South Texas Project & Hotel Blessing Coffee Shop - February 12, 2009

It was a beautiful February morning in Houston as 37 members and guests departed from Bayland Park at 9 AM. Our capable bus driver, Larry, piloted us safely on our trip down US-59 south to El Campo, where we stopped for a short break. Afterwards we traveled down TX-71 to Blessing. In Blessing, our destination was the historic Hotel Blessing and specifically the Hotel Blessing Coffee Shop.

The Hotel Blessing was built by Jonathan E. Pierce in 1906. The design was inspired by Spanish mission churches and was translated into "Anglo" wood-siding construction. The hotel is owned by the Blessing Historical Foundation and restoration work has been ongoing since 1978. The Hotel is open for business and it appears to be a very laid back place to stay - a memory of times past when everything moved at a slower pace.

The Hotel Blessing Coffee Shop is down the central hallway. Helen Feldhousen is the proprietor and looks and cooks just like your mama. She made us all feel at home as we picked up plates and helped ourselves from the pots and pans of steaming vittles of every description on the two old wood stoves at the back of the big room. Those old stoves looked like they have had lots of experience. The food is simply delicious southern cooking that is unbeatable.

After we finished eating, we spent some time investigating the historic hotel. Many photos of past history adorn all the walls. A group photo in front of the Hotel completed our time in Blessing.

Larry then drove us a few miles southeast to the South Texas Project (STP). The two STP nuclear reactors compose one of the newest and most productive nuclear power plants in the nation. There at the Visitor Center, we were met by Sheila Ormand, Public Affairs Coordinator of the STP. She made us all welcome and escorted us into the auditorium where she showed us an informative video on how the STP nuclear power plant operates and all the safety measures that keep it operating reliably. After an ample question and answer session, Sheila joined us back on the bus where she took us inside the guarded entrance to the plant and around the immediate outside of the barricades and barbed wire that surround the nuclear reactor buildings. We drove up on the dam of the 7,000 acre main cooling reservoir and watched as many water birds dove for fish right outside the bus windows.

After returning back to the Visitor Center, Sheilah arranged for John Hodges to take us into the Control Room Simulator that is a duplicate of the control rooms at each of the two reactors. John told how they bring the operator teams in on a regular schedule to test them on their ability to handle simulated problems that could occur in the operation of the reactors. Everyone enjoyed this experience so much, it was hard to break away from the question and answer session to make our departure to Houston on time. In about and hour, Larry had us safely back at Bayland Park.

We hope that you will join us soon on another great Day Trip.
-Lawson Cook

Attendees were: Jimmie Lucas, Jean Dixon, Ralph & Estella Garcia, Daryl & Brenda Moss, Abe & Connie Abdalla, James & Dorothy Wade, Greg & Rosie Sims, Ken & Jule Davis, Daren & Jewel Welch, Ron & Manda Ross, Don Stefan, Mike & Catherine Manis, Pat & Annette Hawkins, Glenn & Ligia Haworth, Roger & Sandy Coughran, Bob & Gail Wolters, Bob & Marian Gruber, Tony & Susan Leigh, Howard & Mary Lee Cameron, and Lawson & Kay Cook