I love Houston. I love her food scene. I love her museums. A lot of my close friends live in Houston. I love the diversity of the population and I love the art! If you’re in Houston from now to February 22, I strongly recommend checking out the Bruce Munro Field of Light exhibit at Discovery Green. The field is illuminated between 3 to 11 pm. If you’re not in Houston on these dates, check out the link anyway as Bruce Munro has multiple traveling exhibits.
I had so much fun setting up a borrowed tripod and taking these shots. The one photo of me was taken by my photography coach and friend for life, Thomas L Chen. You can read more about this night from his perspective on his blog.
Some time ago a nomadic soul who recently planted roots asked me how I managed to keep the explorer in me fulfilled when I’m not traveling. There are infinite amount of experiences to be had which means you don’t necessarily have to get on a plane to start exploring. As much as I love traveling, it’s not always feasible to hop on a plane or jump in the car with an out of town destination.
Be a sponge for local news and events. I am always on the lookout for things to do in Austin and Houston, my home-bases. Even if my schedule isn’t free, I’ll mentally bookmark the local gems. Just last week I finally checked out a rooftop telescope that has been open to the public at the University of Texas for decades. I saw Jupiter and four of her moons. I’ve had access to this building for thirteen years and still just manage to experience its roof and peer at Jupiter for the first time. Examples of some of my local gems? In Houston there’s an obscure museum called the National Museum of Funeral History and in Austin we have the Cathedral of Junk. What does your town have? When was the last time you checked out your local tourist spots?
Be deliberate. I’ve been consciously looking for a new experience at least once a week since the summer of 2005. I have not missed a week and it comes so easily to me now. It can be as small as trying a new restaurant or cooking with a new ingredient or finally taking that dorky Segway tour of your city. Scan your Livingsocal and Groupon emails for new experiences in your town. That’s how I found myself taking a bee-keeping class and rolling down a hill strapped inside a plastic ball. All of these experiences required no booking of airfare or lodging.
Have friends with adventurous spirits. I recommend being friends (and dating) people who aren’t afraid of looking stupid. People who don’t mind making fools of themselves as they learn how to ride that Segway or who are brave enough to be in that plastic ball with you. These like-minded friends will also be in the know of all the unique nooks and crannies your town has that most locals take for granted.
Be open and say yes. I’m willing to bet that a lot of us are so comfortable with the familiar that we make excuses. Excuses are dangerous stories we tell ourselves on why we can’t have or do something. Adventures aren’t limited to faraway places. Be open. Next time something strikes your fancy, google it along with your city. See if your city has a sensory deprivation chamber after you hear about it on the Joe Rogan podcast. If your friend invites you to a reading party, even if it’s easier to just read in your pajamas at home and not suffer the social anxiety you get from meeting new people, say yes.
Traveling is an easy gateway into the feelings you’re bound to feel when your horizons are being stretched and you are seeing things for the first time. I get it. I can never get enough of travel. But it’s still possible to feel awestruck anywhere you happen to be.
Social artist, Konstantin Dimopoulos has a series of installations that involve painting trees a vibrant blue (not with real paint but with a safe pigment that wears off in time). He hopes that these vibrantly hued trees will raise awareness of the global impact of deforestation. He has installations of Blue Trees in Vancouver, Seattle, and various other locations. You can find a listing of cities on his website. Houston and Galveston are a couple of the newest addictions to his series. Kim and I frolicked at the Houston location last weekend. To find more information on the Houston and Galveston installations, you can check out their website, http://bluetreestexas.org/. I highly recommend going soon before the pigment fades!
Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to reflect on what makes you awesome. I’m curious though, what makes you totes awesome?
Fun Free Thing to Do in Houston
I want to start doing posts about fun events and things you can do around Houston and Austin OR YOU KNOW, PARIS, so expect a post soon on Blue Trees. Soon like this weekend since the blue pigment is supposed to fade in time!
Roger Ebert, rest in peace. I really found this TEDtalk of his in 2011 touching and inspiring. Also at the end there is a great reminder to be aware of our biases against disabled people.
I never shy away from weird food. Andrew Zimmerman commented that this squid intestines dish at a restaurant in Seattle tasted like rotten pencil erasers. So you can bet that that was one of the things I ate in Seattle when I visited! I can usually top people on weirdest thing you’ve eaten contests, but this man at work has gotten me beat since he lived in different countries in his lifetime. We often exchange notes and giggle over the expressions our coworkers give us. Today he brought in this tin of spiced octopus. OCTOPUS IN A CAN. I’m excited to crack this baby open.
Posted to the food blog twice this week! This is an accomplishment.
I have a few food dates with my friend Naz who is in town from Miami this weekend but other than that the weekend is dedicated to reading, cleaning, and meal planning. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
This week’s moments of bliss: ♥ getting the best compliment I’ve received in a while ♥ Alan leaving a new book in my purse as a surprise ♥ Madam Mams date with Naz ♥ Naz is in town from Miami! ♥ getting our Paris Museum passes in the mail ♥ frolicking in magical blue forests ♥ takeout dinner with the family for dad’s birthday ♥ shuffle board night with Alan and company ♥ breakfast tacos ♥ a whole week without cooking thanks to mom sending me back to Austin with food ♥ seeing older people learning how to tweet
Questions: What do you love about yourself? What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?
I hadn’t seen my friend Cindy in way too long and I was especially excited to see how we would spend our day together over Christmas break. You see, Cindy and I have a penchant for the weird. For instance, we once ate at an allegedly haunted restaurant right before we saw actually reserved human remains as part of the Body Worlds Exhibit. That was exactly what I remembered when I asked Cindy if there was anything in Houston she has been meaning to check out and she told me, “the funeral museum!” I laughed and thought it was best suited for our lunch we had planned at Pho Binh by Night where they serve bone marrow pho. Bone marrow and funerals! It’s another themed date!
If you’ve been following along my blog or twitter long enough, you might gather I’m a sucker for noveltyandwackyexperiences. So I was super ecstatic about going to a funeral museum. However, I didn’t expect an awesomely curated museum. When someone says “want to check out a funeral museum?” The image that comes to mind is a run down house converted to a “museum” with a shabby collection of funeral programs and models.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the National Museum of Funeral History has an impressive amount of artifacts and originals. There is a heavy emphasis on presidential history with the original hearse that drove John F. Kennedy and Reagan. There is also a whole wing dedicated to the funeral ritual for popes, heavily emphasizing the death of Pope John Paul II. The papal wing even has an original pope mobile! You’ll also find original hearses from around the world and a section dedicated to the funeral and deaths of celebrities. I learned Walt Disney never had a funeral!
I highly recommend giving this place a visit if ever you find yourself in Houston. It’s ten dollars well spent and you’ll get a fascinating history lesson.
Eerily accurate model of Pope’s viewing
Custom three person casket
Question: What is your favorite unique local attraction to show your visiting friends?