Built by the Spanish Empire in 1744, the Alamo (then known as the Mission San Antonio de Valero) was originally a Roman Catholic mission whose purpose was to convert local Native Americans to Christianity. It later became a compound for Texian soldiers and is most well known for the battle that took place in 1836, when Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the fort’s defenders. The battle lasted twelve days, until the Mexican army finally broke through the fort’s defenses, killing all but two of the defenders. The Texian Army had their revenge a little over a month later, however, when they defeated Santa Anna’s army at the Battle of San Jacinto.
I visited the Alamo several years ago when my organization was holding a meeting in San Antonio. We had considered holding the meeting in Oklahoma City, but at the time all Oklahoma City hotels were booked solid due to a convention, so we ended up in Texas, as usual (most of our member companies were based in Texas, so it was convenient). Since this was my first time in the city, I had to visit this important landmark. I was actually surprised at how small the building is – I had expected it to be much larger. There is a small museum that has a few artifacts on display, but that is about it. If you’re ever in San Antonio, definitely stop by – it is a rather short tour that won’t take up much time, and afterwards you can sample some of the city’s delicious Mexican food.
Pictured above is the Ocean Star, an offshore drilling rig located in Galveston, Texas. This jackup rig worked in the Gulf of Mexico for 20 years before being retired and hauled to Galveston, where it now serves as a museum dedicated to the offshore oil & gas industry. The museum houses an education center that explains the process of drilling for oil & gas in the ocean as well as giving you an idea of what life is like for the workers who lived and worked on the rig for several weeks at a time (they even have several uniforms that you can try on). The rig itself is the big draw, as most of the original drilling equipment is still on board. You can freely walk around the pipe deck and drill floor, which showcases drill bits, a mud pump, derrick, and the “Christmas Tree”. I think the best part of the museum, though, is the gift shop, where you can purchase oil related gifts such as derrick earrings and cookie cutters. Yes, really.
If you’re ever in Galveston, this place is definitely worth a visit. Plus, it’s near Joe’s Crab Shack, so afterward you can sit down to a big plate of fried seafood and a gigantic beer.
Written by Lindsay in North America, United StatesComments Off on POTD: Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig in GalvestonComments Off on POTD: Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig in Galveston
I am flying out to San Antonio tomorrow for work. Again, just doing my part to ensure America’s energy needs are met. My parents are meeting me in San Antonio over the weekend, as they’ve never been there and I think they will enjoy the city. I told my mom I would be done with the meetings around noon on Friday, just in time for lunch. Her response?
Are you nuts! If you move to Texas, I hope you don’t eat like that all the time. You will be huge, not to mention your arteries clogged.
Mom, as a warning, you might want to stop reading this post now.
When I go to Houston, our meetings are occasionally held at the IAH airport Marriott. It’s convenient; your plane lands, you grab your luggage, hop on the mini subway that runs between the terminals, and shortly thereafter find yourself at the hotel. You have breakfast at the hotel, meetings at the hotel, lunch at the hotel, and, since there are no restaurants within walking distance of IAH, dinner at the hotel. The end result is that for a day and a half you exist in this airport/hotel bubble and never actually once step outside (although with Houston’s poor air quality, that’s probably a good thing).
This most recent trip to Houston, however, involved a roadtrip to Snook, Texas, a small town (population 568) located 100 miles northwest of Houston. I went to Snook with two highly entertaining engineers/bacon aficionados: my boss, and Dave, one of our Houston-based member company guys who heard about a restaurant in Snook and its holy grail of bacon several months prior to our trip. The drive didn’t take very long at all, and the countryside was actually quite beautiful. Trees, farms, cows, bluebonnets, that sort of stuff.
Still, I know what you’re thinking. Lindsay, dude, WTF? Why would you drive 200 miles roundtrip, to the middle of nowhere, for dinner? Simple: chicken fried bacon. Let me just emphasize this one more time: CHICKEN. FRIED. BACON.
