Sunday, August 18, 2019

Road Trip!

Sorry for the late posting.  As you may know, in retired life, there are only two days in the week.  Sunday and NotSunday.  This being Sunday I decided to sleep in a little and...Since Sarge left me in charge...Sue me!

So there I was*.....Working feverishly on my computer a couple of weeks ago (Striving to achieve the next level in Solitaire, if you must know) when Mrs J walks in to the room.

"juvat, I want to go somewhere."

"Ok, Honey, where? The grocery store?"

"No, I want to go on a road trip."

See why I love this Lady?

I immediately begin to rummage through my brain on possibilities.  Unvisited Texas Frontier Forts are starting to get beyond the one day out and back range that we've employed on prior excursions.  I rack my brain for a few days trying to think of things we, she, and I might enjoy visiting.

I make a suggestion, and she says "No...I want to go somewhere for a few days."

Ah-ha! Now that opens up some possibilities.  I know where I'd like to go, just got to figure out her desires.

Another couple of days pass and she comes in and asks where we're going.  As the Travel Agent, she's going to make the hotel reservations.   I hem and haw a bit and she says "Didn't you say you wanted to visit the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola?"

I plot out the trip and realize that the route passes by a few things I've always really wanted to stop and see, but...Time...Requirement to be somewhere...Things...Excuses...

So.  I swing for the moon and propose this trip with a bit of trepidation.


She says "Sounds like fun!"

Now you see why I
REALLY love this Lady!

I plot out the itinerary and she makes the reservations.  Little Juvat is a Hilton Honors Diamond level, but needed 5 more nights before the end of the month to retain that status, so gave us his info.  First night was Baton Rouge, but we arrived too late to visit the USS Kidd (Thanks Houston).  We stayed at the Tru by Hilton. The best description I can think of is Millennial Modern Minimalist.  I think the architect studied under Stalin.  No closet, just hooks on the wall, that sort of thing.  But Dinner at Parrains was fabulous.

The next day we're off to Mobile and the USS Alabama.  Stayed at the Hampton Inn downtown.  Very nice hotel, highly recommended.  Had a very late lunch at the Royal Scam, and called it a day.  Touristing, while
the thermometer reads 102° and the heat index is 112, takes a lot out of you.

Day three, we're in Pensacola, again at a Hampton.  OK, not great.  Dinner at a chain steak house, again OK not great.  The museum was/is fabulous, quality of the exhibits is every bit as good as Dayton, if not as numerous.

Day 4 we drive back to Baytown stopping at the USS Kidd on the way.  Texas has several interstates where the speed limit is 75+.  Suffice it to say, Beaumont to Baytown should NOT be one of them. 80MPH and still being passed by 18 wheelers is not fun.  Again we stay at a Hampton.  Again, OK, not great.  Dinner was at Johnny Carino's.  Never been to one before, now I know why they're going out of business.

Next morning, we visit the USS Texas.
Source
 The Ship doesn't open until 10AM and it's already in the high 90's. But at least it's humid.

I spend a bit of time driving around looking for a place to park...Like a Texan.
As opposed to parking like a "Not a Texan".
Texan's in the foreground, Not a Texan's in the background.

They will be uncomfortable when they return to their vehicles.  Just sayin'

STxAR had asked a while ago what was going to happen to her.  I spoke with a Park Ranger about that.  On September 1st, ownership is being transferred from Texas Parks and Wildlife to the Texas Historical Commission.  They will be moving her to a dry dock for repairs.  I'm no expert, but she doesn't look very good for a 100+ year old lady.  There's talk of putting her into a dry berth on return, but the Ranger said that there's no guarantee that will come to fruition.

Which would be a shame.

Spent about 3 hours aboard and then headed back to Rancho Juvat.

Pictures and details will follow, but thought I'd give Sarge a chance to recover from "hooting with the owls." 


* SJC

37 comments:

  1. That sounds like a great trip, and I'm looking forward to the photos.

    Both the Texas, and the Olympia here in Philly, are driven by reciprocating steam engines as that was the last word in modern ship propulsion when they were built.

    It seems that the Texas is in the same poor condition as our ship memorials here in Philly.
    The Olympia is a good bit older than the Texas and is frankly, in poor shape.

    I would like to keep my blood pressure within safe limits, so I won't go on my usual rant about the staggering amount of money wasted by the government on utterly stupid stuff while our military heritage slowly turns to rust. (I didn't succeed in my blood pressure goal)

    I clicked on the source link for the beautiful photo of the Texas in the mist, and found she is going to get a 35 million dollar restoration and drydock period. That helped my blood pressure to drop a good bit.

    A good post, a great trip, and a promise of more. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks. Gonna start writing tomorrow's post which will star 3 BB's we "visited". Stay tuned, same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel. (99% of Sarge's followers will get that.)

