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Sunny16's whirlwind weekend tour of Houston - a trip report

Sunny16's whirlwind weekend tour of Houston - a trip report

Mar 17th, 2007, 08:35 PM
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Sunny16's whirlwind weekend tour of Houston - a trip report

As some of you know (thanks to all who helped me with this!), I went to Houston for a weekend last month. I was joining my husband at the end of a business trip, taking advantage of the chance to see a friend of mine who'd just moved down there. We also attended the Houston Livestock Show & Barbeque while we were there. A partner company of my husband's company was sponsoring a barbeque tent on the night of Feb. 23, so we were able to get tickets to that. We stayed at the Hotel Indigo next to the Galleria. My photos from the trip are here: http://sunny16.zenfolio.com/p1071070963

I flew down on the night of Thursday, Feb. 22 on JetBlue out of JFK to Houston Hobby airport. That was an experience in itself. I left straight from work in Manhattan and took the Long Island Railroad to the Air Train. The whole trip was very easy and only took about an hour. JetBlue was still trying to recover from cancelling all its flights the weekend before, and I think there were weather problems that day as well, so my plane ended up arriving at JFK two hours late. I think we took off around 10:30 or so. Then, when we got to the Houston area, we circled for a while. I could tell because when I looked out the window at the stars long enough, I could see Orion's belt pass by again and again. Finally, the pilot came on the loudspeaker and said that the equipment that guides the plane in for landing on the runway wasn't working, and someone was being sent to fix it. After half an hour, the pilot got back to us and said that the equipment still wasn't working, and we'd have to land in Austin, refuel, and wait for them to fix the equipment. At this point it was almost 2 am. But a few minutes later the pilot announced that the equipment had been fixed and we'd be able to land at Hobby after all. Wooho!

I had arranged for a pickup by Super Shuttle, but when I used the courtesy phone at the desk to summon them, I was told that it would take about an hour for someone to pick me up. I cancelled the pickup and took a cab (and I'm still trying to get Super Shuttle to credit my credit card.) I finally arrived at the hotel at about 2:30 am.

The Hotel Indigo is decorated in light blues and greens with a seashell motif in a lot of the accents. There was wallpaper of giant blueberries on the wall behind the bed, which was a little odd, but it was nice to see something different. It is billed as a different sort of business hotel, but DH found that the WiFi connection wasn't that great, and sometimes he had to go the lobby to get a stable internet connection to do some work, which made it less than great for business. Our room had a hallway with a kitchenette, a bathroom with a large shower and a bedroom that was just large enough for the king-sized bed, armoire, desk and chaise. I really liked the room, but DH and I kept bumping into each other in there. The one thing I found really annoying about the room was that there was no way to change the water pressure in the shower, and it was always very strong - too strong for me. I think it had a high-pressure shower head. One nice touch in the room was that there was a well-placed electrical outlet near a good section of the hallway to set up the ironing board, and there was a hook on the wall right there. It sounds like a small thing, but I've stayed in hotel rooms where it was very awkward to set up an ironing board, so I appreciated this.

Anyway, I was exhausted the next morning, but I was determined to get out and see a little of Houston, since it was my first time there. DH had to work for part of that day, and I was going to meet him at the office later. I had breakfast at the hotel. The eating area is set up to look more like a cozy cafe, with different kinds of chairs and tables. I had a bottle of water and a yogurt parfait cup. The hotel called me a cab (I gave up on the idea of using public transportation) and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to catch an exhibit on the history of American photography. I wandered around a little more of the museum before heading out. I really liked the museum and I'd like to see more of it someday. I walked over to Hermann Park and hung out there for a while. I spent some time in the Japanese garden. It was beautiful, even with no leaves or blossoms anywhere, and I took a lot of pictures. Then I walked up Montrose to Baba Yega for lunch. It was nice to be able to walk and see some of the interesting buildings along the way. The odd part was that I was usually the only person on the sidewalk - I only passed two other people, and one appeared to be mentally disturbed. Drivers were very nice about backing up out of the crosswalk whenever I had to cross the street. I had a good burger at Baba Yega, and when I was done I had them call me a cab to meet DH.

DH was working out of an office on Woodway Drive, and my cab driver had to drive around Memorial Park so he wouldn't get stuck behind trail riders. I hung out at the office for a while. They were having a party before they bussed everyone to the barbeque, so that was fun. It turns out I didn't have to worry about my outfit - what I wore was fine. There were some cowboy hats, but no one in this group had a full-on cowboy outfit, so I was really glad I hadn't bought any such thing for the occasion. I wore a button-down shirt, jeans, and boots, and it was fine. By now, I was starting to get pretty tired, and I wasn't really up to partying, but I tried. But when we got to the barbeque and found the tent, the tent was very small and crowded, and the barbeque wasn't very good. We each had a little food and then we agreed to leave. I felt better walking around the grounds, people-watching and seeing the way the other tents were decorated. There was a carnival set up, but we didn't go on any of the rides. We started trying to figure out how to leave, because the bus to pick us up wouldn't get there for a couple of hours. We thought that if we just went to the entrance where the bus had dropped us off, we could find or call a cab there, but it turned out that cabs were being directed to the entrance on the other side of Reliant Park. Of course we didn't find this out until we'd exited the barbeque, and we no longer had our tickets, so we couldn't get back in. Oops. We had to walk all the way around Reliant Park to find a cab, but when we got there, we found one pretty easily. When we got back to the hotel, we passed out.

