No Golf, Great BBQ and the Astros

Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
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Trip End Sep 29, 2011


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Where I stayed
Holiday Inn Express - Huntsville

Flag of United States  , Texas
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I had planned to get up early and play golf before it got too hot. My body had different ideas. Then it dawned on me...I had been up for 22 hours in a row before hitting the rack about 2:30 am. I don't think I've done that since college...(Did ever tell you I learned a semester's worth of Psychology in one night?) I needed some rest. So, I got up at 10:00 am and placated my guilty conscience for not riding my bike much this summer...and eating at all these great places...by going swimming in the HI-Ex pool.

Speaking of eating. I headed to a great place in Houston. It's called the Luling City Market and they supposedly have some of the finest barbecue in this part of Texas. It's an interesting place. Cafeteria-style (like Arthur Bryant's in KC). I got my food on a tray and sat at the bar where Margie served me a Lone Star. I got the ribs and the brisket. Margie had my Lone Star and their homemade barbecue sauce waiting for me when I got back to the bar. I ate the ribs without any sauce...didn't need it. The sauce was mustard based, and very good on my brisket ..had a little bang to it.. The beans were traditional Texas beans and good, and the cole slaw was excellent with a sweet taste to it. By the time I got done, I agreed, this was some of the best barbecue I've had.

Then my experience here got good. Some guy came in and Margie said, "Hi David." Pretty soon David headed back into the back. I asked Margie if he was the Manager, and she told me David was the owner. He came back out and (I know you'll find this difficult to believe, but we started up a conversation!) David was a great guy. His name is David Craig. I asked about the restaurant. He said he started this restaurant because he liked the barbecue they served in Luling, TX and thought it would go well here in Houston. That was 30 years ago. They've been written up in many magazines and newspapers and been featured on several TV shows. And then he asked me...."Would you like to see where we cook it?" "Are you kidding me? I'd love to!" I exclaimed with great excitement! He took me to the back where they smoke the sausage, brisquet, and ribs every day. Four huge smokers that burn pin oak wood (only). They also do a good mail order business for the meat, sauce and rub. It was an amazing up-close and personal tour of an awesome restaurant that few people get the opportunity to experience. This alone was enough to make my visit to the Luling City Market well worth while. However, sticking around, blogging and having a couple of beers with locals in the bar at the Market was just a great deal of fun. It was not unlike the neighborhood bar at Ride The Nine in Bloomington or the TV show Cheers. I was the only one the regulars didn't know, but Margie did a great job of introducing me and making me feel right at home. Good people! Good conversation! Lots of fun! Lots of laughter!

Then it was off to the Astros game! Parked one block from the ballpark...$7. Got a great seat for $48 only 7 rows behind the Astros bench. Up close and personal. Walking around this ballpark made me realize this is one of the best ballparks in the majors. It's about 10 years old and has so many nuances to it. First, it was originally named Enron Field, but we all know what happened to them. Minuate Maid bought the naming rights shotly after the demise of Enron. Then there are the Crawford Boxes in left field...a short porch...only 315 down the line. The Crawford Boxes (seats) were named after Crawford Street on which Minute Maid Park resides. The street name came from Joseph Tucker Crawford, a British "agent" in the 1830s sent to Texas to convince them to block the United States' expansion west. It didn't work, but it appears the city fathers thought so much of him that they named a major downtown street after him. Go figure! Then there is a deep well in left center field that looks like three arched firehouse garage door entrances. You get some strange bounces off these angled walls. The outfield continues to a very interesting area in center field called Tal's Hill named for President Tal Smith. It ranges from left to right field for about 100 feet and actually has a 20 degree inclline to a straight away center depth of 436 feet. Very clool. And very similar to the old Crosley Field in Cincinatti. The rest of the ballpark is similar to most new ballparks with all the amenities, except in one regard... it has an actual train in deep left center field. The train (loaded with fake Minute Maid Oranges) chugs down the track when the Astros hit a homer. And the whole thing is enclosed when they want by a very cool retractable roof. It was almost 100 degrees today, so they had the roof closed. Very comfortable inside. I do believe this is #2 in my favorite ballparks. Or at least in the top 5.

The game. Oh yea, the game. Fun game with the Cards taking a 2-0 in the first just to see the Astros get two in their half of the first. Went along that way until the Cards scored 3 in the 5th that was the difference. Final scored ended up 8-3. And I can't forget Albert Pujols of the Cardinals hit a home run out to left that almost hit the train!!! Now that was a shot.

I probably forgot to mention that at the Rangers game and here too, they sing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" as well as "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" during the game. Music at baseball games is interesting. When the Cardinals went to a relief pitcher during the game, they played "Goodnight Sweetheart," a 1950s song which was resurrected by Sha Na Na in the 1970s for their TV show closer. The words are great..."Good night sweetheart, well, it's time to go," followed by that oh so familar 50's sound of "du-du-du-du-dut." (Some of you may remember!)

History lesson: Songs at baseball games. Interestingly, people began singing the National Anthem during the 7th inning stretch in the 1918 World Series as a result of WW I. It gradually became a tradition for pre-game ceremonies, leading to some great ones; Whitney Houston...and some not so great ones; Roseann Barr! "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" was first sung at ballgames in the mid-1930s, but the song dates to much earlier than that. I didn't realize until someone at the Rangers game the other night told me they sing "Sweet Caroline" at the Boston Red Sox games for Caroline Kennedy for whom it was written by Neil Diamond for her 11th birthday. And I got to sing it there! Great traditions.

I found a nice little kid wearing glasses on my the way out of the ballpark. He was with his Mom and Dad. They were all very thankful for receiving the Astros baseball.

I drove the hour back to Huntsville, TX to the HI-Express. And just outside of town saw something David Craig
(Luling City Market Owner) mentioned was in Huntsville, besides the prison! A gigantic statue of Sam Houston, I estimated it was 50 feet high and illuminated...it was right along I-45 just outside of Huntsville. I thought I'd maybe investigate further tomorrow.

This was a great day! Great food, great tour of a bbq joint and great ballpark and easy drive home. Home tomorrow. I'll upload pictures of my trip then! (Sorry this is so long, but it's been a great trip and I wanted to tell you all about it!)

Dave
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Comments

Kay Robertson on

And I would have been right there beside you singing!! After all, the 50's are my time and I know every one of those songs by heart!! Glad you're having the good time I would have expected!

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