If you are just going to the airport to change planes you have to take into concideration all of the controls and check-ups that they have. It can take a few hours, so leave some room for this.
Also remember that you have to pick up your luggage, carry it through the customs and deliver it on the other side. You have to do this even if the luggage is supposed to go directly to your final destination.
Barker Reservoir - Part II
My favorite activity in the reservoir was walking and bird watching. One access area is on the west side of Hwy 6 where Briar Forest Road intersects Hwy 6. The gravel road leading over the dam and into the reservoir was a nice place to walk when the puddles weren't too big. I saw numerous bird species in the reservoir in this area. Typical sightings included cardinals, myrtle warblers, black phoebe, kestrel, harrier, and a couple of sparrow species. There is a little lake/big pond in this area, and I once saw a flock of about eight avocets in the lake. Egrets and herons are often in this area as well. My personal homepage has a photo of a rose-breasted grosbeak taken in this area.
I've seen some other critters in this area as well. I was once fairly far back in the woods and heard a rustling in the undergrowth. I watched and waited, and an armadillo eventually came out onto the overgrown road on which I was walking. I've seen a big garter snake and once caught a small cottonmouth. I once saw a bobcat in the far south end of the reservoir. I suspect that they live in this area as well, but sighting one would be a rare treat.
The path along the top of the dam can be a fun place to walk also. While views of a city are never at the top of my list, the dam is high enough to give a few okay views of Houston. Of more interest to me are several swallow species that I've seen on the dam and feeding along a creek just below the dam. The creek also has the usual water birds like egrets and killdeer.
On nice thing about getting around in Houston is the live billboard. Every few miles on the major highways are signs that will update you about time delays, road closures, wrecks and even emergency information. It posts Amber Alerts (missing children) and other good-to-know info.
Definitely heed the warnings about times and accidents blocking lanes. I've found they are all true!
The sole Russian restaurant is located on Dairy Ashford between Briar Forest and Westheimer in far out Western suburbs. Food is so-so, but service is good, and on weekends it hosts get togethers of the local Russian community.
The Menil Collection
I have lived in Houston for a total of seven years and never knew about this gallery until I read "1000 Places To See Before You Die." Now, I'm not a person that art speaks to. I appreciate the talent but some of it I just don't think I "get." However, the ambiance at this gallery is truly peaceful. I love how there are pieces by Picasso, Matisse, and Giacometti. For the art-impaired it really makes the trip worthwhile.
Don't forget to go across the street to the gift shop and pick up a few post cards of the more well-known pieces. Makes a great addition to any photo album or scrapbook.
Beware the map on their website is not entirely accurate. We took a wrong turn and were in a really bad neighborhood. I would map it (mapquest/yahoo) before you go just to make sure. Update: I attempted to find it again and still got lost. So allow some time to figure it out!
From "1000 Places To See Before You Die":
The Menil Collection can be found in a leafy residential neighborhood southwest of downtown Houston. Widely esteemed as one of the greatest and most eclectic private museums in the United States, it is a magnificent assemblage of some 15,000 objects (a revolving number are on display) amassed by the late Paris-born Dominique de Menil and her husband John. Sometimes described as American Medicis, the de Menils (whose fortunes derived from the oil-services firm Schlumberger, Ltd., founded by Dominique's father and uncle) were legendary as Houston's patron of the arts.
Opened in 1987, viewing art here is a very intimate experience, just what Dominique de Menil intended. It is often compared to the other small gems of America's museum scene. At its heart is the justly famous Surrealism collection, with works by Man Ray, Duchamp, and Ernst, and one of the world's best collections of Magritte. The Menil is also rich in 20th-century European artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, and Rodin. Across the street, an annex comprises nine galleries of the work of the American artist Cy Twombly.