Written by Vanilla Sugar on 21 Oct, 2008
The history of Texas is bloodied by the lives lost in the battles of Goliad and San Jacinto. We visited both of these silent battlefields – our first stops along our 10,000 mile grand tour of the US and Canada.To me Goliad meant only…Read More
The history of Texas is bloodied by the lives lost in the battles of Goliad and San Jacinto. We visited both of these silent battlefields – our first stops along our 10,000 mile grand tour of the US and Canada.To me Goliad meant only a small town name on the red line of Highway 59 on the Texas map. Ed recognized the significance of the town right away. When we lived in Texas from August of 2001 to April of 2007, Ed studied assorted books on Texas history so he suggested we stop."The darkest day in Texas history, the Goliad Massacre, took place on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, when Col. James Walker Fannin and 341 men under his command were executed a week after their capture at the Battle of Coleto Creek, under orders of the Mexican dictator, General Santa Anna." I read in a hushed voice to Ed from the "Presidio La Bahía" brochure as we began our visit.Presidio La Bahía: A National Historic LandmarkIn history, the Presidio was a fort garrisoned by Spanish soldiers for the protection of the missions and nearby settlements. In Goliad, Presidio La Bahía is "considered to be the world’s finest example of a Spanish frontier fort" and earned designation as a National Historic Landmark. The Spanish of the Province of Texas established the Presidio in response to the encroachment of the French. Over time, it became the most fought after fort in Texas history, having been part of six national revolutions and wars for independence. Spanish, Mexican and Texas soldiers all felt the forcible changes of governmental order in Texas. The Presidio was restored in the 1960s under the Catholic Diocese of Victoria. It is this authentic restoration and lasting memorial that we visited.We walked through the officer’s quarters where remnants of uniforms hung and dinner ware set preserved in glass encasements. We peered through the gun portals of the fort’s thick stone walls to now peaceful grassy fields. I stood sentry in the guard tower for a photo. And, then we touched the deadly a canon once used to kill approaching enemies. Today, it points over a field of yellow Texas wildflowers. We stood at the water well, a central feature of the internal grounds. I imagined unlocking the gate with a specially forged key in the shape of a Christian crucifix, then pushing on the heavy wooden door to walk along a path once leading to the San Antonio River. A bell from the chapel in the quadrangle called us to prayer. Our Lady of Loreto Chapel: One of the Oldest Churches in AmericaIn Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, I left an offering and lit a large candle in honor of the soldiers. Fannin’s men were held here during part of their captivity before the massacre. Flags representing the men’s states and countries hung in one of the chapel rooms –a tribute to these fallen men. From the front pew, we studied the fresco of Mary and stature of Our Lady of Loreto. In the quiet of this revered place, the snap of our matches echoed as we lit votive candles - one each by Ed and me, our meditations silent and private. We genuflected and exited to explore more of this historic site.Zaragoza Birthplace: Official Site for Cinco de Mayo The building which is the birthplace of Ignacio Sequín Zaragoza stands outside the walls of Presidio La Bahia. He grew-up to become a military hero. He is the Mexican general who on May 5, 1862, led the outnumbered militia of farmers and merchants in Mexico’s battle for independence against the French army. It is in his honor that Cinco de Mayo is a national Mexican holiday. In tribute, his statue stands on a grassy elevation overlooking the surrounding area of Goliad, a city recognized as the official site of Cinco de Mayo. The sculpture captures Zaragoza with a stately stance and commanding expression showing a man of courage, leadership and intellect.Fannin Monument: A Distressing Loss in the Texas RevolutionTexas wild flowers cover the landscape surrounding the Fannin Monument as if honoring the dead blanketing the site where bodies laid at the battle’s end. This monument commemorates Colonel James W. Fannin and the men under his command in the Battle of Coleto – one of the most disastrous defeats in the struggle for Texas independence. These men surrendered and were imprisoned. Held only one week as prisoners of war, these are the men executed in the Goliad Massacre.Mission Espíritu Santo: What Would the Franciscans Think?The Franciscan priests who established the Mission Espiritu Santo in 1722 would be surprised today to learn that their settlement is now Goliad State Park. The Mission was originally established as a self-contained settlement on the frontier of New Spain by the Catholic Church to Christianize and civilize the Indians. It included a church, residence for the priests, quarters for the Indians, workshops for spinning cloth and making clay pots, forge, and granary. Land surrounding the Mission supported live stock and crops. The San Antonio River created a natural boundary. Today, some 44 RV sites provide electric and water for modern day settlers who come for a weekend visit in houses on wheels, linked to satellites for cell phones, Internet and TV. Closeness to the river and woods are no longer linked to survival. River access to the San Antonio River and Aranama Nature Trail are purely recreational for wildlife viewing and enjoyment of the subtropical woodlands and wild flowers. Religious conversion is gone. The Mission Espíritu Santo – an icon to the Spanish colonial era - hosted a local talent show during our weekend stay. The chapel’s baptismal font looked unused but votive candles still burned for prayerful intensions. A coin box collects the offerings. The confessional box – well, I’m not sure how the sinful would make a private confession and be absolved confidentially of their sins. And, exhibits of mission life fill the priest’s residence and granary. What would the Franciscans think if they could see their Mission today? Surely they’d be surprised. For me, I am awed by these historical sites, the battlegrounds and fragments of past cultures that weave, connect and built the country we live in today. That is why our next stop would be San Jacinto. San Jacinto Monument: A National Historic Landmark We could see the San Jacinto Monument for miles on our highway approach. At its baser, we struggled with our cameras to capture its entire height within the lens. The 570-foot Monument stands taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. – a deliberate goal in its planned construction. On top sets a Texas star designed so that five points can be visible from any viewpoint. We circled the base and found this claim to be true. Because the structure is constructed of reinforced