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Houston is the largest city in Texas, and until recently had the largest people in the United States (that particular wide-brimmed crown is now held by Chicago, but the Houstonians are working hard to reclaim it!) Houston is perhaps most famous for being the seat of Nasa's mission control, but is also known for Texas-sized steaks, freeways, hospitality and waistlines.

The first time I went to Houston was when I lived there for a short period of my life during the Gulf crisis in late 1990. I attended Holy Spirit Episcopal School for some of third grade. Houston to me at the time was not my home, mostly because I wasn't doing well at the school and missed my friends in the Middle East. More recently however I have been back with work, as my company is headquartered in the city.

Houston, I have a problem...

Downtown Houston, which like all American skylines is full of large glass buildings. Until recently, downtown Houston wasn't the place to go to party, it was pretty dead. There's been a lot of development lately though and it is catching up to other districts of the city - as we experienced first hand.

My home for three months in West Houston, 1990. I never really got settled and was very pleased when we got moved back to Dubai.

Home sweet home

Pride of the Texas fleet

The USS Texas battleship, built before the first world war and used in both. The ship is now a monument and sits near to the San Jacinto monument.

Houston is a shopper's paradise, especially when the exchange rate is so favourable for tourists! This is the Galleria, complete with over 300 shops and ice rink, there's also Memorial City and Katy Mills malls to explore and haemorrhage cash.

There's like, the Galleria, like...

With Roger Clemens clucking all the while

Minute Maid park is now the home of the Houston Astros baseball team, not the Astrodome for which they were named. We watched them play the Minnesota Twins, and lose in what was a pretty close game.

The San Jacinto monument (the one on the left, I don't know who the bloke on the right is) marks the spot where Sam Houston's army defeated the Mexicans and won the independence of Texas in 1836. The monument was built around a hundred years later, specifically to be taller than the Washington monument.

Remember the Alamo

Back on the refinery

This is more like Texas; refineries and freeways. There is so much petrochemical activity going on in the Houston area that it was recently discovered that its air quality is now worse than the city of smog, Los Angeles.

Our 1990 visit to Lyndon B Johnson Space Centre in Houston, where various rocket modules were built and of course where Mission Control is based. This is one of only three Saturn 5 rockets left in the world, just like the one which sent Neil Armstrong and his team to the moon. When I came back to see the rockets in 2006 I was sent away in disappointment, not only do you have to pay 20 bucks to see them now, they have built a huge shed over the Saturn V to stop folk like me seeing it from the road for free!

Lift off...we have lift off

Top of the line Vauxhall engine

Here are my sister and me standing by one of the five F1 exhausts which launched the Saturn 5. As you can see it's quite a size.

Downtown Houston at night, where they leave the lights on in strategic offices to get a nice effect from a distance...good night!

Good night
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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2001-2006