OUR ALL-DAY JUNKET INTO CORPUS CHRISTI, PART 2: Navigating the USS Lexington Museum


USS Lexington Museum

Corpus Christi, Tx

June 28, 2017

Having browsed the amazing Texas State Aquarium with its amazing marine life, breathtaking decor, lively  dolphins, fascinating wildlife and hands-on, multimedia exhibits, we check it off our list of “places to visit” and step outside where I see the USS Lexington moored, nearby. It looks almost close enough to touch.

“Oh, good,” I say, nudging Jeff. “There’s the ship over there. Let’s just walk.”

He chuckles.

“Think again, babe. It’s farther away than it looks.”

So, after a longer drive than we had expected, we pull into the Lexington parking lot, and hop onto a shuttle that  the admission booth. As we have come to expect, the cost for two senior tickets is short of $13, but, hey, even that price doesn’t seem too steep for peak tourist season on Corpus Christi’s North Beach. And, just as I was eager to visit the aquarium, Jeff has been hankering to see the Lexington Museum.

Upon entrance to the ship, Jeff and I study the map that we picked up at the admission booth and find that the hangar deck is divided into three areas: Bay 1, including the foc’sle and the Joe Jessel 3D Mega Theater, in the bow end of the ship. Bay 2 containing virtual battle stations and a stage. Bay 3, located toward the fantail, encompassing a souvenir shop called “Ship’s Store” and a flight simulator. Both of these areas we find on the starboard, or right side. On the fantail end, or the stern, is the mess deck where we share a cinnamon roll and an iced tea before time for the 3D film at the Joe Jessel 3D Mega Theater for films of the USS Lexington in action during World War II, showing airplanes from all branches of the Armed Services, submarines, and lots of bombs exploding in the ocean. It was spectacular!

Yes, the USS Lexington is now a museum, but let us never forget that it is still an actual U.S. Navy ship in every way,  with stairs at right angles with the floor and portals that can really trip you up if you don’t step lively.  And when I say “you”, I mean me. Especially me. As I hug the rails on the way downstairs, I marvel at the young, agile sailors who once clambered up and down those same stairs, back then. As Jeff and I wander from one section to the next — the chapel, the galleys, the medical and dental bays, the bunks, and the library — my screenwriter’s vision imagines a slapstick-chase scene in which two bumble-brains trip, stumble, and tumble up and down those stairs and over one portal after another as they scramble up and down those narrow death-defying stairs in hot pursuit of each other.

Last, we wander out on the flight deck together to see planes from the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Army on display. As I sit on a bench and rest, Jeff waves at me from the upper decks.

As we straggle off the ship, my last words, “Thank God for the shuttle” come back to bite me as someone tells us that the shuttle has stopped running for the rest of the night. Thankfully, we have only a street to cross before we return to the parking lot and the comfort of our Ford F350 pickup. On our way off the parking lot, Jeff slips the required token into the box, and soon we are on our way back to Aransas Pass by way of Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant where Stephen brings Jeff a frosty beer and me, a satisfying ‘one-and-you’re-done’-sized frozen margarita and zesty enchiladas that satisfy our craving for Mexican food.

Now, on July 31, a little more than a month later, here we are in the country town of Comfort — near the heart of Texas Hill Country.  Although we are heading westward after we leave here, we keep a running list of places we want to return to: The Texas State Aquarium, the USS Lexington Museum, and Pepito’s Restaurant are definitely on our list.

So, loyal readers, what is one of the greatest adventures you have ever taken? Please share it with us! Who knows — we might even see you there, again. We love positive comments, so feel free to leave yours in the “Leave a Reply” box at the end of this post.

Next up: some of our favorite places in the Hill Country. No telling where we, the ‘Vintage Honeymooners’ will wind up, but one thing’s for sure –wherever we go, fun is sure to follow.

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LIVING ON ISLAND TIME, Part 2: “Feelin’ All Right”


English: Tourist shops at Port Aransas, Texas.
English: Tourist shops at Port Aransas, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

06-03-13

6:30 a.m.

As I stepped out on the patio of the Wahoo, one of the cozy beach homes offered by BeeGee’s Coastal Quarters, the sun was staining the sky a soft gold on her way up. Salty breeze caressed my face as I  sipped espresso from my French roast pot and munched a Cheerios bar. Below the  table, Cousin Beeg’s short-haired, orange-and-white cat, Rusty, wove around my legs and meowed. As I twirled his tail, I leaned back and drank in the serenity of the moment.  I came down here to research Port A, but I would have to wait until the sleeping town woke up.

