Houston is not so wonderous

  1. Astrodome
  2. Beer Can House
  3. Houston Ship Channel
  4. I-10 / Beltway 8 interchange
  5. Menil compound
  6. Saturn V rocket
  7. Quan Am sculpture

Seven wonders of Houston (Houston Chronicle)

Houston is pretty sad if a highway interchange is considered a wonder. Pretty good civil engineering, sure, but a wonder it is not. And beer can house? It’s certainly an interesting curiosity, but a wonder it is not.

Houstonians need to stop kidding themselves. Houston just doesn’t have highly visible, spectacular locales that are worthy of the label of wonder. Instead of showing how cool Houston is with a list like the one above, it only shows how lame Houston is when it comes to spectacle and wonder. Houston is a young, modern city that just happens to be in a very flat, featureless place. Houston doesn’t have the history of an east coast city or the geography and weather of a west coast city.

However, Houston does have its cool places to go, things to do, and places to see. The problem is that most of these are scattered all around the city and the biggest Houston wonder is the size of the city itself. It’s not that easy for visitors to go from place to place without experiencing Houston traffic or getting lost in loops and belts and roads that don’t actually go in the direction in the name – Highway 59 North and South from downtown to 610 actually goes east and west, 290 East and West from 610 to 6 actually goes southeast and northwest. Oh, and visitors usually go by the highway number like I-10 or US-59, but Houstonians and our tv and radio refer to these by name like Katy Freeway, East Freeway, Eastex Freeway, or Southwest Freeway.

Anyway, if you want to see wonders, Houston isn’t the place for you. But, if you want to shop, eat great food, visit great museums, take in a show, or live in a decent house for half or a quarter of what it costs for the same house in other cities, come to Houston!

As if we need even more to worry about...

Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that Texans who are legally licensed should be able to carry their concealed handguns anywhere, including churches, bars, courthouses and college campuses.

Perry: Banning pistols isn’t the answer

Terrific – our governor wants to permit people to carry concealed weapons anywhere they want.

In the immortal words of Tim Duncan, this idea is retarded.

The idea of people legally allowed to carry guns around at church, courthouses, bars, and college campuses is downright frightening. After what happened at Virginia Tech a couple of weeks ago, the absolute last thing college students need to be concerned about is figuring out how many of their classmates have 9 mm pistols in their backpacks. To think that students arming themselves would have helped matters in that case is ludicrous. I think college students carrying around handguns would cause more incidents like Virginia Tech rather than deterring them from taking place.

Gun safety rule #1 – don’t keep the gun loaded. So if Perry gets his way, am I going to believe that people will carry around their guns and ammunition separately? Of course not. People are going to carry around loaded weapons. Then you’ll have all kinds of gun accidents in these public places. And you’ll have an increase in arguments escalating very quickly into guns being drawn or shot in public places.

I always thought the concealed gun law was stupid. If you want to deter someone from pulling a gun on you, you shouldn’t conceal the weapon – just wear that sucker on your hip. I guarantee I wouldn’t mess with you if I saw you were armed. Besides, if someone does pull a gun on you and doesn’t shoot right away, you fumbling around your backpack for your gun will provoke the dude into shooting you for sure.

I’m pretty sure our law enforcement folks do not want every odd person toting around concealed guns in public places. I’m also pretty sure our judges and juries don’t want the criminals or their families carrying pistols into the courtroom. I sure hope common sense prevails and the concealed gun law stays the way it is since it’s unlikely it will be taken off the books in this state.

The road home

Breakfast: ham, cheese, pineapple frittata; zuchini walnut loaf; fruit salad with cantaloupe, bananas, white syrup, candied pecans; orange juice; coffee

After breakfast, we unwillingly packed up and loaded the car and vacated the cottage we were only beginning to get used to. It was a very nice place to stay and it beats the heck out of staying in a cookie-cutter hotel that smells like stale smoke and puts out store bought donuts and bagels and Sunny Delight on a counter and calls that a continental breakfast. We’ll likely come back to stay at this same cottage next time.

Camp David Bed & Breakfast – nice, quiet, comfortable cottages in F-burg. Each cottage is a separate unit with its own full-sized bathroom, kitchen, and king size bed. We stayed in the Cedar, which is primarily designed with white, blue, and yellow. Although we could have lived without it, high speed Internet (wired) and cable TV were a big convenience. Very nice.

Before we left F-burg, we made a couple of stops to pick up a few things for ourselves and for some friends and family. Our first stop was Chocolat, a chocolate confectionery (duh) that specializes in liquid filled chocolates. We had to have a sample – Dana tried the capuccino while I tried the black cherry. Both were extremely good. They enforce their policy of 1 sample piece per customer. In retrospect, we should have gone here once every day just to try more flavors. Maybe next time.

Our other stop was the jerky store, Whittington’s Jerky. Again, more free samples. I liked the hot beef and the traditional beef flavors. They also had some dips and sauces to sample and I really dug their honey mustard pretzel dip and the chow chow. Maybe next time. We picked up some jerky for ourselves (some traditional beef and some traditional turkey) and a little bit more for others and hit the road.

I decided to take us home by way of San Antonio [SA] instead of going back through Austin. We got into northwest SA by about 1 and cruised over to Pam’s Patio Kitchen for lunch. I had read about Pam’s on the web while browsing potential lunch spots around SA. Turned out to be a nice choice. The place was brightly colored and festive inside and the food was fresh, healthy, and flavorful. Dana had a Thai beef salad – romaine greens topped with seasoned, marinated spicy beef with a peanut dressing served over jasmine rice. I had their salad/sandwich combo – a southwest caesar salad and a pastrami sandwich on pumpernickel. The tortilla chips were fried in house and were quite tasty with the red salsa they served. Pam’s is the kind of place we’d visit frequently if we were in the area – a varied selection, lots of healthy choices, fresh, tasty and a casual atmosphere – and the prices aren’t bad.

Buc-ee's

The road home from SA (I-10) is pretty boring. Whenever you’re on the road between Houston and SA you must stop at Buc-ee’s, a huge gas station, convenience store, fast food, deli, country store place in the middle of nowhere (Luling). Buc-ee’s has pretty decent bathrooms – it’s not your typical hick-town gas station – and snacks and drinks out the wazoo. The country store part actually took me by surprise, but they have a very good selection of trinkets and souvenirs and other country-style and Texas stuff. The prices aren’t too awfully terrible, although this is a convenience store after all so you know there’s a significant markup. Anyway, we spent a few minutes looking around the store before we took off (I didn’t need gas because I had filled up at a Shell station in SA for $2.679 per gallon – about 10-20 cents lower than just about all other gas stations I saw that day).

We didn’t run into that much traffic when we got back into Houston, but once I hit the Beltway, I had to put on my Houston driving gloves and helmet because I was once again driving to save my life. It’s odd how once you cross a certain line, the driving styles change drastically from people being respectful, moving to the right to allow others to pass, and using turn signals to people tailgating at 80 mph, changing lanes randomly without looking, passing at high speed on either the left or right, no turn signals whatsoever, driving into your blind spots and staying there, and not allowing you to change lanes despite signalling and having room to drop back to let you in. Houston driving is great.

Despite all that, we made it home safely and without incident. It was a nice vacation out of town, but it was also nice to come back home.