We visited Houston, Texas for a week to see our friends Gavin and Diana, and meet their baby, Louis. Houston is a big city! It’s my first time in Texas, and I think it might be true that everything is bigger in Texas. It’s the fourth most populated city in America, and the roads are huge, and full of traffic. It doesn’t really feel like a tourist destination, everything feels far from everything else. I think there are even multiple downtown areas. We definitely didn’t master Houston, and it didn’t really feel like Texas to me. We had a good time though.
We stayed at All-Star RV Park, which was our first experience with an truly urban campground (meaning within a big city). It was a tight squeeze, and fortunately when we were backing in to our spot, two people offered to move their cars out of the street for us, because the spots are so small the cars and trucks are mostly in the street. I think most of the people here are long-term residents. It’s a well-maintained park with a pool and clean bathrooms, and it met our objective of being close (about 20 minutes) to our friends’ house.
We went to the NASA Space Center, and it was awesome! There was so much to see there. First we took the tram tour, which took us around the NASA Johnson Space Center, where astronaut training, research, and mission control are located. There were three interesting stops on the tour. The first was historic mission control, which has been preserved as it was during the Apollo missions. The currently used mission control room is on another floor in the same building. It really looks just like it did in the Apollo 13 movie! We sat in the seats that the astronauts family and invited guests sat in, while a speaker talked to us about what we saw in the mission control room.
Then we went to the NASA space vehicle mockup facility, where training is done. We viewed the mock vehicles from a second floor landing. There were mock ups of space station components, and Orion.
The last stop on the tram tour was Rocket Park, where we saw a few rockets, as well as an actual Saturn V rocket, one of only three left of the most powerful rocket ever used.
After the tram tour we spent some time in the Space Center. There was so much to see that I can’t list it all! There were space suits, flown spacecraft, a moon rock, and exhibits on the space station and mars mission. Brian insisted that we do the flight simulator against my protests. It went upside-down, but wasn’t as scary as expected. I shouldn’t have let him drive, though, I think he underestimates motion sickness! I would make a terrible astronaut.
They also have the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905, with a replica of the Independence Shuttle mounted on it, and we went through the exhibits inside of the shuttle and aircraft.
We had fun geeking out at NASA. It’s a nerd paradise. Afterward, we were all hopped up on dehydrated space ice cream and went out and bought Apollo 13 so the space fun didn’t have to end!
Houston seems like a really diverse and interesting city, but we mostly focused on spending time with our friends, and didn’t worry about doing a lot in Houston. It was nice to have a more laid back stop, after our busy trip to New Orleans. We had Gavin, Diana, and Louis over to the trailer to show off our house, and get some help eating the meat we bought in New Orleans.
We also went with them to the Woodlands, which is a very planned suburb north of Houston. Diana’s parents live there, and we hung out in their beautiful hot tub!
The weather was nice, ranging from the 60s to the 80s! It felt pretty hot to us on those days in the 80s.
Gavin showed us around some more attractions in Houston. We went to Hermann Park and saw the weird ducks (Muscovy Ducks I think), and walked through McGovern Centennial Garden.
Afterward we went to the Rothko Chapel and Menil Collection. The Rothko Chapel was strange. I was expecting an art exhibit, since Rothko was a modern artist, but it’s actually a non-denominational chapel. So it was super quiet and the people in the room were all serious and meditating. It’s an octagonal room with large paintings on each wall, but the paintings are all black. Ok, maybe they are shades of black or slightly different hues, but basically black. I wish I could share a photo, but they don’t allow photography.
The Menin Collection is an art museum that is a lot bigger inside than it looks! We didn’t have time to see everything. Everything we saw that day, (the park, garden, chapel and art museum) were all free! We haven’t found too many free tourist attractions on our trip so far. I think Houston is a pretty wealthy city.
Thankfully for my recovering stomach, food wasn’t as much of a focus in Houston as in New Orleans. We did have some tasty Tex-Mex, and some Kolaches. Kolaches were basically buns with different fillings. We tried a bunch of the savory ones (bacon/egg/cheese, chicken enchilada, bbq pork…) and one sweet one. They were tasty.
And Brian made quesadillas!
Day 152 | Mile 15,236