Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Houston's Hermann Park

I really don't want to go to Houston.  I have never liked Houston.  David and I returned from San Francisco on Saturday and on Monday, it's time to go and I just feel like...blah.  Maybe I can call in sick.

It doesn't work that way though.  There are people in Houston who have arranged their schedule around these 3 days with me.  I can't let them down. 

The sign at the bottom says "Houston we have landed" but all I can think is "Houston, we have a problem".  Seriously a COW as an astronaut?

I am already sweating and I am still inside the airport.  Dallas is hot and we have humidity but not compared to Houston.  They really have humidity.

So, since I am hot and sweaty, why not do something outdoors?  Using my GPS I see that there is a memorial to Sam Houston near my hotel.  I don't have a lot of time on this evening so I think this will be something quick to check out before dinner and bed.

I read somewhere that statues of mounted soldiers convey specific information through the leg position of the horse.  In this case, Sam's horse has one leg in the air which supposedly means that he died later due to wounds suffered in battle.  I also read that Sam died of pneumonia so you be the judge.

While working around a large herd of teenage girls in formal wear at the base of the statue to take this picture, I notice that there is a reflecting pool similar to the one in Washington D.C. (that I have never seen in person though I have been there twice) across the street.

It is a reflecting pool.

When I approach the statue at the end, I find out this is Hermann Park.  I passed some train tracks and a Japanese Garden (closed) walking over. Back at the hotel I do a little research on the park and make plans to return the next night.  The Houston Museum of Natural Science is attached to the park and is only open late one night a week.

The next day I leave straight from the office and go to the park.  My attire (gray slacks and a black shirt) are ill advised but if I go to the hotel first, I won't make it.  I want to check out the Japanese Garden (because it closes earlier than the museum and isn't open late any day) but I park at the museum since I will be leaving from here.  This means I walk back past the reflecting pool sweating the whole way.  Some visitors have figured out how to beat the heat.

By swimming just beyond the "Please no swimming or wading" sign, which obviously doesn't apply to them.

This boy and his family can either read or they respect the posted signs about swimming and utilize the spray fountains which are designed for this purpose.

You can rent paddle boats here.  I didn't because it is hot, humid, I am wearing business clothing and I am by myself.  I also didn't get to ride the train that goes around the park because I can't get here early enough.

In fact, there is a lot about this park I didn't see.  It covers 445 acres, it is 100 degrees and I am in my work shoes. 

At one time, you had to pay a fee to see the Japanese Garden but that recently changed and it is now free.  That is a good thing because having been to the one at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden, I would have been disappointed if I had paid.  The garden here is okay, nothing special.  A few statues, one building, some ponds, ducks, some really big turtles and exactly one other person.

It is starting to cloud up, which I am grateful for.

Until I come out of the garden and look towards Sam Houston because I hear a familiar noise.  I have lived in Texas all of my life so I know what those clouds and that noise mean.  Time to go to the museum, as quickly as possible.

I just made it.  I had time to pay for my tickets before the bottom dropped out.

The museum has a lot of things you can do but they all cost extra.  There is a planetarium with two remaining shows today.  There is a butterfly exhibit, one on the Titanic and one on the Warrior statues from China, among others.  I get a general admission ticket, both shows at the planetarium and the Warrior ticket.  Plus I pay for parking.  It isn't an inexpensive outing to "see it all" and I didn't even get to see it all.

First up is the planetarium show, "Cosmic Collisions" narrated by Robert Redford.  I haven't been to one of these since probably junior high and remember immediately why I avoid them.  I don't do well with the rounded ceiling.  I get motion sick at regular movies.  Fortunately this show is pretty short (no photos of course, not allowed) and I don't get too queasy.

Just queasy enough to know that I won't be eating at the McDonald's that is installed in the museum.  This costs extra too and they close a couple of hours before the museum does.

As I walk through the permanent exhibits I have to acknowledge that this doesn't interest me.  It isn't all that different than the exhibits I saw on field trips to the Fort Worth Museum of Science & Natural History as a kid.  The museum does brag that they are in the top 10 most visited museums in the nation so I tell myself am helping them keep that distinction.

Dinosaur Bones

Dinosaur in his "natural" habitat

The traveling exhibits, such as the Warriors, while more interesting, will make their way to the Dallas area so it isn't as if I would have totally missed this by passing it up in Houston. 

Two of the warriors.  This exhibit was pretty empty, I counted 5 total people besides me and the warriors.  It was really quiet in here which was rather nice compared to the main areas of the museum.  Plus it is very cool in here which makes me happy.

I am wrapping up the night with the final show at the planetarium - a show set to Led Zepplin music.  I am not a fan of Led Zepplin.  I don't dislike them but I would choose something else first.  Some of you already know what's coming.

I am on the verge of vomiting on the floor and I haven't even eaten.  It is a psychedelic convergence of colors and images set to music.  I can't look.  I hear someone near me say, "This is what it is like to drop acid".  All I can think is that if I ever decide to take acid, I better have some Dramamine handy.  There is one other problem.

President Kennedy is watching.  It is hard to think about dropping acid or aisle vomiting with the President watching.  During the first show, I thought this was the person talking about the "rules" and the show before it began.  I was surprised he stayed there the whole show.  I didn't get up when it was over because I was waiting for him to leave the podium.  I didn't want to be rude.

At the second show, Led Zepplin and the President had to carry on without me.  I didn't hurl but I didn't stay either.  I hope the President understood when I blew past him in a hurry to get to the exit. Fortunately the rain has stopped so I can hopefully make it to the hotel quickly where I am pretty sure I have motion sickness medicine in my traveling first aid kit.

Tomorrow I have plans to go to the Downtown Aquarium.  They have a Ferris Wheel.  I will not be partaking.

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