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  • Hannah Grabenstein

Day 11? Houston and barely San Antonio

My math must be off. Who knows what day this is? Possibly 12?


Nonetheless I had the most wonderful time in Houston. After spending the day with my first cousin once removed (perhaps? by marriage, if that means anything) at lunch, then a photography gallery, then an art gallery, I braved Houston's traffic to show up to my childhood best friend's home. Or rather, her husband's father and stepmother's home.


It was the best. They're a lovely family with a lovely home. I met the kids and the dogs and went out with Meg for dinner last night. We hadn't talked in so long that we barely ate dinner. But we probably sat at the restaurant for 2 hours, catching up and reminiscing and just having the best time. And when we got back, the 17-year-old star baker in the house had made a failed test batch of sugar cookies and angel food cake and Blake's dad had made chocolate "crazy cake." It was so homey and sweet.


Today was uncharacteristically cold for Houston, so instead of walking we drove around Houston and saw some neighborhoods. I meant to say this before but leaving New Orleans to go to Houston is like a one two punch of recovering people. The flooding in both cities scarred the residents, though obviously the resilience has kept both cities plugging along. But everyone, in both cities, has flood stories of kayaks and canoes, ruined houses and destroyed heirlooms. Recently bought homes with no flood insurance and poor neighborhoods inundated six feet. Dogs needing rescue and art saved. Some streets seemingly spared by nothing but God or chance, other streets literally drowned.


But now Houston rebuilds, like New Orleans did, with some residents raising their houses and others staying away from floodplains. Hopefully these once in a lifetime floods are truly that.


Anyway, not to be too abrupt, but after the tour, Blake and Meg and I had lunch so now I got to spend more time with one of my oldest friends, but for the first time ever really I got to spend time with her husband. I'm so thankful my visit worked out for them, because it meant so much to me.


My too short stay came to an end and I decamped for a quick night outside San Antonio. I had dreams of the Alamo and the Riverwalk but I'm tired and I'm getting up early tomorrow and I'm behind on TV, so nope. This Airbnb is lovely. Official recommendation: if you use Airbnb, find older couples. They make their stays as close to a hotel experience as they can, and they usually have a breakfast, and they're also usually doing it to meet people or for fun, so they're nice and friendly and helpful.


One last thing: I stopped at a Buc-ee's (who even knows if that's anywhere near the right spelling) on I-10 West at the recommendation of my Houston friends and boy was that quite an experience. It's a massive convenience store/gas station, like a truck stop but for regular people, plus barbecued meats and a little bakery and fudge and also hunting things if you need? I picked up a jug of water and a cup with sausage, cheese, and pretzels, which I had half of for dinner. Overwhelmingly the sensation was "big because Texas!"


I'm off to hike around Big Bend tomorrow! Then a drive to New Mexico to stay with my great great aunt and uncle (one great is a descriptor, the other is part of her relation to me).


Playlist:

1. Dick's Pick's Vol. 5 at the suggest of my father (meh), The Grateful Dead

2. Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, Chuck Berry

3. My Aim is True (one of a few perfectly crafted albums in my opinion