concrete faced with Texas fossilized buff limestone, the indentations of shells add interesting texture to the surfaces. If you read all the text in the display cases housed in the San Jacinto Museum of History located in the base of the Monument shaft, you’ll find historical artifacts documenting colonization and this battle for independence. It’s almost more than can be absorbed in a short visit. I squinted to read the hand written letters by Spanish priests documenting progress in the New World. I found newspaper clippings reporting accounts of the fight for independence. There were guns and uniforms as you would expect too – all give testament to this historic place.The San Jacinto Monument marks the site of the final battle for Texas independence from Mexico. Here Sam Houston’s small Texas army defeated the superior forces of Mexican General Santa Anna in just minutes on April 21, 1836. At this battlefield on that day in April, the fall of the Alamo on March 6th was a recent memory. They did "Remember the Alamo". More men had been lost at Goliad on March 27th. Revenge and the drive to win came alive here. The battle was won at San Jacinto, this revered historic place.= Close
Written by stomps on 20 Dec, 2006
John Milkovisch must have had the most loving, caring, patient wife in the world. I certainly don't know what I do if one day my husband came in and told me he didn't want to mow the lawn anymore so he was just going to…Read More
John Milkovisch must have had the most loving, caring, patient wife in the world. I certainly don't know what I do if one day my husband came in and told me he didn't want to mow the lawn anymore so he was just going to pave over it. Oh, and by the way, he was going to put little trinkets in the pavement, like 222 (the house's street number) written out in marbles on the driveway. Perhaps I could handle that, since it would be somewhat of a novelty - why get one of those reflective curb street numbers when you can have reflective marbles engrained in the driveway instead?Maybe I could deal with a man who didn't like to throw things away - I mean, I've lived for a good amount of time now with the Queen Packrat herself, my mother. However, she never tried to decorate the house with the various homework assignments and children's novels that she refused to throw away. John Milkovisch did just that with his 6-pack-a-day from 1968 til the day he died some 20 years later. Our clues sheet said over 39,000 beer cans adorn this house in some way or another, and after seeing it, that's not hard to believe at all. The gate is made solely out of the tops of beer cans, the top of the fence is coated in "Texas Pride" labels, and the rest of the fence consists of whole beer cans, bottom out. The entire outside of the house is engulfed in various beer can colors, mostly faded to yellow, blue, and white now. These were meticulously cut away from the top and bottom of the can and then rolled flat before being added to the house's unique siding. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the house when John's widow was still living there (in the early 2000's) when, dangling off the front porch and adding to the house's effect, there were full curtains made of pull tabs. Apparently these made great windchimes.The house, located at 222 Malone St (just west of TC Jester on Washington Ave in the Heights) really is a sight to behold. I've heard of it quite a few times, and seen pictures in various "Weird Texas" books, but those are nothing like actually standing in front of the fence, taking a picture with your friends and hoping you don't scrape yourself because there's a good chance of getting tetanus. We definitely spent the longest here of any stop on our whirlwind tour of Houston, mostly because it took us quite a while to pick up our jaws off the marble-encrusted pavement. Houston really is fortunate for the Orange Show Foundation, who took over care of the Beer Can House after Mrs. Milkovisch's death, even if they did remove the windchime curtains, because there is really no place outside Ripley's where you will see a spectacle like this. The House had a sign on the fence pointing out what it was and who it was owned by, but it had no sign of ever being open to the public, despite things I have read about it being turned into a museum. Perhaps this is taking quite a long time because Mrs. Milkovisch did have one rule for her husband: no beer can decorating inside the house. Therefore, they are either decorating the entire interior to match the exterior, or making the best, most beer-filled exhibit known to man. I can't decide which.Unfortunately, we had to move on after five or ten minutes, although I'm confident we could have stood and gawked all day. Our quick visit to the Heights was over, and we were off to the Downtown area, where we found quite a few locations but none that really caught our fancy. After we made our way around the extensive traffic jams caused by all of the wild folks attending the Annual Quilting Festival, we made it to Rice Village with just enough time to wildly sprint past our remaining locations, as described in my next entry. Close
The first place we found in the Heights was the ArtCar Museum, which, along with the ArtCar Parade, is designed to showcase art that more traditional institutions will not. Located at 140 Heights Boulevard (between Washington Ave and the Katy Freeway), we somehow managed to…Read More
The first place we found in the Heights was the ArtCar Museum, which, along with the ArtCar Parade, is designed to showcase art that more traditional institutions will not. Located at 140 Heights Boulevard (between Washington Ave and the Katy Freeway), we somehow managed to only notice it as we drove past, even though the building was one of the most distinctive structures I had seen in a long time. The ArtCar Museum's website says that the "Garage Mahal"'s roof "evokes a Byzantine temple and its silvery carport provides an agora for people to meet beneath the giant Texas sky and the star of solidarity." Essentially, it is a striking, giant silver building that looks like someone has covered it in tinfoil decorations. Sitting under the carport and in the 711 parking lot next door are not your typical cars; one was visibly a souped-up bathtub, while another had so many colors sprinkled across its chrome that I felt it should have come complete with a pot of gold and a leprechaun.In the left-hand corner of the driveway, a cowboy on his horse was a splash of brown against the otherwise very silver exterior of the museum. This was what we had been sent to find; we had to find out what "the man on the horse in front of the museum" was holding. It turns out that, not surprisingly, the cowboy had a gun. I should mention that this was not a real cowboy, nor a typical statue of one; rather, he was made completely of rather rusted metal that made him look like, perhaps, he had been sitting there since cowboys actually rode their horses down the streets of Houston (which, contrary to what many people ask me in other countries, does not happen today - at least, when it's not February/rodeo time).As much as we wished we could go into the museum, take in the exhibits (which showcase non-car artwork as well), and just stand and gaze at the creative cars before us, we wouldn't have made it very far on our quest that way. Instead, we posed together on an interesting car grill that doubled as a seat outside the front entrance before getting back in my very boring, monochrome car. We were there long enough to find out that the museum is only open Wednesday-Sunday (since it doesn't exactly have the sponsorship of other, slightly larger museums) from 11-6. I thought there was a small admission price, but I could find no mention of it on their website. I would guess that it is somewhere in the range of $5.The other, quite out-of-the-ordinary museum we found in the Heights was the Museum of Cultural Arts, Houston (MOCAH for short). To get here, we drove east on Washington Ave, turned left on Sawyer Rd, and then, after passing plenty of warehouses, turned left on Summer Street. The smell that greeted us was disgusting; we don't know what the warehouses were holding, but it couldn't be anything good. We soon switched to breathing solely through our mouths, but luckily the smell wasn't nearly as bad at the actual museum. Part of the museum was outdoors and didn't exactly house a typical collection of artifacts. In fact, we could see some of the "artifacts" as we pulled up - 32 president's busts, each approximately 15 feet tall. People had told me about them beforehand, but I thought they would be normal-sized, not three times my height!As we walked down the red carpet leading from the outer fences of the museum, we attempted to identify the different figures before us. Unfortunately, we were only successful with the obvious ones - Lincoln & Teddy Roosevelt, for example - and the more recent ones. It seemed like there were presidents hiding everywhere too - at least as much as a 15-foot-tall figure can hide - since we walked to the end of the walkway and found it turned a corner and held at least five more presidents; on our return walk, we looked to our right and saw a lot full of in-progress presidents. There must have been some sort of event going on, since there were a lot of people hanging around (and not just the stunned Rice students trying to fathom the reason for such a huge number of giant presidential busts) as well as a greeting table just outside the entrance and just in front of Abe Lincoln's decapitated head. We didn't get to see everyone's favorite president, but I have a feeling they are waiting until after his term has been over for a while so they don't have to constantly clean graffiti/eggs/rotten fruit off of it.The last interesting place we found in The Heights has an entry to itself - "The Beer Can House." Close
After visiting the Museum District, we continued down Montrose towards the various Montrose area locations on our list. We nearly passed the first, the Houston Public Library's Freed-Montrose branch at 4100 Montrose, before even noticing it was there! An interesting fact about this library, listed…Read More
After visiting the Museum District, we continued down Montrose towards the various Montrose area locations on our list. We nearly passed the first, the Houston Public Library's Freed-Montrose branch at 4100 Montrose, before even noticing it was there! An interesting fact about this library, listed on our clues sheet, was that "libraries are considered temples of knowledge. In this case, it’s quite literal. The complex now houses the Freed-Montrose branch of the Houston Public Library used to be the Central Church of Christ." Fortunately for me, since I was passing the library when we noticed it, we didn't actually have to stop there. The ivy creeping up the red brick walls, the answer to "what is covering the exterior walls of the library?", was definitely noticeable from our side of the road and needed no further inspection.After a bit of a wander around the University of St. Thomas, which I found interesting since my cousin graduated from there, yet I'd never set foot on the campus, we found another location - the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum. Located at 4011 Yupon St, "this free museum houses the only collection of intact Byzantine frescoes in the western hemisphere. These 13th century works were stolen from a Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus, cut into pieces, and smuggled by thieves in the 1980s. The Menil Foundation, with the approval from the Church of Cyprus, the original owner, acquired the frescoes and restored them." I was really interested in seeing the frescoes, but since I was the driver, I didn't get to get out of the car. After seeing them, my friends were left in awe, so this was another location that I marked as having to see before leaving Houston.Closeby, at 1601 W. Main St, was Café Artiste. The café is definitely noticeable, since a vivid mural surrounds the parking lot outside. The café looked like a good place to study, and it had much more personality to it than a Starbucks. Plus, they sell much more than just coffee; you can choose between burgers, plate-sized pancakes, and their special "Egg Orleans", which is their version of eggs Benedict.When we wound our way back to the nearest main intersection, with Richmond, we noticed our next stop just across the road. Lucky Burger stuck out, a bit like a sore thumb, on the corner, and as we drew closer, we realized it was a place we would never eat at. It looked dirty, small, and the big container behind the building that greeted us as we turned into the parking lot read "grease disposal." Even though they do have free delivery within 2 miles of the restaurant, the sight of it was enough to make us double- and triple-think that option. Nancy ran in, found out that there were in fact 10 sea creatures above the counter, ran back out, and we happily put it in the rearview mirror.Our next stop along Richmond was the adorable Hobbit Café, which is hidden behind Blue Fish Sushi. There is no way I can beat the description provided on our clues sheet, which told us that "Like a sleepy woodland cottage, Hobbit Cafe is nestled amongst the branches of a huge oak tree. Wooden furnishings and earth tones warm the modest interior, where maps of Middle Earth and 'Lord of the Rings' artwork enliven the walls. The low ceiling, candles and small dining rooms give this cozy cafe a true Hobbit feel. Hobbit Cafe serves health-conscious, hippie food for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. So next time you’re headed out to destroy the One Ring, stop by here, whether it be for second-breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, or dinner." The café really is an adorable little establishment (even if the parking lot is tiny and full of potholes), and it is yet another place I plan on visiting again soon.From here, we made our way to a few other locations, like the Buffalo Exchange (one of the first consignment stores) and Kenneally's Irish Pub before heading towards the most interesting places we came across in our search, all of which were located in the neighborhood of The Heights. I have described these in my next entries, "Museums in the Heights" and "The Beer Can House." Close
