Category: Texas

At Last

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Nothing better than waking up to the sun shining today. 
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After the Rain

One of my travel quirks involves swiping all the soaps in my hotel each day. I never pack shampoo or soap to take with me; I always use what I find at the hotel and bring home the rest. I build up quite the collection of soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion and it turns out, these are great items to donate in a crisis. They’re free to me, and easy to transport. I’m sure those who were soaked in flood waters overnight would put them to good use if they can get access to a shower.

I’m off work for the entire week while the city continues to feel the effects of Harvey. Of course, that does not mean I’m not working at all, but it seems like I’ve received almost zero emails since this disaster began. None of my fall travel is impacted by the closures of our two major airports, but for both of our airports to be closed until at least Thursday, I’m sure the rest of the country is feeling the pain of flight cancellations or other interrupted travel plans. We are supposed to be on a flight to Seattle the middle of next week for a wedding, so we will see if air travel is back to normal by then.

Houston is resilient, but of course anything you can give helps. You can text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, or donate to the Houston Flood Relief Fund, organized by the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt. He’s already raised over 2 million dollars since Sunday and upped his goal to 3 million, which I’m sure we can surpass. The rain is about over, but recovery has a long way to go. buffalo bayou

It’s Not Over Yet

The last major hurricanes to threaten the Texas coast did so while I lived in Waco. In the panic of hurricane Rita, which developed shortly after the destruction of Katrina, the entire city of Houston and surrounding areas attempted to evacuate at once. As you might have imagined, that did not go well. It took my family over twenty four hours to get to my apartment, normally a three hour drive.2005_rita_houstonevacuation.jpg

Three years later when Ike was threatening to make a direct hit on Houston, they made the same drive in similar traffic. With both Ike and Rita, my family was lucky that the hurricanes veered east enough to spare them any major damage, but especially with Ike, a lot of damage was sustained throughout the city. I distinctly remember seeing the blue tarp “FEMA roofs” adorning so many houses when I made my first trip back, weeks after Ike had hit.

I am so glad that no mandatory evacuation was ordered for us this time. That parking lot of cars you see above from the Rita evacuation? They would all be completely underwater. So many people would have died.

I described Harvey as a “zombie hurricane” on Friday, and that description has been pretty accurate, as he is still a tropical storm and is lingering along the coast. After devastating the city of Rockport, north of Corpus Christi, he is now devastating Houston with rain. The rain won’t stop, and it’s not going to for days. We have been extremely fortunate that we have only lost water pressure for a few hours, but never lost electricity, and only have a water leak in the drywall by our window. So many others have not been as lucky. One of my coworkers has lost absolutely everything.

If you are able to spare more than your thoughts and prayers for everyone here who has been through what is being described as the biggest U.S. flood storm of all-time, you can text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, or donate to the Houston Flood Relief Fund, organized by the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt. Anything will help. It’s still raining, and the flood waters are not finished with the city yet.

A Zombie Hurricane

So, you may have heard that something is happening in Texas this weekend.  Hurricane Harvey is supposed to hit Corpus Christi later tonight, but I’ve been calling him Zombie Harvey because he died after hitting Mexico and then came back as a monster.  After forming in the Atlantic and taking his time crossing the Caribbean Sea as a tropical storm, he was supposed to have dissipated after passing over Mexico.  However, after becoming disorganized, Harvey sprang back to life and is now a Category 2 storm, potentially Category 3 by landfall.  If current models hold, he’s not even done there  After bouncing off Texas, he will head east as a tropical storm and dump water all along the coast on his way out.  Harvey came back to life and we need Rick Grimes to take care of him.  Okay, who I’m I kidding.  Probably Carol instead.

I’ve been to Corpus Christi numerous times and have friends whose families have had to evacuate (also I always get the best poblano soup at Nuevo Cafe when I visit), so I’m hoping that the damage to the city will not be devastating.  When I was there once, a severe storm came through and the streets and roads flooded so badly that I couldn’t get to my destinations the next day.  With that in mind, I can only imagine what a hurricane will do.

