Backside of the Track Tours at Churchill Downs

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Backside of the Track Churchill Downs

Backside of the Track Churchill Downs

As the early morning sun splashed above the twin spires at Churchill Downs, we set off for the backside of the track at Churchill Downs. Here, you can belly up to the rails to watch horses stride the track to warm up for races. And during Derby, you can expect  a media frenzy as the world’s fastest thoroughbreds prep for the run of the roses.

And you never know who you might see. I ran into Hall of Fame jockey, Pat Day. His career spans 30 years with more than 8800 winning races. Day is also the all-time winning jockey at the legendary Churchill Downs racetrack, an achievement that includes his signature win in the 1992 Kentucky Derby aboard Lil E. Tee – one of his nine individual Triple Crown race victories. Other famous mounts include Easy Goer, Awesome Again, Lady’s Secret, and Wild Again.

Carri Wilbanks with hall of fame trainer, Pat Day at Churchill Downs

Carri Wilbanks with hall of fame trainer, Pat Day at Churchill Downs

Outside of Derby week, tours of the backside of the track are offered. Check out the more than 1,400 stalls or even catch a glimpse of a 2-year-old training to win next year’s Derby.

Tour Details:

$11.00 per person (children 4 and under FREE)

Museum Admission Required

Available March 15 – November 30

(Not available May 4 – May 5, 2012)

Barn and Backside Tour Schedule: Available March 15 – November 30

Monday – Saturday 7:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m.,

1:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Sunday 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

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Houston Walking Tours

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What better way to discover Houston than with an expert guide and a drink in your hand? Sandra Lord has been leading a multitude of tours for over twenty years in Houston that are her by her own design and sprinkle in her own research. One is the historic pub-crawl. Participant’s experience nightlife and learning about the history, which seems to bean amaretto sweet combo.

The tour meets in the lobby of the historic Lancaster Hotel, Houston’s first luxurious boutique hotel. And talk about keeping such a sweet treasure in the family…it’s still owned and operated by family members related to the original developer. From here you will head on to more landmarks, pubs and bars. The Rice Hotel, now the Rice Lofts, was once of Houston’s most distinguished landmarks. It sit’s where the former Capitol building was when Houston was the Republic of Texas. It’s a pride thing! And something this hotel can certainly boast is having the first air-conditioned room in 1922. That would be worth the travel from any corner of Texas.

Plenty more landmarks await as you situate yourself in the skyline of the city.

And if you can’t make this tour there are plenty more. Sandra Lord has done her research and isn’t scared to even dive into the underground. She will take you in the Downtown Houston Tunnel System. Or choose the Ghost-Hunt Lock-In at the historic Spaghetti Warehouse where ghosts might even cross your path. It’s clear she’s the Lord of knowledge and isn’t afraid to share it.Gallery not found. Please check your settings.

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Space Center, Houston

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It was perfect timing to head to head to Space Center Houston with the major changes NASA is undergoing. The space shuttle era is up for NASA, but of course much more is to come from this space facility. For fifty-three years NASA has been leading America into space.

The part that impressed me the most was riding the tram to the Training Center and to See the Saturn V. Looking over the plexy glass to where astronauts and engineers prepare for some of the most daring and exhilarating flights was something even adults get excited about! The Saturn V was meant to be the Apllo19 mission but a lack of funding kept it from taking off. It’s now housed at the NASA facilities. So large walls had to be built up around it. A separate tram will even take you to the mission control facility. This is where all activity on board the spacecraft is managed and space shuttle missions are directed.

There is plenty to do at the visitor center as well. The Star ship Gallery displays artifacts from space like moon rocks and space capsules. A show commences regularly to take audience members through a day in the life of space and teach you facts you may have forgotten since 5th grade science class. Astronauts generally work out at least two and a half hours a day to maintain their muscle mass. Biking and lifting weights are the most common form of exercise.

Exhibits are always updating and showcase what’s most current for NASA.

Space is untouchable to most but the technology gained in these missions has helped medicine, energy, transportation, agriculture electronics and many other fields of study. Gallery not found. Please check your settings.

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Minute Maid Park

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It was anything but a sold out crowd. The Houston Astros are in need of some fans and I came for support! And miraculously I didn’t even need a ticket. I was told by some Houstonians that this most likely would be the case. I didn’t pay much attention thinking there was absolutely no way you could walk into a Major League Baseball game without that preforated piece of paper. But in Houston its a welcome ya’all. I was soon behind home plate and under the the retractable roof to be safe from the humidity.
The park is in what was Houston’s Union Station. To pay tribute to the commerce the rail brought the city a historic train sits outside left field. And when the Astros hit a home run the train runs wild. I was gripping my seat for a home run hit…but I might just have to catch in next time. Gallery not found. Please check your settings.
The stadium opened in 2000 with natural grass on the field. The first game was against the NY Yankees and the Astros soared past them winning 6-5. The 19th century train got at least got its wheels turning that day!
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