Our first group of stops on our Culture Quest were those in the Museum District. This made sense because they were within walking distance of Rice, so we could visit them all relatively quickly before striking out for more distant destinations.The first stop was the…Read More
Our first group of stops on our Culture Quest were those in the Museum District. This made sense because they were within walking distance of Rice, so we could visit them all relatively quickly before striking out for more distant destinations.The first stop was the Log Cabin, which is located in front of Ben Taub Hospital at the corner of McGregor and Ben Taub Loop. The cabin is officially known as the "Pioneer Memorial Log Cabin Museum”, this log cabin was built in 1936, at a different location, to get ready for the Texas Centennial celebrations. It is owned by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and has various exhibits inside, although we did not stop for long enough to see them. The funniest thing about this cabin was the fact that I drive past it every time I drive home from university, yet this was the first time I actually saw it! You'd think a log cabin in the middle of one of the largest medical centers in the country would stick out more than that, but obviously not.After my friends copied down the names on the plaque on the porch, we were off again. As I drove past Hermann Park - a nice oasis in the middle of the concrete city, as long as you aren't there at night - we made plans for the next places on our list. As soon as I found a decent stopping point that wasn't in the middle of traffic, the three other people in the car jumped out and took off to three different locations. As they ran towards the Japanese Gardens, the Butterfly Museum, or Sam Houston's statue, I was left circling the roundabout outside the Museum of Natural Science. I'm sure there were at least a few confused people sitting outside the museum that saw me drive past at least 10 times.Tiffany was the first person back, since Sam Houston's statue, her location, stood in the middle of the roundabout I was circling. She found out that Sam Houston was not only one of the most controversial figures (in Texas history), but also one of the most colorful. We continued circling until Emily came running back from the Japanese Gardens (which are of daimyo style, and includes a tea garden, a kaiyushiki stroll garden, and a scroll garden). The gardens were by far the furthest away from our drop off point, since they are in the middle of Hermann Park. Since Nancy was still in the Butterfly Museum, we popped over to the Holocaust Museum, located at 5401 Caroline St. This sombre museum is dedicated to teaching the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy using the Holocaust and other genocides. Some permanent memorials include a collection of shoes from a concentration camp in Poland and one of the railcars that took countless people to their deaths.After quickly reading the plaque outside the museum, stating when it was dedicated, we went back to pick up Nancy. Unfortunately, she had been unsuccessful in finding out which of the plants featured in the Demonstration Butterfly Garden is both a nectar and host plant for the butterflies, but we later found out that her guess of "milkweed" was right! However, she did manage to get into the Butterfly Garden, which is the glass cone by the entrance to the Museum of Natural Science that contains a rainforest and exotic butterflies, for free so she could look for the answer, even though we later found out it was on a plaque just outside the entrance!Our last stop in the Museum District was the Lillie & Hugh Cullen Sculpture Garden, located at the corner of Montrose & Bissonnet. This garden is a part of the Museum of Fine Arts, and its website describes it as "the most beautiful acre in Houston." It really is "an oasis tucked inside a teeming metropolis," and a wonderful place to have a stroll and enjoy the numerous sculptures the garden has to offer. Unfortunately, we were not there long enough for a stroll - indeed, we were only there long enough to get the full name off the sign - but I will definitely be returning before I leave Houston permanently.From the Sculpture Garden, we continued down Montrose towards the many Montrose area locations on our list. I have described these in my "Montrose Area" entry. Close
Written by ssullivan on 25 Jul, 2004
METRO is the Houston metropolitan area’s provider of public transportation service. Until 2004, METRO was entirely a bus operation. However, on January 1, 2004, METRO opened the first segment of a planned 70+-mile light rail network to be constructed over the next twenty years. Dubbed…Read More
METRO is the Houston metropolitan area’s provider of public transportation service. Until 2004, METRO was entirely a bus operation. However, on January 1, 2004, METRO opened the first segment of a planned 70+-mile light rail network to be constructed over the next twenty years. Dubbed the "Red Line", the initial section of METRORail serves the Main Street corridor, linking downtown to Midtown, the Museum District, Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and finally Reliant Park. METRORail has quickly become the easiest (and arguably the most popular) way to navigate the corridor for both Houston residents and visitors alike. Many of the destinations in this journal are located near METRORail. In addition to light rail service, METRO operates an extensive bus system with a fleet of over 1,500 vehicles covering 130 routes.
How to Ride METRORail
Ticketing and Fares: METRORail Boarding platforms are strategically located near major attractions, and the system is very easy to use. METRORail uses a proof-of-payment system, so do not expect to board the train through turnstiles requiring you to deposit tokens or scan a fare card as you may have experienced in other cities. Instead, tickets are sold at electronic vending machines on each boarding platform. The ticket machines accept cash, coins, and debit cards. Adult one-way tickets are $1 each and are also valid for local bus transfers (see the section below on riding METRO’s buses) for up to three hours after issue. A much better value than the METRORail one-way ticket is the $2 Day Pass, which allows for unlimited light rail and local bus rides in any direction for 24 hours after the pass is issued. After buying a ticket, be sure to keep it in a safe place. METRO police officers do occasionally board trains and check passengers for proof of payment. If you are unable to provide a valid METRORail ticket, METRO pass, or METRO bus transfer, you may be ticketed for theft of services.