We are stocked up and prepared to ride out the floods, thankfully in a third floor apartment. Stay safe everyone, and be careful if you do venture out.  It’s past time for Zombie Harvey to finally die. Harvey

One Night in Paris

When I started traveling for work with my first job out of college, I was always sent to the places no one else wanted to go.  Of course, I did not have a problem with that; I was happy to be going anywhere at all.  However, this means I’ve been to some interesting small towns across the state of Texas.  One trip took me through East Texas in November, and the drive actually made me feel like I was in a northern state.  I enjoyed the winding two-lane roads and some fall colors all the way up to Tyler, where my flip phone unceremoniously died.  After scrambling to find an AT&T store, I purchased my very first iPhone and made my way up to Sulphur Springs.  I arrived after dark, worked my event, and as a Hilton brand loyalist, I continued north to the closest one I could find: the Hampton Inn in Paris, Texas.

Since I reached the hotel so late and had a new phone to learn how to use, I didn’t explore any of the area that evening.  However, I had researched ahead of time and discovered that as would be expected, an Eiffel Tower replica existed in the city.  But this was not just your average replica.  No, it was fashioned as an oil derrick, complete with a Texas touch.

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The first photo I ever took on an iPhone

I’ve since read that Paris, Texas was in a competition with Paris, Tennessee to have the tallest Eiffel Tower replica in their respective cities.  Thus, the red cowboy hat was added to make it taller than the one in Tennessee. Both were eventually dwarfed by the replica on the Las Vegas Strip, which happens to be half the size of the original Eiffel Tower.

I was only able to spend one night in Paris before moving on to my next spot, so I set my alarm early in order to have time to see this replica in all its glory.  For those of you with iPhones, please know that I set my morning alarm on my phone for the first time with the “alarm” tone, and I about fell out of my bed when it first went off.  My half asleep brain thought it was the fire alarm.  It did its job; I was wide awake after that.

When I checked out of the Hampton, I decided to take a little piece of Paris home with me.  They sold bobble versions of their Eiffel Tower, and the bobbling red cowboy hat road shotgun with me for the rest of my trip.  The best part is that now I can tell people that my work has sent me to Paris.  I’ll let them assume which one.

 

I Got (Partially) Mooned

With my Facebook and twitter feed full of news about the eclipse, I feel like I would be remiss not to mention it here.  After hearing non-stop about the eclipse for the past few days, I really hadn’t made plans to get the viewing glasses necessary in order to not burn my eyes out.  I thought I might pick up a free pair when I went to get my eyes checked; they had ordered 1500 glasses for patients to pick up for free, but ran out in three days. We were not in the direct path of the eclipse anyway, so I figured at most, I would step outside and see if it was any darker and let that be my eclipse “experience.”

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It turns out that our director had ordered a bunch of extra glasses and was passing them out for our viewing pleasure!  The glasses themselves are only good for looking at the sun.  If you wore them any other time you would walk straight into a wall.  They also include instructions to use them only for three minutes at a time. Getting to see the moon eat a chunk of the sun was fun, but I don’t think I would be able to stare at it for three whole minutes.  It’s hot outside.

I will have to wait until April 8, 2024 to see another solar eclipse, and this time the path of totality will cross Texas.  While I would have loved to take a road trip to St. Louis or Southern Illinois as an excuse to see this one, I think a quick drive to central Texas will be much easier to pull off.  We might even have to go to Fredericksburg as an excuse to day drink some wine in the darkness.  But the market for eclipse viewing glasses will be hot again; they apparently expire after three years.  Figures!

 

 

A Texas Institution

For those of you unfamiliar with Texas, you may have heard that everything is bigger here.  That includes our gas stations.  Behold!Bucees

These billboards pop up every few miles when you’re driving on any major highway in Texas, up to 200 miles away from the Buc-ee’s location at which you will have to stop, because they have impeccably clean restrooms and creative advertising.

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Effective?

In addition to clean restrooms and gas (those two go together, no?), you can really find everything you never knew you needed in a Buc-ee’s.  Beef jerky, brisket, sandwiches, fudge, beaver nuggets (similar to a seemingly endless bag of larger corn pops), and an eclectic array of home products.  At the Buc-ee’s in Wharton, Texas, I found a beautiful framed piece of burlap embossed with flowers and a watering can.  It was hanging above the toilet, and could have been mine for $10.95.  I only regret not purchasing it because when people asked where I found it, I could have seen the look on their faces when I told them it was a gas station bathroom.

I went with the most reasonable thing I could find in this pile of beavers: the key chain.

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Texas, y’all