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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OUR ALL-DAY JUNKET INTO CORPUS CHRISTI, Part I: Exploring the Texas State Aquarium


Wednesday, June 28

Ever since we first blew into Corpus Christi on our way home from Port Aransas, we promised each other we would stop to visit the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum, but probably not in the same day.  But, today, we plan to make this outing a double-whammy.  But when I think of writing about both sights in one post, I realize there is too much about each place to cover them, at once. Therefore, I have decided to cover the aquarium,  first.

Earlier, as we were driving into Corpus Christi,  Jeff asked me where I wanted to go, first. My answer was a slam-dunk;”Why, the aquarium, of course.”

When I was little, Daddy would take us to Hotel Breakers on Corpus Christi’s North Beach. Since then, I have always been in love with the ocean, especially the Texas gulf coast and its fish and other marine life. I am rarin’ to roam the museum to my heart’s content, in spite of its pricey admission: $32.50 per senior, or $65.90, plus taxes, for the two of us. As we stagger through the front door after a near-heart attack at the ticket booth, we remind each other that, although the admission price is steep, it does cover all activities in the building and, if we don’t catch all of it, we can return with our ticket later in the day and pay no additional charge.

Our first “handshake” with the aquarium is a girl handing us a map. After thanking her, we veer left, starting with the first section, the “Gulf of Mexico”. Pixaresque 3D displays with fish drifting  as if they are swimming in their sleep have me snapping photos non-stop on my iPhone.  At one point, a red snapper glares at me for eating his kinfolk at Landry’s Seafood Restaurant, two days earlier.  Besides for 3D displays spectacular enough to make Walt Disney gasp from his grave, this aquarium offers interactive displays with docents to educate and monitor us. At one, I touch a starfish, expecting it to be hard, as it would be if I found it washed up on the shore. Instead, the living version of it feels spongy.. The highlight of these  hands-on exhibits is a tank with live, white jellyfish bobbing in the water.  People young and old are daring to touch them, as directed by a guide assuring  them that the white “bell” at the top, cannot hurt us.

At first, I back away.

“The top cannot sting you,” the guide emphasizes. ” Just touch it gently, like this, back and forth on the top,” he says, demonstrating as he talks.

“Go ahead, babe,” says Jeff, whipping his phone from his holster. “I’ll  take a picture of you doing it.”

” One of these rascals stung me when I was a kid. I’m not touching it. No sirree-bob!”

Just then, a  little girl who doesn’t appear to be more than five years old, plunges her tiny  hand into the water and — plink! just like that — touches its pulsating bell-shaped top.

Well, now, that does it, I’m thinking, as I watch her. Even though one of these critters  stung me when I was her age, that’s where it stops. I will not be outdone by a kid. So I point to Jeff’s phone.

“Okay, boy, we’re on. Pull up that camera.” I tell him, as I pretend to roll up my sleeves. So he pans in on what is sure to be a fight to the finish between Mr. Jellyfish and me as I plunge my hand into the water and swipe my finger across the top of the jiggly creature in hit-and-run fashion.

Ploop!  Done. I’m good. Now show me to the gift shop. I’ve gotta have a tee-shirt that boasts my bravery for the world to see.

In the same area as the jellyfish, we see other tentacled creatures: squid and octopi. As I look at them, I remember my last calamari.

In yet another area, “Caribbean Journey”, we meet the Lionfish, who resembles a fishy version of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz with its whiskers going every which way. It happens to be the same kind of fish that recently bit one of our granddaughters.

I am the King. The Boss,” it snarls as it patrols the water. “Nobody. Messes. With. Me.”

“You so-and-so,” I growl,  staring it down. “Bite our Sydney, again, and you’re ‘dinner‘.”

Soon, we have seen everything there is to see inside and are pretty doggone hungry, so we stop in at the Shoreline Grill, a cafeteria-style cafe that offers burgers, hot dogs, pizza slices, and wraps. We plop a spinach-and-chicken wrap and an orange Gatorade onto our tray, pay the outrageous sum of $9.12 for it, and grab a table where we watch the most fascinating species:  people.

When we’ve devoured the last of our wraps, we amble outside to the  HEB “Splash Park” where kiddos of almost all ages slide and splash around on a watery surface. We pass “Dolphin Bay” where playful dolphins try to outdo each other, and stop to snap pictures of the stingrays at “Feed the Rays”, all of which we breezed past on the way to  “You ‘Otter’ Know This” where we listen to another presentation about otters from both fresh and salt water. When she finishes, it’s time for  “Wild Flight Theater” where staff introduce us to whiskered owls, parrots, turkey buzzards, and even African cats.

As much as we have seen, today, there is so much more that we did not get to see, namely the 4D “Shark” movie, sponsored by What-a-burger. Jeff and I promise each other that we will come back, the next time we’re on the coast. For now, we’re already worn out with one more sight to see: USS Lexington.

So, esteemed readers, what are some noteworthy sights that you recommend seeing, and where are they? I’d love to hear from you! Please type your comments in the box appearing below this post.

Jeff and I have only a few days left on the Coast and are looking for our next place to land. Coming soon at a Smartphone, tablet, or laptop near you: our jaunt to the USS Lexington, next to the aquarium. After that, who knows where we crazy “VintageNewlyweds” will turn up, next.

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