The next day, Saturday, we were meeting my friend. We'd planned to meet her at noon, so we were able to catch some of the parade downtown beforehand. It was raining and there weren't a lot of people out. After a while we left the parade and walked around downtown a bit. We found Sam Houston Park, which it turned out was where the parade participants went when they were done walking the parade route. We stumbled upon City Hall and the tourism office, so I picked up a bunch of materials about relocating and such for my friend. We then made our way to Main Street and tried to call a cab, but everyplace we called had a 20-minute wait, so we gave up and called my friend, who it turned out lived in Midtown (I think.) She drove us to see the oil fields (or maybe processing plants?) just outside of Houston, and then we went to Goode Company barbeque on the recommendation of DH's colleague. I got beef brisket and cole slaw just so I could compare them to the Salt Lick's in Austin, and I have to say, there's no comparison - the Salt Lick wins hands down! Not that I'm an expert, of course. But we had a nice time sitting outside having bbq. We hung out at the Galleria for a while, then we went back to my friend's apartment and hung out on the balcony for a couple of hours. She lives in a high rise with a great view of downtown and the sunset. For dinner, we had some bad Tex Mex at a restaurant in a strip mall. I don't even remember the name, but the food wasn't great and the service was awful. Anyway, we had a great time with my friend. We made tentative plans to all meet up in San Antonio at some point, where a mutual friend of ours lives now.

Our flight back home the next day was uneventful. I will say that I really dislike Hobby airport. I realize it's smaller and older than George Bush airport, but the food there was pretty bad, and I couldn't find an ATM anywhere. JetBlue managed to land us about half an hour early - they were trying to beat another incoming storm.

Overall, I was very disappointed in JetBlue. I was so excited about flying them for the first time, but the experience was really disappointing. It's not just the delayed flight - their terminal at JFK was depressing, my husband has had a hard time getting credit from them for his cancelled flight - I feel like they are poorly managed, and I won't be flying them again.

Anyway, I had a good time in Houston. The thing that killed me was the cost of taking a cab. I averaged about $20 per ride, with several rides per day. It definitely would have been cheaper to rent a car, but I did appreciate not having to learn my way around the roads down there for such a brief trip. The thing that struck me about Houston was how much of a driving city it is - even though there are sidewalks, it's obvious that no one expects to actually walk anywhere, except maybe Downtown. I might go back there at some point, as long as my friend is still down there and DH still has business down there. There are other places I'd like to explore down there.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me prepare for this trip!
sunny16 is offline  
Mar 17th, 2007, 09:16 PM
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People don't walk in downtown. Perhaps except lunch hour, and to/from the clubs at night. Other times, you'll find even higher percentage of mentally disturbed people than the 50% you observed.

Places where you see people walking on the sidewalk is at Rice Village.

You're right that Houston is a driving city. It's just totally inconvenient and expensive to travel around without a car. For you, the only trip that public transportation will work is to take the lightrail from Downtown to Museum District. For goodness sake, they spent billions of Houston taxpayer money to build it SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU, and you didn't even ride it.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 08:13 AM
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Yeah, I'm kind of bummed that I didn't get to take the lightrail, but it was nice walking around Montrose.
sunny16 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 09:39 AM
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Sunny, so glad that your trip went well. Thank you for posting the pictures. I wanted to let you know that your "oilfield" pictures are actually chemical plants. They are located mainly in the cities of Pasadena and Deer Park just outside of Houston. They make everything from oil based components to plastics. They are an eye sore, but without them, the city and country wouldn't be what it is. (good and bad)
seashell is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 09:52 AM
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Oh, one more thing. I think I'd consider your friend's apartment as "Downtown", as it seems to be north of I-45.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 09:54 AM
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Nice photos! Where was the giant armadillo?
jayne1973 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 10:05 AM
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The armadillo should be at 5015 Kirby, the Goode's Armadillo Palace.

Goode Company barbecue is at 5109 Kirby.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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Seashell and rkkwan, thanks for the corrections. My friend has only been down there for a few weeks so she's just learning what & where things are; I guess her information was a little off.

Jayne, the giant armadillo was right across the street from Goode Company bbq.
sunny16 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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By the way, could anyone tell me what or where this sculpture is?
http://tinyurl.com/2fonh7
sunny16 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2007, 10:27 AM
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Link is not working.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:31 AM
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Whoops. It's http://tinyurl.com/2x74g7
sunny16 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:54 AM
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Did a little research for you. It's a piece by David Adickes. Article here, calling it "Big Head on Main Street":

http://rkkwan.zenfolio.com/p878084871/

David Adickes also made the 67-foot statue of Sam Houston along I-45 in Huntsville, about 40 miles north of Houston.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:55 AM
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Oops. Wrong link.

Correct one is:
http://www.houstonpress.com/2006-05-...-fighting/full
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:07 AM
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Thanks, rkkwan! I'll pass the info on to my friend.

Hey, how do you like Zenfolio? I'm almost at the end of my trial period and I think I'm going to sign up. My husband is a Canon shooter like you (I'm on Nikon).
sunny16 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:26 AM
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sunny16 - I've been using Zenfolio since last September, and I love it. I can send you a link "reference" so you can get $5 off when you signup.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 06:43 AM
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Sounds good! You can email me at amita dot nyc at gmail dot com.
sunny16 is offline  
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