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    2. 35 mill goes quickly when renovating old steel. Let us pray it is enough. USS Texas has served this nation long and proud.

      As to the USS Olympia? When was the last time you saw a national news story about her? I wasn't even aware until a few years ago and stumbled across a blog article somewhere that she still existed. Almost like those in power want us to not know about her. Grrrrrrrr....

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    3. It's actually 50 mil (as of a year or so ago) to fix and 30 mil to scrap, So, 20 mil difference, should be easy. Heck, just add a penny a foot to the pipeline coming through our county. For the Chilrun!

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  2. I guess I'm an oddity, but I think they should still be seaworthy. I figure there are enough strange folks out there that wouldn't mind paying a few bills to ride the waves on the Texas. You don't have to travel back to France and shell the beach, but easing out 20 miles or so into the gulf and putting a few quarters in a machine to get some linked .50 to shoot at the waves would be fun.

    Maybe have a shellback themed weekend where the tourists can relive the joy of crossing the equator.... Just spit-balling here.

    I'm with John, we should treat these memorials better.

    I'd like to retire to a life of luxury, but I don't think that is in the cards. I figure I'll be lucky to get a taco once a week with the way things are looking... Thanks for the vicarious thrills. I DO appreciate it.

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    1. I agree. I think there are still quite a few places where having a Battleship steam up and train main batteries at someone can have an effect. A lot of Tin Pot Dictators with shorelines out there making trouble. I know, believe me I know. Money! I don't know how much 9 x 16" rounds cost, (I'm betting it's less than a sortie of an F-35) but them landing in one's front yard sends a message even the dumbest sheep herder understands.

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    2. A thousand or so per round. And they're easy to make. But the Navy has sold all the surplus barrels, and all the stored rounds, so any chance of shooting them has gone.

      Which is a shame. As those were the most powerful and accurate big naval rifles ever made by any country.

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    3. Yet we're (ok..Sarge) is designing new rifles for the new ships.

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  3. Good timing to see the Texas, just getting under the wire there. Seconding John, looking forward to more of this excursion juvat, Mrs. J gets a thunbs up for inspiring this road trip.

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    1. I didn't know about the 1 Sept deadline prior to that day, all I knew was it was this year, so, yes, I'm glad we went when we did.

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  4. Most excellent! Love the photo of USS Texas!

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    1. That IS a nice picture isn't it. Mine aren't quite so artistic. As you'll see.

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  5. I hope that the drydock her comment wasn't just something to say to tourists. The last time Texas went to drydock for repairs, it was reported that there was only one facility that could handle a ship the size of the Texas. And that yard was closed a few years after the Texas returned to San Jacinto.

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    1. homebru. There is a PDF link on this page, and the link has more information. As you said, there isn't a drydock in the state that is big enough for her.
      There are drydocks that can easily accommodate her, but the further you have to tow her, the more cost and the more risk.
      https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/uss-texas-is-going-to-drydock.762932/
      More about her.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Texas_(BB-35)
      And some information about her main engines.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdGo-54bknM




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    2. I didn't realize that was the case, but the Ranger did mention that the Dry Dock repairs was a bit iffy. I thought she was talking about Money and whether the old girl would stay together long enough to get there. Which, as John said, is mor problematic the further you go.

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    3. John, That first link you posted is where the picture came from. It also mentions something else I didn't realize. It would take about $50Mil to bring her back up to specs while scrapping her would take more than $30mil. While the difference is a lot of money for you and I, that's chump change to the State. Now, if the Texas Legislature would just correct their collective cranial-rectal insertion....

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    4. Quit wasting money on Austin and that would save your state beucoup levels of cash... Plus, well, Austin would wither on the vine...

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    5. Yeah, Austin just passed a law that said homeless folks can camp anywhere they want in town except on the steps of the capitol. Typical.

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  6. Aw man...wish you'd come through New Orleans proper. I coulda showed you and the Mrs. a real good time. Plus the Louisiana National Guard Museum and Chalmette Battlefield on top of the WW2 museum...and did I mention food and music galore? Now you just gotta come back.

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    1. I thought about that Murph, but you went incommunicado for quite a while. So I couldn't coordinate it. Started to get worried (a little), but glad you're back in bidness. But...that sounds like a good reason for a....Road Trip!

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    2. Now that he (Murphy) is back from exile, you two need to get together. And make sure to document it on each other's blogs. For posterity, of course.

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    3. We've got a few Familial trips planned for the remainder of this year, maybe sometime in the spring. Sarge has my contact info. We're pretty flexible, so if you get free time...

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  7. They just built a Tru hotel across the street from my office. Watching them build it, the cheapness and tininess was on full display.

