The first part of our trip was Texas!  We spent a day in Houston and half a day in Austin before motoring on to New Mexico.

In Houston we were hosted by an awesome guy named Tim.  He showed us
DSCN3140some really cool neighborhoods, restaurants, bars and recommendations on things to do and see.  The first night he took us to three different restaurants/bars in three different neighborhoods.  The first was a restaurant called Okra on Market Square (pictured to the left).  It was a simple bar/sandwich place in a cool old space where all profits go to charity.  You get to vote on which charity from 4 by placing your tickets in one of the buckets along one wall.  The second place was a wine bar called Boheme in the Montrose neighborhood, I had an awesome frozen Mojito that Sarah tried to steal.  The last stop was a beer bar called The Hay Market where they had a stunning selection of beers in a really cool environment.  I really liked their tap handles, they were all sorts of different metal art objects.

The next day we walked along the Buffalo Bayou, we found the mix of nature DSCN3147and city to be quite interesting.  It was a nice walk and we learned a bit about Houston in the process at the sesquicentennial park.

We tried to visit the Menil Collection, an interesting sounding gallery of artifacts, found out it is closed on Mondays, we then stopped by the Rothko Chapel.  The chapel is essentially a meditation center where they offer copies of all the major religious texts to read from.  The space is very tranquil and has been used/visited by several religious and political leaders including the Dalai Lama.  After that it was off to NASA’s Houston Space Center!

The space center was awesome.  We saw artifacts of our space program, old
DSCN3171mission control (used for Gemini 4, all the Apollo missions and many Space Shuttle missions), touched moon and mars rocks(!), saw the mockup of the ISS used to train astronauts who are going up there, the in-development Orion capsule that will take astronauts to a meteor and Mars in 15-20 years.  We also DSCN3165saw the Saturn V that was going to take Apollo 18 up before the program was defunded.  I happily nerded out for a few hours, Sarah amusedly took pictures of me as I excitedly bounced about touching everything I was allowed to…

We got home in time to watch Ghana tie the match and then USA win it!  After that it was off for some fantastic tacos in “The Heights”at a place called Torchy’s, a local beer at a different bar and then a good night’s sleep before we left for Austin.

In Austin we walked along Town Lake on the Lady Bird trail. Our plan was to  DSCN3376go swimming in Barton Springs, we had been told it was the center of Austin life. At Barton Springs we saw a line full of yelling kids, and decided we were not energetic enough for that. We settled for walking down Barton Creek.  We then went and toured the LBJ Presidential Library where we learned a lot about his presidency including his role in many social programs we didn’t realize he had been involved in due to his Vietnam War policies overshadowing them.  After that we took a drive around the UT Austin campus before meeting up with our host for the evening who gave us some great advice on where to get dinner and things to do that night.

We headed out for dinner at Via 313, a Detroit style DSCN3379pizza food truck that happened to be parked behind a beer bar (perfect!).  I had never heard of Detroit Style Pizza before and was impressed with it.  The beer we tried was great too! After dinner we went and sat beneath the Congress Street bridge to see the 1 million strong bat colony leave their home to find dinner.  The bats didn’t come out in a single enormous swarm as we had DSCN3418hoped, but it was an impressive constant stream and the chittering of bats filled the air.  We then headed out to Ginny’s Little Longhorn for some live country/western (or something) and a fun little honkytonk atmosphere.

The next morning we packed up and headed off towards New Mexico.  On our way we stopped at LBJ’s ranch “The Texas White House”.  The ranch was interesting, full of presidential artifacts and gave a glimpse of his family life and his way of doing business when not in DC.

We’ve just arrived in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  That’s all for now!

See all the pictures here!

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