Getting our geek on in Houston

We stayed in the upmarket Galleria district in Houston, and were keen on some hearty tucker for our first meal in the lone star state.

A quick google search uncovered Frank’s Grill, an old-school sixties style bistro diner, so we headed along and had a couple of beers and a steak dinner! Ok, not quite. I had the special of the day: stroganoff. I haven’t had this in years, and the idea of pasta and beef with mushrooms in a cream sauce was right up my alley! Spoiler alert: it was!

The next day we had two goals – 1) Houston Zoo, and 2) NASA.

We got to the zoo shortly after opening and had a great time wandering around looking at the huge array of animals on exhibit, including Asian and African Elephants, jaguars and leopards, a bald eagle and a full-grown male mandrill (complete with a full tackle box). The mandrill was a real highlight as they are extremely rare in zoos; the hormones result in an incredible display of colours. The silverback gorilla was another highlight.

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Sealion tricks at Houston Zoo! Yeah I like sealions haha. #latergram

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We’re quite glad we got there super early – we were under the impression school started back on the 3rd of January – but no, it was a teacher only day! The zoo was soon inundated by hundreds (or thousands) of kids and their parents! Fortunately, it’s a very big zoo!

For lunch, we took the risk. That’s right. We went to Chipotle. It was actually really good and neither of us got sick! So good on them!

Nasa was really cool (if extremely geeky) – the visitor centre has the Boeing 747 space shuttle carrier on display, with a mock-up of a shuttle (called the Independence) on top. You stroll through both during your visit to the museum there. We also took a tour onto the actual Nasa base, including stopping by the original mission control – famous for the Apollo missions. We sat in the reserved seating during the presentation, where astronaut’s families and famous dignitaries had sat during the missions. I can tell you they haven’t upgraded the seats!

The same building still houses the current mission control monitoring the international space station – we got a glimpse via CC tv, they generally don’t want to disturb the crew with tours!

After that the tour visited the rocket lab (not an actual lab), which houses a full Saturn V rocket identical to those used in the missions. The scale is mind blowing, particularly when laid out horizontally! This rocket had been on display outside at a Smithsonian museum, where it had weathered badly. Nasa gave it a spruce up, and it should last longer now that it is indoors!

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We headed back to Houston (around an hour drive as it was rush hour!), and stopped in at the local Whole Foods where we were pleasantly surprised to see an active bar with a range of craft beer on tap. Better yet, the Tuesday special was a $10 10oz steak with a baked potato. They had run out of New York Strip, so Sara and I got the upgrade to ribeye, cooked on a wood fired grill. Soooo good! (Cheap dinner much?) It was a great attachment to a supermarket (we need these in NZ!) and we had a great conversation with some locals!

Wednesday morning, it was off to Austin!


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