We have arrived at our hotel in Clear Lake, Houston, having dodged all the storm showers on the way.
Time to lock up the bikes and take our day pack from our top box and as we are going out, I also take my ‘town’ shoes and handbag out of my pannier and check-in. It’s been a long hot day, we are hot and sweaty and the receptionist gives a bottle of cold water each. Too many bits to hold onto, I sit down while Anthony does the paperwork. Somehow, by the time we get to our room, I am missing the bag with my shoes. Must have dropped them on the way to the room or left them on the couch. I retrace my steps – they are nowhere to be found. This is crazy!! I asked reception a number of times during our stay – no luck! Shoes I bought in London get picked up at a hotel in Houston….?! Oh well, a girl, always a girl, good excuse to go shopping sometime.
I have visited Houston about 15 times but have always been too busy with my art shows and visiting friends to do any sight seeing. Every trip, I have driven past the Johnson Space Centre and promised myself I would take time out to visit it one day. This time, I will make it happen. Especially as most of our friends have escaped Houston, or us?!, and we will miss seeing them. It feels very strange not to be seeing them – sad even, but suddenly, we don’t have enough time to spend a couple of weeks in Houston.
Luckily, we do see Deborah and Larry, especially as it is thanks to them that I held annual art shows in Houston over many years. We have not seen them for 3 years now but it feels like it was only yesterday that we last saw them. They treat us to 2 great dinners and good conversation. It is very interesting to talk them about the current political climate in the US and hear their views on Obama and the current nominations for the next president.
Friday, we walk over to the space centre. When we go sightseeing, we never take the bikes as we don’t want to walk around with all riding gear. Of course, we are the only ones walking again.
What a fantastic day at the Johnson Space Centre. Seeing various exhibits, rockets, capsules. I have always found space travel awe inspiring. When you think what the pioneers did, with the technology available to them!!! They were so brave, and so ingenious – they had to be! Sadly, our society has become more and more risk adverse and talking to one ex-Nasa mission manager confirmed our view that this risk aversion is stifling space activity.
On the way back to the hotel, we decide to walk into the sports physio building we had noticed and see whether someone can have a look at Anthony’s ankle. The verdict is that there is still some inflammation and he recommended that we either see a GP who would most likely recommend taking anti-inflammatory tablets or try the foot and joint specialist upstairs. Up we go but unfortunately, it is Friday afternoon and the waiting room has a dozen people. We’ll try again in Denver where we’ll be spending more time.
We get back in time for a quick shower before Deborah and Larry pick us up for another lovely evening and delicious home cooked dinner: we had never eaten halibut cheeks before and they were delicious!! Halibut cheeks have an unusual texture, a bit like stingray, although stingray is finer.
The next morning, we wake up to a very dark, windy and wet day.
We have breakfast with Deborah and her daughter Emily. We learn a bit more about American culture and laws. Emily is a lawyer and works with an insurance company providing legal advice and representation on 2nd amendment rights (the right to bear arms). Basically, people who own guns can take out an insurance policy against their mishandling their guns!! For example, someone may have just fired their gun in a certain situation in their home against someone, or they may have walked into a building that prohibits carrying a weapon while carrying a concealed weapon or someone with a concealed weapon carry permit may have accidentally exposed their weapon. Taking out such insurance means they can call this insurance hotline and get immediate advice and potentially legal representation under this insurance. While we’re chatting over breakfast, Emily’s phone goes off. “….. What is your emergency?” says Emily as she leaves the table… The thought of people around us in the breakfast area potentially carrying weapons suddenly churns my stomach.
We had planned on catching up with our friend Ginger at lunchtime and moving hotels to the north side so that we could have dinner with Jennifer and Nicole, but this message changes our plans:
We decide to stay put. And hopefully reschedule our catchups to tomorrow. This gives us another day for photo upload, hand washing etc. and shopping!! I have nicer shoes now but it still baffles (and bugs) me that I could have lost a pair of shoes here. Very disappointing…
We wake up Sunday morning to a beautiful bright blue sky. It is not long before the storm clouds build up again though. We check the radar and pick our departure time carefully to slip between various forecast storms.
We catch up with Jennifer and Noah on the north side of Houston for coffee and luckily, Anthony keeps a watchful on the sky. Suddenly, it is time to leave before the next band of showers reaches us.
It’s been a very unusual trip to Houston for me – not filled with the usual art show activities and missing many of our friends who were out of town during our visit – Debra, Mario, Candace, Jimmy, Nicole, Ginger, Amy, you will just have to come and visit us in Australia. But it was lovely to catch up with those who didn’t escape in time for the 2slowspeeds’ visit!!!
Off we head to Fort Worth next. We spend the day unbelievably successfully dodging storm showers! This is a big state in a big country with big clouds!!
We arrive at Bob and Pam’s outside Fort Worth. What started as us visiting a business associate of Anthony’s ended up as us leaving good friends by the time we left. What a wonderful welcome!! And a stunning home. We spent 3 fantastic days with Pam and Bob, discovering Fort Worth’s historic centre, city centre, a few museums and generally chatting for several hours over numerous meals. We gave their washing machine a good workout too. It was particularly interesting learning more about the current political and social climate, the various candidates for next year’s election, certain US policies etc. We appreciate their openness in sharing their views with us which helps us better understand this country.
We were originally going to spend 2 days with them, but this made us decide to spend another day:
The tropical storm that hit Houston was making its way to us and Fort Worth ended up right in the eye of the storm. What better place to sit out this storm – thank you Pam and Bob.
We leave Fort Worth this morning with clear blue skies.