all pretty fun and I was having fun going through rounded doorways and up and down the stairs that were like ladders.  I did Tour #3 which was the combat ready rooms, the library, and the Captain’s Cabin.  I was amazed at how much room the Captain of the ship was given.
Photos- Stairs and doorways in the USS Lexington.

Then, I thought I’ll do the last of the tours I hadn’t done which was #4.  This tour was the lower decks where the engine room, sick bay, dental clinic, crew’s galley, a POW Exhibit, and a Chapel was.  I climbed down to the lower deck and started to look at some of the crews small areas where they would sleep.  Yikes, these were rather small and cramped.  I went by the barber’s chair area.  I then started going through some of heating and cooling equipment that was on the ship; that was rather cool because I used to be a secretary in this line of business.  Then it was an exhibit on Pearl Harbor Exhibit.  It was about this time that I really started to feel claustrophobic. 

Next, I walked into the sick room area and I could feel the sweat just dropping down my forehead.  I was starting to have a hard time breathing.  I sat down for a bit and put my head between my legs because I was getting light headed.  Oh no!  I might be leaving something behind in the sick room if I didn’t get out of here soon.  My stomach was starting to act up too.  I started to look for a way out.  Shortly after this I ran into a young married couple that had been in the theater the same time as me.  I asked if they knew where the exit was because I was starting to get claustrophic.   They helped me out and then led me over to one of the wide door bay areas when we reached the main floor.  They were both very sweet and asked if they could help or get me anything.  They encouraged me to sit down.  I sat down and just took large breaths of fresh air.  Well, I guess I’ll never be a sailor!

I left the ship shortly after I managed to feel normal again.   I was back in my car and heading north to Bay City which was a halfway stopping point between Corpus Christi and Galveston, TX.  As I drove north the sun started to set behind me and the moon was starting to rise in front of me.  This moon was HUGE and kind of a yellow orange.  It reminded me of the moon in that late 1980’s movie called Moonstruck in which Cher and Nicholas Cage starred.  It was HUGE and I sometimes found it hard to keep my eye one the road because I was watching the moon.

It was as I got to Bay City that I discovered I didn’t have the paper of which hotel I would be staying at for the night.  Ooops!  I pulled into a McDonald’s hoping that they had free Wi-Fi.  Nope!  I drove around and then saw a Chili’s and I thought I would ask there while I grabbed a quick bite to eat.  I just realized I never ate any lunch and I was surviving on a Bit of Honey bar that I bought at the National Park Visitors Center earlier.  I asked the server if she knew of any places with Wi-Fi nearby.  Nope!  Okay, this was not good. 

I looked through my phone when I remembered that I had called earlier in the week when I made an error on an on-line booking.  I found the number and rather quickly found out which hotel I would be staying at, the address, and the phone number.  I was back in business.  Yeah!

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