Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Houston Art Car Parade

When we first arrived in Pearland,  our friend Tom gave us lots of suggestions for things to see and do in the area one of them was the Art Car Museum, and he mentioned that there was also an Art Car Parade.  It just happened to be the weekend before we were leaving, so we kept it on our list of possibilities.

As the weekend got nearer, we started debating whether we should go downtown for the parade.  It meant going back to downtown Houston . . . but it sounded pretty cool.  There was a chance for thunderstorms, but mostly north of town, so we decided to give it a try.

It turns out that driving TO downtown Houston is a lot easier than driving THROUGH or AROUND downtown Houston!  We took the non-toll highway right into town, and as soon as traffic started to backup, we exited and took surface streets the rest of the way (only a couple of miles).  We drove almost to where the road closures started, and found a place to park in a corner vacant lot in a nearby neighborhood.

We had targeted a location near the end of the parade route, and figured we would walk towards the beginning of the route until we found a good spot to stop and watch.  We got there right around the time that the parade should be getting started at the other end of town.

We were really surprised to see that the “line up” for the parade extended all the way back to where we were!  It was nice though – we could walk along the parkway and look at the cars while they were still stationary.

Some of them were pretty interesting – this was probably most unusual use of a Flex that we’ve ever seen!

Many vehicles were decorated to look like something else, and others were just decorated . . . with a variety of materials.

This one was covered in beer caps – really a work of art!

This motorhome and their tow car were also completely covered – in pieces of glass and metal . . . and who knows what else!

Very cool – and they really do live in it!

It would be interesting to run into them in a campground somewhere!

They weren’t the only RV in the parade, either . . . there was this cute little camper, too!

Then there were some “cars” that were just interesting . . .

Wow – I don’t think there’s an inch of available space on that car!!

We talked to the guy who brought this car all the way from Ohio – it’s the 4th art car that he’s created.

From works of art to  . . . well, just interesting!

The Crapper Car was pretty funny – and that was even a real guy sitting in there!

Then there was the Mystery Machine crew . . . they we having fun posing for pictures!

By the time we finished walking through the vehicles still waiting to start moving, we could see the beginning of the parade getting closer to us, so we found a good spot along the road to watch from.

The vehicles started rolling toward us . . .

the variety continued to amaze us!


a Party Bus,

and food – tacos and donuts!

Some were trying to send a message,

(Seriously, those are all PEEPS!!)

Art is everywhere . . . .

Then there were several versions of “hippie buses promoting love for everyone --

the classic,

the modern,

and the pre-historic!

And this “Piggy Bank” promoting earning and saving money!

We got about 3/4 of the way through the parade, and suddenly there was a quickly-moving blob of dark clouds gathering over our heads.  It started to rain lightly, and we were able to keep dry by standing under a tree.  Then the wind picked up, and and the rain started coming down a lot harder . . . we moved to a larger tree, but it didn’t provide much protection!

This guy stopped under our tree to tell us it was raining . . . lol!

The parade was advertised as continuing, rain or shine, but they saw lightning near the center of town, so the parade was halted for about 15  minutes.  By the time it started again, the rain had passed over us, and the sun was coming back out!  That’ll help dry us out!

We could have used them during the rain!

More theme vehicles . . .


(this was was playing “La Cucaracha” as it raced down the street!)

space vehicles from NASA,

-- real and fictional --

and zombies!

A few more “normal” vehicles,

and a few more unusual . . . .

and that about wrapped up the parade.  It was fun, and definitely interesting!

It was about dinnertime by then, so we stayed downtown and looked for someplace interesting for dinner.  The Burger Joint had really good reviews online, and a long line when we arrived, so we decided it was a good option.

Good choice – our burgers and fries were delicious, although Tom says he probably wouldn’t get the Kimchi burger again!

It was a good day, and a nice way to wrap up our stay in the Houston area!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A day at the beach–Galveston Island

During our last week in Texas, the weather really started to improve – with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s/low 80s!  We decided that we needed to take advantage of it before we moved on, so I scheduled a “mental health day” off work, and we headed for the beach on Galveston Island.

Once we reached the island. we drove south to Jamaica Beach, where we could drive the Jeep onto the sand.  We found a good spot – there were lots to choose from; not too many people at the beach – parked the Jeep, and set up our chairs.

I had downloaded a new book onto my Kindle e-reader, so I was all set and ready to spend the next couple of hours reading in the sun as a nice cooling breeze blew off the water.

What a beautiful day! 

I was content with my book, but Tom got a little bored – he talked to the people around us, and a couple of women walking their dogs on the beach, and then he walked down the beach for a while to see who else was around.

