A family wedding diverted my travel funds to Houston, Texas. I honestly don’t think I ever had any intention to visit Houston, but as this would end up being my only trip for a while, I knew I had to turn this wedding into a “destination”. Online research helped me come up with an itinerary that featured what looked like some great outdoor activities. But then I got to Houston and it rained the whole time. Well, except for my last day. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised to find two great attractions, should you ever find yourself with extra time in Houston:
1. The Houston Museum of Natural Science. Coming from Washington, DC, I was reluctant to go to a natural science museum since, you know, museums are kind of “our” thing. But the dinosaur exhibit, or Hall of Paleontology, was really cool. The displays are set up to show the dinosaurs in action, and with the low lighting adding an ominous vibe, it was hard not to feel like you were in the middle of a dinosaur rumble. Or maybe I’ve seen too many Ben Stiller movies. There is also an eerie Hall of Ancient Egypt that is essentially a maze full of mummies – with more low lighting! Okay, Houston, I have to hand it to you, I’ve never felt my heartbeat rise at a DC museum.
2. Space Center Houston. Whether you’re a space buff or not, the history that occurred here is pretty mind-blowing. The tour that takes you through the original Mission Control and training facilities is cool, but the part that left me paused in reflection was seeing an actual, massive Saturn V rocket from the the early days of the space program. It was such a strange juxtaposition amid the wide open fields with cattle literally roaming nearby. I was having a hard time grasping how someone could be the first person to get in a rocket and take off into the unknown. I think we can easily take for granted that there are people traveling to and living in space. The Space Center made me appreciate just how brave and ridiculously intelligent astronauts are.
Even though Houston was not on my list of places to go, it turned it be a nice reminder of why I like to travel. We all know about the popular places to go (hello, Austin), but one of the real joys in travel is finding something special in those places that don’t get quite the same attention.