TxDOT Doesn't Want Mexicans to Drink and Drive this Easter

Photo by Dyanna Hyde
What's missing is the card for El borracho, or the drunk.
This glorious Easter season, the Texas Department of Transportation has taken it upon themselves to disrespect the state's flourishing Latino population. How, you might ask?

By using the Mexican game of chance known as loterĂ­a. The game is part of the branding for an anti-drunk driving initiative directed toward the state's Latinos.

It's being labeled a "culturally relevant campaign" that runs through May 5 (yeah, Cinco de Mayo, which in all honesty is more of an American bro holiday than an outright Mexican celebration).

And get this, a lunch truck van will make the rounds in Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi and Lubbock, luring people to mass games of awareness over driving liquored up.

Playing on the law of averages TxDOT is doing their part to save lives, according to them:

In 2013, there were 25,158 DUI-alcohol crashes in Texas that resulted in 8,702 serious injuries and 1,022 deaths. Of those DUI-alcohol crashes, 11,867 - or nearly 37 percent - involved a Hispanic driver. Among young male drivers ages 17-34, Hispanics accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of all crashes where drivers were under the influence of alcohol.

So, according to those stats, it's Hispanics overall, not just Mexicans. Still, it makes sense to target Mexicans since stereotypically, they are what the folks at TxDOT see when they see a Spanish-speaking person.

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Five Cities Where We'd Prefer a High-Speed Train Connection to Houston

Categories: Texas Traveler

Photo by Alok Mishra
This could be you, Houston.
A private investor group is trying to do a redux on an old plan to build a bullet train through Texas, connecting the Bayou City with Dallas. But of all the options for high-speed travel, is getting to Dallas in less than two hours really what we want?

We asked our Facebook pals what they thought of the idea, there was lots of love for a Houston to Dallas train (Cody Johnson wrote: "I'd go to Dallas to watch the Mavericks lose."), but most people (we got over 100 comments) liked other locations better. "Yeah who would ever want to go to Dallas? It's only like, the right direction you need to go if you want to go to Chicago," commented Ian Komouss.

Taking a look at the suggestions on the old FB, we put together this list of high-speed train stops we'd rather see.

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Lot Lizards Have Forced the County to Try to Shut Creepy Truck Stop

Categories: Texas Traveler

Too much prostitution and robbery here, says Harris County attorney.

Hashim Ramiz Hasan and Desai Pratap are being taken to court because Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan says the Key Truck Stop has gone to the lot lizards for far too long.

The truck stop at 17124 Interstate 10 east in Channelview is being labeled a public nuisance because court papers say it's known for "habitually harboring criminal activity, including drug possession and delivery, robbery, aggravated assault, and prostitution."

"The defendants are aware of these crimes yet have done nothing to stop them. It will obviously take legal action for them to do the right thing for this community," Ryan said in a statement.

The county is looking to close the business for a year if Pratap, the property owner, and Hasan who runs Channelview Enterprises, Inc., the owner of the truck stop business don't clean up the place. The suit, filed Tuesday, seeks a temporary injunction and a bond of up to $10,000 to make sure the owners stick to the court order.

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Galveston Ranked One of the 10 Destination Cities on the Rise by Website

Categories: Texas Traveler

On the rise...
For Houstonians, Galveston is a great weekend getaway, even a day trip. Sure, it's a bit seedy and the water, thanks to silt from the Mississippi River, is not exactly like a tropical island unless the island is surrounded by dirty river water. But, they have some great places to eat, there's plenty of good fishing and beaches are mostly not covered in seaweed. Mostly.

So, when I read this week that TripAdvisor.com had named Galveston Island as one of the Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the country, I was a little surprised, particularly when the other destinations included Anchorage, Alaska, Destin, Florida, Brooklyn and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Yeah, that Hawaii.

Galveston finished No. 7 on the list.

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The Electronic Traveler: Traffic, Hotels and Streaming Audio

Day one of my cross-country road trip was dramatically improved by three apps that helped me pass the time, figure out the traffic and land cheap lodging. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I had a number of apps I was planning on utilizing for my travels, and Maps was at the top of the list. As you might imagine, given that I drove some 12 hours on Wednesday, that was one app I used a lot. But that's an obvious choice. For the purposes of this post, I'd like to focus on three others I used equally or more than Maps.

First is Waze. On a couple of occasions, I ran into pretty nasty traffic, both times road construction blocking one lane. While Waze couldn't have helped me avoid the traffic -- these were in rural areas where it was only through, not around -- it certainly helped me see how long my wait was going to be and when it might end.