The restaurant that serves this delicious, artery-clogging appetizer is Sodolak’s Original Country Inn, a small establishment where the walls are lined with firefighter gear and the borders of the menus feature ads for funeral homes and gun stores. The staff is friendly (it is Texas, after all), some of the locals are dressed in cowboy boots and hats (again, Texas), and stacks of official Sodolak’s Original Country Inn t-shirts and camouflage hats are piled next to the cash register.
We ordered three servings of Sodolak’s infamous appetizer. Chicken fried bacon, as you’ve likely already gathered, consists of long strips of bacon coated in chicken fried steak batter, deep fried, and served with a generous side of cream gravy. It was amazingly delicious, and the fried consistency was perfect (i.e., not too overbearingly thick.)
In addition to the chicken fried bacon, we each had a filet mignon, served with a baked potato, Texas toast, and a side salad that was drowning in ranch dressing (as it should be). For a brief five seconds, I had considered ordering chicken fried steak, but figured that would be pretty intense, especially after the chicken fried bacon. You may not believe this, but even I have limits.
So was Sodolak’s worth the 200 mile trip? Yeah, most definitely. I have already found myself craving chicken fried bacon and will be visiting Sodolak’s again after I move to Houston (and no, Mom, I won’t be eating chicken fried bacon everyday, alright?).
For more on Sodolak’s and chicken fried bacon, check out this YouTube video from Texas Country Reporter:
I am in Houston for work, but met up with some Cindy and Ann for dinner tonight. We ate at Goode Company BBQ on Kirby Drive. It’s a really chill place where you grab a beer from a huge cooler, order your food cafeteria style, and then take your tray outside to the long wooden tables. I had a delicious BBQ beef brisket po’boy, jambalaya texana, Shiner Bock, and a Saint Arnold’s root beer. The best part about this place, though, is that there is a gigantic armadillo statue, complete with glowing eyes and longhorns, directly across the parking lot. You really cannot explain such things, as it’s to be expected in Texas.
Following dinner, we hit up House of Pies, where I had a slice of “Texas” pecan pie a la mode (of course).
And that’s one of the good things about Houston – it’s easy to find good and cheap food throughout this city.
As most of you know, unless something amazing happens, (i.e., an opportunity in London or a winning lottery ticket and subsequent move to Hawaii) I’m planning to relocate to Houston in the near future. I get plenty of flack from my friends and family about this, because they tend to view Houston as a humid cesspool full of Bush fanatics and traders who stole money from our poor grandmothers. And really, I don’t blame them. I certainly held those same views before I actually visited the city and discovered that it wasn’t such a bad place after all (ok, the humidity does suck, but I’ll take that over snow any day). Read this article by Joel Kotkin (a college professor from SoCal, no less) in which he claims that Houston is “emerging as one of the world’s great cities”:
In an era when many other cities try to position themselves with trendier distinctions (as “smart growth” exemplars or as magnets for high-income households, for instance), Mayor Bill White, a Democrat, is happy for Houston to be known simply as an “opportunity city,” which is a pretty good description of what the place has been since its inception: a venue where people who work hard can get ahead.
The area also abounded in natural resources such as timber and rich soil that was ideal for growing cotton. And when oil drillers hit a gusher in Spindletop, about 90 miles from Houston in East Texas, in 1901, Houston suddenly found itself positioned as the nearest city to some of North America’s richest oil and gas reserves.
None of this, however, adequately explains Houston’s ascendancy. Other cities enjoy better locations for shipping, richer agricultural resources, or similar proximity to oil fields. The answer, I have come to understand as I have worked in Houston as a reporter and consultant, echoes something that the late Soichiro Honda once told me: “More important than gold and diamonds are people.” This critical resource, more than anything, accounts for Houston’s headlong drive toward becoming not only the leading city of Texas and the South, but also a player on the global scene: it is emerging as one of the world’s great cities.