Schedule: METRORail service currently begins at 4:24 a.m. on weekdays and 5:27 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Service ends at 12:47 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 2:15 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12:45 a.m. on Sunday. Please note that the extended service until 2:15 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays is currently a limited-time trial service for the summer of 2004. Depending on ridership, this service may be retained or it may be reduced to the original schedule of Friday and Saturday evening service ending around 1:15 a.m. Be sure to check METRO’s website for a current schedule before using late-night weekend METRORail service.
METRORail frequencies are as follows:
Boarding Platforms: METRORail boarding platforms in downtown, Midtown, Hermann Park, and the Texas Medical Center are all located in the center of the street. In the Museum District and at Reliant Park, platforms are located on one side of the street. At all platforms traffic signals with pedestrian crossing signals are used to assist riders in safely crossing the street to the rail platform. Be sure to observe these signals at all times when walking near the rail line! METRO police will ticket jaywalkers near the rail line without question due to the safety issues created by the at-grade running trains. The trains can be very quiet when approaching, but are equipped with horns, bells, and whistles to alert cars and pedestrians of the train’s presence. All METRORail platforms are equipped with pay phones (with a free link to METRO’s information center), electronic signs announcing approaching trains, security cameras, seating, and maps with nearby attractions. At most platforms, northbound and southbound trains do not share the same platform. Be sure to know the direction you are going and pay attention to the overhead signs to be sure you are waiting at the right platform.
Riding the Light Rail Trains: After you have boarded a METRORail train, listen for the automatic announcement system to announce your stop. Maps are provided throughout all rail cars above the doors. Lighted information signs at the end of each car and in the middle display the next station. An automated announcement system will announce each station in both English and Spanish before you arrive at the station, and again after the train stops at the boarding platform. All METRORail cars are brand new, air conditioned, and very modern, and provide a very fast and comfortable ride.
How to Ride METRO Buses
Fares: METRO local buses cost $1 for a one-way adult fare, or $2 for a Day Pass, good for unlimited local bus and METRORail rides for 24 hours. Transfers between buses and METRORail are free with a valid transfer pass, METRORail ticket, or Day Pass. When boarding a METRO bus, insert the appropriate fare (exact change only) into the electronic fare box. If transferring from METRORail or another bus, or if using a Day Pass, insert the rail ticket, Day Pass, or bus transfer pass into the fare box’s card reader.
Bus Schedules and Route Maps: Do not attempt to ride the METRO bus system without these! Some routes have very simple routes, others tend to zigzag around some. While some routes may have frequencies of every five or six minutes, others may run only once or twice an hour. The good news is that there are only a few bus routes that are of major value to tourists, and the METRO website has maps and schedules for every route in the system easily available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format for download. For all destinations in this journal that you will need a bus to reach, I have tried to provide as comprehensive directions as possible, including bus route numbers and where to get on and off.
Finding Your Stop: This is where you have to pay attention. Some METRO bus operators will call out major cross streets as you approach them, but many do not. In my experience commuting to work on METRO, many of the drivers who do call out stops do not speak very clearly or use the public address system, so understanding what the driver calls out (if he/she calls out anything) may be difficult, especially if you are not familiar with the Houston street grid. However, the majority of bus operators I have found to be very friendly and helpful, and if you let the driver know when you board what your destination is, chances are he or she will make a special effort to make sure that you know when to get off. It also helps to ride with a map of the bus route you are on (available from the METRO website) and a map of the city. Ride near the front of the bus on the right side where you can see upcoming intersections and street signs to assist you in navigating to your destination. I have included only a few destinations in this journal that require METRO bus service, and when appropriate, have tried to be as detailed as possible in giving directions.
Written by shamash on 19 Jan, 2007
Ask anyone who lives in California especially in San Francisco why they would visit Houston Texas and they would mostly likely say I would not. I fit in that bucket of living in San Francisco, California. So, why am I going to Houston? I grew…Read More
Ask anyone who lives in California especially in San Francisco why they would visit Houston Texas and they would mostly likely say I would not. I fit in that bucket of living in San Francisco, California. So, why am I going to Houston? I grew up playing little league baseball for the Sunny Vale Astros. From my first hit in little league, I pledge myself an Astors fan for life. Most people follow teams from their hometown. I do consider San Francisco my hometown. But I wasn't born there. I was born in Singapore and have lived in a few other spots. Since there isn't a MLB baseball team in Singapore, the next best thing in my mind was to follow my little league team's name sake. My good friend and I took the red eye to Houston late Thursday night. The plan was to spend the weekend there. Our flight was over sold. My half-witted assumption that no one from San Francisco would want to visit Houston was swept away by the crowd of passages waiting to board the plane. With a layover in Dallas, we arrived in Houston at high noon. The Houston heat was doing its best cooking eggs on the asphalt. In two minutes, over medium eggs were ready. We picked up our rental car and headed to the Courtyard Marriott at Brook hollow. As soon as we arrived at the front desk, we were greeted with a bottle of ice cold water. The gentleman quickly handled all the needed paper work and pointed us to our room. This is one of the easiest and fastest check in I have ever had. The hotel has one of the most well informed and friendliness staff I have ever encounter. The layout of the hotel was a bit small for a Courtyard Marriott, but the staff made up for everything.Since this trip was to see my favorite baseball team, we had tickets to two of three games against the Toronto Blue jays. I am pretty sure this was the only time these two teams have ever met.Minute Maid Park is amazing. I thought I was lucky living 10 minutes from Pac Bell Park. My entire baseball park gage went up a notch after I step foot into this park. The layout is simple. Keep walking straight and you'll see every angle of the park. This is much like every other ball park in the world. What sets Minute Maid apart is the space of the walkway. Imagine a normal walkway is a two lane freeway. Minute Maid was an eight lane freeway. I was able to carry two beers (they sell 24oz beers for $7.75) a ball park dog, a bag of peanuts, my camera bag and two local blondes (they are for my traveling buddy) to my seat without bumping into a single Astros fan. The people at the concession stands are among the nicest and helpful people I have ever encountered at a baseball park. My order was correct and I walked away with a thank you. Living San Francisco, I lose sight what a simple "thank you" can do for you entire day. It's the simple things which make life smooth. We sat at a different section for each of the games. Friday was the first base line three rows from the field. These seats are prime foul ball territory. Some people like club level, for me it's all about field level. I think getting close to the action is much more important than an overall view. If I wanted to an overall view, I mind as well watch the game on television. Everyone around us were huge Astros fans. With ever Astros hit and opponent out, hang fives and loud hand claps filled the stadium and overwhelm me in our section. They even brought us ice cold beers to our seats.
