Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Texas Energy Museum

After about 5 days in Beaumont, my mom and I were running out of ideas for what to do with the girls. My sweet grandmother is easily tired these days, and Lord knows my kids can really exacerbate that shit. It's too hot to be outside all day, if you're not planning on swimming, and although we swam a lot, constantly keeping Jane from drowning herself can get a bit stressful.

So my mom saw an "Ocean Life Exhibit" at the Texas Energy Museum, and thought Wren might like it. What you have to understand about the museum is that it could really only exist in Beaumont, otherwise known as Hurray Petrochemicals!, Texas. It's sort of like if Nabisco funded a museum about how awesome snack foods are. In other words- it's completely awesome. If the girls were more impressionable, I might have tried to follow it up with a counterbalance of some kind. A couple of years in the Peace Corps might have done it. Or a stint on a Greenpeace boat... As it is though, the whole thing was totally enjoyable and I highly recommend it.

In spite of the fact that every single time I have driven by a refinery with my dad (approximately 4000+ times) he has tried to explain the crude oil refining process to me, I have always missed some essential components. I can distinctly remember one time when I was desperately wishing we were talking about -anything else- when my dad was determined that I understand the fluid catalytic cracking unit. And hey dad! Now I do! Thanks Texas Energy Museum!

Also I got to see the girls use teamwork to safely pilot an oil tanker down the Intercoastal Canal into harbor at Port Arthur. Good job girls!

This is Wren briefly considering interacting with some creepy ocean life. I think it's awesome that it's where you go in Beaumont to see an Ocean Life Exhibit, because duh- ocean life eventually dies, and over the course of eons is transformed into wondrous oil. If you don't find that connection completely obvious, you might not be from the Golden Triangle, or surrounding areas (it's golden because of all the oil, see?)

Here's Jane learning about "controlling the flow." Although they have a really interesting historical collection of photos and archives on the second floor of the museum, I spent most of my time up there chasing Jane off the original Lucas Oil Spindletop rig.

The first floor of the museum is dedicated to the "modern" refining process. This exhibit lights up various areas of the refinery ("like shining beacons" says the narrator) while it explains what they do. Later you see what all the molecular components can be broken into- for instance lipstick! That will bring over the skeptics for sure. Wren particularly enjoyed the movie narrated by a molecule of crude oil, making its way through the refinery. The jolly little fellow spent some time in the distillation unit, and it was touch and go for a while there- edge of the seat stuff. Anyway, money well spent, if you are in Beaumont for some reason. Also, swing by the world's (3rd) largest fire hydrant. We seem to be really proud of that?

1 comment:

Kelly said...

After 28 years in Texas and five years in the petrochemical industry, I never guessed that the energy museum was about oil. Ignoring what is now obvious, I assumed the energy museum was about...lightbulbs?