Category Archives: Texas 2011
Trip to Houston to see Mitch and family
Well we are on the go. Off now for a bit of last-minute sunglass shopping for Gillian at Oakley and then lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings…what delights await here! When we return there will be rushed packing before heading to the airport for the return home flight.
Thus sang Glen Campbell, we arrived and left the next day and are long way from 21.
We have returned from an overnight stay on the harbour in Galveston and a morning on the Boardwalk at Keemah, an amusement Pier. At Keemah we had a ride up a vertical lift type ride that gave an all round view about 170 ft up. Leanne declined the experience. Mitchell had a go on the roller coaster, was the only person on it! Both places were semi deserted as winter approaches. This would be a good place to come back to when there are a few more people around. There was a major hurricane here around 1900 and the more recent Hurricane Ike in 2008 which was a Brisbane flood like experience but with the water coming from the sea.
We wandered around the Strand area which has a lot of restored buildings from the early 1900s when Galveston was a major commercial centre in the South, ‘the New York of the South’. Historically it was a centre for piracy and a major Civil War sea battle took place here. Galveston is also famous for its flounder which is in plentiful supply in November and I enjoyed a grilled one for dinner, Leanne sampled a largish Crab Cake .
As we left for Houston for the return to Houston we drove along the sea wall and had lunch at a ‘shack’ on the sand overlooking the Bay.
Well we have survived the Thanksgiving day holiday and festive attractions. Not so for numerous turkeys. There is probably now a great shortage of turkeys and they will need to build flocks over the next 12 months. Although we did see two Cajun turkeys in Kroger’s fresh turkey cabinet today marked down of course.
We attended a family Thanksgiving lunch at Mitchell’s in-laws, all up about 30 or so gathered and shared in 4 deep-fried turkeys and one stuffed baked one, with giblet gravy. Pies also abounded…pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan, strawberry, cherry, apple amongst other Texan salads. There was also some red and white wines, beers and soft drinks. Things kicked off about 11am with the first turkey going in the pot for about 50 minutes, transfixed on a stake and immersed in peanut oil at 350d fah. It was excellent, crisp skin and moist flesh! I must get one of these boilers for back home.
It was a great affair!
We have returned to Houston from San Antonio, the home of the Alamo! We travelled to San Antonio via Fredericksburg…no not the Fredericksburg of Civil War fame. Fredericksburg is a small town in the Texas Hills district north-west of Houston about 4 hours drive away. It has a German settler background and a wine industry surrounding it as well as a craft brewery and a micro brewery in the main street. People wander up and down the street with a plastic glass of beer in hand checking out the shops, Christmas nick nacks and antiques abound as well as local produce. We stopped for lunch at the Silver Creek eating house for some German fare and beer in the sun. Were entertained by a laconic bluegrass musician singing country interspersed with some hill country sayings and homely quips. Made for a sleepy onward trip to San Antonio later in the afternoon.
We arrived in San Antonio late in the day and booked into the Emily Morgan hotel which is situated right beside the Alamo. The hotel was built in the 1920s and was originally a hospital of some sort, it is 13 or 14 stories high with a dome on top. The ground floor and bar area has that old world charm with the walls adorned with pictures from the past. The rooms were comfortable but not elaborate.
Spent quite bit of time looking over the Alamo site and the various memorabilia from the time. The current Alamo area is but a small portion of the original establishment which spread over quite
a large area, the original outlying walls have long gone and the remnant buildings are basically the core of the original complex. There is a model of what the original site is thought to have looked like in a small building off the site. This model is owned by Phil Collins, the English rock star, who is a big collector of Alamo memorabilia. He gives a commentary on the site and the role played by the various buildings in conjunction with the progress of the siege in 1836 by the Mexican forces against the Texan patriots led by Travis, Bowie and Crockett. As we know from the John Wayne movie all the Alamo defenders were killed by the Mexicans. Some weeks later the Mexicans were defeated by the Texan forces and Texas became a republic in its own right before joining the United States a few years later. Saw an IMAX film reliving the battle.
The Alamo is a bit like the ANZAC tradition in Australia. Defeat at the Alamo was seen as the noble thing, defending and fighting for liberty and freedom from oppressors and forging the American way for future battles and successes. ‘Remember the Alamo’ is the battlecry!
