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Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jurassic to Joplin

When I got up this morning, it was grey, overcast, and a little rainy.  It figures that the weather was crappola since I had the day off.  Instead of gluing myself to the computer for the day, I decided to take a trip to Port Arthur, TX.

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I didn’t have very high expectations for this museum located in a not very large city.  It’s not in a very appealing section of town, and is surrounded by vacant decaying buildings in what appears to be an area whose hay days have passed.  As it turned out, I was in for a pleasant surprise!

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The most striking feature of this museum is the huge mural on one wall that is about 150’ long.  It depicts the history of the upper gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana from Jurassic times to the beginning of the first oil boom at the beginning of the last century.  Each of the five sections is supported by further exhibits in front of the mural and behind you.  What made it more enjoyable for me was that I recognized the places where these events took place.  It made a history lesson more personal.

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I knew about ranching and rice farming in the area from encountering cattle drives and waterbirds in the flooded fields, but these exhibits kind of tied it all together for me.

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Next up was the Notable People Gallery.  All of the people displayed were born or grew up in the area.  I certainly didn’t recognize all of them, but I did remember Karen Silkwood.

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Then it was up to the second floor.  One of my favorite things there was the Bender Shell Collection.  I don’t spend much time along beaches like some bloggers do, but I always like looking for shells.  This collection was spectacular.

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Another room contained the Upper Gulf Coast Sports Hall of Fame.  Not being much interested in sports, I kind of blew through this exhibit, and really only recognized two of the people.  The first was Babe Didrickson, but I have plans to visit a museum dedicated to her in Beaumont before I leave.  The other was Bum Phillips.  I recognized the name, but that’s about it.  I did find out how he got the name Bum.  Seems his little sister couldn’t pronounce the word ‘brother’, and it came out bumbler.  Eventually it was shortened to Bum, and the name stuck. 

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As I exited the sports area, one of the volunteers approached me and asked if I’d like to see the crystal.  I tried to tell her that I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she was a bit hard of hearing, so she just said, “Wait here, and I’ll be back in ten minutes with a key.”  Confused smile  When she returned, she opened a door to the Snell Gallery, and cautioned me not to touch anything or lean over the velvet ropes.  I promised I wouldn’t, and entered.  I wondered if she thought I might be a bull in a China shop or something…  Fancy furniture, and vases, and plates, and such.  It was nice, but it was about as interesting to me as a quilting shop would be.  I don't know smile

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What I thought was my last room for the day was the Upper Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame.  The bottom right panel in this collage lists all the famous musicians from this area.  You can see that there are a lot of them.  Once again, I didn’t recognize too many, but who hasn’t heard of Janis Joplin?  I couldn’t get the Juke Box to work, and neither could the hearing challenged volunteer, but there was a wonderful five or six sided exhibit in the middle of the room where you could touch the screen of various computers to hear examples of some of the featured artists singing and playing their kind of music… from jazz to Zydeco. 

Perhaps I should mention that, essentially, I had the entire museum to myself today.  Three other people came in briefly, but I was there for three hours.  With no crowd, I could take my time to absorb what I was seeing in peace and quiet.  There are also a number of other exhibits that I didn’t take pictures of.  All in all, for an old farts entrance fee of only $3.00, it is really a bargain!

As I was beginning to zip up my rain jacket and prepare to leave, I was once again approached by my seemingly newly acquired volunteer friend.  She said, “I’d like you to see one more exhibit.  I’m not supposed to do this, but I’ll let you see the new exhibit that is opening with an official ceremony next Thursday.”  Who am I to reason why??  I mumbled something she didn’t hear, and off we went. 

My opinion is, this is an exhibit geared for kids that depicts sharks from A to Z!  Yep, a painting in almost glow in the dark colors of every imaginable kind of shark in alphabetical order.  For example, the letter ‘S’.  Picture a huge black and white shark laying on top of a brilliant yellow School buS

I thanked the lady for that added experience, but she wasn’t done with me yet.  Disappointed smile  Because I had shown so much interest in the museum, she told me to pick out a free cup in my favorite color.  I chose blue, and am now the happy owner of a plastic water cup with the Museum of the Gulf Coast emblazoned on the outside.  I was finally allowed to escape  leave and return home in the rain before dark!

Seriously, this was one of the best local museums that I’ve ever visited.  For the best (?) experience, I would suggest a visit on a rainy Sunday Super Bowl afternoon in February if at all possible…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

29 comments:

  1. What a great find in the midst of decay and ruin. And to be able to wander without other people there is by far the best way.

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  2. Sounds like you had a more exciting day than the millions sitting home watching the Stupor Bowl. Always nice to find an unexpected gem along the way.

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  3. I love that the most fun can come from the least expected places / things/ times.

    Life is always best when we're in the moment.

