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Day 113 – Goodbye Texas

27 Apr

It’s our last day in Texas.  No, it’s our last few hours left in Texas.  Being the list maker that I am, before we moved to Texas I made a list of everything that interested me, or things I wanted to do that I didn’t have time for back in Atlanta.  Warning, this list is long.

  • Take the time to cook and bake new dishes
Completed.

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  • Read at least 5 books
Completed:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien (Book one of three)

Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien (Book two of three)

Love Struck by Melissa Marr

London Falling by Emma Carr

  • Paint
I bought all the supplies to complete this item on my list, but I never got the urge.  We came close to having a Wine & Painting Party, but I never got the urge to put the party together either.  Very sad.
  • Sew two dresses
I only sewed one dress.  You can read about my attempts at sewing here and here.

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  • Work out and loose at least 20 pounds
I haven’t lost as much as I have wanted but, I will be continuing to work on my weight loss goals.
  • Learn to curl my hair properly
Completed.
  • Take as many bubble baths as possible
Completed.
Oh, how I will miss our garden tub.   I must have taken at least 50 bubble baths while here.
  • Visit George Observatory for a night of star gazing with the hubby
Completed.
I think this was one of the best things we did.  You can read more about it here.

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  • Houston Zoo
Completed.
You can read about of visit to the zoo here.

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  • Houston Aquarium
  • Jade Buddha Temple
  • Sam Houston Boat Tour
  • Space Center Houston
  • Attend a roller derby
  • Haak Vineyards & Winery in Santa Fe, Texas
  • Visit Galveston – See Moody Gardens, Stewart beach, Kahala Beach, Pirate’s Beach, Dolphin Tours, Yacht Cruise, take ferry to Bolivar Peninsular to Crystal Beach
Kinda completed.
We went to Galveston, but didn’t see much.  You can read about our brunch in Galveston here.

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  • Saint Arnold Brewery Tour
  • Atkinson Island Wildlife Park
  • Armand Bayou Nature Center
Completed.
You could read about our visit to Armand Bayou Nature Center here.

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  • Attend an Owl Prowl during a full moon
  • Water Gardens of Southwest Texas in Beaumont, Texas
  • Big Thicket National Preserve
  • Road trip to New Orleans – French Quarter, Garden District, Cajun Encounters, Jackson Square, live jazz, Cafe du Monde, order a Pimm’s Cup, eat at Cochon
Completed.
We were actually able to complete everything I had on my list.  You can read more about our trip to New Orleans here, here, and here.

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  • Avery Island in LaFayette, Louisiana
  • Road trip to Austin, Texas – Congress Ave nightly flight of bats, 6th street, Zilker Park, food trucks, food trucks, food trucks
Completed, and you could read about it here.

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  • Road trip to Dallas, Texas – Nasher Sculpture Garden, Cedar Ridge Preserve, World Aquarium, Dallas Zoo, Arboretum Botanical Gardens, Fountains Place
  • Kemah Boardwalk – Joe’s Crab Shack, Aquarium restaurant, attend Polynesian Weekend, attend Crawfish Festival, attend Yacht Gras Weekend, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Kinda completed.
We have been to Joe’s Crab Shack a few times, and we were able to attend the Crawfish Festival.  I didn’t take any pictures while at the Crawfish Festival though because, well.. it was kind of lame.  It wasn’t what I thought it would be and the crawfish was over priced.  We can usually by a pound for $3.99, but at the festival a pound and a half was $10.99.  You can read about our first time hanging out at the Kemah Boardwalk here.

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  • Road trip to San Antonio, Texas – River Walk riverboat cruise, Alamo, Natural Bridge Caverns, Cascade Caverns, Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio Zoo, do not fall in the river
Completed.
You can read about our experience in San Antonio here and here.

  • Road trip to New Braunfels, Texas – Dry Comal Creek Winery, go tubing/float on Comel River or Guadalupe River
  • Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, Texas
.

Here are some extra things we enjoyed that were not on my list of things to see and do.

  • Exploring Rice Village

This area had so many neat little shops and an interesting mix of restaurants.  We really enjoyed Rice Village and wished we spent more time there.  You can read more about our trip to Rice Village here.

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  • Austin Nature and Science Center

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  • Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

You can read about our trip to the refuge where thousands of mosquitos attacked us here.

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Overall, we didn’t explore as much as we hoped.  To be honest we weren’t very thrilled with Texas.  Most places we wanted to visit were far away, and we didn’t always want to drive hours and hours.  I guess you could say half way through our stay we ran out of gas.   Even the food wasn’t very good here.  We listened to everyone’s recommendations, but most places weren’t as good as people lead on.  We even went to places that were advertised to be the best in Kemah, and we found that those places were only good enough for a one time visit.  We did find one really great place in Kemah, a greek restaurant called, Bakkhus Taverna.

