The plan had been to visit the “hill country” on our way back to Houston but since nothing is ever set in stone we headed in the opposite direction. Doc and I had decided that we wanted to see the Gulf coast and so we packed up the car and drove the 2 hours to Corpus Christi where we toured the USS Lexington, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a museum. The Lexington sits on a beautiful white sand beach. I was interested to see the carrier in general. Doc wanted to see it in depth. We spent the day wandering from area to area. I spent a lot of time looking at the ship’s construction and staring out to sea as I waited for Doc who was checking out each and every display and reading all the informational boards. The self guiding tour had us climbing ladders from deck to deck and following not-always-so-easy-to-find directional arrows that were stuck on walls and behind doors.
By the time we entered the final area I had had my share of ladders and war ship displays, I left John below deck to take his time and I decided to head upstairs to the gift shop and cafe. As I followed the arrows toward the exit, I walked through the most interesting parts of the ship–the living quarters, a dentist’s office, the barbershop, and lots of other interesting spaces. The tour path went on and on. It was the longest tour route of all of them, covering half the ship, with many twists and turns and stairways. I got lost on several occasions and had to go back to look for the exit arrows. At one point, I thought of turning around and going back to find Doc. Doc, I figured, would never be able to find his way out of there. But by that time, I had already come too far and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find the tour route going backwards. I moved forward and hoped for the best. Finally, I climbed the final set of ladders back onto the hangar deck. I hoped Doc wouldn’t spend too much time at each station. It would take him a while to realize how long the tour was. I got a soda from the snack bar and sat down on a bench outside the gift shop to wait.
“I told my family that if we got separated I’d meet them here,” he said. “That maze downstairs is so long though, they may never find their way out.” I think he was only half joking. 20 minutes later his family appeared with Doc right behind them.
The drive back to Houston took much longer than the 3 hours estimated by both Mapquest and our GPS. That is why I hadn’t written Corpus Christi into the original vacation plan. Too much driving. But now we had no choice but to suck it up and fight the traffic. We took 30 minutes for lunch and made a second stop for gas adding an hour. As we approached Houston, we got into rush hour traffic. We arrived at our friend Pirooz’s house at 5:15, almost 5 hours after leaving the Lexington. We spent a quiet evening talking with our very special friend over pizza and wings. A warm and wonderful end to a very nice Texas vacation.