And today — TODAY, my friends — begins yet another road trip!
This time we set out for a week at the beach. Since this is Texas that means our choices were limited to three. As Padre and Corpus Christi are a bit too far, we packed the car and headed out on our drive to Galveston! Faithful readers will both remember that we took this journey almost exactly five years ago. This time, though, my mother-in-law Wilma and I decided to throw a wrench into my wife’s plans. “Honey, why have we never been to Houston? We always drive through it but we never stop there,” I asked. “Damn Houston,” came her response. I was puzzled. Surely the largest city in our fair state (fourth largest in the nation) must have something to offer the casual wayfarer. I relayed my conversation with my wife to her mother. “That’s so funny! Jim [her late husband] used to always say the same thing! I don’t get it. We’ve been to Houston and I know there must be something to do there.” She (Wilma) and I decided that if my wife could get a decent rate on a hotel room for Sunday night we should drive down to Galveston a day early and explore the Bayou City. Lucky for us, Priceline came through and we were Houston-bound!
Wilma and I were sooooo super excited! My wife, not so much, but she played along nicely. The kittens were excited to be going anywhere. They have inherited a sense of adventure and a love of travel from both of their parents. Actually, from my wife they inherited a sense of adventure and a love of travel. From their dad, they inherited a fear of thrill rides, a love of silliness, and milky fair skin.
I’m still not sure why we had to leave at 6AM but off we were. The drive down I-45 from Dallas to Houston is about four hours but it didn’t seem to take quite that long. We do have a knack for making a ton of pitstops but they usually lead to fun stuff — off the path historic sites and weird museums. This morning they led to a few gas stations for coffee refills. We made it to Houston just a little too late for mass at the beautiful Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. That’s the 11AM mass we missed. No matter, we quickly shifted gears and headed to Aquarium. I hate fish. Nonetheless, this was fun. Baltimore has the best aquarium I know of, but this was a decent rival. The fish were absolutely disgusting to behold. My daughter, in particular, hated the “exhibits” though, like her old man, she seemed to enjoy just being there with the people we love. And when it was over, we headed upstairs to lunch at the Landry’s Seafood Restaurant at the Aquarium! Again, I hate fish so I had a burger. But my mother-in-law and I realized once again why we get along so well. LIQUOR! Holy cow, they were good drinks. They were so good that when we finished and ventured out into the plaza and I boldly proclaimed to my son “Hell yeah, I’ll go on that bigass ferris wheel with you! I ain’t ‘fraid of nothin'” And I almost believed it.
Twenty minutes later I was atop the city of Houston wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. Ironically, the booze only started to wear off on the last go-round so I was fine up until that point. Then I stepped off, realized why so many people hate the weather in this town. It was just like back home in Newark growing up — mid-90’s, humid as all get out. So it was back in the car and on to check in at the hotel. Then we headed back out to drive past the old (dilapidated) Houston Astrodome! Why, you ask, would we drive past such a thing? Well, it’s a Modern Marvel site and I love Modern Marvels. Finally, it was off back to the cathedral for evening mass. Beautiful place. It’s only about six years old but considering the other modern crap that passes for Catholic architecture these days, this place was quite nice — inside and out. On our way out, I pointed out the Cardinal’s gallero. The gallero is a broad-brimmed, red hat with many rows of ornate tassels. Cardinals used to wear them but today they’re only ceremonial. Houston only recently got their very first cardinal (Daniel Dinardo). In fact, he’s the first cardinal ever from the American south. A seminarian walked past us and he and I tried to explain the significance of this hat to my son. However, my son thought we were talking about a sombrero. “I know, Daddy, it’s like those Mexican hats they sell at Six Flags.” Exactly, son.
Let’s get some rest, kittens. Tomorrow comes early and we’ve got a huge day ahead of us.