Wednesday, July 4, 2012

First Impressions

So me, myself and I boarded a plane for BIG TEXAS.  Jason has spent the last 7 weeks here in Houston working and I had planned to come out and see him.  Living with a roommate, we didn't think the guy would appreciate 2 LOUD kids coming to visit so we let the boys stay at Camp NanaPawpaw while I'm gone.  I can't say I was sad to leave them for a few days.  This temporary single parenting ain't easy.  I am grateful daily that this is only for the summer and not for a year!
I'll admit, it was strange to fly  without my entourage.  I'm used being loaded down and armed with movies and snacks to mute the LOUD little people that usually follow me when I enter the jetway with "family boarding" and watching as people roll their eyes hoping I didn't sit beside them!  That didn't happen this time, or at least I don't think anyone rolled their eyes when I sat down.
Jason was able to get off early to come and get me, I only had a short wait time.  I waited inside baggage claim and only exited when he told me he was in the pick-up line.  I walked to the curb with all my luggage and caught a glimpse of an incredible hunk of a guy wearing a suit and tie and driving a pick up truck.  This was my kind of man, I was going home with HIM! Then it him me.  The HEAT.  I realized how sweltering hot it was underneath the eaves of the airport baggage claim.  I automatically assumed it was the back draft of all those air conditioning vents it takes to cool the gigantic airport.  It couldn't actually BE that hot outside with such extreme drafts of hot air.  Yes, it must be the industrial heat coming from underneath the building.  After kissing the man of my dreams, I asked him, "Is it this HOT up there?"  He laughed and said "Up where?"  I told him I meant out from under the building.  He laughed again and said,"No, it's not...It's probably HOTTER!"  Now I was expecting it to be hot.  Really hot.  But I had just left Nashville with temps approaching 101 and 102 this week.  It was hot where I was too.  BUT NOT THIS HOT!  It is a different hot and humid.  MORE so and with a hot wind blowing that you just can't get away from.  I had a fun time imagining what my daddy would say about this extreme heat.  He tends to exaggerate the weather a bit a LOT so this would push him over the edge!  So if you need clarification, it was HOT when I arrived.  
One of the first few things I noticed about Houston is I was expecting BIG and it was but it was far more spread out than I anticipated.  Flying in, I was looking for "downtown" where Jason works and I spotted a group of high rises and immediately thought that was it.  But as the plane got lowered, I saw another larger group of high rises and assumed that was downtown but then in the distance I saw yet another larger group of high rises.  I was a little confused.  There were pockets of high rises scattered around the city.  Amidst those, there were single solitary high rises randomly placed among houses and apartments.  It was a strange appearance from the air and I had lots of questions.  Jason said it was different energy corridors and that makes sense but it's still interesting to see.  We came back to Jason's place which is over near the galleria area (yet to be visited...soon!)  I gave myself a pat on the back for scoring him a place not too far from work in a very affordable place!  It's pretty nice too.  He can't complain.  We were both approaching hungry and had already decided to indulge in Tex Mex for the full Texas experience.  We had decided on Guadalajara and it was a place nearby.  As we walked in, Jason mentioned he would get guacamole but not the "made at the table kind" because it was more expensive.  I protested and asked "is it that powdered kind of guac, you know the flavored sour cream kind?"  He laughed at me again and said "no, here everything is fresh and good, don't worry!"
He was right.  We arrived in time for happy hour margaritas (yes 2!).  We ordered guacamole and it arrived as a plate of chopped avocados with all the good stuff sprinkled on top.  I had quick flashbacks to our days at the Excellence resort in Mexico.  There, the guac was so good, I would enter what we called a guacamole coma in the afternoons after consuming so much of it!  It was a great memory.  One I decided right then and there to recreate one day!  After the guacamole was long gone, we ordered and they deliveered more food than I could have expected to eat.  They do say everything is bigger in Texas.  It may be true!  My plate included 2 palm size pieces of steak, chicken, portabella mushroom, onion and squash.  Alongside it was 2 grilled bacon wrapped shrimp and a fantastic butter sauce that made me sigh a little too loudly.  It was fantastic!  I didn't even come close to consuming it all but that just means I get to re-live my culinary experience at lunch time!
After dinner, I got the driving tour of Houston.  Jason lives just across the 610 from the Houston Galleria.  I'm pretty excited about the opportunities that holds for my shopping addiction.  He's probably not aware of the damage that can happen with that proximity.  He drove the other way down Westheimer showing me all of the upscale shopping areas that included the largest anthropologie and restoration hardware that I have ever witnessed.  I'm talking 3 stories folks!  I also got to see some of the thrift/vintage stores that I've been reading about shopping at so I know where I'm headed next week!  We arrived in midtown and I got to see some of the favorite hangouts in H-town along with the building Jason works in.  It stands alongside 2 larger glass buildings that were former Enron buildings.  We even got to give a friendly wave to the local angry homeless guy on their corner.  
We actually went to bed relatively early (guacamole coma) and although I woke when Jason left for work, I was able to snooze until an hour I'm not sure I've seen in possibly the last 5 years.  You won't hear me complain.  
Overall, my first impression was a pretty good one.  I always thought I could like it here and from the current looks of it, I think I'm right.  Sure, it's HOT and the traffic is significant but it has promise and the possibility of a job Jason loves so I think I could get used to it!  

