After a solid week of rain, it’s glorious to have a three-day weekend filled with sunshine and brilliant blue skies. J.J. and I decided to explore a few places the kids had been without us, over the years: the San Jacinto Monument, commemorating the Battle of San Jacinto, and the USS Texas Battleship. The battle, of course, was a turning point for Texas in its bid for independence from Mexico. It was also an opportunity to avenge the merciless slaughter at The Alamo and Goliad by Santa Anna’s troops. From “Battle of San Jacinto” at Wikipedia:
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna‘s Mexican army in a fight that lasted just 20 minutes. About 630 of the Mexican soldiers were killed and 730 captured, while only nine Texans died.
Santa Anna, the President of Mexico, was captured the following day and held as a prisoner of war. Three weeks later, he signed the peace treaty that dictated that the Mexican army leave the region, paving the way for the Republic of Texas to become an independent country. These treaties did not specifically recognize Texas as a sovereign nation, but stipulated that Santa Anna was to lobby for such recognition in Mexico City. Sam Houston became a national celebrity, and the Texans’ rallying cries, “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” became etched into Texan history and legend.
It was a bloody, vengeful massacre – not to put too fine a point on it. But it’s also a testament to what people can do – even when they’re outmanned, outgunned, and the situation looks hopeless. Santa Anna didn’t know what hit him.
Boy Scouts frequently camp here; daycares and schools take field trips to the battleground, monument, and museum. Parents are off the hook, leaving them something to explore when the nest is empty.
Imagine the monument as a giant sundial, an obelisk roughly ten feet taller than the Washington Monument. It is built out of Texas Cordova shellstone, known geologically as the “Whitestone Lentil,” formed nearly 105 million years ago, during the “age of the dinosaurs.”
You can easily see and identify the fossils in the rock; it could keep you entertained for as long as it takes to get through the line to the elevator that leads up to the observation deck.
Now, imagine all this on a sunny day, with wispy clouds criss-crossing a deep, Caribbean blue sky. Oh, don’t imagine it – here, I’ll share it with you:
The second photo is taken from the observation deck, which is at 480 feet. There’s a webcam atop the San Jacinto Monument, so you can take a peek for yourself – from anywhere in the world, any time of day!
Next, we visited Battleship Texas:
She looks amazingly new, for a ship that served important roles in WWI and WWII.
We climbed as far as we could – according to my Fitbit, we’d climbed 19 flights of stairs (most of them more like ladders), before we left the site. Those guns are even bigger and more impressive up close:
While J.J. explored the lowest deck, where the ship’s engines are housed, I waited at the top of the stairs – having weird, vague flashbacks to a horrific scene involving an engine on a gunship in the movie, The Sand Pebbles. I’m not normally claustrophobic at all, but that was just one hole and ladder I had no desire to descend. While I waited, I found a few interesting relics:
Click the image to read more about William J. Burns, who was J. Edgar Hoover’s predecessor, in addition to being a writer of mystery and detective stories in his later years, after retirement.
I couldn’t help wondering, when I saw this sign, if zombies were a major problem on this, the last of the dreadnoughts:
I tried to imagine being closeted in this sardine can with 1,599 other souls, and had a fleeting urge to claw my way out of the steel hull. I could almost smell the sweaty bodies – I think there were only 26 showers and toilets aboard (the toilets painted red being reserved for the men diagnosed with venereal diseases) – and imagined what it must be like, swaying on the waves in a bunk or hammock in a room with a dozen other hardworking men who were probably too exhausted at the end of the day to bother taking a proper shower. Even the officers’ quarters looked like prison cells.
I smiled to see that one small section appeared to be for the radio operators – it looked a bit cheerier than the others, set with a small table, playing cards, radio operators’ manuals, and such, reaffirming that there’s much to be said for being the “geek” of your day. But the real gem was this:
Books, Underwood typewriters, and coffee. I found the best job in the Navy.