Houston, TX

“Houston, the eagle has landed.”

My first stop in town is the space center where I purchased a season pass for $2 more than the one day entrance fee, plus it includes free parking. Always the spend thrift I pounce on the opportunity to exploit the parking. With pass purchased I park the home and roll the bike out, time to explore Houston. I stopped at the Texas visitor center in Amarillo and have been making a list of must see attractions for the last three weeks.

“Beer can house” is top on the list, a project started by John Milkovisch in 1968. It’s estimated there are more than 50,000 cans adorned on the house. The house is open for free tours on the weekends. I arrived on a Monday hoping just to take some quick pictures of the outside. I was greeted by Charles Adams, the caretaker of this great landmark. Charles was relocated from hurricane Katrina when his house was deemed imminent domain by the government. He now maintains the property four days a week and is still subsidized by the government for housing and living expenses. 

I am in awe of the volume of cans on the premises. The strings of cans dangling from the eves sound like wind chimes and have a soothing white noise effect as they drift in the wind. Every inch of the proporty is covered in cans, even the fence is constructed of cans filled with sand. I can only imagine the time and effort over the years to build such a shrine. It’s rumored that all cans of beer were consumed by John and his wife. There is no particular flavor of choice; whatever was on sale was the winner.

Leaving the beer can house I get confused and end up in a quaint little neighborhood that I cannot find my way out of. As I round a corner a giant road chicken comes into view!

I’m starting to think Houston is quite quirky. If the chicken wasn’t strange enough I spot “The Orange show”, homage to one man’s love of the orange. Jefferson Davis McKissack built this single handily from 1957 until it’s completion in 1979. This wacky attraction is also only open on weekends. So I peek through the fence and snap a couple pictures.

After a full day on the bike I head back to NASA and the home. I load the bike up and head out to an upper class neighborhood I scoped out earlier. Not wanting to spend another night at a noisy retail parking lot I find a nice quiet spot on the street. Not quite in front of any house, by a fence, where either neighbor might think I’m visiting the other.

The next day I start my routine again. I park at NASA, take out the bike to see the sights. I spot a 24 hour fitness and decide to check it out. I get a free five day pass and enjoy all the amenities, pool, hot tub, clean warm showers, I even work out for a couple hours.

One of my days I wander over to minute maid park and the old astrodome. I also head down to the business district and check out a huge water fountain and park with a giant chess set. The weather has been fantastic and I’m finally starting to thaw.

I’ve been quite frugal with my money and don’t eat out much but my trip to China town prompted a fantastic lunch at the Ocean Palace for dim sum and soup. The ladies come around with their carts of steaming food. You point at the small steaming container of your choice. No one speaks any English so you have to take your chances at what is really inside these delicious little pastries. One of the waitresses tries to explain each item but she only knows the word chicken. I find it humorous since there is no way everything is chicken. She points at one dish that is obviously eggplant and calls it shrimp. So I take my chances and try four or five items. The women mark your sheet with a little red stamp for the price of each item. I had a wonderful meal and even had some leftovers, who knows what I really ate.

Spending the six days wandering through NASA for a few hours each day has been fantastic. I’ve taken multiple tram tours, watched all the movies and seen all the live presentations. The space program is so fascinating to me. I’ve never been book smart but the complexity of space travel really intrigues me. I think of my dad often, he would really get a kick out of this.

I decide to take a day trip out to Galveston. I’ve been told the damage from Katrina is still apparent and they have rebuilt the Kemah boardwalk. I pack up the mutt and head out for a day in the sun. Chewy loves to go for bike rides and he is acclimating quickly to the warmer weather. The boardwalk was fantastic! So many sights and smells for the mutt. He is quite popular and wallowing in all the attention he is getting from strangers.

My gym pass has expired, I’ve seen all the sights at NASA and I’m starting to push my luck with rotating through the neighborhoods, I reluctantly decide to move on. I think I’m going to head further south to even warmer weather. Texas has a local brewery where they bottle “Shiner beer”. It reminds me of the local Rainier beer in Washington. So I’ll head that way and check out the brewery.

Houston, TX

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