Hopping down to Houston

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.

Hanging out with Big Tex

A trip down the DART’s Green Line to the Texas State Fair has become a tradition for me in recent years and this year I went all out buying a season pass and making three trips down to bathe in the fried food filled air that surrounds the Texas State Fair.

Big Tex 2.0

Last year I had the privilege to be one of the last people to see the original Big Tex, having made my pilgrimage the day before the unfortunate fire that tragically cut Tex’s life short. One year and half a million dollars later, the bigger (3 feet taller) and better (more lifelike silicone skin to replace the old fiberglass body parts)  Big Tex was erected under a shroud of mystery as anxious news crews tried to sneak a peek before the planned worldwide unveiling on the opening day of the fair. The weather wasn’t cooperating and high winds on the day before the fair meant dropping the curtain around Big Tex a day early for fear he would be damaged.

Bottom: New for 2013, Fried King Ranch Casserole Top: Fernie’s Funnel Cake from The Dock

Each year a new smorgasbord of deep fried concoctions are unveiled enticing fair goers with odd and sometimes awful ingredients, but this year the Lipitor crowd were welcomed with several great new offerings. The Deep Fried King Ranch Casserole is a southern casserole staple that I was unfamiliar with but I am a sucker for food that is Texas shaped.  The chicken and cheese with veggies and cream of mushroom soup Texas shaped helping is then deep fired in panko bread crumbs and served with either queso or my choice the slightly spicy sour cream dipping sauce that makes sure the King Ranch Casserole is going to become a longtime fair favorite. Another new addition and winner for best taste is the Fried Cuban Roll, a egg roll with a filling of pork shoulder, ham, pickles and swiss cheese that can easily be confused for the warm gooey feeling of a mother’s love.

No fair would be complete without some sort of dairy based sculpture, wether it be the old standby butter or more adventurous building blocks like ice cream or the often tried but rarely excellently executed cottage cheese sculpture. 2013 saw the creation of a butter based sculpture paying homage to Big Tex as the larger than life cowboy held several small children while weeping what are presumable unsalted butter tears. For me, going to the State Fair marks the beginning of Fall and is a perfect way to say goodbye to Summer. There are always new things to see and try as well as the old standbys like a Fletchers corny dog  that no trip or three to the fair is complete without.