My Dad lives in Houston, TX and we visit him every other year or so. There are plenty of things to do around the area, all within an easy 30-minute drive. For some reason I was thinking about our favorite things to do every time we go down. So I did what any good blogger would do – I made a list of my 10 favorite things to do in Houston, Texas.

The list is in no specific order. Some things we’ve done multiple times and a few only once. Either way, you can’t go wrong with any of these things on the list. More often than not, we’re looking for a way to entertain our two boys, so several things will definitely be kid friendly. Take a look and comment if you think I left something off.

1. Galveston – This is the longest drive you’ll need to make on the list and for an all day visit, it’s well worth it. About 30 minutes south of Houston is Galveston Island. The beach is great, easily accessible and never too crowded. If the beach isn’t your thing – there’s lots more to do in Galveston. The Galveston Railroad Museum is a fun visit. There are shops aplenty in the Strand Historic District. The Lone Star Flight Museum is another great place to visit if you or the kids like airplanes, jets and such. However, the one place you simply must visit in Galveston is Moody Gardens. This trio of pyramids has it all. It’s a water park, aquarium and rainforest all in one place. They also have a hotel, 3D and 4D movies as well. You could easily spend a couple of days in Galveston if you wanted to see it all.

2. Gulf Greyhound Park – Yes, it’s a dog racing track. That may not sit well with some, but with that in mind, the wife and I had a blast the night we visited. There are usually several races per night. You can place bets, have a beer and grab a bite to eat. I guarantee the most fun you have will be reading the dog’s names. For an extra special visit, go on an adoption night and try to resist taking one of these magnificent looking animals home with you.

3. Bingo – Here’s another fun, adult only outing. If gambling isn’t your thing, but you’d still like to maybe will a little money, the head out to Boot Kikker’s Bingo. If you’re brave, play more than one sheet to increase your chances of winning. However, be warned, they move fast and have what seems like 100 different variations. Pay attention, listen closely and look over someone’s shoulder if you need a hint. I guarantee you it’s a much fun as playing Party Bingo online.

4. Food – I’ve heard that Houston has more restaurants per person that just about anywhere in the U.S. and I know that we try somewhere new just about every time we go. From Indian food to dive bars, we’ve tried a lot. One place we go back to over and over is Gringo’s. The food is great, the guacamole is fantastic and the kids (and I) love the free soft-serve ice cream machine.

5. National Museum of Funeral History – Here’s an odd one that’s a little off the beaten path, but well worth a visit. If you’ve ever wondered about the history of funerals, coffins, embalming and other such oddities – you’ll find out more than you want to know here. From Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train to coffins built for families, it’s all on display. They have a great collection of funeral vehicles through the ages and the Fantasy Coffins of Ghana are an absolute blast.

6. Baseball/Basketball/Football – If you’re a sports fan, there’s almost always going to be an event happening when you’re there. We love baseball, so the Houston Astros are a good bet for us. If basketball is your sport, then check out a Houston Rockets game while you’re in town. If you’re visiting during the winter, then cross your fingers and maybe the Houston Texans will be in town.

7. Space Center Houston – Here’s another must-see attraction for kids and adults alike. For the kids, they have great hands-on exhibits and play areas, including one that’s a few stories tall – and it’s all indoors. For adults, you can take the tour and see where the astronauts train, when the shuttles and rockets were built and get a peek at Mission Control.

8. The Children’s Museum of Houston – Since we have kids, we always look for a place like this. After visiting the Children’s Museum of Houston, all others will be disappointing. This place is HUGE. They have so many exhibits and hands-on play areas inside, it’s a great place to beat the Texas heat. But you can also cool off outside as well. They have a fantastic water play area that has boats, water tables and a massive interactive water sculpture and water pistols. Plan on spending a lot of time here.

9. Kemah Boardwalk – Here’s another great place to spend a day. Packed with good restaurants, lots of shops and a great selection of rides – the Kemah Boardwalk is like a small amusement park without the huge crowds and high prices that usually go with them. Buy an all day ride pass, shop, eat some ice cream and then ride some more. Your kids will thank you when it’s over.

10. Houston Museum of Natural Science – Dinosaurs! They now have fossils and dinosaur skeletons. This wasn’t here on our last visit, but we’ll be going back now that they are there. Kids love dinosaurs and there’s lots of other interesting things in the museum as well. From gems and planets to other cultures and paleontology – it’s a great place for older kids and adults alike.