The next night we were seated in the Crawford Box. I was pretty dam excited about viewing the game from there. I had never seen a game perched atop left field. Once again we had third row seats. Maybe my expectation were a bit high, but these seats were not all that. It was pretty hard to see most of the field. It's a great place to catch homer balls. As a matter of fact, that game ended with a walk off homerun four rolls from our seats. The fans at this section were no different from the field level section. Everyone cheered with every pitch the Rocket man threw that game.I am sad to report there was sadness in Houston. Most of you will think I am stupid for caring, but I had to visit the old Houston Astro Dome. Growing up I was told this was the eight wonder of the world. I've seen countless photographs capturing its grandness. I viewed its grandness on television. I am not going to say this was Mecca to me, but this was one of two things I needed to do on this trip, see the Dome up close. So, how can there be sadness? Today, the Dome stands next to Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. The Dome was dwarfed next to Reliant Stadium. Its color had faded into dead concrete. Spider webs and loneness was its only decoration. This wasn't the eight wonder of the world. I've seen grander bathrooms. The Dome is now half the man it once was. This was a very sad sight.Like most of my trips, it's about the people I meet. The people of Houston are sincere, nice and very helpful. I had reservation when I was planning this trip. I anticipated being ask if I was oriental a few times on this trip. Not once was I given a raciest look or asked a racist question. It turned out I was the close minded person.
With only thirty minutes left before the deadline to be back at Rice, we rushed through the closest locations to Rice - those in Rice Village. The Village is a nice, but expensive, shopping and dining area just to the west of Rice University's campus.…Read More
With only thirty minutes left before the deadline to be back at Rice, we rushed through the closest locations to Rice - those in Rice Village. The Village is a nice, but expensive, shopping and dining area just to the west of Rice University's campus. It's a favorite of Rice students on Saturday nights, when they don't serve dinner for us on campus; yet, with the number of times I've visited the Village probably verging on thousands, I had never noticed many places listed on our clues sheet.Our first stop in the Village was the Lot 8 Boutique. Many "Project Runway" fans may recognize this name, since season 2 winner Chloe Dao is the owner. According to our clues sheet, "Lot 8 opened its doors in the summer of 2000, and over the course of 5 years, the boutique established itself as one of Houston’s premiere shops. The boutique draws a diverse clientele of local celebrities, fashion stylists, club crawlers, brides to be and modern career women. Lot 8’s success stems from the boutique’s mix of edgy sportswear, sexy cocktails dresses, and modern eveningwear at affordable prices. The name Lot 8 is a reference to Chloe and her seven sisters." I'm not really into fashion, but apparently Chloe is pretty good, and I have to admit that the dresses in the window were cute. Tiffany ran in and found out that Keira Knightley was the answer to "Who is on the cover of the Elle magazine by the door?", and then we were off again.If you're looking for out-of-the-ordinary art or just want to journey around the world in the space of one store, Ten Thousand Villages (at 2424 Rice Blvd) is the place for you. This store is home to the work of artisans from all around the world. Most of these people are wonderful at what they do, but are unemployed or never see a fair wage. This is Ten Thousand Villages' mission: to give artisans a way for their work to be seen while giving them fair prices for the work they have done. This gives artisans a way to "see hope for the future, earn dignity and respect in their community and experience joy in being able to provide for their families." I could spend hours wandering around this store, looking at the fine cloths, wooden carvings, and papyrus cards, to name a few.Our last "stop" in the Village was more of a drive-by, since the clock was ticking and we preferred to lose a couple points rather than being disqualified from the Quest altogether for being late. This "stop" was the Ginger Man, a little pub next to Little Woodrow's on Morningside Dr (at 5607 Morningside, to be exact). This is one of the many places that Rice students above 21 can come to drink their sorrows away in a nice setting. Plus, they serve beer from over twenty countries so you aren't stuck with a pint of Bud Light. Instead of stopping in for a pint of Newcastle Brown, we just looked for a beer logo displayed on the front porch. One was obvious - Spaten was written all over the umbrellas - so we decided that was as good an answer as any (it turned out that Sam Adams Light was the right answer, which was written on a plaque on the porch, but oh well).We made it back to Rice with five minutes to spare and were treated immediately to a wonderful smorgasbord that had offerings from pretty much every restaurant in town. All of us were happy to just stuff ourselves silly and enjoy not being in a rush or a car anymore. However, that's not to say we didn't have a great time on the Quest; we did, and it really opened my eyes to the fact that Houston does have culture - you just have to delve a bit under the surface to find it. Close
Written by mdl9482 on 27 Sep, 2006
So it was at this point I realized I would be spending the night in Houston, though I knew that would probably happen, it actually did. It was then I decided to get some food and proceeded to the nearest vendor, spotting a Taco…Read More
So it was at this point I realized I would be spending the night in Houston, though I knew that would probably happen, it actually did. It was then I decided to get some food and proceeded to the nearest vendor, spotting a Taco Bell/Papa John's area and ordered me some Taco Bell, using my ID to get a Continental employee discount and using that for the first time (using my ID to get a discount). Thankfully the Monday night double-header was on TV that night in there, so I sat down to watch that while eating, figuring I'd see what I can do about whittling the time away while watching the game and letting myself fall tired.
