Thank Your Lucky Stars...

Ask anyone who lives in California especially in San Francisco why they would visit Houston Texas and they would mostly likely say I would not. I fit in that bucket of living in San Francisco , California . So, why am I going to Houston ? I grew up playing little league baseball for the Sunny Vale Astros. From my first hit in little league, I pledge myself an Astors fan for life. Most people follow teams from their hometown. I do consider San Francisco my hometown. But I wasn't born there. I was born in Singapore and have lived in a few other spots. Since there isn't a MLB baseball team in Singapore , the next best thing in my mind was to follow my little league team name sake

My good friend and I took the red eye to Houston late Thursday night. The plan was to spend the weekend there. Our flight was over sold. My half-witted assumption that no one from San Francisco would want to visit Houston was swept away by the crowd of passages waiting to board the plane.

With a layover in Dallas , we arrived in Houston at high noon. The Houston heat was doing its best cooking eggs on the asphalt. In two minutes, over medium eggs were ready. We picked up our rental car and headed to the Courtyard Marriott at Brook hollow. As soon as we arrived at the front desk, we were greeted with a bottle of ice cold water. The gentleman quickly handled all the needed paper work and pointed us to our room. This is one of the easies and fastest check in I have ever had. The hotel has one of the most well informed and friendliness staff I have ever encounter. The layout of the hotel was a bit smaller for a Courtyard Marriott, but the staff made up for everything.

Since this trip was to see my favorite baseball team, we had tickets to two of three games against the Toronto Blue jays. I am pretty sure this was the only time these two teams have ever met.

Minute Maid Park is amazing. I thought I was lucky living 10 minutes from Pac Bell Park . My entire baseball park gage went up a notch after I step foot into this park. The layout is simple. Keep walking straight and you'll see every angle of the park. This is much like every other ball park in the world. What sets Minute Maid apart is the space of the walkway. Imagine a normal walkway is a two lane freeway. Minute Maid was an eight lane freeway. I was able to carry two beers (they sell 24oz beers for $7.75) a ball park dog, a bag of peanuts, my camera bag and two local blondes (they are for my traveling buddy) to my seat without bumping into a single Astros fan. The people at the concession stands are among the nicest and helpful people I have ever encountered at a baseball park. My order was correct and I walkedaway with a thank you. Living San Francisco , I lose sight what a simple “thank you” can do for you entire day. It's the simple things which make life smooth. We sat at a different section for each of the games. Friday was the first base line three rows from the field. These seats are prime foul ball territory. Some people like club level, for me it's all about field level. I think getting close to the action is much more important than an overall view. If I wanted to an overall view, I mind as well watch the game on television. Everyone around us were huge Astros fans. With ever Astros hit and opponent out, hang fives andloud hand claps filled the stadium and overwhelm me in our section. They even brought us ice cold beers to our seats. The next night we were seated in the Crawford Box. I was pretty dam excited about viewing thegame from there. I had never seen a game perched atop left field. Once again we had third row seats. Maybe my expectation were a bit high, but these seats were not all that. It was pretty hard to see most of the field. It's a great place to catch homer balls. As a matter of fact, that game ended with a walk off homerun four rolls from our seats. The fans at this section were no different from the field level section.Everyone cheered with every pitch the Rocket man threw that game.

I am sad to report there was sadness in Houston . Most of you will think I am stupid for caring, but I had to visit the old Houston Astro Dome. Growing up I was told this was the eight wonder of the world. I've seen countless photographs capturing its grandness. I view its grandness on television. I am not going to say this was Mecca to me, but this was one of two things I needed to do on this trip, see the Dome up close. So, how can there be sadness? Today, the Dome stands next to Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. The Dome was dwarfed next to Reliant Stadium. Its color had faded into dead concrete. Spider webs and loneness was its only decoration. This wasn't the eight wonder of the world. I've seen grander bathrooms. The Dome is now half the man it once was. This was a very sad sight.

Like most of my trips, it's about the people I meet. The people of Houston are sincere, nice and very helpful. I had reservation when I was planning this trip. I anticipated being ask if I was oriental a few times on this trip. Not once was I given a raciest look or asked a raciest question. It turned out I was the close minded person.
Howard Van Lam