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There is guy posing as Chipper Jones on Twitter and it cracks me up. After watching him try and deceive people, I collected my thoughts (and proof) as to why it’s not really Chipper tweeting. There are a few simple facts that alone should be enough for most to know it’s not really Chipper Jones tweeting.

Note: All of the embedded tweets have foreign navigation. I suspect this is due to my web server being in Europe. Will fix that if I figure out how.

First of all, none of the other Braves players have acknowledged him being on Twitter – yet they mobbed Brandon Beachy the day he first posted.

Second – anyone that knows the Braves knows that Chipper is a very private person. I just don’t see him publicly posting where he’s going during the day and generally being so jovial.

https://twitter.com/#!/ChipperJones_10/status/146075134376165379

All of that’s odd enough, but in the past few days “Chipper” has been posting pictures and offering up a signed jersey in an attempt to get more followers. Evidently his feelings are hurt because Beachy nabbed over 3K followers in a day.

https://twitter.com/#!/ChipperJones_10/status/149292287501938688

In order to gain followers, “Chipper” is offering an autographed alternate jersey.

https://twitter.com/#!/ChipperJones_10/status/148926146485035008

“Chipper” must have been fresh out of jerseys because that jersey is the same one that was for sale at RadTKE Sports website

In another effort to seem real, “Chipper” posted an image of his truck after washing it.

https://twitter.com/#!/ChipperJones_10/status/149223156228427777

I won’t get into the weird way that my wife determined that this was truly not Chipper’s truck (or house), but I didn’t know that Chipper was also named Javier and posts as VegasJunkie2004 in the F150 Forum.

F150

I think those two examples are more than enough proof.

If impersonating a 7x All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger and most loyal player currently in baseball makes you happy, then more power to you. There’s not anything I can do to stop you. However, I will call you out on it.

Conrad Celebrates

Conrad Celebrates

The Atlanta Braves announced yesterday they non-tendered Brooks Conrad. While the moved surprised me, I’ll admit that it makes sense. Doesn’t mean I have to like it and it doesn’t mean I won’t miss seeing Brooks in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the ninth, getting ready to bat by rubbing the dirt from the field on his hands. There’s a story to my family’s affection for Brooks and it all goes back to May 20, 2010.

If you’re a Braves fan, you likely know the story of what happened on that day, so bear with me. The last game in that series against the Cincinnati Reds was an afternoon game. Outside of Sunday, 1 p.m. games are few and far between. However, living almost 4 hours away from Turner Field, they’re perfect for a quick trip down and back to see our favorite team play ball.

So, on that Thursday morning, my wife and I surprised our oldest son (then 6-years old) by telling him he wouldn’t be going to school that day. Instead we were going to watch the Braves play ball. Who wouldn’t want to skip school and go to a ball game?

This was our second game at Turner Field and it was a rough one. Tommy Hanson was having a bad day and late in the game the Reds were leading 9-3. We discussed leaving early, but decided since we drove 4 hours we wouldn’t leave early (a decision that would haunt us in 2011 – but, that’s another story).

In the bottom of the ninth, things started to fall apart for the Reds. Troy Glaus, Eric Hinske, Yunel Escobar, Nate McLouth all got hits. After David Ross was walked, Martin Prado loaded the bases when the Reds third baseman couldn’t get the ball cleanly out of his glove.

You could feel the electricity in the air when Jason Heyward stepped to the plate. After his opening day homer, Braves fans were expecting a lot from this rookie left-fielder. While he did deliver a few walk-off wins in 2010, he struck out and left the bases loaded for Brooks Conrad.

I can’t say we were familiar with Brooks Conrad that day before he hit the game winning, walk-off grand slam. I can say that after that he became someone we enjoyed watching every time he stepped to the plate or took the field. From the time the ball got lost in his shirt to his 3 errors in the NLDS, we rooted for Brooks.

Every time we saw the a few seconds of his walk-off grand slam in commercials in 2011, we would always look at each other and smile. My wife, son and I have all told that story to countless people and I’ll always tell it to anyone willing to listen.

Brooks Conrad and Kris Medlen

My favorite time telling that story had to be September 3, 2011 when we participated in the Atlanta Braves Family Field Day. It just so happened that Brooks was one the six players participating that day. At the autograph session afterwards I made it a point to thank him personally for creating a memory my family and I will share and remember forever.

So long Brooks Conrad and thanks for the memories. You may not be an Atlanta Brave anymore, but you’ll always be one of our favorite Braves.

Brooks Conrad