So I was sitting in Terminal C of George Bush Intercontinental Airport and eating on some Nachos and Tacos while watching the first game of the Monday night doubleheader when the game was about over. I decided to get up and roam around the terminal a bit to see where I could go. Unfortunately, it was at this time that I realized I had forgotten to talk to one of our floorwalkers we had at work earlier that day about the location of the 'employee' area. Come to find out later it was in Terminal E (the International terminal). Go figure.
I must say I was quite intimidated walking through Terminal C and my first goal was to find out where my flight in the morning was going to board. Unfortunately, I couldn't find out until later that morning. In that case, I instead roamed around looking for the Chapel as I was told it was a popular place for employees to sleep. After having asked around, I found it only to find out it was a lot smaller than I thought (my first time in an airport chapel) and there was a sign on the wall distinctly saying that there was to be no sleeping in the chapel (especially geared towards employees and travelers…go figure again). In that case, I walked around the terminal a bit and then decided to again roam the terminals and see if I could find a quiet place and sleep.
It led me to the part of Terminal C where Gates 29-33 were located. It was there I noticed the TV's in the terminal were on the CNN Airport Network and were showing the double header as part of the programming. I started to watch the second game at the closest TV and was pondering how and where I would sleep. I had already pretty much taken into consideration that I was at the airport and not leaving that night. Besides, I couldn't afford a hotel nor really cared for one. I wanted to live the true airport experience. I ended up getting up after a bit and making my way to the restroom before coming back to watch the game, this time at a TV near the end of the same wing of the terminal and come to find out there was someone else sitting there. We didn't talk much except for when he asked me to watch his things while he went to do something. Another man came to sit down behind us later. A business traveler it seemed.
I got bored with the game and got up to leave, heading to the center of the terminal again, not really knowing what I was going to do and thinking as well as looking for a place to sleep. I eventually took the phone number of the discount hotel number I was given by the employee who changed my ticket for me and called it, trying to see if there were any really discounted rooms. None. Instead I ended up finding a nice corner where I could prop my feet and lean my head against the wall to fall asleep. I eventually ended up staying there, dropping into a sleep as I could.
As the night passed, the terminal grew really cold. Because of this, I ended up tucking my hands beneath my shirt and was keeping myself warm. At around 1am, I woke up and noticed there was a woman walking towards me. She hands me a Continental pillow and blanket and says to have them because it was cold. Talk about service :D I took it and thanked her, using it as it was intended. The new amenities actually made me fall asleep a lot easier as the time went on.
Time passed and the morning came pretty quick. Having received a phone call from another friend at about 5:30am Houston time, I had to tell her I wasn't working that day since she usually woke me up for work. Having apologized, I told her not to worry, as it was a good time for me to make it to my gate, roam around, and get to where I needed to be. Thankfully, at this time, my gate number was already posted and I headed in that direction, only after stopping at Starbucks to grab myself a Caramel Macchiato. Sipping the hot beverage, my body temperature rose and it definitely defeated the cold. My flight was to leave at 8, so we started to board around 7:30am.
Around 7:15am, I walked up to the counter and asked the agent what it looked like for a standby non-rev passenger. He asked me my name and handed me a boarding pass, with a nice aisle seat already pre-assigned. The middle seat on the return was also empty, so definitely a lot more room. We boarded, I sat down, and having brought the pillow and blanket with me that I received earlier onto the plane, I proceeded to take a quick catnap while I could. Without really having gone asleep, I did get comfortable, noticing that the headrests could be extended upward and the sides folded in to cradle your head. That was extremely comfortable.
The usual happened…we took off, we flew, and then snacks were served! I knew there was going to be a snack service on that flight, but wasn't sure of what that would consist. It ended up being a very tasty cold banana muffin. Along with that, I had a nice CAN of apple juice. This time they didn't even ask me if I wanted the can.
The flight time was approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes and I was glad to see the Tampa skyline as we touched down for landing on the Veterans Expressway side of the runway (the one that goes right over it). Though the time seemed uneventful, those less than 24 hours of time with Continental Airlines and trying the product has only given me a much better impression of what the product is and makes me look forward to this flight I am leaving on in a little under 3 hours.
Today I will be connecting with 2 new states to add to my list. I will note that though I've been to many of these states before, I am recounting them and making my list based on places I've flown. The only exception is Florida since base is in Tampa, I don't count it. I'll have to fly to Key West or something to do that ;) Till then…
Well folks, I guess now it is time for me to recap how my 'weekend' went. For those of you who don't know, my weekend for the next 3 to 4 weeks will be Tuesday's and Wednesday's. You might be saying to yourself…Read More
Well folks, I guess now it is time for me to recap how my 'weekend' went. For those of you who don't know, my weekend for the next 3 to 4 weeks will be Tuesday's and Wednesday's. You might be saying to yourself 'well doesn't that suck." Not for me…
Recapping the weekend's events is what I am blogging about and let's begin with the events of Monday…
So, I've been through 4.5 of the 8 weeks of New Hite training required for all Reservations Sales Agents at Continental Airlines, and I must say, after all is said and done, I think I've fallen into the best job I've had in my life. Three weeks of college-style, 8 hour a day, cram-all information in brain classes are now done. The week of on-the-job training has left me much more confident, in favor of my supervisors, and $15-16 richer. Sunday and Monday started the 4 weeks of transition training to full, on-our-own, employee status. Now back to Monday…
From the now status as official 'employee' of Continental Airlines last week to receiving my ID on Monday, I was looking forward to my first use of benefit as a Continental employee…and yes, that was past tense. After getting off work at 5:30pm on Monday, I stayed a bit after to chat with a fellow New Hire and one of the floorwalkers who was helping us on the phones. We got into the talk of IAH (George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston) and about it being Continental's main hub, (a fact we already knew). After getting into more talks about travel, usage of benefits, and just pure fun, I coined the idea about catching the last flight out of Tampa and flying out to Houston that night (Monday) just because we could…and guess what happened?
