Also known as the "Tunnel Lady," Sandra Lord is the founder ofDiscover Houston Tours
, and for a quarter-century she's been helping Houstonians and visitors alike find the hidden charms of the city. She also created the first ghost tours in Houston, featuring lock-ins at thesupposedly haunted Spaghetti Warehouse
, and is a founding member of the Professional Tour Guide Association of Houston, theFriends of the Texas Room
and theHouston History Room
Why she likes it: Lord fell in love with Houston in the mid-'80s after what was supposed to be a short-term visit. "I came from San Francisco to visit a relative for a month, in July. No one comes to Houston in July, but I did, and I stayed. My life started over," says Lord. Previously, she owned her own freelance editing and transcribing company, but she's always been an explorer and a storyteller.
At first, Lord called her walking groups "Adventure Tours," as she would go without a clear plan or destination and let the group's whims lead her. "I always thought it was right to color between the lines, but I've never lived my life between the lines," she said. "Every tour is different. I don't give canned tours. It's a lot like theater, except the audience is part of the stage too. The whole thing is the stage."
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What inspires her: Lord looks at things with a futurist's point of view, whether it's investing in an expensive, early-model word processor for the previous business she owned, or seeing a potential for tourism in Houston. "When I moved to Houston, I'll never forget driving down Allen Parkway, with downtown in front of me. I said to myself. 'My god, this is so beautiful. They really ought to build townhomes on the Bayou.'" She also has a thing for Houston history. In 1987, Lord didn't know much about downtown. So she started researching, and in the course of her research got in touch with a grad student in another state who sent her some info on Houston's tunnel system. "I realized that we had something really unique," she said. And thus the moniker "Tunnel Lady" was born.
What's next: The night before we talked to her, Lord had been bar-hopping, working on research for her next tour series, the historic Downtown pub crawl (which is currently running every day of the week). "My favorite tour is either the one I'm giving or the one I'm designing at the moment," she says.
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