Tag Archives: Battleship Texas

2017 – Volunteering at San Jacinto Battlefield and Battleship Texas

battleshiptexas2.jpg We’re just concluding our third winter of volunteering at San Jacinto Battlefield and Battleship Texas.  Honestly, my previous reviews pretty much say it all.  Once again we’ve enjoyed spending most of our volunteer time talking to people about the Texas – the only remaining battleship that served in both WWI and WWII.  We’ve also enjoyed working with other volunteers who, like us, fulltime in RVs.  Some are have come here year after year, so when we return it is a bit of a homecoming.  Others are new friends and it has been fun getting to know them.  The park staff are a pleasure to work with too.  If you haven’t gotten the message: we like doing this and plan on returning next fall for another winter of volunteering.

As has already been described, 2016 was a non-traveling year for us.  Because of that, we’re looking forward to a return to our touring fulltime RV life.  Our stationary circumstances left me with even more time to plan our 2017 Adventure than I would have had otherwise.  We have a potential route planned and several reservations have already been made.  No doubt, we will end up making adjustments, but if you don’t have a plan it’s impossible to change your plans!  Also, we’re headed for some popular areas in the coming months and without reservations we’d end up struggling to find a suitable spot or end up paying premium prices somewhere.

One change we’re making this year is adding a couple of extended, one month stays.  The idea is to spend extra time in interesting areas, save a bit of money by paying monthly rather than weekly or daily rates, and stay in southern states till warmer temperatures arrive in northern states later in the spring.  Time will tell if we like this strategy and will include it in future planning.

We’ve had a good stay at our winter quarters of San Jacinto Battleground and Battleship Texas and we’re looking forward to great days on our 2017 Adventure.

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2016-17 – Ships on the Houston Ship Channel

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It’s over 50 miles from the Galveston sea buoy in the Gulf of Mexico to the turning basin at the far end of the Houston Ship Channel, a journey that will take a ship around 6 hours at the reduced ship channel speeds.

20170109_142029.jpg Our winter volunteering spot at Battleship Texas at San Jacinto Battlefield is at about the 40 mile mark on that journey.  Ships from all over the world travel this waterway.  Many of them are oil tankers and cargo carriers.  There are also occasional car carriers and a variety of other vessels.   Of course, tug boat/barge traffic is non-stop.  The Ship Channel, also known as Buffalo Bayou, isn’t especially beautiful but it is almost always interesting.   Our campsite is very near the ship channel and we can hear the rumble of the tug boats most of the time.  Interestingly, the big ships are quieter than the tugs.  Once in a while the ships blow their low horns.  We’re glad that they don’t do it very often because they are quite loud.  Most of these photos were taken either from the deck of Battleship Texas or from the walkway along the water.  The walkway is a late addition and we’ve enjoyed it very much these past months.

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Smile…You’re on Candid Camera

We were watching the weather on TV yesterday evening and suddenly, without warning, we found ourselves on the screen!  Well, almost, anyway.  Come to find out, there’s an EarthCam on top of San Jacinto Monument pointed our way.  The weather channel was using EarthCam to show what a pretty day it was here.  The camera looks out over the reflecting pool, to Battleship Texas, and to the Houston Ship Channel.  Our RV is parked to the left of all that, nearly lost in the trees, not far from the big electrical transmission tower.   Even though we are pretty much lost in the low resolution and the trees, it feels kind of funny knowing that while we are volunteering at Battleship Texas and San Jacinto Battlefield that we are on camera for the world to see!

Check it out at here.

2016 – Volunteering at Battleship Texas

PHOTO_20150401_185404.jpg I haven’t done any new posts in a while because we are pretty much doing a repeat of last year’s winter volunteering stint at San Jacinto Monument-Battleship Texas State Historical Park in La Porte, Texas. Most everything I wrote last year still applies. The ship looks the same (as should a museum ship!), the staff is pretty much the same, and the other volunteers are the same good people (with the exception of one fine couple who have had to leave the RVing lifestyle). This is a great place to volunteer, at least during the mild Houston winters, and people renew their commitment to return year after year.

