Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Red River Bar-B-Que and Grill - League City, Texas

I was pretty sure that I was all done with reviewing BBQ joints. I wasn't sure what else there was to say about it. Then I had lunch at Red River Bar-B-Que & Grill and found that one more thing.

The BBQ at Red River was good for the most part. Sadly and surprisingly the brisket was disappointing and not that great which is very unusual for this area. The sliced pork tenderloin however more than made up for it and was one of the reasons we would consider going back. But that wasn't the one more thing, this was.....

Giant gulf shrimp jalapeno poppers. Two great things that are great together.

The giant gulf shrimp jalapeno poppers
I love jalapeno poppers and shrimp and these did not disappoint. I thought at first that the pepper's heat would cover the taste of the shrimp but not at all. The tastes were all there and played well together. I'm not sure if this is a new item or just new to me or if it's local to the Houston area. Whatever the case may be, if you see them on a menu I recommend that you give them a try. 

There are a couple more menu items I'd like to try. Specifically the ribs and the bar-b-que spuds. But for sure these great jalapeno poppers will be on the table too.

So that's it for BBQ until I get the chance to visit Memphis or at least until another undiscovered (at least by me) interesting item is on the menu.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum - Galveston, Texas

The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum is located along the Texas coast in Galveston. The museum is located on an actual retired "jack-up" drilling rig. 

The Houston area is surrounded, quite literally, by the petroleum industry. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about it and to see what is involved in getting resources from the ground and into our car tanks so that we can take that summer road trip. 

Model of how a drilling rig works

People in the industry both work and live on these offshore rigs. There are kitchens and sleeping areas as well as some entertainment options. I can't imagine what life was like out there 40 years ago; before the advent of cellphones, satellite television and WiFi. Communicating with the folks back home has to be so much easier now. 

Like in every other industry, many changes have taken place in the exploration industry. From the basics of life on the rig, to how they get things done at sea. 

Imagine having to use a cargo net to be lifted onto the rig? Personnel would have to hang onto the outside of the cargo net as they were lifted from the boat out to the rig. Swinging on a cargo net, attached to a rope, on a boat, hanging out over the ocean. A gentleman named Billy Pugh had a much better idea, making getting on and off the rig much safer and saner.

This unit (for getting on the rig) replaced the "Tarzan" rope cargo nets (!) that had been used previously to be lifted onto the rig
Ocean Star shows the process from the initial geologic surveys looking for resources to the actual installation of the massive equipment needed to get those resources to market. Imagine a huge mega structure, basically a small city, being designed and built and then hauled out to sea to be erected? It's an amazing feat of engineering and construction that takes many people and many years to accomplish.

Just think, before drafting software became widely used engineers had to hand build models of future drilling platforms and other equipment. Hand build!

Prior to the use of computer drafting software, engineers hand built models of future drilling platforms    

The tour of the Ocean Star was interesting and informative. The sheer size and breath of both the work needed to accomplishment these goals and the structures we use to do so is worth learning about. And if like me you find a peek behind an industry's curtain fascinating then I recommend a visit to the Ocean Star if you're ever in the area. 

Happy travels!

NOTE: Speaking of tours. The next tour I'm hoping we can take is of the Spoetzl Brewery, home of Texas' own Shiner beer. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sailing - The Adirondack II - Newport, Rhode Island

On our recent visit to Rhode Island we went for a sail out of Newport that took us on a scenic tour around Newport Harbor. As luck would have it this was the exact same boat that we had previously sailed on in Key West, the Adirondack II. (The Adirondack III now sails out of Key West) More info here.

Adirondack II sailing out of Key West, Florida (During the fall of 2008, Classic Harbor Line made the decision to open up a schooner sailing operation in Key West, Florida. This operation would employ the schooner Adirondack II November through April, 2008-2010. In the fall of 2010 a decision to keep Adirondack III in Key West year round was made.)
We sailed out on a warm sunny morning in relatively calm waters. We did get to experience the boat tacking back and forth in the slight wind which was fun. This time out was much more active than our sailing adventure in Key West. 

