| The Outpost Tavern near the Johnson
center has long been a watering hole frequented by astronauts. I wrote up this description of the Outpost in
1993. It was my attempt to convey some
of the tavern’s atmosphere to a friend of mine.
Whenever I am down in the area around the Johnson
I usually make it a point to stop in for a
brew. The place kind of reminds me of Pancho Barnes “Happy Bottom
that was portrayed in the movie “The Right Stuff.”
I had first heard about the Outpost Tavern on
a television documentary that was broadcast prior to the return to
flight by Discovery
on STS-26. It looked like it had seen an
amazing amount of history.
I've been to the Outpost three times this
year alone. If I keep this up, they'll
start recognizing me as a regular. This
is kind of a 360 degree panorama of the place.
The Outpost is a decrepit old building that
is strategically located near the Johnson
Space Center. It
is known to be a rendezvous spot for astronauts after a hard day of
The outside of this building looks quite
rustic to put it mildly. The building itself is made out of wood,
shape and color of it resembles a twisted hulk of iron that had long
abandoned to rust away.
The main entrance to the saloon is a
windowless steel door. The doors
presence defies even the brave to enter. Upon breeching the steel door,
greeted by a pair of swinging saloon doors.
The swinging doors are quite unique in their own right. They are
cut out in the shape of women wearing
bikinis. These doors are upholstered with red vinyl in a three
Immediately to the right of the entrance
there is a collection of photos of native Texans. These
native Texans are the select few who
have joined the crusaders of the sky, the astronauts.
A pair of pool tables lies just beyond the
swinging doors. A representative suit of
armor of the sky crusaders is seen overhead. It is an aged Gemini space
hanging from the ceiling.
The suit shows the results of prolonged
exposure to a hazardous environment. The
hazardous environment that did the damage was not the stark vacuum of
space. Instead it was the toxic and smoky
atmosphere inside the Outpost. The suit
at one time was adorned with a red ribbon tied to its zipper. This strategically located ribbon is no
A shuffleboard table lines the long wall of
this den. A sign on the shuffleboard table proclaims, “No one under 18
this means you Hubert!”
The 'L' shaped bar serves as the focal point
of activity. Perhaps it is more like an
altar. This is where the sacrificial
offerings of beer are imbibed before battling the demon in the sky. Behind the bar is a simple grill.
If you have entered the temple with more than
thirst sustenance will be provided. Well
lubricated hamburgers and fries will hold off the pangs of hunger.
The vent hood above the grill is adorned
decals of the coats of arms from the great space crusades. Not
only can you see the mission patch from
STS-1, but also from STS-51. In 1993
STS-51 was a crusade that is yet to happen.
More impressive than the number of decals is the adhesive the holds the
decals on the grease covered vent hood.
The sands of time have shaped the walls of
the building. Straight lines have long
since vanished. Posters and bumper
stickers adorn the ceiling. One of the bumper stickers proclaims, "If
smells like fish, eat it." Perhaps the stickers serve more of a purpose
hold out the rain than they do as a decoration. A
cigar store wooden Indian maintains his silent
vigil in the corner.
Next to the Indian is a life size cardboard
cutout of the purveyors of Bartyls and James wine coolers.
Ed's face has been replaced with a photocopy
of the face of the former chief crusader. That
was Chief of the Astronaut Office, Dan
Many photos crowd the walls of this darkened
temple. The photos are quite a contrast
the decrepit structure. They are the photos of crusaders or pioneers. They not pioneers of the old west but of
pioneers of the space age.
Many of the photos are autographed and
inscribed with best wishes to the watering hole. A
few of the photos are inscribed by
crusaders that moved on to realms that are higher and faster. One entire wall is adorned with photos from
51-L in a silent tribute.
A solitary window links the Outpost with
outside world. Adorning the window, hangs
a stained glass icon of the crew emblem for STS-26. It’s positioning is
an act of reverence. The flight of
STS-26, was the first flight after the "Challenger went down". That flight represented a rebirth not only
for the Outpost but for the entire area around the Johnson Space
prolonged period of morning was over.