Houston, USA

After crossing the state line from Louisiana, we were in Texas!  We had really been looking forward to visiting this State.  It didn’t take long for us to arrive in Houston.  We were a bit bewildered by all the criss-crossing concrete highways and somehow always found ourselves in an exit lane.  Nevertheless we managed to navigate ourselves through the mess, thank god for google maps!

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It was spaghetti junction for miles!

Driving into Texas one of the things we noticed (including in Louisiana) is the size of everyone’s vehicles.  Everyone seemed to be in possession of a huge truck, even if they lived in the city.  Some of the trucks even doubled up on the back wheels!  We were definitely out of place in our tiny Nissan hatchback.  As we would later learn from a Texan uber driver: “well everyone needs a truck, what if you go to a garage sale and you have to bring somethin’ home?”  The negative environmental effects of everybody driving an enormous 5 litre truck when a small car (or 50cc scooter) would usually do, are obvious. But in a part of the world where global warming is treated as a faith that can be chosen to be believed or discarded, at least everybody driving a truck means they are really good at parking.

We arrived in the early evening to stay with some family friends just West of Houston city centre.  It was really nice to be staying in a home after the hotels and hostels we had been used to for the last week and a half.  They could not have been more generous and immediately took us out for a Tex Mex dinner.  We went to a place called Pappasitos Cantina, and the beef fajitas were the highlight.

We had a pretty quiet night and relaxing next morning.  Around lunchtime Sandie took us out for our first taste of Texas barbecue.  Andrew was extremely excited; this had been one of his biggest reasons for wanting to visit the USA.  We went to Goode Company BBQ and ordered the brisket roll with jalapeño bread.  Wow, just wow.  We had found our food heaven.  I highly recommend this place if you are ever in Houston.

“Houston we have a problem!” A visit to Houston would not be complete without a visit to NASA, so after lunch we visited the Houston Space Centre.  It was really well set up, fun and interactive with a number of tours you could go on around NASA.  We opted to go on the tour to the astronaut training facility.  It was really informative and through a glass and sound proof walkway we were able to check out a bunch of engineers working in what is probably one of the coolest work places on the planet.  Unfortunately no astronauts were seen.

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Replica of the space station and is used for training

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The tour also took us to see some rockets and, in particular, the Saturn V Rocket that was used to launch the first missions to the moon. It was massive! We were very impressed by our time at NASA and thought it was well worth a visit.

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Us with the Saturn V Rocket

It was time for our brief visit to Houston to come to an end. We could not be more grateful to our friends, Sandie and Simon, for all their hospitality.

Here is a breakdown of our costs for 1 day:

Budget = US$132 (NZ$200)

Activities – US$40

Food/Drink – US$35

Miscellaneous (Petrol etc) – US$18

Total spent – US$93 (NZ$138)

So we ended up being US$39 (NZ$58) under budget. This was largely due to not having to pay for a few meals and having somewhere to stay for free.

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