We Are Family

Luxor Hotel & CasinoPart of the Vegas experience is being constantly accosted by people trying to sell you something. Sometimes it’s a scruffy looking man in jeans and a T-shirt trying to sell you line passes to a club or half price tickets to tonight’s shows. Other times it’s a man dressed primly in a suit and tie, behind a desk at the hotel, inviting you to come over and see his specials in the most foreign of accents.

Sarah and I soon realised that neither Mr. Jeans nor Mr. Suit were really offering us anything we wanted. One afternoon, as we walked into the Venetian (on our way to see two of my favourite shows: Phantom and Blue man Group) we were confronted by a tall man in a suit with a distinctly Scandinavian accent.

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Pancakes, Assassination, Stockyards & Music

Baby-Backed RibsIt was with a little twinge of regret that we left San Antonio and took the short trip up to Austin. On the way we stopped off at one of those American Icons: the International House of Pancakes (IHOP). I had traditional pancakes with bacon and Sarah had the chocolate chip pancakes.

We spent one night in Austin, which was really a bit of a letdown. I guess Austin’s nightlife is more suited to me than it is to Sarah 😉

We did resurrect the trip by having a very nice meal at Saltgrass on the way back up to Dallas. Once again, America’s proclivity for large helpings was painfully apparent (see the ribs pictured on the right).

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Houston to San Antonio

GemWe checked out of the hotel and immediately started our journey West to the beautiful city of San Antonio.

We weren’t quite done with Houston yet, we had one more place on our itinerary: the museum of natural science.

One of the most breathtaking aspects to the museum is their enormous collection of precious stones. The gem depicted here on the right is one of the few that I managed to photograph without blurring.

Other parts to the museum included the dinosaur exhibit and some hands-on science exhibits around (what else but) oil mining and production.

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Dallas to Houston

P1020345As you already know, Sarah came to join me in Texas on Saturday the 9th of December till her departure on the 1st of January. Her arrival was scheduled for 6:25pm that evening, so it was 5pm when I took to the interstate in my little hybrid car, with 2 diet cokes on board. I have made the trip out to the airport a number of times so made the 1 hour journey through Dallas from memory only.

I picked up a visibly bedraggled Sarah at around 6:15 that evening. She was too tired to do anything exciting, so I took her on a tour of that all-American icon: Wal-Mart and we had Mexican food (On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina). This was Sarah’s first taste of America’s pathologically large portion sizes: predictably, neither of us managed to finish our meals.

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This is a lovely room of death

P1020009I went to Bass Pro over thanksgiving weekend. Now, Bass Pro is an enormous (two storey) hunting supply store. The reason I went there is I have a friend with a weakness for army gear (you know who you are).

I wondered if I would get some army gear there, you know: combat boots, camouflage pants, that sort of thing. Turns out they don’t have much in the way of army gear, but they do have a whole lot of everything else.

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Snow in Texas

Iced CarIt snowed yesterday. All week, the weather man had been threatening “ice rain” would hit us Thursday. When I returned to my car after work that night, I was surprised to see my car was covered in a film of ice. I unlocked the door and tried the handle. Locked. Unlocked it again then tried to open it: locked again! So I tried a third tie, this time I pulled harder and the door opened with a crack. The ice was keeping the door closed!

Needless to say, driving home was an experience. It was very difficult to see out of the rear view window at first but this eventually cleared up. At temperatures of -3C any precipitation that fell at that time ended up as snow. When I eventually arrived home I was treated to the sight of snow on my steps.

P1020059 Now, I quite like snow but have never seen it actually snowing. This was the first time in my life I had ever seen a little precipitation. Granted it wasn’t anything close to a snowstorm, but it was still a wonderful (and cold) experience. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago we were sweltering at 110 F and now I have to leave the heater on all day and night so that the water pipes don’t freeze.

Auckland may be well known for four seasons in one day, but Texas certainly does appear to have very stark seasons. The next morning my neighbour (who borrows my washing machine every now and again) kindly dissolved the ice on my windscreen with isopropyl alchohol.

As they say here in the US: “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”.