Chill out, Kim. You’re island time, now.

After washing out my coffee pot in the full-sized kitchen, I dressed in white crops, Skechers, and a black tee-shirt from the 2013 DFW Writers Conference, and grabbed my tote bag. Within minutes, mugginess shrink-wrapped  my body. The black tee, I decided, would have to go.

Around nine a.m., I parked at the Islander, a souvenir and beach shop on South Alister Street,  for a  lighter-weight tee in a cooler color.  Seeing their sale on four tees for $20, I went inside and chose a powder-blue tee-shirt with the logo,  “Port Aransas: Feel All Right.”

“I’m also here to research my next mystery, which I intend to set in Port Aransas,” I told the sales person as I offered her my card.

“Oooh, really? Well, come with me,” she said, leading me to a bookshelf and handing me Images of America: Port Aransasby J. Guthrie Ford and Mark Creighton.

According to information appearing on the back cover of the book, aficionados of  Port Aransas and Mustang Island have Dr. Ford to thank for  establishing the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association, and writing the four-volume Port Aransas Historic Series. And hats off to Mark Creighton, a Cornell University graduate, for over 8,000 archived digital images of Port Aransas and Mustang Island.

Recognizing a super source when I see one, I added it to the bill.

After dropping the purchases in my bag and changing into my new shirt in a neighboring restroom, I followed Avenue G to the beach where I shed my Skechers to sink my toes in the sand. It had been too long — January 2009 — since my last beach-fix.  Wet sand and cool water felt heavenly on  tired, sweaty feet!  One thing I have always loved about Texas beaches is that I do not get winded walking on them.  By the time I  walked all the way down to Horace Caldwell Pier and back to my car, I had logged about two miles and sweated off about ten pounds.

Around 10:45, that morning, I returned with face flushed and tummy growling. Time to poll the locals.

“So, where’s your favorite place to eat?”

Avery’s Kitchen,” chimed the Islander staff, almost in unison. They pointed to a blue frame building with white trim, located on the other side of Spanky’s Liquor.  In celebration of the annual SandFest, someone had built a sand castle beside the balcony. The sign outside Avery’s Kitchen read “Keepin’ It Simple.”

“Actually, we’re still serving breakfast, but you’re welcome to wait,” said Meredith, who fixed me up with a tall glass of ice water, a menu, and a copy of the South Jetty, Port A’s newspaper.

“Great! What is the best thing you serve?”

” Breakfast or lunch?”

“Both, really.”

“Well, our egg platters are really popular, particularly the corned-beef hash-and-egg one. For lunch, our hand-breaded fish and chicken-fried steak are good, too.”

My mouth watered. “Is the owner here where I could speak to him?”

“Sure! Just be careful back there. It’s slick.”

When I pushed through the swinging door, owner Avery Hernandez was covering a vat of cole slaw. After i shook his hand and introduced myself, I got him talking about his food.

“We hand-bread all of our own fish. And I make my own corned-beef hash. Basically, we serve comfort food.”.

“Yum! Here’s my card. While I’m here, I might grab some breakfast.”

“Sure,” he said. “In fact, I’d like to buy your dinner.”

As I dug into the corned-beef-and-eggs platter, my mouth told me this was not the  run-of-the-mill canned stuff. No siree-Bob! As Avery himself said, he had cooked the corned beef, chopped it, and mixed in potatoes. It went down smoothly with two eggs over-medium,a homemade biscuit with strawberry jam, and coffee.

Not only was the breakfast blog-worthy, so was lunch. Avery’s fish-and-chips, advertised on a blackboard outside, was $7.95. Having eaten fish and chips  at Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s, I asked Meredith about how Avery fixed it.

” It’s grouper, freshly-caught and hand-breaded.”

The grouper was so tender that it self-destructed in my hand. No “fake” fish, here.  The fries were so well-seasoned that I needed no additional salt.  Chunky cole slaw in a light, not overly-sweet dressing complemented the meal..

I was wiping my mouth and shoving my plate aside when Meredith approached me, again. After pouring more ice water, she pointed to a table where a cake and bowls were set out.

“When you’re ready for dessert, you’re welcome to a complimentary piece of our lemon cake.”

When I finished the square of cake — satisfyingly tart and sweet and just the right portion —  I paid for my meal and waved my thanks.

. “I will be back!”

Still on my agenda, the marina and the Chamber of Commerce. I had a lot of ground to cover in three days.  This was only Day One.