October 05, 2018

Going back to Iowa

My first visit back to Iowa after my move to the Midwest was great. I got to see the ship again, meet readers, hang out with my friends on the crew and take a look at what they've been up to in the past year.

First, there's the Full Steam Ahead tour, which was about to start when I left. All five people who showed up to the meetup did the FSA in the morning, and said that they enjoyed it. I shadowed part of the tour, as I wanted to get to the boiler room and plotting rooms.

The entrance to Lost at Sea

Second, there's the new Lost at Sea exhibit, done in collaboration with Robert Ballard, the man who found Bismarck, Yorktown, and a bunch of ships that went down off Guadalcanal.1 I got to do an early tour, and it was all very well done. They have models, replica artifacts, and some neat information on the ships themselves.2

The barber shop

This exhibit is in former berthing spaces on the 3rd deck, and it also allows access to some interesting stuff on the 3rd deck aft which was previously only accessible via guided tours. The brig, laundry, print shop, barber shop, tailor shop, and a damage control station are all going to be on the tour route now, the first major extension since I first visited in 2015.

The end of Lost At Sea, with the hull structure dressed as a sunken ship

Third, and more mundanely, there are now elevators leading from the main deck down to the museum/gift shop, and from there down to the Lost at Sea exhibit. When I first joined, access for those with mobility problems was very bad, and it's good to see it getting better.

The ship's original bell, another new artifact

There were smaller things, too. A few new artifacts, and signs have been added giving the answers to the matching game we give kids to play,3 and there are new awnings in a couple areas. But overall, it was like coming home. I had a great time, got lots and lots of pictures, and saw a bunch of friends. I'm not totally sure when I'll be back next,4 but I'm already looking forward to it.

1 He also found a famous ocean liner, although that's not mentioned in the exhibit for what I suspect are legal reasons. Or maybe they're showing excellent taste. Titan 1C is way overdone, and much less interesting than warship wrecks.

2 2023 Addendum: At the time, this was an extra add-on, but it's now part of the main tour, although not accessible until you're in the museum.

3 Probably because one too many of the guides got fed up explaining that Number 4 was the Big Metal Mushroom and not the Tomahawk Launcher or the Officer's Wardroom. No, I am absolutely not kidding about this.

4 It ended up being in April for the Turret II memorial. COVID meant it was over two years until I was back again, and it took several years to get everything back to normal.

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