Monday, July 1, 2013

Texas Roadtripping: Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Galveston

I stretch out my hand and want to laugh.  The windows are down, the radio is turned up, and there is a feeling of pure freedom. It's a classic image: a car zooms by on an open stretch of road, sun shines down, and the people inside are smiling

I've just gotten back from Europe and am now on a road trip through Texas (my mother's idea).  It's a graduation present of sorts.

The plan: my mother and I are going to Houston, San Antonio and Austin.

What ends up happening is this: in Houston, we get lost on the highway because the GPS decides to conveniently put us on the beltway, which is the same as the tollway, but we don't know that. I end up meeting up with an old friend and a new friend that night. We talk of old times and new times, smoke hookah, drink smoothies (an odd combination that works very well).

The next day, it is a three-hour drive to San Antonio.  Along the way, we stop to meet one of my mother's friends.  At this point, I realize that I've developed an "allergy" to American soda: I can't drink the soda without breaking out in hives (this is still ongoing).

In between my hives, my mother getting lost, and a sudden rainstorm we end somehow make it to San Antonio before the evening.

We walk around the area.  There's lunch at Schilo's Deli (rye bread, split pea soup, homemade root beer which triggers another round of hives), I take a picture with an adorable military man (whose name I don't know) and somehow convince my mother to get a margarita on the River Walk. We walk around The Alamo, I find canned armadillo meat and armadillo milk, my mother decides to take an old-time-y black-and-white WANTED poster picture.

I wish that I'd gotten his name. But he was very sweet.

There was a statue in the middle of town, and a group of people fighting and screaming on the sidewalk in front of it.
After San Antonio, we head to Austin. There, we wanted to watch bats swoop out from under the Congress Avenue bridge.  No go that day (we ended up getting turned around with the GPS and couldn't find a nearby place to park).  However, we did get a chance to try the famed Franklin's Barbecue.  There's a Chase credit card commercial (look up "Chef Nobu in Austin").  My mother, who despises red meat, ended up loving it!

On a whim, my mother wants to go to the Mexican border and I want to go to Galveston. So we drive.  We drive through a five-mile stretch of road filled with butterflies.  We drive up to a roadside stand selling turkey jerky, alligator jerky and elk jerky.  We drive up to the bridge that crosses into Mexico.  And then we drive some more. We drive even when TripAdvisor tells us to stop and see this sight or that attraction, when I am so tired that we have to get ice cream, when there's almost no gas.

When we end up in Galveston, it's the afternoon.  There are clouds covering the sun and everything is this hazy mix of humidity, sunshine, and clouds. Disclaimer: the beach at Galveston smells disgusting.  The air is thick and rancid, but the view is pretty nice.

We end up back in Houston after a week of sun, Spanish and siestas. I don't have a sudden understanding about Texas, but given what I did learn, I like it a bit more.

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