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  4. Sounds like a lovely afternoon to me. Your deaf volunteer sounds super to me too, maybe because she is deaf and out doing things, and a little pushy to boot!

    Cheers,
    Jo

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  5. You just never know....it's nice you could take your time and enjoy! Beautiful shells!

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  6. What a great museum and to have it all to yourself.

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  7. Looks like a nice museum and most museums take what ever volunteers they can get..if they can hear or not:)

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  8. I'm glad you enjoyed the museum. I've been in the same position--being held captive by an overly enthusiastic museum volunteer. In fact, I prefer that the museums have a few other visitors just so I don't get latched onto. ;-)

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  9. Thanks for sharing the monuments in the museum. They tell us sweet memories...

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  10. I love to wander through an interesting museum, but not so sure I would want all the personal attention lol!! The shell collection was certainly interesting.

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  11. Sure looks like they packed in a lot of interesting stuff in a small-town museum... what a find!

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  12. Great stuff- all for 3 bucks! We will have to stop there sometime.

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  13. A $1 an hour and a free cup to boot ... cheap entertainment, and you had a good time, too. Sounds like a great afternoon on Super Bowl Sunday.

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  14. The shell collection is very nice as I am into shell collecting...but I must find them myself. That is my favorite thing to do, walk the beach forever looking for shells!!!

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  15. When we were in Port Arthur a few years back, I wanted to visit this museum. Paul let out a huge sigh and pulled in. He hit the jackpot....it was closed for the day. Thanks for the tour. I don't think I need to make a special trip for that one.

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  16. Now THERE is a place we would to visit! What a great museum...and to have it all to yourself (or almost) had to be really nice! If you have never read the book "Texas", by James Michener, I advise it..especially while you are in the state right now. I love anything Michener.

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  17. Great post on this museum. I was laughing all the way as they kept trying to keep you there as their star patron of the day. And what a reward you got. LOL!! But I would like to see the shell collection. Not sure I'll make a special trip but who knows.

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  18. That's funny - she LIKED you! I'll bet they don't get many people spending 3 hours there, and she appreciated it. Besides, what's a volunteer to do when there's no one there?

    Your story about Bum reminded me of something I forget about. My mom is called Bummy by her family. When she was a baby, a family friend said, what a pretty bum - can you imagine doing that??? - and the name stuck. She is still Bummy to my cousins.

    I'm not much of a museum person, I guess. I seldom stop, or maybe I should say I've never stopped, at museums. Good for you - it's a great learning experience and tells you lots of things about the town you're visiting. AND you get a free plastic water glass. :)

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  19. I looked closely at that mural and I swear over by the dinosaur section I saw Rick enjoying his annual snowbird vacation! :c)

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  20. Sounds like a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. You must have made your volunteer's day.
    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
    Colleen
    Traveling with the Longdogs (Blog)
    http://Travelinglongdogs.blogspot.com
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  21. I think that you had a great visit, even the crystal room! The notable people display is a reminder that famous people had to start somewhere, and usually not a famous place.

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  22. HAhaaaa .... oh, Texas... how cute and funny ... I'm not a fan of Port Arthur at all ... never have I stopped there through several drive throughs ... smells too bad... but what fun that you should check out this museum... sounds like a fun day for $3 and blue plastic cup t'boot! hey

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  23. Welllll, that is a diamond found in the rough! ..... not exactly how the saying goes, but that's my saying for tonight. We will be sure to stop there after visiting with you (we hope) as we trek westward. Maybe you can supply us with other gems?!?!

    Oh yes, I finally asked our wait staff tonight was a po boy is and she explained it....now, inquiring minds need to know that place you say makes the best po boys in the Gulf Coast region!

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  24. I love a small museum. Can't blame the over eager staff in those, it must be a long shift when only a handful of people come in all day. Funny though that she thought you needed to see the china and the kids display. Shells looked cool, having not been out to the coast in 13 years I haven't seen anything like that in a long time! Next year we'll probably be spending some time in Maine and I have a few small museums on my list.

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  25. Sometimes those hidden museums can be real gems. I especially love the ones that give me the natural history of an area, like that great Atchafalaya visitor center. Nice to have three whole hours to peruse the good the not so good and the downright silly.

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  26. LOL. . .you were the excitement for the day evidently. . .I have good memories of living in Port Arthur briefly as a child. . .glad you had a good day there.

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  27. That museum is practically the only really nice thing about Port Arthur, and I'm within my rights since I lived there. My daddy's family was neighbor to the boxer in the museum, Morris Corona, when they were kids. I think the Keystone pipeline is supposed to bring more jobs to that area. The refineries used to stink WAY more than they do now. Thank you, EPA.

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  28. Like the small museums and the owl header.

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  29. Nice post.Thanks for sharing this in your blog

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