The boom swings lugubriously, its shadow slicing across the sun-steeped white deck of the Alternate Latitude. Water chuckles against the double hulls of the Voyage 440 ship. In four cabins, air conditioners purr as the boat cuts towards the azure horizon, dwarfing the other catamarans on Galveston Bay.
During chartered sailing trips, Captain Steve—who holds a 50-ton United States Coast Guard Masters License—and his crew steer the vessel as passengers lounge on trampolines on the deck and sip drinks. The ship, which was built in South Africa, now makes occasional cruises to the Virgin Islands. Queen-sized berths in each cabin cradle passengers during overnight trips and after chamomile-tea-drinking contests.
Three generations of the Hamilton family own and operate The Artist Within.org, a boutique studio that encourages artists of all ability levels to try their hands at painting in a communal environment. The studio provides all the necessary materials for recreating specific projects that include Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Bridge and over a Pond of Water Lilies, and it only requires that students bring their own wine, goodies, and Bob Ross wigs. In addition to public painting classes, the Hamiltons also host private events such as bachelorette and birthday parties and can create custom paintings for groups to reimagine.
Some of Marshall Hosea's earliest memories involve water lapping gently about the ankles of his oversized boots as he waded into a river or creek for some classic fly-fishing with his father and grandfather. What started as a childhood pastime became a lifelong passion, and Marshall began experimenting with all kinds of boats to enhance his fishing experience. He loved feeling close to nature and the water as he cast lines and baited hooks, and he found the kayak offered him the best experience. As a bonus, the paddle-driven craft left no trace upon the natural beauty he so loved.
Now, he teaches others the joy of kayaking and fishing as the owner and head guide of Texas Kayak Guide. He takes passengers down rivers and creeks, or skimming across bayous and bays, showing them raccoons hunting shellfish, osprey darting into the water to snatch fish, and porpoises swimming alongside the quiet craft. While on the water, he also teaches the finer points of fishing, including everything from how to spot a fish to changing one's tactics to match the seasonal behavior of one's prey.
At the dine-in movie theater Star Cinema Grill, concession stands are obsolete. By pressing a button, customers signal a server and are able to order restaurant-style without disrupting their viewing experience or screaming at an usher for a lobster bib. From angus sliders to ice-cream floats, Star Cinema Grill's menu appeases all ages with its gourmet-pub cuisine served amidst the glow of screenings and first-run film releases.
Although the 24- to 28-member Houston Chamber Choir resists categorization, there may be one thing that defines the group: flexibility. Equally comfortable performing Bach's B minor mass with period instruments or singing along with Dave Brubeck and his quartet for an evening of choral jazz, it's no wonder Everett Evans of the Houston Chronicle dubbed the choir "one of the jewels of the city's cultural scene." And together they're a jewel that shares its sparkle with the world. The choir's concerts have spanned from the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City all the way to Wales while taking special care to promote the music of Texas composers.
Dance fitness is already fun, but for her own classes, Amy Ell at Vault Houston sets her sights a bit higher. Literally. Aerial dance classes can help students get in shape and try something they might not have even considered before, all while having a blast. In aerial fabric, beginners can get a feel for the swaths of cloth aerial dancers use to suspend themselves, and build their upper body and core strength as they practice climbs, locks, and tricks. In Air-Tone, Amy combines Pilates, yoga, and aerial hammock exercises for a conditioning workout like no other, while in trapeze classes students learn to fly with the greatest of ease. And in aerial hoop, students learn to navigate a suspended metal hoop while building upper-body strength and preparing for next season's gigantic-earring trend. In every class, teachers spot and offer modifications to students while stressing strength-training and flexibility to ensure each maneuver is as safe as possible.