Right outside of Kemah we found a few more places that we ate at more than once.  It made me realize how awesome Atlanta’s food scene is.  NASA Parkway has a bunch of really interesting little places to eat.  Some of our favorite places to eat; an indian restaurant called Cuisine India, a sushi place on Fairmont called Little Tokyo, and Genghis Grill on Bay Area Blvd., and a BBQ place called Red River BBQ Company.

I am going to miss my time off, but I am ready to get back to a “normal” life.  I really liked the company Luis worked for as well, and it makes me excited for his next co-op term.  We have made some great friendships here, and hope to see them again.. somewhere, anywhere.

I have a feeling that we will be back to Texas before I know it, so I don’t feel too bad about not completing as much as I wanted.

I am not giving up on you yet Texas!  See you sometime soon.

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Day 80 – Pasadena, Texas – Armand Bayou Nature Center

4 Apr

Armand Bayou Nature Center

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One of my favorite pictures ever taken.  I love pictures of barns.

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We didn’t get to do much as we arrived to the park an hour before it was supposed to close it’s gates.  We only had enough time to do the Lady Bird Trail.

It had rained for about a week straight so the trail was pretty hard to walk on.  My shoe came off a few times in the thicker mud areas.  Half way through the trail I almost peed myself when a hugh doe ran right next to Luis and I, we must have scared it, but it definitely scared me.

Our time here in texas is coming to an end, and the closer it gets, the more sad I get.  All good things (like this little break) must come to an end.  I keep telling myself going back to work will be good for me.  To wake up early, have structure, no more mid day work outs, endless time for sewing and crafts, having the time to make and explore new meals everyday… oh yep, gotta keep telling myself going back to a normal daily life will be good.  Boo.

I guess I will just have to count down to our next co-op to keep me going.

Day 72 – San Antonio, Texas – Caverns

30 Mar

Luis has always wanted to go down into a cavern since a young age.  While I was researching what to do while in San Antonio, three caverns came up; Cascade Caverns, The Cave Without a Name, and Natural Bridge Caverns.  Texas has thousands of caves throughout the state, but I believe only 7 caverns are open to the public.  The Cave Without a Name was a little further than we wanted to drive so, our decision was between Cascade Caverns and Natural Bridge Caverns.  We decided to explore the Natural Bridge Caverns since it was deeper, even though Cascade Caverns is the only cave with a 100 foot waterfall.  It was a hard decision.  I am not worried about missing out on the waterfall cavern since it is possible that we will be living in Texas when Luis is finished with school, and I plan (added to my bucket list) on visiting all 7 caverns.






The temperature of the cave was 70 degrees, but the humidity was 99% so, it felt a lot warmer.  My camera didn’t like the humidity.  Some photos came out good while others are blah.




Yep, that’s us wearing sweaters and jackets with 99% humidity.  When we reached the outside, I was drenched in sweat.  Sexy, isn’t it?


This last area was really neat, and the point where my camera told me it had enough.  The cavern opened up to the Hall of the Mountain King, which was a huge dome.  The dome is created by many layers of the ceilings collapsing over the years.  In the picture Luis is standing near the overlook that looks down into the cavern, about 130 feet deep.  As you can see, I did not get anywhere near the edge of the overlook haha.  Still afraid of heights, even below the ground.

The tour was about an hour long, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  I am looking forward to exploring another cavern and maybe do something a little more thrilling like a tour that includes hiking, crawling, and repelling!

Day 71 – San Antonio, Texas – Riverwalk

29 Mar

Before leaving to Miami, Luis and I spent a weekend along the River Walk in San Antonio.

I have to tell you now, I did not take any photos while in Miami.  I didn’t even bring a camera, and I only went online twice.  My Miami visit was just for family.  Considering the reason for the visit, I had a great time.  I felt needed.  I was able to cook everyday, relax, watch a few movies I had never seen before, play with kitties, and most importantly be with my aunt.

A few people had told me that I was an “amazing person” for going home.  Thank-you for the nice compliments, but to me, I found it odd.  I was raised by a women who took care of family most of her life.  She was a women who stepped in to take care of her parents when they couldn’t take care of themselves any longer. When my mother wasn’t able to take care of me, she became my guardian.  If someone in the family needed money, she gave it to them.  She was always giving family gifts or trips, and it wasn’t until I turned 18 that she finally did something for herself.  She retired and spent the rest of her short lived years doing what made her happy, playing in her garden and cooking.  I learned from a young age to help family any way you can.  So, for me, when a family member needed some extra hands I knew I could be that person.  Especially for my aunt Kathy, she had a hand in raising me as well.  I love you.  I am thankful for this time in my life.  Not working a 9 – 5 job that allowed me to take off to Miami last minute, having money in bank for my flight tickets, and a loving husband who didn’t mind missing a few home cooked meals.