I just enjoyed the day until I started feeling a little crispy . . . I eventually turned my chair around to get out of the sun somewhat.  By the time he got back from his walk, I was ready to pack up and head back to the RV Park.

Rather than going back through downtown Galveston, we continued south along the island, until the road turned and crossed back over to the mainland.

There were several nice RV Resorts, lots of beach houses, and a fair number of cattle!

At the far south end of the island, there was a small remote beach that looked pretty nice.

There were several people there, enjoying the beautiful day!

That looked like a nice location the hang out, too.

Once we reached the mainland, we stopped at a truck stop for a quick snack, and continued on through several small towns on the way tot e TV Resort.  It was a longer drive, but we always enjoy trying out an alternate route and seeing new scenery.

Once back home, we cleaned up and got ready to go out to dinner with Tom & Karen.  We’ve been wanting to try Killen’s BBQ (a local favorite), so that was our dinner destination for the evening.

We all had the beef brisket – YUM!!

It was very good, and we were all stuffed when we walked out of there!

Thanks for going with us, Karen & Tom – we know it was such a sacrifice  for you, having to eat out again!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Galveston County Rodeo

As we were arriving in the Houston area back in March, the huge Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show was just wrapping up.  We thought about going, but with it being our first day in the area and not knowing our way around . . . not to mention the huge crowds that go to the Houston Rodeo (Brad Paisley was the headliner on Sat., and George Strait on Sunday), we decided to skip it.

Later when we saw that the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo was coming up, we decided that it was more our speed, and our friends Tom & Karen thought so, too, so we made plans to go together.

The rodeo was in the evening, and we got there a couple hours early so we could walk around and check out the fair beforehand.  It was similar to the county fair at home, with 4H animals on display, carnival rides, and fair food!

We walked through the animal barn first – the cows were getting ready for showing.

This guy was a very interesting color – I’ve never seen a stripes hide on a cow before.

I think this poor guy was some type of educational display (and no, Tom is NOT doing what it looks like he’s doing!  )

The cows are always my favorites, but there were pigs and chickens, too,

and turkeys!  We had to make the Toms pose with the turkeys!!

Just a couple of “Tom Turkeys”!!

After checking out all the animals, we still had time before the rodeo was due to start, so we walked towards the fair to see what was going on. 

We passed by these silly clowns,

and they decided that I needed a balloon hat . . . and a red nose!

Oh yes, that’s cute . . . I let Tom wear the hat for a while!

We walked through the rides,

(It was a little foggy that evening)

more rides, food booths,

and carnival games.

Beyond the carnival area, we were surprised to see a huge number of BBQ cookers set up – it looked like they came from all over Texas, and even the surrounding states! 

It smelled really good around there, but all of the areas were roped off and had “By invitation only” signs, and we weren’t sure what you had to do to get invited!

It was getting close to rodeo time then, so we made our way back to the big pavilion and found some seats.

Just in time for the Star Spangled Banner!

We saw Bronco Riding (didn’t catch any pictures of that), calf roping,

and barrel racing  --  that’s a girl’s sport . . . . and they’re pretty darn good at it!  They have to be really fast, and have excellent control over their horse!

There were a couple of events for the kids then.  The first group had to try to grab a ribbon off the tail of five calves . . .

The kids all lined up in the center of the arena,

and the calves were released . . . they did not want to let the kids get close to them!!

There were a few helpers around to help slow the calves down . . .

It looked like all the kids had fun, and nobody got run over, so that was a good thing!

The next group of kids had to try to catch a little pig . . .

that was hilarious – as soon as the cowboys released the pigs, they made a beeline for the fence around the arena and took off outside!  They eventually caught both of them, though!

The next event was a team event – it looked like mostly guys in their 20s participating in this one.  There were several bulls released in the arena, and each team had to catch one,

get a saddle on it,

and get one team member up in the saddle to ride the bull!

The team that kept their guy on the bull the longest was the winner . . . and there weren’t many who managed to stay on the bull for more than a second or two, but this guy stayed on and rode the bull all around the arena!  IT was hilarious!

The final event of the night was the bull riding, and the clowns were getting ready!

There were several guys who attempting the ride, and not too many were successful . . . and it was very difficult to get pictures. 

Some of these bulls were really feisty!  One guy got stepped on pretty bad, but he managed to get back on his feet!

This bull looked like he didn’t want anybody on his back, and he was letting everybody know it!

That was the end of the show, and we made our way out of the arena.  We were surprised at how many people were still there, riding the rides and listening to the band,

and as we were walking out to the parking lot, people were still coming in!  It was still pretty foggy, but otherwise a really nice night.