Not surprisingly, there were others who had been slowed by the construction and reported it back to the app. It didn't necessarily save me time, but it sure did save me frustration.

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The Electronic Traveler: Apps I'll Be Using on My Upcoming Road Trip

Photo by Jeff Balke
I love a good road trip and over the next ten days, I'll be driving across the country for a family vacation. While I'm on the drive, I plan to use my iPhone extensively to help me along my way. I've done this in the past and it has made traveling a lot easier. But I'm not convinced what I have are the only apps out there that are useful. So I'm looking for help.

I intend to file some reports from the road on the apps I'm using and just how useful they are. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. I'm looking for anything to make my drive, accommodations, dining experiences and the like more pleasurable.

But to get started, here is a list of the apps I intend to use.

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Lots of People Bring Their Guns to Houston Airports (Surprising No One)

Categories: Texas Traveler

Bring your gun to the airport, get an extra-close TSA search.
Traveling can be stressful. You have to get there in time to get your bag checked and get through security before you even get the chance to hustle through the terminal to your gate (and it seems like your gate is always guaranteed to be farthest away when you've only got two minutes to get there and board.)

Of course, it doesn't help matters if you've forgotten to take your gun out of your boot or your shoulder holster or your carry-on. It seems like the most basic thing in the world nowadays. We know not to take full-size shampoo bottles or contact solution or pocket knives when making our way through airport security, but some people still forget to leave their guns at home, according to information collected by the Transportation Safety Administration and analyzed by the Associated Press. Go figure, a lot of those people live in -- or at least flew out from -- Houston.

The post-9/11 world has been one with a focus on airport security, but now that we're more than a decade away from its beginning, more people end up getting pulled out of the security line because they have loaded guns on them. Last year, TSA found 1,549 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on luggage. So far they've found 894 guns in the first six months of 2013. Unsurprisingly, out of the 12 airports that have the most guns confiscated every year, five of them are in Texas and both Houston airports made the list.

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CEO for Nap Centers in Airport Terminals Wants to Open in Houston...But Not Yet

Categories: Texas Traveler

Photo courtesy of Michael Spears and D/FW International Airport
Last month Daniel Solomon, the co-founder and CEO of Minute Suites, told KTRH that opening a Minute Suites napping center in Houston is in his sights. He reportedly said that was part of his goal to get his business in the Top 20 airports in North America.

Sleeping or working in between flights seems almost impossible in a crowded terminal, but that's the sort of idea Minute Suites tries to take advantage of, starting at $34 for an hour.

Currently open in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth International airports and set to open in Chicago, Minute Suites offers private suites inside airport terminals with a sofa and a sliding trundle, pillows, blankets and a sound-masking system to reduce outside noises in a busy airport. Customers are also encouraged to take advantage of high-speed Internet, DirecTV and up-to-date flight-tracking information in each room to ensure no customers miss their flights. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport even offers shower rooms as part of their Minute Suites.

"It's a traveler's retreat," DFW's Assistant Vice President for Airport Concessions Michael Baldwin said. "To be able to retreat and catch a nap for an hour, you could do that, you can stay overnight, it's getaway...So it's really a very accommodating program. And I think it gives travelers the next level of customer service and exceeding expectations."

This sort of idea almost sounds too good to be true.

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IAH Has Best Airport Lounge in North America, Conveniently Located in the Same Terminal as the Best Hookup Spot

Categories: Texas Traveler

Courtesy Priority Pass
The United Club at IAH is the creme de la creme of airport layover bars.
A few weeks ago, we noted that the Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Terminal E of George Bush Intercontinental Airport had been ranked as the best spot for an airport hookup in America by MeetAtTheAirport.com. Turns out good old Terminal E has more than just a casual spot for meeting Prince Charming, it also has the best airport lounge in North America.

This according to the Priority Pass Lounge of the Year awards, which surveys almost 60,000 Priority Pass members. The United Club lounge took top honors this year in North America. This is the third regional award win for the lounge, which services 2,000 visitors each day. It has won the global version of the award three times as well. That must be one hell of a lounge.

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Water Taxi Service Returns to Corpus Christi (Who Needs Venice?)

Categories: Texas Traveler

Photo courtesy of the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority
The "Sundance" is Corpus Christi's new water taxi
Tapping into the same urge that's lured tourists for centuries to the gondolas of Venice, Corpus Christi is getting back into the water taxi business. No word yet on whether there will be singing from the water taxi operators as they ply their trade from one side of Harbor Bridge to the other.

"This is a very simple operation, and it complements one that's in place with the city right now that moves tourists through a couple of the venues downtown," Director of Port Operations and Harbor Master Tony Alejandro told Hair Balls.

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