Day 2:  This addendum comes at my expense.  Feel free to laugh if you want.  I did, when it was over.
Jason lives 1.7 miles from the Houston Galleria.  I felt pretty certain I could cross UNDER the 6 lane highway and weave my way through the traffic to get to a mall.  I mean, I was born to shop!  So with my phone GPS utterly useless in finding parking decks, I did what any shopaholic would do.  I looked for the Macy's and took a left.  It was in fact a parking deck.  I wasn't certain that Jason's truck was going to fit but it squeezed by and after making a couple of rounds up the deck, I found a place I could strong arm that truck into without it sticking out into the driving lane.  I was feeling pretty proud of my first solo outing in Houston driving.  Then I got out of the truck.  I locked the doors and made a photo of my parking location (saw that and thought it was a GREAT tip!) and started walking toward the, well, I knew I was in the mall parking lot but there were NO signs leading to the mall.  I knew not to go down but right or left?  Your guess was as good as mine.  I wandered down one isle until I knew it was wrong and then turned around.  I thought the driving part was going to be hard but apparently it's finding the entrance that's the real challenge.  A man was returning to his car and had seen me wandering by.  On our second chance meeting, he asked me, "Are you lost?  You look lost What are you trying to find?"  Sheepishly, I had to admit, I just wanted to find the ENTRANCE to the mall.  The big scary parking deck had me all turned around and I couldn't find my way in.  How was I ever to find my way home?  Oh well, I guess I could worry about that later.  There was a gigantic mall waiting for me!  Gigantic it was.  Complete with more high dollar stores than Green Hills  (in Nashville) has ever dreamed of!  It also boasts 3 stories and a full size ice skating rink.See, bigger in Texas!  I spent the day there and I know I couldn't have seen every store.  The better news?  Yes, there's more!  That's not the only mall in 10 mile radius.  There are about 5, yes 5.  I've conquered 3 of them now.  Who doesn't love a place with a plethora of malls!

 Below is the random sky rise right outside of Jason's complex.  It's oh, about 50 stories and it's all by itself out here in West Houston.  Obviously, things are bigger in Texas and land is not a commodity!

Day 3 found us in Galveston.  Jason had set my expectations pretty low of this place.  It's been ransacked by hurricanes so many times that insurance is now hard to come by and the houses that were once being built are no longer, leaving it a bit of a ghost town.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I had it pictured though. It was nice but a little reminiscent of . Jersey Shore.  He took us to a seafood place that he'd boasted about before.   It was a great restaurant that had been in business a long time.  It was across the street from the stairs down to the ocean. 

 I had possibly the best (and largest, bigger in Texas!) tuna steak topped with a crawfish cream and blue cheese grits that would be a meal in itself.  A meal like that made me like the place that much more!  We had a fantastic day to go to the beach with a little rain and MUCH cooler temps that this places sees in the summer, it was a good day.  The waves were bigger but so was the huge mound of seaweed that was piled up on the beach.  We considered a trip to Pleasure Pier but we couldn't justify the cost, especially without the kids here.  They would LOVE it!  It's a pier filled with amusement park rides including a pretty big roller coaster, swings and giant farris wheel.

 We decided to walk around the historic district and it more closely resembled New Orleans with it's open doors, beer/drink in hand as you stroll the streets or sit and people watch.  It wasn't crowded or busy but leisurely and nice.  Galveston actually exceeded my expectations for an hour drive to the beach.  It ain't Destin but it'll do!

1 comment:

  1. It's been a dozen years or more since any one woman has made such a mark on my life from the moment we met like you have. I'm so grateful to have met you...especially now I know that we could share the love of the guacamole coma!

    Enjoy your trip!