Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Texas Trip Report

Okay, it's time for my Texas trip report. I'm pretty much going to ramble, so don't expect any of what I'm about to say to be in any sort of logical order.

So, I had a lot of fun out there and it really was different. The locals definitely talk with a bit of a Southern accent, and they all seem to have a very strong sense of identity. Seriously, they absolutely LOVE their state (the mantra Don't Mess with Texas definitely comes to mind). I have never seen so many state flags being flown in my life. And, I definitely saw a few locals wearing Texas shirts.

I mean it's sort of borderline ridiculous... there's so much Texas pride. I mean, check this out. Here's a standard can of Bud Light from Texas.

Anyway, I spent most of my time in a few cities outside of Houston, namely Spring, Tomball, and Magnolia. These were all fairly small towns, but it wasn't so bad. There were plenty of normal stores. That's a good thing, because during the trip I had to go to Kohl's in Tomball to pick up some pants. I rushed my packing, and I packed the wrong set of pants to go with my suit jacket.

While I was out there I tried a couple fast food joints that were new to me. First, I had a burger from Sonic Drive-in. It's not really a Texas chain or anything, but I had never been. The closest one to my home is about 40 miles away. I also had a burger from Whataburger, which is a fast food chain that started out in Texas. I liked Whataburger more than I liked Sonic, but I'll take California's In-n-Out over both any day of the week.

I should also mention the weather. It was hot and humid. Most days were in the 90-100 degree range with very high humidity. You'd leave any air conditioned building and you would instantly start sweating. And, the power went out for a few hours at the house I was staying at. It didn't take all that long for the house to heat up to an uncomfortable level. Apparently power outages are a common occurrence out in that particular neighborhood (just outside of Tomball). The power goes out something like once a month. This time it went out because some branch fell off a tree and took down some nearby power lines. Not fun... I don't recommend it.

One thing that caught my attention was the gasoline there. Okay, so it was cheaper out there... the 87 octane was $3.85 (by comparison, the gas station near my place was charging $4.40). But, that's not what caught my eye. Their premium gasoline isn't 91 octane. Instead it's 93. I heard it had to do with some California regulations that required some more fuel additives, which lowers the octane level. Not sure really, but that's what I heard.

I might as well talk a bit about the non-fast food I had while I was out there. So, on the first night, we ate over at a Texas Roadhouse in Conroe. There's actually one location not too far away from me in Union City. I have always enjoyed their food, and this time was no different.

There was a nice rehearsal dinner consisting of some good Texas barbeque over at The County Line in Houston. The meal was mainly meat, but there were a few side dishes (beans, slaw, and potato salad). I also learned that you are typically served pickles and onions along with your meat out there. And, I should make it clear that the food was damn good. I kept on grubbing, and reluctantly stopped when I noticed that no one else was eating any more. In any case, I'd definitely go here again.

The lady and I also had a nice dinner over at a local seafood restaurant called Babin's, which is owned by Landry's. Anyway, the food was New Orleans style, and it was pretty much delicious. We started out with some fried alligator and fries. Then, for the main course I had the Crawfish Étouffée and she had the Chicken Evangeline, of which I only had a small bite.

I better talk about the wedding... after all, it's why I was there in the first place. The wedding took place at the Ashelynn Manor in the town of Magnolia. The chapel was nice, as was the estate. The wedding ceremony was lovely, too. The reception was then held on location at the Carriage House. There were two cakes at the wedding reception. I learned that it was common in the South to have a Groom's cake in addition to the standard wedding cake.

After the wedding and reception was over, a bunch of us (including the bride and groom) went over to this sports bar out in Spring called The Stadium. There was a lot of drinking and a good amount of drunken karaoke fun that night. Lots of wild pictures and videos were captured, but unfortunately, people would kill me if I were to put them up here for all to see. Ha ha.

We also took a drive around one of the more upscale neighborhoods in Tomball. Some of the houses were straight up baller with tons of land. And, what's actually kind of gross was that they cost a tiny fraction of what a similar house would cost out here. There was one absolutely gorgeous house that was up for sale. We checked online later and found the owners were asking only $725K for it. Amazing. It was a magnificent house sitting on 2 acres of land... a whopping 6600 sqft and chock full of upgrades. Man, we seriously get jacked over here.

Here are some animal pictures that I was able to take when I was out there. The deer in the pictures were totally chill. They weren't startled at all, and let me take as many shots as I wanted. And, I had never really seen any Texas longhorns before, so made sure to get one of them.

I've got one more odd thing to mention. I heard through the grapevine that there's this underground casino out in this gas station/convenience store. It is basically a room with a couple slot machines and some gaming tables. What's funny is that the room is marked "Broom Closet -- Keep Closed." I thought that was pretty funny. And, no, I didn't go check it out for myself, but my source is a good one, so I will believe it.

Okay, I've rambled for long enough. So that's it... my Texas trip.

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