Last morning in Houston

When I traveled to Houston back in late September, I spent most of my short visit attending sporting events and sampling local craft beers in a couple of nice bars. As my last day in Houston was dawning I realized that I hadn’t seen much of the city.  Against a backdrop of ominous clouds, I took the train out to Hermann Park with exploration on my mind.

Off the train and just inside Hermann park, I came upon the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H Jones Reflection Pool, the most prominent feature in the 450 acre park:

Mary Gibbs and Jesse H Jones Reflection Pool

Turning around offered this view of the Sam Houston Monument.  General Houston is atop his horse, Saracen, and watches over the northern entrance to the park.

Sam Houston Monument

As I stood here, I started to realize that even at the relative late morning hour of 10am there weren’t a lot of people around.   Undeterred (for now), I made my way to the other end of the 700 foot long pool for a closer look at the Pioneer Memorial obelisk. In the distance you can also see the Sam Houston Monument:

Pioneer Memorial obelisk

As I was about to continue my way around the park, I started not to feel safe given how few people were around and some of the activities I saw occurring under the cover of the trees and bushes.  On a different day or different time, I would have loved to explore this park more deeply, but I headed back toward the train to help regain some personal comfort.   On the way, I did get to venture past one piece of public art I was hoping to see – the very colourful and playful “Mamadillidiidae” (the larger form) and “Dillidiidae” (the four smaller forms) by Canadian (!) Sharon Engelstein:

Dillidiidae by Sharon Engelstein

With my park visit cut short, I called an audible and headed for Chase Tower back in downtown Houston.  The tallest building in the city has an observation area for the public that I was hoping would have some reasonable views before the ever encroaching clouds rolled in.   On the way into the building I stopped to admire the large form work of art “Personage and Birds” by Spanish artist Joan Miró:

Personage and Birds by Joan Miró

A quick elevator ride up sixty floors gave me some spectacular views of Houston, and a better appreciation of just how sprawling the city is:

Houston skyline

The architecture of the downtown office towers is fairly pedestrian (at least in my humble opinion) but there were a couple of interesting touches to some of the buildings.  I liked the multi-storey opening on the top of the Center Point Energy Building (off-centre, middle of the picture below) and the Italian Renaissance design of the Esperson Buildings (bottom left of the picture):

Houston skyline

Maybe not the exact plan I had for my last morning in Houston, but it turned out pretty well.  With the clouds and rain closing in, I took refuge in a craft beer bar about two blocks away for lunch and a couple of pints and got lost in a good book until it was time to head to the airport.   Austin was up next and would give me an entirely different Texas experience for the rest of my trip.

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