Okay, sorry.  I don’t mean any harm.  I appreciate all positivity, but I felt like I needed to explain what type of person I am.

 Back to San Antonio.

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No trip to San Antonio is complete without a visit to The Alamo.  It was a nice visit.  Mostly because it is free, and the line moved pretty quick.  Sadly, I did not learn anything though.  Instead I Googled the history of The Alamo later that night at our hotel.

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It was a nice day, the sun was out!  Good to know that the sun shines in San Antonio!

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We took a river cruise and learned a few things that we would have never known about the River Walk if it wasn’t for our guide.  That’s him with the hat and blue shirt, almost the same uniform as the people who work at Best Buy.  He had lots of jokes, corny jokes, and he liked to say hello to people walking by the river, then make fun of them if they didn’t say hi back.  I thought he was funny, but Luis just rolled his eyes.  Then again, Luis is hard to please.

 Isn’t that kid ‘s sun glasses funny?

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The friendship statue.

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Something neat our guide told us about as we passed under this bridge, that bats lived in it.  At first, Luis and I thought it was a lie, but since  Luis loves bats, around dusk we sat on the bridge and waited for the bats.  The bridge isn’t inhabited with as many bats as Austin, just a small family/colony.  We loved watching them fly over people, and dive beneath the bridge.  Every now and then I would look at the people, and no one knew bats were flying just a few feet above their heads.

I really enjoyed the architecture and details around the River Walk.  My uncle Danny told us he had visited san Antonio’s River Walk when he was younger.  He was about 17 and the waterway was empty, and hardly anything around it.  Pretty neat.

Before heading back to Houston, we stopped and explored a cavern, 180 feet deep!  I have never been in one, nor have I ever had the thought to go down into one.

Until the next post!

Day 70 – Heading to San Antonio, Texas

28 Mar

Happy belated first day of spring!





On our way to San Antonio a few weeks ago, the highway was blanketed with flowers.  So, of course, I had to pull over on the highway and snap a few very quick photos.

  A real post of our San Antonio trip coming soon.  Until then, here is a little peak.

Day 28 – 30 in Austin, Texas and Chest Pains

8 Feb

We carpooled to Austin this past weekend with two other co-ops.  The drive was smooth and didn’t take as long as I thought, about 3 hours.

I am happy that I was finally able to see a part of Texas that is not ugly.  I saw green grass, small rolling hills, and lots of trees.  Yay! A part of Texas that was actually pretty.  I love seeing farms with rolling hills and cows on the tops of them, probably because it’s my dream to own a rolling hill farm.

I enjoyed 6th Street more than Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  If I had to pick a place to party, it would be Austin, which could change once I go to Las Vegas.  Until then, Austin it is.  The drinks were inexpensive (at least at the places we went to), and there were lots of places to step into and shake your booty.

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We met up with the other co-ops from the Freeport location, we are at the Deer Park location, making the group 13 of us.  We started off our nights at a bar called The Library.  It was a fitting place since Engineers spend lots of time in them.   They were serving $3.00 Long Islands. I have never paid $3.00 for a Long Island in a normal sized glass, it was awesome. We hopped around 6th Street, darting in and out of bars, having whatever the drink special was at the moment, stuck around and danced for a few songs, and then moved onto the next place.  We met some pretty cool Austin locals and some out of towners celebrating birthday’s, graduations, and new job opportunities.  Oh, and a guy who was showing off his rock band, even though he had just quit the band.  At 2:00 a.m. the bars and clubs shut down, and the police and fire department do a sweep of the streets (a clean-up if you will), making everyone leave. Very interesting, but none the less a good thing since most of our group was done for the night.  On our walk back to the hotel, a cold front decided to wake us up with a down pour. A very cold down pour.  I enjoyed running in the rain until I remembered I had my camera with me.  Thankfully, after a few minutes of waiting underneath a shelter the rain lightened up, allowing Luis and I to continue our run through the rain. It was a good night.

The next day, Luis and I split from the group and went to check out some items I had on my Austin list.  We walked around The University of Texas, Zilker Park, Austin Nature and Science Center, the bats at Congress Ave Bridge, the Capitol Building, and explored some of the 1400 food carts Austin has.

