The I-35 portion of The Great Baseball Ride continued after another nice nights stay at a HoJo. We made the three and a half or so hour drive down from Dallas to Houston in true Judges fashion by us arriving 5 ½ hours after departure. We had no expectation on doing anything in Houston other than the game, although, on the way, we did do a quick drive-thru the world largest volume RV dealer (Motor Home Specialist); that place seemed decidedly Texan as it was over 200 acres in total.
We found surface parking about a block from the stadium for $20 on Capitol Street. We also saw parking a similar distance around the stadium for as high as $40; it pays to drive around a bit. We parked about 4:30 pm or so and found a sports bar right across from the stadium; Home Plate. We were relegated to an upper level as the lower was full up, but the food was good and the company (Keke) was great.
We made it over to the stadium around 6 pm to wander a bit. Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof, which is perfect for steamy Houston, but the humidity seems to make its way in regardless of the enclosure and the A/C. So, walking around the stadium was a warm one for us northerners.
Keke had gotten our tickets for $10 a piece via Stubhub (total with fees was $29) and the seats were our new usual of upper deck behind home plate. We never made it to those seats as we ended up walking around the stadium exploring and just sitting wherever we were when we felt we needed a rest.
Our first rest was in the Torchy’s Tacos section in center. This place came highly recommended from stadium staff and it was the real deal. The wait for the line was about 20 minutes, but it was worth it. The tacos were $7 plus each, and I grabbed the Trailer Park (fried chicken, cheese, lettuce, green chiles, pico, and poblano) and Keke went with the Fried Avocado (fried avocado, cheese, lettuce, pico, and poblano). My only regret is that I did not get more.
Torchy’s also had a solid local beer section and we chose the Eureka Heights Buckle Bunny. I was told it was a cream ale. There was a slight sweet aftertaste, and we’d definitely recommend it.
We found a table at Torchy’s that through an isle, gave us a perfect view of the pitcher and batter. That worked for a couple of innings, but we decided to search for a better view. We eventually landed right on the left field line, with an obstructed view behind the foul pole. I think the idea of walking any further dictated where we actually sat.
Regardless of our own inability to get to our actual non-obstructed seats, we really enjoyed watching the game. Minute Maid is a great park with lots of charm. We particularly liked the train in left that goes when they hit a homerun, although the cannon sound certainly startled us.
The Astros fans seemed passionate and seemed willing to sport team apparel at an above average rate. Astros gear was everywhere, and one person even went so far as to wear a space suit, can’t get more “Astro” than that.
As for the game, there was no Jose Altuve (injured), no George Springer (injured), and no Yuli Gurriel. The absence of the last was especially weird since it was Yuli Gurriel bobblehead day. Had we known that Jose Altuve wouldn’t be playing, I am not sure Keke would have come; she loves him. I might love him too. The White Sox ended up upsetting the best team in baseball 9 – 4, but we had a great time.
We decided not to stay in Houston as our next stop is in Kansas City; we wanted to make some headway. Our overnight ended up being at the La Quinta inn Corsicana, TX, south of Dallas. We continued to be impressed with that brand. This hotel was very nice (I think the TV in our room was 55 inches) and the price is equally nice; $64. Maybe there is a good formula in there for hotel value? If the delta between your hotel cost in dollars and room TV size in inches is </= to 10, you’ve found a good spot. Extra points of course if the TV size is greater than the hotel cost. Regardless of formulas or metrics we were happy with our stay and our day overall.