Our big activity in Houston was visiting old friends. Pat had a roommate from college, Susan Ashton, whom she hadn’t seen in forty years and we wanted to take advantage of being in the area to see her. Also, after making arrangements to stay at the Marina Bay RV Resort, we discovered that we were only a few miles away from one of Bob’s friends from the National Guard, Jim McCrone.
We arrived on Friday, March 1st and met Sue for dinner that night. We dined at the “Flying Dutchman” on the Kemah Boardwalk. Apparently the Boardwalk is Houston’s answer to the San Antonio Riverwalk. It is a fun place with shops, restaurants, and carnival rides. We had a great visit and are thankful that our RV lifestyle gives us the opportunity to reconnect with people that have moved away from Michigan.
You shouldn’t vacation in Houston without going to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. We weren’t sure we would see anything different than we saw at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, we pleased to see how different they were. The Kennedy Space Center is focused on the launch activity, whereas the Johnson Space Center is focused on astronaut training and operations in space, such as Skylab and the International Space Station. There is a lot to see at the Johnson Space Center and it was a very educational experience.
Jim and his wife, Lois, moved to the Houston area nine years ago. Lois is a counselor and Jim is the Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the suburb of Pasadena. They took us on a tour of the area and we learned a lot about Houston. We continued the history lesson that started at the Alamo in San Antonio by visiting the Texas Independence Monument. This monument celebrates the Battle of San Jacinto where the Texas revolutionary forces under Sam Houston defeated the Mexican dictator, Santa Anna, and won their independence. Later, Jim showed us the Pasadena Emergency Operations Center and told us how the area dealt with emergencies from the petro-chemical industry and hurricanes – obviously a lot of prior planning and coordination are essential. Jim is also a professional historian and over lunches and dinners gave us some insight into local and national history that was interesting and intriguing.
On our last day we drove out to Galveston Island. There is a lot to see in Galveston – Moody Gardens and Aquarium, the Flight Museum, Pleasure Pier, and Seawolf Park. We visited the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum. This is a very unique museum in that it is an actual offshore drilling platform that has been turned into a museum. We learned about the different types of drilling platforms, how oil deposits are discovered, how the well is drilled and then turned into production. During the tragic 2010 BP oil spill from the drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, we heard a lot about offshore oil drilling that we didn’t fully understand. What was reported during that disaster became more clear after this visit.
There were very high winds forecast for the next day so we decided to get on the road earlier than normal. We pulled out of Marina Bay on March 5th at 6:35 am. We arrived at the Walmart where we had originally planned to spend the night by 1:00. We called ahead to make sure we could get into our site a day earlier than planned and after a short nap we finished the trip to Gulfport, MS.