We also had a wander around the Riverwalk area of downtown. This is not unlike a canal system that follows the old San Antonio river course through the town. It sits below street level and is lined by eateries, barges go up and down carrying tourists and visitors. Quite a pretty and busy area, lots of hustle and bustle with spruikers enticing you into their establishments. We had a really good Italian meal one night. Unfortunately the weather turned a little rainy which finished us off in time to return to the hotel and leave for Houston.
Saint Arnold is the oldest craft brewery in Houston having been around since early 90s. The founder used to brew beer in his dorm room whilst at University and has a passion for the original and not mass-produced beers. A craft brewery has 3 requirements; must brew less than 6m barrels p.a. (they do about 30,000), a person ( I think the brewer) must own at least 75% of the company and they can’t use corn or rice as an ingredient to thin the beer and so make it go further. Saint Arnold say that the current commercial fad of very cold beer is designed so that you can’t taste the beer, because when it warms up a bit there is no taste!
Originally got onto this place via the Endeavour’s blog see Blog roll below. The brewery was having a competition to name their next beer and it was a vote between ‘Eleven’ and ‘Endeavour’; Endeavour after the space shuttle ‘Endeavour which had been named after Capt Cook’s ship the Endeavour. The Endeavour on which I had done a recent sailing trip was encouraging votes for Endeavour of course! Anyway ‘”Endeavour’ won and the beer will be available post-Christmas. The brewery produces seasonal beers one of which is Christmas Ale a most impressive drop and I will try to bring a few bottles back. I have put a link to the Saint Arnold web site in the blog roll below.
Well today we were at the Houston Museum of Natural Science downtown. First off we had a look at an IMAX film ‘Born to be Wild’ in 3D. This was about saving orphaned baby elephants in Kenya and orangutans in Borneo. All very mushy but some great photography. After this we went for a ride on a red train in Hermann Park and lunch by the McGovern Lake, burgers and chips. Back at the Museum we looked through the Butterfly House, which not only had butterflies of all shapes and sizes but also a rather large Iguana which would have caused surprise if bumped into in the night. There was also a big display of all sorts of insects and the like. Many cock roaches. An interesting item on dangerous frogs, multi coloured little things from down in South America, quite poisonous. Also strolled around the park and took in the state of the autumn colours and energetic wildlife, mostly squirrels. Mitch picked us up around 4.30pm and we returned to our lodgings in Cypress enjoying the Houston rush hour on the freeway.
Birthday party was at Shogun Japanese restaraunt. Shrimp, calamari and steak with fresh veggies cooked in front of us with that chef’s flair. Had a few cocktails. As a special Leanne was given a birthday hat and the guests all sang happy birthday. Great food and very healthy Gill.
Leanne has had a birthday in Houston. Actually we were able to catch her birthday in Australian time on the 15th before it clicked over to the 15th here, if anyone can follow that approach. She did not age by two years though. Spent some time yesterday at a very expansive DFO type complex doing some shopping,also went to Lowes for some hardware. A full day of action which then continued into the evening with a game of Taboo after dinner. It is overcast today with a bit of light rain, quite warm and humid outside. Not sure what is going to happen for the rest of the day but we are out for dinner tonight somewhere. I will report in after the celebrations.
We have arrived in Houston and have moved into Junior Brown’s residence in Cypress. Been here 4 days now, weather is on the cool side although today was a hotter and humid day than when we first got here. Trip over was long due to a 7 hour stopover in LA waiting for the flight down to Houston. Have recovered well though and are fighting fit. Spent a few hours yesterday at Hayden and Tyler’s saturday soccer sessions followed by lunch at Willy’s for their end of season breakup party. There are a vast number of these family style restaurants around the place all with their speciality food/points of attraction. We both had a shrimp salad with endless diet coke. Friday we were at the Galleria shopping mall for a look-see, seemed to be plenty of people around spending, particularly in the food shops. We lunched in the Cheesecake Factory, more salad and endless diet coke. Took some cheese cake slices home for after. Today we went to the Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Thanksgiving/Christmas shopping spree, it is a fundraiser for the Ballet supporters group. They take over a big convention centre type place and fill it with vendors of all shapes and sizes selling their wares. We picked up a few Christmas nick nacks and sauces, dips etc to bring home with us.Pizza tonight.