I walked out of work and headed to the car, seriously thinking about the trip as I headed to my other 'job' at the radio station only 5 minutes away. Having tried to call a friend who lived in Texas, I attempted to secure a residence for the night if I did actually go out of the state for the night. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a hold of them and I proceeded to the radio station. Once getting to the station, I stopped by and said hi to Jordan, slipped into the chair next to him, and asked to borrow the PC he was working on. In the most vivid moment of spontaneity that I have ever seen and done, I went online to where I could book tickets as an employee, and booked myself for that very open flight…having tried to also check-in online, it was useless as the site wouldn't let me since the flight was less than an hour away. (The time was now about 6:10pm and the flight was scheduled to leave at 6:50pm)
Having booked the flight, I turned to Jordan, showed him my way in (my new ID) and thus my boss, Mike Serio, walked into the room saying adios as he was leaving for the day. Being that my car was already at the station and the station was minutes from the airport, I thus turned to Mr. Serio and discussed him giving me a ride to the airport. Having said yes, I quickly checked a couple things like my ID, money, and bank account before heading outside to the airport to hop in the car and take my first non-rev (non-revenue) flight as an employee of Continental Airlines.
Getting to the airport at about 6:20pm in TPA red area Continental departures, I thanked my ride and waltzed inside to the CO (Continental) ticket counter. I identified myself as a first time non-rev flyer and mentioned my inability to check-in. I spoke to the lead ASA (Airport Service Agent) at the counter and they called airside to open up the system to let me in. Having informed me of the chance of not getting on, I replied 'I know there are no guarantees, but thank you anyway,' and made my way up the stairs to the Airside A tram. The clock was counting as I got to security, did the usual stuff, and actually bypassed the 'puffer' as I went through security in the fastest form I've ever been through security.
From there is was about a 50yd fast walk to the gate where I showed my now printed Standby boarding pass and received smirks from the counter as they labeled me as 'oh, he's the one.' They looked at me, asked me if I liked an aisle seat, I nodded in approval, took my boarding pass, and boarded the Continental Boeing 757-200 departing at 6:50pm for Houston.
I boarded the nice 757 and sat in my quite comfortable aisle seat, having to ask a gentleman to move as he thought my seat was his but was mistaken. Instead, he had the left aisle seat. Thankfully there was no one in the middle seat so there was plenty of room between me and the window person. Having settled in, I buckled up and awaited for us to 'push back,' not knowing what the evening would provide.
As we started to push back and I was still able to use my phone, I called home and told them I was staying over at a 'friends' that night and wouldn't be home, called a couple other friends, and then called a certain friend of mine who lives in Midland, Texas about possibly going out there to visit them that night since the ticket I booked was booked through Midland. Continuing on and taxing onto the runway, the flight attendant announced over the PA to pay attention to the monitors to see our inflight message. Having this been my first Continental Airlines flight (and it seemed others didn't know this either), I didn't realize the monitors they were referring to were folded beneath the overhead bins into the top of the panels every few seats.
Having and hearing everyone say 'ohhhh' as the monitors dropped down from the bins, we watched a greeting from Larry Kellner, CEO of Continental as well as the usual emergency information. Let's just say my experience with Continental was quite impressive compared to any other airline I've traveled with in the past. We eventually took off (my favorite part) and I made my way looking through my complimentary copy of the Continental in-flight magazine as well as the Sky Mall magazine, both of which I kept throughout the flights and back and gave the Continental one to my good friend Warrior.
Once in flight, we received notice of the 'programming' for the flight which included Continental Visions, a montage of news, an episode of 'Joey,' and a behind the scenes of 'The Pink Panther' with Steve Martin. For only $5 or the online check-in coupon from Continental.com, you could get a pair of airplane headsets to listen. Although I forgot my pair I received on my birthday from work (my gift from a trainer), I passed since I figured if I went with nothing, I'll come back with as little as possible and won't worry about forgetting it again. Shortly after in flight we had our beverage service which started with us getting 2, I repeat 2, bags of really nice tasting honey roasted peanuts. After that, they came around with the drink cart (me choosing a coke) and they asked if we wanted the can or just the cup, and me being the person I am definitely wanted a can. No other flight I've ever been on has ever ASKED to give it to you. You had to ask them…talk about nice.
Just imagine how much went on during the flight, and other than being comfortable for even being in coach, I definitely look forward to other flights in the future. However, I'm not done with this one yet. We touched down at about 7:45pm Houston time and I arrived at my first destination out of Florida as a Continental employee. Stepping off the plane, my first task was to call my friend in Midland while walking through the terminal, finding out what gate I'd need to get to for the connection, and sat in terminal C (the one I arrived in) by the Continental help desk as I called my friend and we decided that night wasn't good for me to visit. Being that the case, I walked up to the counter, introduced myself as a first-time non-revenue employee, and asked her politely to change my ticket to take the first flight out of Houston going back to Tampa at 8 the next morning…