Time for a recap on Houston. We spent 2 nights in Houston and 2 days. It was an enjoyable city that included some incredible food and a lot of fun. We rolled into Houston around 10PM on Friday night. You start seeing nice developments long before you get to the freeway that wraps around the city. Already this city was much nicer than anything else we had seen in Texas. We arrived at our La Quinta, in a very nice section of the city. The Hotel was beautiful. The humidity however was suffocating. Houston was at 99% humidity and a fat guy like me doesn’t really do well. At check in a couple of guys came in, just getting back from the Astros vs Blue Jays game. Seeing my Jays hat they filled me in on a terrible night for the Jays. Seems it would be a trend.
After checking into the Hotel we decided to get our first bit of Popeye’s chicken for dinner and of course it was time for Tiana’s favourite part of travelling south, hitting the Walgreen’s. Off to Popeye’s quickly we passed a beautiful shopping district that included The Galleria Mall. After grabbing our chicken we headed back to what was possibly the world’s most diverse Walgreens. It was a beautiful thing. In this Walgreens were people of all races but more importantly was an incredibly flamboyant gay guy with a nice coach purse who was so animated in his conversation (all in Spanish), I couldn’t help but watch him for a while. He was a good looking guy so I am sure he could find attractive friends but his shopping mates were two of the ugliest women I have ever seen. It was an odd dynamic. Aside from them was a tall woman in a nice dress who was clearly packing more behind that skirt than one may expect if they removed her clothes.
The next morning, after our first good nights sleep, it was off to The Johnson Space Center, home of NASA in Houston. We got up early and suffered through the very shitty Houston traffic (why on a Saturday Morning), to make it to NASA just as it opened. Inside was a pretty cool museum, that included all kinds of exhibits. We started the day on the tram that took us around the center. Included was a stop in the area they worked on the mock ups to practice for space. We arrived and got off the tram and walked into a fairly nondescript building. Inside we climbed a stairwell of exactly 26 steps, and entered into a very long hallway. On the right hand side of the hallway was a full length window that looked down onto a warehouse floor. On the floor sat a whole lot of white cylinders. They were mock ups of the international space station. As we worked our way down we say the Canada Arm they practice with as well and then into the future projects. One was a creepy looking robot that had a human like body and a bottom that had four large wheels on it. Kind of like a fucked up mechanical centaur. Beside this robot sat another robot that looked like a huge mechanical spider. Apparently NASA gets its ideas from horror movies. Finally at the far end was the rovers they would like to use on Mars when we send humans there (they say in the 2030s). Back down the stairs and onto the tram. The trams final stop was at the rocket exhibit. The tram left you there and you could catch a later tram back. Inside the fence of this exhibit stood some rockets engines from NASA’s past. Just to the right of these was a large building and the key to this exhibit. Inside was a Saturn V rocket, used for the Apollo missions. The thing is freaking huge. There is no way to put it into perspective. The exhibit contains all the stages of the Apollo rockets and is tightly stuffed in the building. As you cross to the far side of the building the wall is lined with information. The info includes a write up on each and every Apollo mission along with a quote. Some are very impactful statements and others are pretty funny. It is an amazing part of NASA’s history. Finally at the far end is a giant display, it is a mock chalkboard drawing. On this display is the plan for going to the moon again and mining resources for future power generation. It is actually a really cool bunch of information to look through and an interesting theory they are working on. Upon returning to the main museum area we walked around reading about all the different Space apparel the astronauts have had to stuff themselves into. In the same area is a huge wall with a photo from each space mission of those who went into space. On 3 photos is a black tag on the bottom. This black tag denotes the missions that ended in disaster, Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia. When you step back and look at this huge wall you really can see the incredible success rate of the program while still understanding the risks associated. We walked through a mockup of the, now decommissioned, shuttle. It was awful to see how little space they had in there, the washroom was just not reasonable and they sure make it look bigger on the videos we see through the media. From there we watched movie, narrated by Patrick Stewart, about the future plans of NASA. A plan that includes a new vehicle called Orion. Orion is a throwback to the vehicle used in Apollo missions, it is freaking tiny. 4 people apparently will be getting in this to go into space. The vehicle is being developed in Houston while other parts for this program are done elsewhere. One of these other pieces, is the habitat for the astronauts, because Orion’s goal is Mars. Incredible goal but I feel like there is a lot of work to be done and more than a few holes were in the presentation. Another thing this program misses is the commitment of JFK in the 60s. The final exhibit we looked at was a movie about the program and then a huge area that was a history of the space shuttle missions. I love the history behind the patches that were part of the missions for each crew that went to space. This was one of my favourite parts. Finally we wrapped up in the store where we scored Baby Squishy an awesome little space suit and I got a book about the history of the patches for each mission.
We left NASA and headed down to Galveston beach. On the way we stopped by Springside BBQ, and it was amazing. If you are in the area definitely worth a stop. I had some awesome BBQ chicken and pepper sausage. We got to Galveston Beach and put our feet in the Gulf of Mexico but that was about it. The Beach wasn’t very nice and to be honest Galveston isn’t a very nice town. We quickly stopped and then headed for the long drive back. On the way back Tiana drove and I got us super lost. I also took us down the Highway that looked like it followed the gulf coast, but really went by refineries and was incredibly backed up. Finally we got back and headed to the Galleria for an hour of shopping in this high end mall. Here Tiana fell in love with a purse or two, guess you will have to follow here blog to find out which was the best. Best part of the mall was our trip through the apple store. We browsed for a bit and, as I am apt to do, I fidgeted with all the devices. When I got to a table of iPhone 6s I was met with a surprise. Upon fidgeting with one iPhone the screen game on and the background displayed a very small penis. Two phone’s over was a phone with a not so lovely picture of Hitler as its background. Was a very fun find and led to a few more minutes of turning on device screens to see if any other awesome results were available.
The next morning we slept in. We got up and checked out of the hotel and headed to Pappa’s BBQ a couple blocks away from Minute Maid Park. Pappa’s was another awesome BBQ but here they had the best Mac and Cheese of all. So good it got my picture for this blog post. There was a security guard who worked the front door, he spent the whole time at the front door, but watching CNN (subtitled) on one of the TVs. From Pappa’s we put on our Blue Jays Jersey and headed to Minute Maid Park. The roof was closed because of expected rain. It is a pretty cool ballpark, with a huge concourse area. It was easy to get around. There was a ton of washrooms as well, always a bonus. A ton of little kids in their little league uniforms littered the concourse as well. We walked the whole ring around the park. It included a bar in centrefield and in behind the walking area in right field was an awesome area for kids to play. We walked through the store and saw a whole whack of fellow Jays fans. We had awesome seats just up from 1st Base. Behind us sat a family with a couple of kids between two parents. The girls weren’t all that interested in baseball but Dad sure was (I actually think he said he had played with Jose Bautista at one point). He kept telling the girls to watch how the guys swung and how they played defense. It lead to an awesome moment:
Dad: “Watch Bautista, now watch, here comes the ball and step and swing”
Bautista watches pitch
Little Girl “Dad He missed his swing”
The one little girl cheered for the Jays much to her parents disappointment. However the Jays weren’t all that good in the game and would take the loss. The worst part, former Jay Colby Rasmus absolutely crushed a ball for the games winning runs. After the game we filled up on gas and were off to New Orleans.
Houston – Could live there, but humidity sucks.
PART 4 NOLA and Blistered Feet