We drove all the way down into the center of Houston. For those of you who don't know the setup of Houston, let's get our feet wet! I'll start off by saying it is a gigantic city. You can't compare it to New York (which has tons of tall buildings, and as we say, "goes up"). Houston goes OUT. If I were to compare it to any city, it would be Los Angeles because of how spread out it is. The major difference between Los Angeles and Houston being the stark lack of hills anywhere near Houston while Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains!
Branching off from saying it's huge--there are several loops of highways that surround the city. This is the first thing to get acquainted with if you move to Houston because it is how people describe the locations of things.
The center-most loop isn't a loop at all, although it looks like one on a map. It is actually an intersection of 3 highways that bend a bit. These being I-10 along the north side, US-59 crossing from southwest to northeast and I-45 bending along the west side, then swooping off towards the east.
The next loop around the city is what people actually refer to as "The Loop." The highway that makes up The Loop is I-610. I've seen it said over and over--you usually use a road like this to beat the traffic that travels through the main artery of the city (in our case, I-10). But in Houston, you avoid these looping highways (okay, all highways in the area really) during rush hour because even The Loop won't save you from traffic!
The intersection of The Loop and US-59 (on the west side of The Loop) was ranked the worst congested intersection in Texas in 2014 by Texas A&M's Transportation Institute (read about it here).
So....anyway.... We traveled down into the museum district (not really downtown, but close by), slowing down through the River Oaks area (beautiful, gorgeous, gigantic mansions in this area) and near Rice University. We were planning (as I said previously) of going to see the Museum of Natural Science. However, once we got going, it was a little late, and since the museum closes at 5, we would've had a very short amount of time to look around. So, opting to still drive down to the area and scope out the River Oaks and Rice University areas, we decided to also drop into the Children's Museum. It just so happens that on Thursdays, the museum has a family night and is open until 8pm. This time span is also free for everyone! 5-8pm on Thursday nights! That's how we got addicted to the museum and ended up with a membership. Now we can go whenever we want for free!
We spent about 2 hours or so at the museum, my daughter running around having a great time while we watched and guided her, and then we met up with my hubby (who was out at a rig for the last 10 days or so) at one of our favorite restaurants for dinner--Arpi's Deli at the Phoenicia Specialty Foods supermarket on Westheimer Road, just outside of 8 on the west side of Houston. Arpi's serves a wide assortment of delicious Mediterranean foods in a sort of cafeteria-style line--you walk down a line and look at the foods in front of you, as if it were a buffet, except that someone else serves you whatever you'd like--and they have a bunch of choices portion size. If you're like me, you can never just have one or two things--you want to try them all! So I always get the "petite" size and get a million different things to eat--always including hummus, tzaziki, and falafel! And I can never finish it all!!!
While we were out driving, Daddy had come home from his latest rig job! And so meeting up with him for dinner was a happy reunion for all of us! The food at the restaurant was superb (as always) and I ordered too much of it (as always) and we went home happy and full! It was a great day!
Today we enjoyed nearly 7 hours at Johnson Space Center, including the tram tour to the new Mission Control Center, and tomorrow we're heading back to the museum district to go to the Houston Zoo! Hopefully we'll get the chance to scurry over to the Museum of Natural Science and....we'll keep the conniptions to a minimum.... :)