Friday, November 15, 2013

Houston: 12 Sites in 12 Hours

Haltermons are renown for being sluggish sloths while vacationing. We don't leave town to expose ourselves to every facet of foreign culture, we take trips so that we can take naps.

Obviously, seeing 12 cools spots in Houston, Texas in 12 hours was not my idea. It was Quincy's.

And it was brilliant.

Houston Site #1 - Best Shot Firing Range
11 a.m.


Quincy's brother Corey was kind enough to invite us to hang with his informal gun club. It was my first trip to a gun range, though not my first time handling firearms. Corey's friends Katie and Ian were incredibly helpful, coaching me on zen breathing while trying not to flinch  upon firing.

Okay, I'm a chronic flincher. There's no hope for me.

Houston Site #2 - The Beer Can House
12 p.m.


This is a house that John Milkovisch, a retired Houstonian, decided to adorn in beer cans. I love that it's a home project that has become an infamous stop on any Houston sightseeing tour.

It's only open on the weekends, so we had to appreciate it from the street. No worries, though, because there's a lot to appreciate.

Houston Site #3 - Giant President Heads
1 p.m.


There is a field in an industrial area of Houston that is populated by dozens of 16-20 foot tall sculptures of U.S. presidents. It is stunning and beautiful and surreal and OMG IS THAT TEDDY ROOSEVELT?!

David Adickes designed these handsome busts for a couple of theme parks that eventually went under. I discovered this stop after googling "weird Houston" and was initially discouraged to learn that they were corralled behind a fence. Happily for us, though, the space wasn't enclosed at all, even giving me the chance to get cozy with Andrew Jackson.

Houston Site #4 - Stanton's City Bites
2 p.m.


Various authorities across the interwebs have declared that the best burgers in Houston can be found at Stanton's. As a vegetarian, I can neither confirm nor deny that, though I will say that the fries are effing fantastic, especially when washed down with a local root beer.

When I revealed to the cashier that I am a vegetarian, the look of shock and horror on her face couldn't have been more poignant than if I had told her I had an exotic and fatal disease.

Oh, Texas.

Houston Site #5 - Glenwood Cemetery
3 p.m.


Perhaps I've been spoiled by many beautiful snowy days spent exploring Cincinnati's own Spring Grove Cemetery, but I must admit I was less than captivated by Glenwood's 84 acres of monuments to mortality.

We went in search of something interesting and compelling. We mostly lounged around the rental car, reminiscing about Stanton's.

Houston Site #6 - The Art Car Museum
4 p.m.


While not exactly overflowing with art cars - there were three on the premises when we arrived - this sculpture gallery was fun, free and staffed with an exceptional lady who scared the crap out of us by activating an electronic installation as we walked by.

Well played, Art Car Museum. Well played.

Houston Site #7 - The Menil Collection
5 p.m.


If you decide to make your way to this incredible collection of modern art, here are a few tips:

1. It's pronounced "men - eeeel." If you pronounce it as though it rhymes with "fennel," you'll be appropriately chastised.

2. If you attempt the hug the outdoor sculpture, as I am in the above pic, you will be asked to leave. Oops.

Houston Site #8 - Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
6 p.m.


It appears the waterwall was closed for the season. I suppose that's what happens when you try to go swimming in Texas in November, but we were both pretty disappointed.

It was interesting to explore it in the dark, though. So, there's that.

Houston Site #9 - Buffalo Bayou Park
7 p.m.


We embarked to another park on a lark. We followed a trail that paced the bayou underneath a series of intricate highway overpasses, the quintessential image of Houston, if you ask me.

It was creepy and chilly and a great place to ponder the history of eastern edge of Texas.

Houston Site #10 - Downtown Aquarium
8 p.m.


Some of our planned stops on our Houston tour were thwarted. I had wanted to visit the observation deck on the JP Morgan Chase building downtown to snap some shots of the city skyline at night. Unfortunately, the surly lady at the other end of the intercom outside the building's locked door informed me that it was closed for construction and she was much too busy to help point us toward another interesting Houstonian attraction.

We were a little perturbed because, if there's one thing I noticed about Texans, it's that they are especially helpful.

It all worked out in the end, however, because we decided to give the Downtown Aquarium a try instead. And it was awesome! A hilarious merry-go-round ride, a terrifying trip on a Ferris wheel and a delightful half hour spent petting stingrays, and our hearts were again happy.

Houston Site #11 - Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge
9 p.m.


When designing the 12 in 12, I built in a stop at local saloon (found by googling "Houston hipster bar") because I figured we'd need a drink toward the end of the night.

While that might have been a little true, we were really just exceptionally tired and hungry. So, even though the pinball machines looked inviting, we didn't stay long.

It did look like a great place to sip local liquors, however. And google did not disappoint: It was hipster heaven.

Houston Site #12 - Community Bar
10 p.m.


We finished the day with two of my favorite things: homemade ginger ale and cheese fries.

Our adventures had us traipsing all over Houston and it was a great way to get a feeling for the city. We saw the weird and wonderful in this humongous metropolis, and it was fascinating to meet people from every walk of life.

I was absolutely pooped at the end of the day but I totally recommend marathon tourism. It made the nap I took the next day so much more satisfying.

No comments: