Dec 30, 2010

Day 3: From the Moon to the Coast

As I mentioned this morning, the plan for today was, among other things, the Johnson Space Center in Houston. After conveniently checking into a motel in the immediate neighborhood of the space center, I actually had some time this morning to write on my blog and have a quiet breakfast because the space center did not open until 10 am.

We arrived at the space center right at 10 am and spent about three hours there. It was a good thing we arrived so early because by the time we left, there were loads of people there. The space center was interesting but quite overpriced. And even though I enjoyed most of it, and especially seeing a real rocket was amazing, but I don't think I'd go there again. Once, sure, but twice, not worth it.
Now here's a couple of impressions from the space center:

After the space center it was time for lunch and after that we couldn't wait to get away from that area and go further south and to the coast. Pretty quickly we arrived in Galveston where we mainly drove around to see the architecture and see something of the town. It was already interesting to observe the Caribbean influence.

On the way to our final destination for the day (which was not determined at that point), we also had a chance to stop along the Gulf of Mexico. Even though it was quite windy I really enjoyed myself. We eventually ended up in a place called Surfside Beach where we found a cheap enough, very basic motel for the night on the beach. And here ends the tale for tonight. Let's see where I'll end up tomorrow. And with these last impressions I say good night for today.

With my mom
A little fella I met on the way

Dec 29, 2010

Day 2: On the road down south

Yesterday was the second, and very exhausting day of my road trip. We wanted to make it as far south as possible that day so we ended up spending a substantial amount of time in the car, sometimes getting lost, until we finally arrived at our destination at around 8 pm.

But before we actually headed further south, we explored Nacogdoches a little bit more in the morning while also meeting some locals and chatting away. Nacogdoches is a charming, little town and it was definitely worthwhile spending some time there.

Shortly after leaving Nacogdoches, we stopped at a beautiful, historical village called  Millard’s Crossing. Here's what my dad's travel guide says about this sight: "This historic village of restored 19th-century East Texas homes is situated on 37 acres of land and is furnished with period antiques. A onsite log cabin, chapel, Victorian parsonage and farmhouse reflect the lives of east Texas pioneers" (Mobil Travel Guide Texas 2010).
Another worthwhile stop, this place made me feel like a child again when I competed against my brother on who could clear corn faster and playing balls with my parents. The lady who is responsible for the village shared some interesting stories about the development of the village and about life in East Texas.

Class room


After Millard's Crossing we really started to head south and just made a few short stops along the way, for example by Anglina River. We also stopped in Woodville and Livingston in search of coffee but were unsuccessful until we just stopped at a gas station.


On Anglina River

On the road

At around 8 pm we finally found a cheap, but nice enough hotel to spend the night and get some much-needed rest before a very important sight today: the HOUSTON SPACE CENTER.


Just wanted to share these two pictures. More on the whole subject later.

The Lone Star State Road Trip: Day 1

Yesterday, the big road trip began. The group traveling consists of my parents, my older brother, and the following car.
My older brother and my parents

Our car

We left Dallas at around 2.30 pm after renting a car for a week. The first "mission" was just to get the hell outta Dallas. Because traffic there is very busy, slightly crazy, and not at all fun. So we did just that. Our first stop on the road was the small town Kaufman  (very fitting, I know). We went for a pleasant stroll around Kaufman and took a couple of nice pictures.

We spent the night in a very nice hotel in Nacogdoches, the oldest town of Texas. After dinner we went for a walk around the center to see the Christmas decorations. However, since it was already evening when we got there, we postponed the proper sightseeing to the next day.

Before the Big Road Trip

Okay, so before I can actually write about my Texan road trip, it's important to explain what happened right before that. I planned on leaving Portland for Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) on December 20, but due to quite a substantial amount of snow fall within a very short amount of time, namely one hour before I was supposed to catch my plane, my trip down south was delayed until the morning of December 22.

Stock yards in Forth Worth

On Wednesday at around noon I finally arrived in DFW and was picked up by my parents, who had arrived on Monday as planned, and my older brother and his girlfriend. The next few days, including Christmas, were spent with the family of my brother's girlfriend in DFW, or, to be more precise, in a suburb called Rowlett. During this time we went to an amazing steak house (hard to believe that a vegetarian would say that, right?), visited the old stock yards in Fort Worth and downtown Dallas, went shopping in the huge shopping center Northpark in Dallas, celebrated Christmas with the closest family at first and the extended family of my brother's girlfriend later.

Downtown Dallas

On Monday, December 27, 2010, my road trip through Texas began. More on that in my next blog post.

Me, very happy, at a steak house

Dec 28, 2010

The Lone Star State

At the moment I'm on a road trip through the Lone Star State, aka Texas, with my parents and my older brother. Since it's still early and I'm a bit tired after traveling quite a bit yesterday, I will start posting about Texas tonight. At first I'd like to recap on my time in Dallas anyway, because that's where I spent the last week.
More later. So far, enjoy this fella I met on my way...

'Tis the Season to be Jolly

I know, I know. It's been quite a while. But I've made a resolution. I don't actually believe in resolutions for New Year's, I'm more of a "do-it-now-or-never" kinda gal. So here goes: I want to post more regularly. Especially now, since I just started a week-long road trip through Texas with my family. At some point everything that's happening will just be too overwhelming, so I'll try to find about an hour every day to post what's going on. That is one of the "advantages" of traveling with my family - I don't go out as much at nights and thus have more time.

So Christmas is already over but I really enjoyed experiencing it in the US this year. Even beforehand I was eager to see how crazy Americans would be about it, considering what I had seen for Halloween. Soon after Halloween, the first people started to decorate their houses with Christmas lights and ornaments and I couldn't help but complain more than once about the hideous Christmas decorations I encountered (in my opinion).

Still, there were a lot of things I also enjoyed about this time of year. The first snow, baking Christmas cookies, snow ball fights, making egg nog from scratch, snow day, buying hideous Christmas decorations + jewelery + sweater myself, to name but a few.

Egg nog

Then there were the Christmas trees, Christmas songs (to a certain extent), and ugly Christmas sweater parties that I enjoyed. And in general just hanging out with my new families in the US.

Christmas tree in my dorm room (probably illegal)

Friend's Christmas tree decorations

There is some more I could tell about Christmas in particular but I might do that at a later point. So that's my recap of Christmas in the US so far. It was slightly crazy but also enjoyable.