My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tour of the Houston Ship Channel

The week before I arrived at Natalie's house, I started getting emails from her, describing things she planned to do and inviting me to come along. The first invitation I accepted was to join her Red Hearts Group, who,mostly are old lady paddlers I  know, to take a tour of Houston's Ship Channel.

So I cooked a quick,breakfast for Natalie and daughter Ellen before we set off on about an hour's drive to board the Sam Houston for the tour.  We had no traffic problems, a rarity in Houston,  and arrived a half hour early.  We had time to enjoy the area before the rest of our group and the other passengers arrived, including a few school groups. 

This build is almost completely covered in tile pictures- didn't try to decode it

I enjoyed these pelicans

The Sam Houston tied at its dock 

I enjoyed the blues and shades of whites- black of this picture of winter plumage
 laughing gulls sitting on a dock

We particularly enjoyed a group of middle school kids that were in the boat near us.   They were very  polite and engaged in the tour. They each had  with a little set of papers with them that gave interesting facts about the ship channel, asked them to find examples along the tour. Their teacher was kind enough to give us a copy.  

Natalie, Janice, and Christy enjoying the tour

The channel bounded on each side by storage units, ship tie-ups, parking for the tugs,
big cranes, piles of recycled stuff,  bulldozers and tractors, and even lots of vehicles

The day, which had turned overcast just before we arrived, but was back to partly cloudy, with dramatic skies, by the time the Sam Houston left the dock. We got to see several of the different kinds of ships that visit the harbor while, getting to imagine taking the ships back to their home countries. This was a very different view of these ships since I have paddled parts of Houston's Ship Channel and turning basin in the distant past - before 911 happened and changed our lives for the worse. At one time, I had a picture of me in my solo fourteen and a half  foot canoe under the bow of a big ship.

Oh course, I  ran around on the outside of the ship,for the entire outward leg and for most of the homeward one.  Wanted to be sure you got to see most everything. 

There is storage for lots of different kinds of products along the channel. 


This is probably for some kind of petrochemical storage

I know this is for grain storage

Then there were the ships and tugs. 

This one has big hatch covers - the white structures - it is loaded with cranes

This ship carries liquid petroleum gas (LPG)

This ship carries containers which are moved with cranes.  Tugboats help it turn
and move through the channel

A tugboat pushing a barge

This is a Ro/Ro (Roll on/Roll Off) ship - That black part in back is the ramp

A ship from  Singapore

Of course, I always notice the birds:

One of the few brown pelicans I noticed

I saw these laughing gulls,  but didn't realize I was catching this interaction

When gulls act like passerines

Laughing gulls and cormorants find plenty of places to rest

Other interesting sightings:

Huge piles of trash? recyclables- waiting to be shipped?

Juxtaposition of sea and land travel

Giant spools of cable

The new lifeboat pods - they have people seat belted in and can drop off the top of the ship

At the end of the tour, we retired to one of Houston's landmark restaurants, Ninfa's Original Restaurant. There we all I had different impressive meals - I had the adobo chicken salad - and excellent service.  The interesting tour, beautiful day, great conversion made for a wonderful day.

If you find yourself in Houston, be sure to register for a tour of Houston's Ship Channel. It's FREE! The Houston Maritime Museum is also planning to move to this site. And don't miss Ninfa's Original Restaurant. (Any other Ninfa's is NOT the same. 

The mandatory group picture - taken by some hapless person who got too close to us