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I know I am only 28, but Austin kicked my butt, which lead me to believe that I am getting too old to rebound quickly after a few nights of drinking and dancing. Sunday and Monday my chest was tight with sharp pains. I called a doctors office to schedule an appointment, but was told to go straight to the emergency room.  The emergency room?  That freaked me out. I have never been to the hospital, and the thought of going to a hospital freaked me out.  It couldn’t be that serious.  So, being freaked out I called my uncle Danny, who has had heart issues and asked him for his thoughts. After a few questions to rule out a stroke or heart attack, I took some Aspirin as he recommended.  After a few hours the pain went away just in time for my mom to call me.  Now that I was much more calmer, I could actually have a conversation with someone.  Even though a trip to urgent care would probably not have harmed anything, I just really didn’t want to believe it could be something serious.  Monday evening did not help either, I felt like I was having an anxiety attack, a two hour attack.  Something I have never felt before.  I really think I just pulled something with all the dancing, plus being dehydrated, then the attack because I freaked out.  I still feel slightly odd, but much better.  I have a appointment with the cardiologist on Monday.  See what I mean about getting old? This is only the beginning, haha!

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I really enjoyed Austin, chest pains and all.  Austin has everything I love; parks, food carts, cheap drinks, interesting people, and a great assortment of bands/music.

Day 14 and 15 New Orleans, Louisiana – Food

26 Jan

We tired out a new sushi place yesterday.  The sushi was delicious, and then I got sick.  Is it bad that I actually want to go back and try it one more time?  Anywho, I didn’t post yesterday about the food we had in New Orleans because food was the last thing I wanted to see.

Today is a different day though, as I have already stuffed my face with a plate of red sauce pasta, sun dried tomatoes, and capers. Bring on the food! And some drinks too.

I had a list of restaurants that I wanted to try out.  Luis had no input, he was just along for the food ride. Even though we went during the slow season, many of the places were booked or overbooked, like Bayona. Still upset that we didn’t get to try as many places as I had hoped for.

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We tired our best to experience authentic cajun cuisine and stayed away from the burger, french fry, and nacho places.

Our first stop Royal House Oyster Bar on Royal Street.

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We had crab claws sautéed in a lemon garlic butter sauce, along with crab bisque and french onion soup (soups not pictured).  Luis still talks about this dish.  I guess I will have to learn to make it.   It was a good dish to kick off our first meal on our first visit to New Orleans.

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This place had all sorts of oyster plates, and for a good price, which made me really wish I liked oysters.  I have tired them many times, all different kinds of ways, and I can’t.  It’s one of the only things I do not like to eat, but I keep trying.

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 I really love how most of the restaurants had huge doorways throughout the building so you can sit outside, but your really inside, and either people watch or just enjoy the weather.

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Our plan was to have small plates and move onto the next place, but then the strangest thing happened. As we walked around the blocks to the next stop, we realized we were full.  Instead we found a spot to sit, have a drink, and listened to music from way before we were born.

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Of course, I had to pick up a box of pralines for dessert when we got back to our hotel.

The next day, we started off our French Quarter wanderlust with a spicy Bloody Mary, garnished with pickled green beans.  New Orleans had some of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever had.

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Soon after we came across Café Du Monde for beignets and iced coffee as an afternoon snack.  I dare you to come out of there without having powered sugar on your shirt or pants!

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A lady behind us was complaining about the price, but for about $6.00 (what we spent) I thought it was great.

Later in the day we went over to the Garden District to try out a restaurant called Cochon (which means pig in French) that locals were raving about on a blog that I found.

The first thing I must say is… I would take another 5 hour drive just to eat at this place again.  Not only are the servers very enthusiastic to explain what  the Chefs have prepared, which is refreshing by the way, but everything is fresh and local, and you could tell that the Chefs and cooks take their time and put lots of love and care into their creations.

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I love hand crafted drinks with mixes that I have never thought would go together.  Luis had a drink called The Swinekiller, made with gin, rhubarb bitters, and limeade.  I had The Trotter Jennings, with vodka, Prosecco, St. Germain, lemon juice, mint, and plum bitters.

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Fried alligator with chili garlic aioli.

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The waiter sold us on this dish, and I am happy that he did.  It is braised pork cheeks (pork cheeks are my favorite by the way) with sauerkraut potato cakes, applesauce and goat feta. Amazing.

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Fried boudin with pickled peppers.  I really enjoyed Cochon’s version of boudin.  Not as spicy as other boudin, and really clean and full of flavor.

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As we were leaving New Orleans, we stopped into Don’s Specialty Meats in Lafayette for one last plate of boudin and cracklin.  We have a famous bar and grill up the street from where we live that was featured on that TV show; Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri that has awesome boudin and armadillo eggs.  I will have to post about it later.  This boudin had a kick and was really good.

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Good thing we bought some bourbon and praline coated pecans at Evan’s Creole Candy Factory before we left to help cool down our mouth from the boudin.

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This weekend Luis and I are taking it easy and staying in, or maybe we will go fishing.  Something relaxing, no driving!