While I’m not a fan of the high cost of living, I love being here in the San Francisco Bay Area! It is our never-ending playground! Most, if not all, of you know that we love the library. (We’ll need to do some kind of blog post about this sometime!) This school year, we decided to make use of the Alameda County Libraries’ Discover & Go Program. There are so many participants in the program, it can be hard to choose which one to get passes for. (They are all a little different…some will take mobile passes, some you have to print out, some are for 1 adult and 2 kids, some are for a total of 5 people, etc.) I had been to the USS Hornet Museum as a kid, but this was the girls’ first time there. I thought they would be bored (which was quasi-true toward the end of the loooong tour…still interesting, but it involved a lot of walking and they wanted to explore on their own). We got there later in the afternoon because we went to the Japanese Garden and lunch with my mom earlier, so we will definitely have to go back again some day. Also great to see my high school friend Carrie! She will be in the museum store if you ever stop by. It’s a bit lengthy, but Melody did a fantastic job sharing how our day was like at the USS Hornet Museum, so read on, friends!
Before We Got There
At first, when we were trying to find a place to park, we didn’t know where to go, because the USS Hornet is kind of in a place that reminds you of a shipyard. Actually, it is! Some of the ships can instantly take off anytime the US declares war, but others, like the USS Hornet, are retired, and cannot go anywhere else. And then, after we finally got to where the ships were (that was scary!), we had to find parking. We couldn’t tell where the USS Hornet was, because it was so hidden. After we found the correct place to park (after 10+ minutes!), we saw a sign that said: “Welcome to the USS Hornet Museum.” And that’s how we found it!
Also, when you turn to the left of the sign, you walk to this walkway and it leads you to these stairs. Actually, a lot of stairs. I (Melody) am scared of heights, so I was terrified at the thought of ACTUALLY entering the USS Hornet – the real one, not a duplicate. We had to cross of the water to enter! <gulp> The thought of me falling! But luckily, we made it, and I’ll tell you the rest, just scroll down and I’ll tell you facts…
Yes! You made it! Okay, so we went on the guided tour, but not the audio tour. I don’t know what the audio tour is like, because I only went on the guided one, but I looked at the handbook on the ship, and you get to see more on this guided tour. We had a guide named Dennis, who used to be a high school principal. This was the last tour of the day, so we made it just in time. There was another guy named John, and he was actually a veteran of the war, and it was cool that he was there and we met him.
Here is a view of the runway from a place up above (I forgot where exactly) and when I heard the news, I couldn’t believe my ears. Being a captain, or on the crew, is a very hard job! You only have one chance to land your plane on the runway, and five seconds before those yellow-black thingies release a net that stops the plane. But this can actually still not stop the plane from crashing! This is why you have to be very skilled and trained in order to fly these types of planes.
And this is a view from a lookout on the ship. Here’s another fact for you: During the war, the places where the ship’s lookout and the ship’s captain were were on opposite sides of the boat. In order to tell the captain there was an enemy ship advancing on them, or there was a bomb coming, a crew member, only about 16-18 years old, sometimes WITHOUT training, had to race up or down those very hard steps to climb, and then back down again to keep his post. Whew! Being a crew member is very hard work!
This was one of our last stops on our tour. This is one of the most important rooms in the entire ship, where the controls of the ship are. After the lookout tells the captain, the captain runs to the control room and tells the person standing there to stop the ship – well, not without help, of course. You can also steer from this room, which is why this is such an important room that the captain spends so much time in. He even has an extra bedroom right next to it, so he can be up and ready to go in case of danger!
After the tour ended, Dennis told us we could just look around if we wanted. So we did! See these planes? They are mostly army planes, and they didn’t tell us, but I think the reason why it is a shark is to scare enemies away, and if it didn’t, to remind them that we Americans are fierce. And it was so windy there, so make sure to bring a coat if you ever go there!
We actually stood on the runway, where we began our tour, of course, after we climbed some steps! I think my legs needed some serious exercise before then, so people, here is your workout for the week! And there is the view of the Bay again – just beautiful, I just love seeing the Bay.
This, I believe, is a Army helicopter. But the USS Hornet didn’t only carry army supplies. It picked up Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, the first men to walk on the moon! if you don’t know this, when astronauts return from their trips, a ship usually picks them up. And Richard Nixon also stepped foot on the USS Hornet! Amazing!
After we returned from all of that wind, as you can see from the previous photos, we climbed all of those stairs again and then saw this plane. It’s an original Navy plane!
We didn’t have any coins with us, so we just traded in dollars for cents, and then after that we got pressed pennies from the museum store. There were many different options, and we got them all! I don’t know about you, but still, after all this time, I still enjoy watching those pennies transform.
Then, as we got ready to leave, I saw something that caught my eye. A ship registry! It was for everyone to sign their names. I just love registries! So I wrote our names down in the book, and then we walked out the door.
All in all, I think our trip to the USS Hornet was great. I learned a lot. Before, my cousin went to the museum, and I thought, “Oh, it’s just some old museum that you learn a few facts and then you leave.” But I really learned a lot, and I highly encourage you to go for a day. It’s still the same ship that it was so long ago (it’s held up by ropes) and there is a whole ton of history behind it. I shouldn’t reveal any more to you, because then you won’t learn anything when you go! The USS Hornet is really and truly amazing. Go and learn more about it!
Tips: Wear comfy shoes if you take the guided tour! Bring a jacket to wear, it is windy out there.
What are some of the interesting local-to-you spots you have visited as a tourist in your own town? Does your library have a Discover and Go-type program? If you are in the SF Bay, where are some of your favorite places to visit or where would you like to go visit?
Check out more photos in our USS Hornet Museum PHOTO ALBUM.