The tour around the harbor passes various points of interest and Newport history. One very interesting site is a house clinging to a small rock island in the middle of the bay. It's a privately owned residence that may be available for renting.

This is appropriately known as the House on the Rock
 There are many residences and resorts all around the harbor.

The sound of the sea...a clanging buoy.

Fort Adams State Park

The Newport Bridge (Officially the Claiborne Pell Bridge)

Despite the more active sailing (for me at least) we had a great time. This was officially a Mimosa cruise but with my uncertain sailing history I decided to stick to the soft drinks. The ginger ale I had was refreshing and just the thing on a warm summer day.

The boat was lovely and like I remembered it. I couldn't get a picture under full sail from my vantage point but I did get one of a similar boat that gives an idea of what it was like.

Another harbor cruise
Another boat in the harbor that day was one of the ships used in the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean.

You can just make out the cannons on the deck. 
The crew was friendly and made the sail enjoyable. The Captain was a wealth of information about the harbor sites and the area in general.

The Adirondack II leaves Newport out of Bowen's Wharf. There are other fun activities there as well as places to grab lunch or dinner. Sadly our plans for lunch took us out of the area but check out the local spots if you have the time.

Having sailed on the Adirondack II twice now I'm looking forward to going out on the Adirondack III when I get back to Key West. Fun for groups of friends, families or couples, if you're in either area I recommend sailing with the crews of Classic Harbor Line.  Check out their other locations in Boston and New York.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Of Date Shakes and Goodbyes

One of the last things we did on our visit out to the West Coast was stop at Ruby's Shake Shack for a Date Shake. It was something I just had to try before we headed home. Ruby's is a picturesque place located on the Newport Coast near the Crystal Cove State Park. You literally swing in right off of the PCH and then wait in a line of cars to try and secure one of the scarce parking spaces along the front of the lot. It was not unusual to see a line of cars backed out along the Pacific Coast Highway waiting to park whenever we drove by the area.

Ruby's serves burgers and fries and other typical beach shack fare.

It was definitely worth the stop. The shake was a real ice cream milk shake served at the perfect drinking consistency with a large bore straw that was up to the task, date pieces and all.

So we say farewell to Southern California with its beautiful beaches, sparkling sunshine and perfect blue sky days. It was a great trip. We had a lovely and awesome tour guide in my SIL and can't thank her enough for hauling us around and making sure we had an awesome visit. We will definitely be returning. I was promised a trip to Hollywood and I wouldn't miss that for the world.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Corea Kalbi - Newport Beach, California

The Dining Companion and I have had all kinds of BBQ in many different areas of the country. There was however one type that neither one of us had tried before, Korean BBQ. When we were visiting my SIL she took us to a Korean BBQ restaurant, Corea Kalbi, for lunch.

Table top grill

When we arrived we were shown to a booth that had a small grill in the center. Lunch consists of several different types of meats to grill at the table and lots of different kimchi and veggie accompaniments.

We ended up ordering the rib-eye steaks, thinly sliced brisket, bulgogi, pork belly and spicy pork over the course of our lunch.


The grill attendant/waitress brings out three of your options at a time and loads them on your table top grill. She helped with the slicing and serving of some of the items and also kept the sides coming throughout the meal.

Different sauces for your BBQ, The spicy center sauce was my favorite

Radish wrappers that you use to wrap your grilled meat and veg into a tasty little packet
My SIL explained that the idea is to take a little of your grilled meat, some sauce and kimchi and make a packet out of it using a radish (or in some cases egg roll) wrapper. Then lift the whole thing with your chopsticks and cram it in your face enjoy. So good. The flavors are amazing. I can't imagine how I went so many years and never tried this before. I wonder if there are any Korean BBQ places in Minnesota? On my list of things I need to know.  

Having now had this experience I definitely want to do it again. It was just so much fun and a great way to share a meal. I have to look for a Korean BBQ restaurant in the local area. There surely has to be one somewhere and rest assured if there is one I'm going to find it.

Happy dining!