Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rush Hour, Tolerance, Cheech & Chong for President

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We're nowhere near acclimated to our new city but progress is being made. Jayson and I are already arguing over the best way to get from Point A to Point B so I guess that's a good sign.

I've been running a lot of errands this week but not particularly important ones. I'm mainly just trying to get out and find stuff so that I can start learning how to get where I need to go without a map. I don't see that happening any time soon but maybe someday.

I've learned a couple of things about Houston traffic. For instance, it is 25 miles from my front door to the heart of downtown Houston. I can usually get there in about 30 minutes but it takes an hour and a half for me to get home. Why the difference? A strange phenomenon they call "rush hour".

In my mind, I thought rush hour happened twice a day: a couple of hours in the morning when everyone is driving to work, then a couple of hours in the evening when they are coming home. The only real rush hour I've had any experience with is in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where you can usually manage as long as you are traveling in the opposite direction from all the commuters. 

This is not the case in Houston. I'm not exactly sure when the morning rush hour starts (because nothing short of the Apocalypse would get me out of bed at that hour) but from what my husband says it's already going strong at 7 a.m. So let's say the morning rush hour is from 6-10 a.m., give or take.

I thought the next rush hour would be late afternoon when everyone is coming home from work, but there is a bonus noon time rush hour that I was not aware of. From 11 a.m. until about 2 p.m. you have the lunch time rush hour when everyone is trying to grab lunch and get back to work. Then the "real" afternoon rush hour starts at about 3 p.m. when all the medical professionals get off work and the kids start getting out of school. That just blends into the 4-6 p.m. real rush hour.

But that's not all. Then there's the 7-9 p.m. rush hour when everyone is going out to dinner. And although I personally have not experienced it, I have a feeling there's a late night rush hour when everyone is coming home from the bars.

So here in Houston it's pretty much all rush hour all the time. I can avoid traffic during those few little pockets of non-rush hour time, but since it takes 30 minutes to get where I'm going, I know I'll be blessed with the rush hour experience on my way home. I really think the prime errand-running time for avoiding traffic is between 4-6 a.m. and local businesses should just get on board with that.

I experienced the rush hour blessing full-on last night as I was coming home from Texas Art Asylum, which by the way is my idea of heaven and is worthy of its own blog post. It's located, um, to the left of downtown. I haven't learned the names of all the areas yet. It's just off Washington Avenue where I saw some really great graffiti. I'm going to go back to take pictures of that. Anyway, I left there at straight up 5:00 so I knew it would take a while to get home but I wasn't counting on it taking the almost 2 hours that it did. I hadn't eaten lunch and got so hungry while I was stuck in traffic that I ate a whole tin of Altoids. (Note to self: carry snacks in the car at all times.)

I'm also going to Buffalo Bayou Park's Harmony Walk that I passed on my way to Texas Art Asylum from The Guild Shop, which is in the Montrose area. I learned that one. The park has these huge amazing sculptures called "Tolerance". They're supposed to celebrate the diversity that Houston is so proud of. There are 7 figures representing each continent and made by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa using his signature alphabet mesh. They're really quite stunning.

I love all the cool stuff you can see here while driving around in the car. This was almost as good as what I saw earlier this week. There was a homeless guy standing under a bridge off I-10 holding a cardboard sign that I thought would say something like, "Will work for food". It didn't. It said, "Cheech & Chong for President". Unfortunately I could not safely snap his picture while driving. He appeared to be mumbling to himself so I thought he probably had some mental issues and I felt a little sorry for him. Then I thought maybe he was wondering why no one was stopping to give him food or money cuz he hadn't realized he grabbed the wrong sign on his way to work that morning. Bless his heart.

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