In 2019 the Sentinel staff traveled near and far throughout Central Texas and shared those exciting experiences with our readers.
In February, we visited the National Museum of the Pacific War. The museum is dedicated to former Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz, Sr. who was born (February 24, 1885) and raised in Fredericksburg.
Nimitz lived with his widowed mother in his grandfather’s famous steam-boat shaped hotel. He graduated from Annapolis Naval Academy and commissioned as a Navy officer in 1905. When the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Nimitz was serving as the chief of the bureau of navigation in DC. He lead American troops into battle at Midway, and after Japan surrendered in 1945, Nimitz signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the U.S. Adm. Chester Nimitz died in San Francisco on February 20, 1966.
The museum educates visitors on the life of Nimitz, the Pacific War, and American and Japanese culture during World War II. The museum is broken down into seven exhibits: Admiral Nimitz Museum, George H.W. Bush Gallery, Japanese Garden of Peace, Memorial Court Yard, Pacific Combat Zone, Plaza of Presidents, and Nimitz Educational and Research Center.
In June, we visited the Cathedral of Junk, hidden in Vince Hannaman’s backyard.
Made of approximately 60 tons of random junk, the cathedral is a two level structure and has two sets of stairwells that lead you to an open sitting area at the top.
Hannaman moved to Austin in 1989, at the age of 26, and unknowingly began building the Cathedral of Junk.
“I started literally with some hub caps along the fence, and few little individual free-standing sculptures, kind of a little grouping, but overtime they kind of grew together and when that happened people started asking me ‘What do you call that?’ I didn’t know what to tell them,” Hannaman said.
“I called it Yard Space 11 to start off with, but that didn’t make any sense to anybody,” Hannaman continued. “My mom started calling it the ‘Cathedral of Junk’ and that stuck like glue, and it kind of got a life of its own, so that’s how that happened.”
In August, we visited SeaWorld during a promotion that offers active duty military and their families free admission once a year.
The shows were educational. One show, “One Ocean,” kicked off by sharing a touching video about how the trainers became inspired to help save sea life.
Orcas splashed water on those sitting in the first 10 rows, which allowed some to cool off in the heat. One highlight was when a baby orca whale was introduced to the crowd. The smaller whale was learning how to do all the jumps and poses like the two larger whales.
In October, we visited Silo of Screams, a haunted attraction, owned by John Guthrie. The attraction is 33,000 square feet, with five different haunts.
Guthrie said that Witched Way, the longest haunt of the five, was made of nightmares.
“Lisa is our co-creator,” Guthrie said. “Lisa has nightmare problems. That whole Witched Way that we walked through, the swamp, the house and the insane asylum tied together, that’s all her vison.”
Walking through the green lit swamp, the floor boards began to move. Corners and hallways of the haunt were unlit, which created high levels of anticipation. What was hiding in the dark?
Guthrie, said that people are most scared of the unknown.
“The dark, no doubt,” Guthrie said. “The anticipation is what it’s all about.”
As the nightmare continued, so did the screams that filled the silo.
2019 was a prime year to tour the great state of Texas, but guess what? Texas is huge! Keep your eyes on these pages in 2020 for all the cool things we uncover that you, too, can enjoy during your stay at the Great Place.