Mission

MISSION:
To spend quality time in at least one area of every state. Quality time means exploring the area; rest stops, gas stations, airports or train stations do not count. The goal is to explore the natural and cultural environments of these regions. Each location visited has a story, pictures for my amateur hobby addiction, and maybe a piece of jewelry/art.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Great Plains (makes for a long drive)

Ever drive across the Great Plains?  I can't say that I have done the complete trip.  I was never lucky enough to do that cross country drive (I kick myself about that miss opportunity in Grad School.)  Recently, I was able to do about half... I drove with a friend from Denver to Houston via Oklahoma; meaning we drove through the plains of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  And just as I had been warned, it is monotonous and a long trip!  There is beauty to be seen in those rolling hills of grain, but if you are working on over 10 hours of rolling hills of grain, you can get mighty tired.

It  is a long drive from Denver to Houston... I good 18 hours.    Up to this point, the farthest East in Colorado I had been was Genoa and the areas of Kansas I had visited were on the Eastern end of the state... so, it was new (and it looked the same).

I drove the final leg of the trip from Dallas to Houston, and when you are tired, there is not much to keep you awake besides the Lady Gaga on rotation in the CD player (thank goodness of the goodness of the new CD).  We did not know how lucky we were with our trip; the wild fires shut down I-45 a few days later between the 2 cities.

By the time we hit Houston, it was well past midnight and I was ready to sleep... we stayed downtown at the "Inn by the Ballpark."  I have been to Houston a few times, but never stayed "downtown"... and honestly, I have never been a huge fan of Houston.  It is a sprawled out city without a lively downtown and insane zoning.  It doesn't make a lot of sense and for such a large city, it lacks a sense of centrality.  Staying by the Ballpark worked because we were going to a game, and there is nothing more convenient than that!  I am embarrassed to say that I did not know Minute Maid Stadium was covered, but with the stiffiling heat of the South, it made sense when I was not melting while watching the game.

I can't say I did not melt while visiting the Houston Zoo.  Wow - was it ridiculously hot at the zoo.  Simple to get to with the city's light rail from downtown, but sooo hot - when do you see the reptile house more crowded than the mega-fauna of the main grounds.  Most animals were sleeping, in hiding or in the water.  The zoo staff did show off the sea lion, and I have to say that I actually learned something... the giraffe exhibit/habitat was fantastic, showing different patterns on sub species of giraffes, including their Maasai herd.

While downtown Houston, I wandered a lot!  Visited the Historical Park, learning a little about Houston history and taking in the different home styles.  I was the only person on the tour, and I could tell that they were less than thrilled... still, the woman that took me around the grounds was informative and happy to show me her favorite houses.  We looked at a multi-use homestead home from the 1800's, a 2 level home (where you had to access the 2nd floor from the outside) from the 1840's, a gorgeous home from the 1860's, and a very modern home from 1905 with all the creature comforts of today.

Shopping downtown is pretty sparse.  I learned in previous trips that you had to head to Rice Village or the Galleria... did not have time this time.   Instead, I stopped by the shopping "mall" and Macy's in center city... found a costume jewelry story to buy rings for my nieces, but that was about it.  My friend and I did get a good dinner at the entertainment area and take in a comedy show at the Improve - Eddie Griffin was fantastic.  We both noticed that the club has had a serious face lift since last year...

Little did I know that while Texas was hot, Oklahoma was hotter!

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