Friday, April 4, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Day 2

Day 2


On a regular day at home, I'm scarcely awake by seven or eight, but here on vacation, I woke naturally at six (5:00am our time) and felt rested and ready for the day. Very strange. 

The older boys shared a queen-sized bed to my left and gosh, was that an ordeal. They've been spoiled to have their own beds too many times on trips (worth it to avoid the controversy), but last night was just a stopover in the drive, so we didn't feel two rooms was necessary. 

This morning, they awoke just as rowdy and competitive as they were last night, so I shooed them from our room to sit and watch the lobby television before they woke the rest of the family. Those boys will behave better with a different audience and I was able to study my Bible in peace. 

C is to my right, still sleeping, and beyond him is J in the pullout couch and O is on the couch cushions in a bed made up on the floor. They seem sufficiently zonked for the time being. 

I find myself to be extra think-y while traveling, so I hope you'll put up with my random connections to regular life. I reread my post from yesterday and realized where my head was most of the time. While we explore the unfamiliar, it gives me time to reflect on everyday things. I'm not sure why or if I'm alone on that, but if you mind too much, then you can just skip this set of posts. 

Anyway, for me, day two has begun. I am sitting in a dark room with the glare of my screen and the flashing lights of the smoke detectors above for company. The bed here was sufficient without being overly firm or soft. I slept alright.

On the highway. GPS says six hours and 45 minutes on the road today. 

Had breakfast at the hotel. Grabbed a few extra bananas for the road. 

J used all the towels in our room when she showered last night, so I used a hand towel this morning for mine; it was too late to call for more towels. She has gone from fighting me about showers/baths a couple times a week to self-motivated daily showers in recent weeks. I don't want to discourage her, but need to find a way to help her better manage towel usage. 

Other than that, the morning was uneventful and loading up went smoothly. A great start to our day. 


I love how time stuck in the car together generates some of the most interesting conversations for our family. 

In noticing all the cattle in Texas, H started asking about whether the generic term 'cows' was applicable for bulls, as in "male cows are also called bulls," and we started discussing this. 

Using my phone, I researched the correct terminology for different genders of cattle. It was amazing how many terms are used to label bovine animals here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm not sure how much our kids paid attention, but C and I were fascinated as I read. 

To recap the basics: Cattle is the general term, but cannot be used for a singular bovine. Bulls are uncastrated males, cows are are females over age three who have given birth to two or more calves. Calves are the young cattle while gender is irrelevant. Steer are the castrated males, unless they have been bred to labor and then those are oxen. A heifer is a young female who has not given birth or who has given birth to just one calf. 

However, in the United States, it is acceptable to call a group of gender unidentified cattle, cows. But don't try that in some other countries or you might find an argument. Also, most of the time when you're driving by a field of cattle, the majority of them are female cows and heifers, with some steer and calves. I guess it makes sense to keep the bulls separately. I just never gave that much consideration before. 


Just made a bathroom and fuel stop in Comanche. $3.34/gallon. 

I'd never heard of this chain of stores, but I like it. It's called Stripes. The bathrooms are very nice and their fresh-made food area smelled great. I almost forgot we were at a gas station. C commented about how they were even hand-rolling fresh tortillas for the $3.99 fajita plates. 

We've seen a lot of rolling green pastures and deciduous trees along our route today. The sky is blue and just dotted with clouds (not dust, like yesterday and further north).  It's been very pleasant so far. 

Overall, Comanche looked like a nice little town. The main street area buildings looked well kept and businesses were all open. It was a pedestrian friendly town center. Maybe one day we'll stop in town for more than gasoline. 

We are noticing a certain politeness among drivers out here in these country roads. The speed limits are around 75mph, but there are those who want to go a little slower, so they kindly pull to the side when they see us coming. After so many years living nearby Boston's stress-inducing drivers and in New Mexico with some of the highest insurance rates due to driver negligence, it's refreshing to find people still getting along with others on the roadways. 


We have yet to find a good lunch stop so I'm thankful for car snacks to keep the whining at bay. 

