Festivities on December 28, our wedding anniversary, almost didn’t happen. We’d hoped to have a celebration for our 11th anniversary, seeing as how the day of the week had swung around to where it was when we married. The previous Friday, though, the norovirus striking half of Dallas got us as well, leaving us barely able to move except to clear out our GI tracts just a little bit more. Saturday, though, we were just mobile enough to get in the car and go to Dallas’s Fair Park, where it all began.
Unlike 11 years ago, we couldn’t go to the exact spot where we married, as it’s no longer accessible to the public. The Dallas Museum of Natural History is no more, its collections mostly moved to the new Perot Museum, and the former Texas Giants Hall now turned into administration offices. We still had reason to come out that way, because the grounds of the old museum and Leonhardt Lagoon were hosting the Chinese Lantern Festival for another winter.
As with the show in 2012, this year’s Chinese Lantern Festival was extended past the run of the State Fair of Texas. Unlike last year, it’s now running all the way through the end of the Chinese New Year. Also unlike last year, the Lantern Festival does a much better job of utilizing the area around Leonhardt Lagoon, to a much improved effect. For the next two hours, we ignored the last twitches of the norovirus, completely engrossed by the view.
Over the next few days, keep checking back for photos of the Lantern Festival, but if you have the opportunity to do so, visit it directly. The images are, as with many things inadequate compared to the actual experience.
Ever since we first got married, the Czarina and I usually spend the beginning of the new year in overdrive, and New Year’s Day 2014 went above and beyond. Most years, the last week of the previous year and as much of the first week of the new goes into maintenance: my Day Job has a “use it or lose it” policy on vacation time, so the last days remaining after a steady regime of shows and sick days usually goes into maintenance and support. Organizing tax records, cleaning the house, contemplating “would shoveling out the office be faster than just setting everything on fire and rebuilding the house?”…it’s usually a great way to end the year.
This year, though, has a whole new level to it. At the end of the year, the Czarina went freelance after nearly 13 years at her previous employer, and her first action involved scheduling a whole new slew of shows and events through 2014. Since one of her favorite places to visit is Galveston, I’d had to work or prepare for my own shows every time she went down for a visit, and she was determined to get me out there, one way or another. That “one way” consisted of getting me as the heavy lifter at Space City Con at the Moody Gardens convention center.
In the endless fannish battle between “Star Trek versus Star Wars,” I usually play conscientious objector by shrugging “Don’t look at me: I’m a Babylon 5 kind of guy.” (I’m really more of a Max Headroom kind of guy, but describing the wars between Mediterranean geckos and orbweaver spiders in the greenhouse every spriing still requires the analogy of The Battle of Gorash 7.) The main focus of Space City Con this January was on the twentieth anniversary of the premiere of the show, as well as celebrating the end of its main story five years later, so this was as much of a 15th anniversary reunion of the cast and crew as anything else. The show also included costuming events, art panels, and easily the biggest dealer’s room I’ve seen in 20 years, since the Dallas Fantasy Fairs used to run at Dallas Market Hall. Between resident Galvestonians, all of Houston right at its feet, and a plethora of attendees from all over the planet, it was a very good show for the Czarina.
I, however, had ulterior motives. After getting set up at the convention center on Thursday night and Friday morning, I escaped for a few hours. On the other side of the hotel and convention center parking lot was the whole of Moody Gardens. The immediate gardens themselves were to be expected for winter (which, considering that Galveston temperatures in January might go as low as freezing, still meant a lot to see), but the main draws were the three pyramids on the site. These contained, in order of size, a rainforest biome, an aquarium, and an IMAX theater, and the first two offer a full-day experience each. Over the next few days, keep coming back for new photos and discussions, because there’s a lot to see out there.
And before I forget, Galveston has many other attractions, and one of its best is the variety and quality of its dining establishments. One of the smaller yet most interesting places is a new restaurant called The Gumbo Diner, which was nearly a literal lifesaver on Thursday evening when we were at our most exhausted. After five hours of driving and another two hours of setup, it’s amazing how much pep one can get from the best bowl of seafood gumbo to be found this side of New Orleans. If you get the chance to visit Galveston this year, make a point to hit the Seawall, go straight to the Gumbo Diner, and while fighting your friends and family over the crawfish etouffee, let the crew there know who sent you.