Fueled by $29 each way flights to Houston, part of Southwest announcing new service to IAH in addition to HOU, I set to make a day trip in Houston.
Flying into IAH is of special interest to me because of the unique subway system that runs in the lower level of the airport. Outside the secure perimeter, in the plain, windowless lower level of the airport, is the only People Mover system built by Disney’s WED Enterprises that isn’t inside a theme park. Opened in 1981, the linear induction propelled train cars share little resemblance to their Orlando siblings except for the unique feel and sounds of the linear induction system and the train cars make the almost 20 minute loop around the airport terminals and hotel.
Having made the round trip on the “Subway” enough times to raise the eyebrows of airports employees, I grabbed my rental car and headed to my next stop, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. This hidden gem of a museum is well worth the trip. The lovingly restored 1940 Art Deco terminal transports you to back rise of commercial air travel in Texas, its rooms filled with artifacts and models of bygone airlines and airplanes. The museum volunteers bring the history to life, an experience reminiscent of spending an afternoon listening to my grandfather’s stories.
My final stop before flying back to Dallas, was The Printing Museum in downtown Houston. Detailing the history of printing from woodcuts dating back to the 1300s up through modern day, the museum also hosts live demonstrations of historical printing process and in person classes. Another hidden gem in downtown Houston, The Printing Museum is certainly worth checking out.
Austin has always been my goto for weekend getaways.from Dallas, but with a little digging, you can find the weirder side in any city, even Houston.
A $39 Southwest flight, a rental car and a 3 hour drive from the modest 5 gate Midland International Air and Space Port, lands you in the middle of the universe, otherwise known as Marfa, Texas.
32 miles West of the Dairy Queen in Marfa, is “Prada Marfa.” Along the drive, I spot a white speck amongst the lines of stratocumulus clouds stretch along the west Texas horizon, but this speck doesn’t move and I tick down the mils toward the West Texas Prada outpost, an ever increasing refrain of “what the fuck is that” echoes within the Toyota Rav 4 as the stationary speck increasingly grows in size. The speck then begins to take the form of a blimp; now having ruled out aliens but not yet being able to identify said flying object, I’m left to ponder why the Goodyear blimp would be in West Texas. Maybe in these Covid times without many major sports going on the blimp finds itself covering a high school football game, Friday Night Lights style.
Past the large cutouts paying homage to the 1956 James Dean film “Giant” that was partially shot in and around Marfa, I see the answer to now identified flying blimp that is used by customs and border patrol as part of a radar network scouting low flying aircraft crossing the border from Mexico (Wiki- Tetherd Aerostat Radar System)
Having crossed “Prada Marfa” off the instagram bucket list, I set about exploring the rest of Marfa. There are pretty much 2 main streets in Marfa, dotted with eclectic shops, restaurants and galleries that would have been packed on any weekend in the before COVID times, but are struggling like so many small businesses. I wasn’t able to make reservations to visit The Chinati Foundation that arguably put Marfa on the map with their collection of its founder work, Donald Judd, who moved to Marfa in 1977. Next time.
The next day, following the only other other road out of town, I headed south toward Presidio and East along the Rio Grande River, traveling the scenic FM 170 towards Big Bend National Park. The picturesque and roller coaster like FM 170, where I actually saw a road runner and I have got to say cartoons have been lying and road runners(at least this one) are more like road speed walkers; also there was no coyote to be seen. My short trip only allowed me a couple hours to explore Big Bend, another thing to add to the list for the next trip…
(Popular Science) An interesting article of how the supply chain for Dippin’ Dots is similar to the cold storage chain required to safely distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. There is also a great episode of “How I Built This With Guy Raz” on the story of Dippin’ Dots (NPR)
Movie: “Becoming” (Netflix) Hope, I think we could all use some at this time and watching the Netflix documentary on Michelle Obama takes you back to a time in our nation’s not too distant past full of hope for a brighter future that is missing in most of America bearing the weight of Coronavirus.
Book: “For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity”(Amazon) I’m rereading Liz Plank’s “New Vision for Mindful Masculinity” and with the isolation of quarantine I find myself with the time for both self reflection and reflection on the world around.
Podcast: “Sam Harris” (Tim Ferriss Podcast) Because everyone should have some Sam Harris in their life
Article: “INNOVATION VS. THE CORONAVIRUS: The first modern pandemic” (Gates Notes)
Audiobook: “Caffeine:How Caffeine Created the Modern World”(Audible) A quick listen that I finished on a long walk on evening. Michael Pollan tells the story of the rise of coffee alongside capitalism, and the history of the coffee break in this Audible original.
Fighting the urge to fall into a “Too Hot To Handle” shaped time suck, here’s what’s been distracting me from the darkness this week.
Series: “Devs” (FX on Hulu) While sitting at home binging reality dating shows on Netflix to make you feel better about your sad existence, why not watch a show that questions the universe and the existence of free will. The eight part miniseries is worth sitting through the commercials on Hulu for Nick Offerman’s performance alone.
Song: “Quarantine Boogie (Loco)” (Youtube) Hopefully not the anthem of the summer, but certainly the quarantine anthem.
Article: “Yes, Even Introverts Can Be Lonely Right Now”(nytimes.com) YES
Aside from binging season 3 of Ozark on Netflix, here’s a few things that have been occupying my mind this past week.
Book: “The Rosie Project” (Amazon) Highly recommended by Bill Gates several years ago, I recently picked up this book and kept coming coming back to it as I identified parts of myself in “Don” the genetics professor. The first book of three in the Don Tillman series, I look forward to the checking out the rest of the series.
Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show – Dr. Vivek Murthy (Tim.blog, Spotify) A timely conversation from former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on COVID-19 and the rise of loneliness as we physically and socially distance ourselves from the world around us.
Article: NY Times “Lessons in Constructive Solitude From Thoreau” (nytimes.com) Constructive Solitude as Thoreau referred to his time in a small cabin on Walden Pond became a time for reflection and creation. I wouldn’t call binge watching “Tiger King” a waste of time, but we should all weave in some self development in this time we are given.
“We must first succeed alone, that we may enjoy our success together.” -Henry David Thoreau