C did pull over to the side for a few moments so I could hop out and snag some quick pictures of all the beautiful wildflowers we have been seeing for many, many miles. It's the wrong time of day for good lighting and I just used my phone camera, so  I don't expect any miracle works of art from the set; but it was nice of him to take the time and allow me to do that. 


Stopped for lunch in Hearne at a place called Dixie Cafe. The food was adequate. I had hamburger steak with green beans and yellow squash. The green beans were from a can and I'm pretty sure the squash was, too. Do they make canned squash? 

Service continues to be polite and friendly in every location so far. 

The most interesting thing about the cafe was not its food or service, but its two toilet women's restroom. J and I were weirded out to walk in and find a toilet next to the sink, right in the open, then a second toilet within a stall beyond that. Very strange. We locked the outer door and still took turns in the stall. We were too nervous to use the unstalled potty, but we weren't up for having a stranger come in and use it either. 


Just saw our first Houston mileage sign. There are 105 miles to some to get to Clear Lake City. 


I just spotted an armadillo. The first I've ever seen. It was roadkill unfortunately, but still pretty interesting. Maybe we'll see a live one at some point. 

We took some time to research and read about armadillos on my phone. Learning is a constant in our lives. 


Just had a laugh with my husband as we drove past Kickapoo Rd. Yes, we are children. Sometimes. 

Too bad the kids are staring intently at their video games! They missed a funny. 


The first complete stop on a four-lane highway as we come into Houston. We've been forewarned about the crazy traffic, but they don't know we lived in California for years and have experienced Los Angeles traffic, which to me seems worse than this. Boston traffic during the Big Dig was awful, too. So Friday evening Houston traffic doesn't seem so bad. 

Not fun, but not extreme for a big city. 

A lot of construction and C says that's the most unnerving part for him as the driver. But he agreed with my comparisons to L.A. and Boston. 


Um? What's that?


So yes, there is a lot of traffic. Especially on Friday evening during commute time. Even more so when GPS leads you diagonally through the city. (We've started calling our GPS lady, Jeepus.). But we just broke free and I still say L.A. Is worse. Even Boston. Probably other big cities. 

But through it all, I saw not a single car accident and heard not a single horn blast. There was no evidence of road rage. So to me, even with all the traffic, being on crowded roads in Houston is still a big step up from driving around Albuquerque. Too many drivers there just don't know how to be courteous and share the road. 


Arrival. I can't wait to explore the area. 


Checked in. Unpacked. Everyone is resting a bit before we go find dinner. 

I'm starting to get a slight headache. Must be that I'm tired after two days in the car and that I woke so early today. Dear Lord, help it pass. 


Just left El Jardin Beach in Seabrook. We went for a night time stroll. We found so many seashells, a couple dead fish, a dead blue crab and a live hermit crab. It was an exciting time to reconnect with the water and to be together as a family. 

I'm thankful J thought to bring a flashlight and for the one on my phone. Saved us from stepping on weird stuff for sure. 

It's 67-degrees. Beautiful weather for an evening beach walk. 


Ate at Tookie's in Seabrook. I had a double burger with all the fixings and no bun. But before you think I was being too Paleo on vacation, I will confess to trying two of their hand-dipped onion rings and a handful of hand-dipped fried pickles. Delicious. 

It was nice enough, we got to eat on the patio. 


We drove over the bridge to see the Kemah boardwalk area. It was all lit up and pretty and of course the kids are desperate to visit the amusement park. Maybe another day. Tonight we are tired. 

My first impressions of the area are positive ones. From what I can tell, these communities to the southeast of Houston are clean and attractive with a wide variety of things to do. We'll understand more with daylight exploration, I'm certain. 




  1. I'm from Houston, but I've been in Georgia for more years than I want to count. Your photos made me homesick.

    The "What is that" is a flood gauge--you need to be able to see how deep the water is. I don't think it happens too much, but Houston does get the occasional hurricane. I can remember putting masking tape on the windows before a storm blew through.

    Good luck to you--Texas is the place to be. It's got it all. We call it God's country.

  2. I love your learning tips along the way. Beautiful wildflowers! The kids each get their own bed!!
    It feels like I've actually been to Texas. I'm sure the kids will remember this vacation of discovery.

    Love, Mom