    One of their primary design ideas was that, because TVs are flat and not bulky nowadays, they could make every room two feet narrower.

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    1. Yeah, that stay was a test case for Mrs J as we had never stayed in one before. Therefore, she couldn't advise clients on whether or not to stay there (NOT! is now the answer). The difference between that night and the stay in Mobile was $10 in cost and night and day in comfort.

      Suffice it to say...We won't be doing that again.

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  8. When I visited the USS Alabama years and years ago, I finally got to see an F-84G in real life. Even asked the docent if I could get close and touch it, which got weird looks until I explained that my dad flew them... Very cool experience.

    Subtle hint. Ship crawling is to be done NOT in summer-like temperatures...

    As to cruising I-10 for too long, used to drive I-10 from Lake City, FL to Gulfport and back once a year. It's bad when you realize you spend most of your time in Florida (seriously....) Last two times we did that we broke it up into one day there and 2 days back (being bog tired from a week of medieval miscellaneousness does tend to wear on one's body.)

    Can't wait for the full review, but I'll have to, won't I?

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    1. Just finished first draft of tomorrow's post. I think you'll like it. The F-84 is still there although it and the 105 are in pretty poor shape. The museum is still recovering from Katrina. It wasn't the hurricane itself it was all the debris in the water that kept banging against them. Got that from the docent also. He said they would be repaired, just time and money needed. More on that aspect of the trip shortly.

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    2. Katrina did far more damage to property east of the Mississippi, pushing up the Pearl River almost up to Hattisburg, and thrashed Mobile Bay pretty hard.

      But because those areas were hard to get news crews to, well...

      Thanks for telling me the -G will eventually get fixed.

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    3. As far as I could tell, Mobile cleaned up nicely. We were right down in City Center not more than a few hundred yards from the bay and I couldn't find any indication of the Hurricane. In face, when we walked outside of the inside part of the Aviation portion of the Museum and saw the Thud, I thought she'd been brought there with battle damage and that was what I asked the docent about. I had noticed a couple of Inert (I'm assuming, but probably validly) 16" shells from the Alabama chained to her landing gear. That was to hold her in place. I'll have pictures next week. The F-84 was around the backside of a building, so I only caught a glance of her from the deck of the USS Drum. They (the park and administration) seemed to have a better handle on funds and maintenance than USS Texas did. Possibly because USS Alabama has an exit off I-10. USS Texas takes a bit of navigation to get to.

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  9. Had to do some quick math before I realized your 100 year old USS Texas is not the one I rode to Hawaii back in '87. CGN-39 vice BB-35. Plenty of forts, plenty of ship museums out there, so I'm looking forward to more posts. Your point about the preservation and transfer from Texas Parks to the Historical Commission gave me a slight worry. As all these ships age, the cost of maintaining them might grow beyond what the public's interest is willing to pay for, either via taxes or admission. Sounds like "ok" is all you get out of those Hamptons. I recommend upgrading to Marriott. Never been in one that's just ok.

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    1. Did not know there was a newer USS Texas even though she is no more also. Your point is well taken, but I again refer to the net cost of rehab $20 mil. $30 mil is going to get spent one way or another. If the remaining 20 gets spent and brings her back up to speed and in a dry berth, I would think the regular upkeep might be manageable. But...I'm not an expert.

      The Hampton in Mobile was very nice, one of the best I've seen across a wide spectrum of hotels. The others didn't have anything wrong with them, just not as nice. Course that might be a reaction to the Tru experience the first night and a very nice experience the second, so average a 5 and a 0 and you come out with 2.5.

      Little J's membership drove the hotel chain choice. IOW, we sucked it up and endured a 5 day road trip just for him. RIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTTT!!!

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    2. Ahh yes, the "loyalty" program that one gets locked into due to the points. As for the Texas, there's yet another one, but it looks the same underway as the current USS Louisiana you referred to in Monday's post.

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    3. re: hotels, I traveled so much for a while that I was top level in both Marriott and Hilton programs. Both are generally nice hotels, both chains have some inconsistencies in their various brands and depending on the age of the particular property and its location. I'm sure Little J was appreciative of getting him over the hump to Diamond. The amount of points required to get free nights is lower with Marriott than with Hilton, so you get more bang for your buck with Marriott, in general.

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    4. Tuna,
      I did not know that, thanks. It wasn't til the bottom of the second page of Google returns that I found mention of her. And you're right, she and Louisiana look exactly the same underway. ;-)

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    5. Tom,
      I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the info.

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    6. Marriott keeps changing their loyalty program though. Now hotels will vary on their points required for a free night. It's a constantly sliding scale, depending on demand, how often people request to use points, vacancy rate, time of year, etc.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)