It was fun, and just enough rodeo for us!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Johnson Space Center

Here in Pearland, we are very close to the Johnson Space Center (which is the actual, working space center) and Space Center Houston (which is the interactive museum right next to the NASA grounds.

So close, in fact, that when they were filming the movie, “Apollo 13” at the Johnson Space Center, the actors ate at the little Mexican restaurant that is just about a 1/4 mile down the road from the RV Park.  We went in there for dinner last week, and saw the autographed picture on the wall, and enjoyed the “Tom Hanks Special” (a.k.a. chicken enchiladas) for dinner.

It was good – and getting closer to the ‘Yankee” version of Mexican food that we’re used to, and prefer!

So, since we were so close the the space center, we decided to check it out.  We got a little distracted on the way there, and stopping for lunch at Jason’s Deli, and had to go into the Container Store (never been in one before).  Boy – if they can’t get your life organized, you’re beyond hope!

That little detour resulted in us not getting into the Space Center until 1pm, and they closed at 5pm, so we had to be efficient in our visit.  We went straight to the tram tours of the Johnson Space Center, and picked the one (there are two different tram tours – Mission Control, and the Astronaut Training Center) with the shorter line.

Now, it would have been nice if you could sign up for a tour time and look around while you waited, but they don’t do that, so we just stood in line for the next 45 minutes, until it was our turn to get on the tram.

Our destination was Mission Control.

Our tram drove us across the road the the JSC, past the resident longhorns,

and the Saturn V Building (we would stop there on the return trip).

Once we arrived at Mission Control, we waited on the first floor for the previous tour group to exit.  There were several Mission Control workstations on display, demonstrating the evolution of technology in the last 50+ years.

Early Space Days (the Apollo Era)

The next evolution (Space Shuttle Era), and the current setup to the right

Mission Control

This is the room that was used for all of the Apollo Space Flights, and now it’s a training room (it was a pretty light training day) and the monitor was showing the live feed from the International Space Station.  The astronauts had completed their space walk, and were getting out of their suits and going back into the space station.

The map in the center of the large screen tracks the progress of the International Space Station as it orbits around the Earth. 

This room is designated to become the Mission Control Room for the Orion Missions to Mars in the future . . . that’s pretty cool!

As we were getting back on the tram, I noticed these two old-looking bikes parked next to the building.

As we continued driving around the Space Center grounds, our tour guide was pointing out the different buildings, and she mentioned the bikes, which were parked outside just about every building.  She said they were donated by Schwinn to the JSC in 1969 so that the employees and astronauts could get around the campus easily.  There’s a whole fleet of them, and these 50-year-old bikes are still being maintained and used around the campus today!

At the end of our tour, our tram stopped at the Saturn V Building,

and Rocket Park.

We were hoping to get back in time to catch the last tour time for the Astronaut Training Center, so we quickly made our way into the Saturn V Building to look at the big rocket.  Had we been thinking, we should have just stayed on the tram and gone back for the other tour, because we could have seen the rockets at the end of that tour . . . but we obviously weren’t thinking.

Oh well . . . we went inside . . . WOW!

That’s a big rocket!  It was the last Saturn V rocket ever built, and it was never used.

You don’t want to be that close when those fire up!

We just missed getting on the next tram going back, so we weren’t going to be able to make it on the last tour.  We were bummed at first, but then decided that if we went on the tour we wouldn’t get to see any of the other exhibits, so it was for the best.

The large center room of the museum has lots of interactive displays, mostly geared towards kids, so we skipped those and went right to the Starship Gallery.

There were many displays representing the progression of space travel.

Life onboard a spaceship in the 1960s. . .

and now on the International Space Station.

From the Starship Gallery, we walked through the Lunar Vault,

where we saw lots of samples of moon rocks, and even got to touch one!

There’s a lot of research going into studying the moon!

Moon Boots – they were all the rage when I was a kid!!

Our last stop for the day was Independence Plaza,

where they have Space Shuttle replica Independence is mounted on top of the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft.

The inside of the space shuttle shows where the astronauts traveled in the front area of the spacecraft,

while the majority of the space was used for cargo, like this giant satellite.

It was very cool to get an up-close look at the shuttle, even if it was just a replica – it looked very real!

Inside the 747 – the shuttle carrier aircraft – there were displays showing how the aircraft was developed and fine-tuned to be able to carry the shuttle on its back.  It was a very important job, and saved NASA lots of time and money getting the shuttles from California to Florida after every flight.

It was a fun and interesting day, and we wish we had gotten there a little earlier so that we could have fully explored all the exhibits.