October 31, 2010

Beaumont, Texas Part 2

While visiting Downtown Beaumont, we could see broken windows remaining in some of the buildings as a reminder of Hurricanes Rita and Ike.

Next, we visited the Texas Energy Museum where they had just had Dinosaur Day the day before.

This interactive movie takes you from the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Beaumont, the same route ships carrying barrels of oil take.

Since it was the Energy of Museum and the State of Texas, there were obviously a lot of old oil and gas artifacts.

This tank wagon was used to deliver 500 gallons of kerosene from 1910 to 1926.
This pump was from a time when Regular meant LEADED, not UNleaded.

Driving around Beaumont, foundations can be found where houses stood prior to the hurricanes.
Many houses have still not been repaired and reinhabited.
Alfred E. Neuman is Beaumont, Texas' Muffler Man.
The gusher at Spindletop, discovered in 1901, was the first significant oil discovery along the Gulf Coast.
We visited the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum to learn some more about Spindletop's history.
The living history museum contains over a dozen reproductions of historical buildings from the era of Spindletop's boom.
The first company to drill on Spindletop was the Gladys City Oil, Gas & Manufacturing Company, named after a little girl named Gladys Bingham.
Gladys received two shares of the company in 1901 which she later sold for over $250,000. That was in early 20th century dollars!
The museum was hit by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and closed for about two years for repairs.
For more pictures, click here pictures 75-166.

To be continued...

Beaumont, Texas Part 1

We next spent two nights at Gulf Coast RV Resort in Beaumont, Texas. This rv site was probably the most spacious of our trip, as well as having the most conveniently-located hook-ups for electricity, water and sewer.

The park came complete with its own greeter kitty workamper.

Each morning the park invites all its guests to a free continental breakfast featuring Texas-shaped waffles hot off the grill.

This War Memorial, dedicated to all Beaumont citizens who have defended the country from 1776 through today, can be found at the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Park.
The Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum provides vast information about the woman considered to be one of the greatest female athletes of all time.
Babe achieved outstanding success in golf and basketball, as well as track and field. She also made many of her golfing outfits, as she was also an excellent seamstress.
She was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 42 and succumbed to the disease three years later. Her gravestone bears a well-known inspirational cliche.

Her story was told in the 1975 movie, Babe, starring Susan Clark and Alex Karras, also known for their starring roles in the 1980's sitcom Webster.

This large propeller can be found at the entrance to the Port of Beaumont, the busiest military port in the United States.

The Exxon Mobil plant near downtown Beaumont belches out some smoke. By the way, don't be fooled by the Exxon Mobil Visitor Center located here. The name says "Visitor Center" but actually means "Out of Town Employee Visitor Center".

Beaumont boasts the World's 3rd Largest Fire Hydrant which was a focal point for this year's DOG-tober Fest & Fire Safety Festival.

Beaumont also has the only Thomas Edison Museum west of the Mississippi. Unfortunately, it is not open on the weekends.

Downtown Beaumont is the setting for the historic Crockett Street Entertainment District.
This stone sits at the former site of the house of Noah Tevis.
Two buildings with a lot of history are the Jefferson Theatre and Hotel Beaumont.
The first drive-in restaurant to open in the United States was Kirby's Pig Stand in Dallas, Texas. It opened in 1921. This location in Beaumont is Pig Stand No. 41. Freebie newspapers located inside the door place its closing date as early 2006, shortly after Beaumont was hit by Hurricane Ike.
The canopies for the cars are retro and space-age all at once.
For more pictures, click here pictures 1-74.

To be continued...

October 28, 2010

Overnight Stays in Sierra Blanca & Luling, Texas

Driving in Texas, travelers should always be on the lookout for dust storms and smashed bugs on their windshields.

Texas is known for its big things, such as this super-sized roadrunner found at an I-10 rest stop.

Our first overnight in Texas was spent at Vista RV Park in Sierra Blanca, which means "White Mountain Range." The owners serve up some good Mexican and American food at the Diamondback Restaurant on-site.
This stage coach stop replica was built from the actual stone of the Tunis Stage Coach Stop which operated in 1879 and 1880.
Marlon's co-pilot is guilty of sleeping and riding.
Our second overnight in Texas was at Riverbend RV Park in Luling, Texas, which was once known as "the toughest town in Texas".
After two long days of driving, everyone was tired.
For more pictures, click here .

To be continued...

October 27, 2010

Biosphere 2, A Closed-System Study, Oracle, Arizona

Today we visited Biosphere 2 located in Oracle, Arizona.

Biosphere 2 was built to be an artificial, materially-closed ecological system.

The building covers 3.15 acres and in the early 1990's was used to explore the complex web of interactions within life systems.

Named after Planet Earth, which is Biosphere 1, the facility allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth.

Two closed missions were undertaken in Biosphere 2. The first lasted two years starting September 26, 1991 with a crew of four men and four women making Biosphere 2 their home. The second mission lasted six months in 1994 with five men and two women.

Passing the kitchen and dining area, we venture into the crew's living quarters.

Each crew member had their own two-story apartment with living room and bedroom while sharing a bathroom with one other crew member.
Three crew members from the first mission...

Here we are walking through an airlock into one of Biosphere 2's biomes.

Biosphere 2's ocean has one million gallons of water and its own coral reef.

The temperature and climate of each of Biosphere 2's biomes can be changed in just a matter of minutes.

The guided tour takes visitors through the building's various biomes and underneath the structure to see some of the mechanics of the facility. Here we are in the Upper Savanna Basement.
In order to view the Iron Lung, you must walk through this tunnel.
Inside one of Biosphere 2's Iron Lungs, visitors get an understanding of the danger of implosion in a closed system. The membrane hanging from the ceiling falls and rises as needed to equalize the pressure within Biosphere 2.
The energy plant of Biosphere 2...
Doug stands in one of the forests.
Here are a couple exterior shots of Biosphere 2.

Click here for a brief video of Biosphere 2 found on YouTube. Many others can also be found.

Here is a shot of a cactus.
For more pictures, click here .

To be continued...