While we much prefer the traveling lifestyle, I have to admit that there’s something comforting about returning to the same campsite with all the same neighbors after being strangers pretty much everywhere we’ve been through the majority of the year. Also, we enjoy our two-day-a-week volunteering as we talk to people about Battleship Texas and it’s 102 year history, serving in both World Wars I and II.

We also enjoy being close to family and friends. Sundays are especially a joy as we attend church with my sister and our son and his family. What a blessing it was to see our grandson called up to the front to help the pastor light an Advent candle and to see our granddaughter singing on the church Praise Team!

Meanwhile, these months are our medical months. There have been several doctor’s visits with more yet to come. Jackie and I have both had to change our primary physicians this year. Her change worked out better than mine and I’ll be doing some more doctor shopping in the near future.

While it’s beyond the scope of this blog, I’ll mention that this volunteering time has included my having a major round with my lower back. Frankly, it’s just as well that we aren’t traveling because for a while I couldn’t even bear to ride in a car much less tow the 5th wheel. Apparently, a lower back tweak manifested itself in such a way that I couldn’t bear to sit down. I spent my days either standing up and laying down. The funny thing was that I could spend my workdays on the battleship standing up, doing tours, etc. without a lot of pain. Then, to my dismay I couldn’t sit down without whimpering in pain!

After seeing a couple of doctors who did x-rays, etc. to rule out any fractures or the like I decided to switch over to a highly recommended chiropractor who assured me that the problem wasn’t in my hip where the pain was the worst, but was in my lower back which was manifesting itself in my hip and down my leg. I’m still visiting him three times a week and progress is being made. At least I can drive again and sit down for awhile before the pain reappears.

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Also, I’ll mention that we returned to the Battleship to finish the year and into 2017.  Most of the photos below were taken in the first part of the year, but a few of them were taken in November and December.

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Update: Wrap-up on Volunteering at San Jacinto Monument/Battleship Texas

We’re just finishing up our first volunteering experience: three months at San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas in La Porte, TX.

PHOTO_20150219_162057.jpg Let me start with the not-so-good. This Texas State Historic Park is surrounded by miles of petrochemical industry. There’s a constant “industrial roar” in the background. The various plants test their alarm systems at various times, including one at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday mornings! When the wind is from certain directions the odor of the plants can be oppressive, in fact, one camp host had to abandon their scheduled time here because her asthma was being worsened by all the above. Finally, the Houston Ship Channel is also very close, and while we’ve enjoyed watching all this nearby activity, the sound of tug and ship traffic reminds us a bit of what it might sound like if we had a slow motion freeway just outside our back window.

PHOTO_20150218_181115.jpg While these negatives are real and should be considered by potential volunteers we’ve found that the positives far outweigh the negatives. We’ve enjoyed learning the story of this historic site. We’re literally camped where the Texas army camped in preparation for the historic battle in which Texas won it’s independence in 1836. One of our volunteer efforts was working with a staff member, manning “touch tables” filled with items representative of that era.

100_3785.JPG Much of our time has been spent working aboard the Battleship Texas. This historic ship served in both WWI and WWII – and is one of the few remaining ships to have served both wars. We’ve helped in the ship archives and also served as sort of good-will ambassadors, greeting people and telling them about the ship.

We had fun representing Texas State Parks at the Houston Rodeo, helped operate an archery range for San Jacinto Day, and chauffeured people around on a four wheeler for another special event. The staff has been a joy to work with.

100_3734.JPG Now, if you are ready to sign up, I have both good news and bad news for you. Here’s the bad news, there are a limited number of positions at this facility and people tend to return year after year. They generally have first choice of dates and they come for the winters. Here’s the good news: if you are willing to come in the late spring through early fall, there are generally volunteer opportunities. The weather will be hot and humid, but if you love history and have a reason to want to be in the Houston area, you might want to look into this. It starts with your signing up on this Texas Parks and Wildlife site.  Volunteers park their RV’s in full hookup, 50 amp sites located either on a parking lot by the maintenance building or nearby.

In spite of the negatives, we’ve enjoyed our time at San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas and, yes, we’ve already signed up for next winter.

For now, though, the road is calling and we’re about to begin our 2015 Adventure!

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