Months ago I signed up on Meetup in an effort to join some groups, meet some new people, and generally just get myself out there. I signed up and then never committed myself to any of the events. But when an event came along to tour the Steamboat Arabia Museum, I finally bit the bullet and accepted the invitation. I thought even if I didn’t walk away with any new contacts I’d at least be able to add a museum to the Life List. As it turned out, it was not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I did have a moment of anxiety as I stood awkwardly in the designated meeting area. I glanced around the room looking at groups of people and wondering if they were part of the meetup and it took every once of energy not to bolt. I easily came up with half a dozen excuses for not staying. I’d heard this museum wasn’t that great. I would be meeting strangers. I wasn’t sure if I had the social graces to meet strangers. My favorite Ethiopian restaurant was just around the corner. It would be an easy escape. But I swallowed all of that and joined the group.
The museum turned out to be really fascinating. I can’t believe all the things these guys were able to salvage from that old steamboat. In fact, the museum doesn’t even have half of the contents on display because they are still going through everything and carefully preserving the findings. The steamboat sank in the Missouri river in 1856, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s when a group of local business men would go and track it down. By this time that area of the river was completely different. In fact they wouldn’t find the steamboat in the river at all. It was buried deep in a nearby cornfield. I thought that was the most interesting fact. Also, the guys involved had no idea what they were doing. They weren’t archeologists or historians. One guy owned a chain of restaurants and the others were members of a family owned heating and air company. But they managed to excavate and salvage most of the cargo aboard the Arabia. And there is a lot of cargo.
The best part was after the tour when I was able to convince a few of the group to join me for dinner at the Ethiopian place. They joked that this part could have been a meetup all of its own because none of them had ever had Ethiopian food. But it provided us all with a good excuse to take some time to get to know each other. It was nice. I learned about couch surfing and other fun meetup groups to join. I learned that I can get into the WWI Museum for free through the month of February. And I learned that it doesn’t take as much energy as I thought to meet new people.