It took a certain type of settler, back in the 1830s, to look at a sun-blasted, humidity-drenched, mosquito-infested flatland far from any major river or port and think: “Here is where I’ll make my success.” That tradition of hopefulness and determination can readily be found in the city to this day. As Rice University sociologist Stephen Klineberg notes, roughly 80 percent of Houstonians, according to his annual local surveys, consistently agree with the proposition that “if they work hard, they can succeed here.”
Top ten reasons why Houston is better than DC:
1. Abundance of cheap Mexican food
2. BBQ. Like, reeeeal BBQ.
3. Apparently you can surf in Galveston…sometimes. That’s what I’ve heard, anyways.
4. Average temperature for the month of December is 53.5ºF, which is still considered “flip-flop weather”. Washington, on the other hand, is 35.4ºF. (I’m from SoCal, OK? I can’t stand cold weather)
5. Number of self-important assholes is significantly lower
6. If you are stuck in a fire, these dudes rescue you
7. It’s a few hours closer to California (but Continental please bring back year-round service to Palm Springs!)
8. My SUV fits in very well. Actually, compared to everyone else’s vehicle, mine is small.
9. There are lots of parks and trees, and stuff.
10. Cost of living is ridiculously cheap compared to DC. A one bedroom apartment with all the amenities, located in a neighborhood where 14 year olds aren’t killing each other, costs less than what I pay now. Whoa.
I compiled this list last Sunday, on my return flight from IAH to DCA. Laura and I flew to Houston to visit Ann, who recently moved there to start a new job. I know what you’re thinking…”What the…who visits Houston for fun?” Well, I’m always looking to get away from DC as often as possible, and I had a great time last year when I traveled there for work and stayed over for a weekend with a former LSE classmate. So what the hell, why not visit again?
We went to Galveston. There are lots of oil rigs and stuff there, and really good peanut butter. I was, however, disappointed when I walked into a “surf shop” and there were NO SURFBOARDS. Huh.
Later that night we watched the Astros beat the Pirates at Minute Maid Park, which is still the most bizarre ballpark I’ve ever visited. Great chili cheese dogs, though.
So there’s this train, right? And when the Astros hit a home run it chugs down this length of track. Totally cute. I will not disclose which member of our group stated, “Ohhhh, I just realized why the train is filled with oranges.” One wonders what the train was filled with when the ballpark was named Enron Field. Probably cash stolen from the citizens of the Great State of California. But I digress…
Seventh inning stretch and sing along to Texas propaganda
I realize ice cream sundaes in mini helmets are for 5 year olds, but I can’t pass them up…come on, it’s ICE CREAM in a MINI HELMET, how effin’ sweet is that?! This is also the only photo you will ever see of two die hard Cardinals fans (Laura and Ann) wearing any sort of Astros gear.
We don’t have these signs at Angel stadium
On Sunday we met up with Cindy for some BBQ at Hickory Hollow. We were roommates back at GW, and she now works in The Woodlands (yeah, capital T or whatever, just like The George Washington University).
Yes, it was delicious
Me, Laura, Ann, Cindy
Overall, it was an incredibly relaxing weekend of baseball, reconnecting with old friends, and clogging my arteries with excellent food. I admit that I am still rather conflicted about the possibility of moving there, though. While I was waiting for my return flight to DC, my mom called me to see what I had been up to lately.
“Nothing much, just waiting for my flight back to DC.”
“Oh, that’s right, you’re in Houston. So are you going to move there?”
“I dunno, I don’t think so…I like it here a lot more than DC, but it’s not California, ya know.”
No California hating taxi drivers this time. I chose the turkey sandwich over the tuna sandwich on my Continental flight, but it still sucked. Maybe it’s because I hate turkey? The weather here is horrible (raining) but it is still better than DC’s coldness (and yes, shutup, I think it is cold in DC these days. I’m from SoCal, what do you expect?).
Thank God for Mexican food and Shiner Bock.
I totally need to finish writing about my JULY Caucasus trip, huh?