This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Trips down memory lane: Houston

Trips down memory lane are sometimes expensive, and your mileage will vary. For me, the memories of Houston, TX are pretty happy ones. I worked there in '97 and '98 and I absolutely loved it. The people, the work environment and the location itself were very good, and I loved the time I spent there.

The time I spent in Houston was a pretty happy one for me. There was a lot of money, I got along with the people, and I developed my penchant for photography there. One thing that I was completely unprepared for when I arrived in the city was the weather. Specifically, the rains.

On my way there, the rains started somewhere in Arkansas and didn't stop for more than a few hours here and there for three weeks. I had never seen such sheets of water falling out of the sky, and I was completely stunned by the floods. Before I left, I made a map of how to get to my destination. The map served me quite well through the whole 4 day trip, and became completely useless once I arrived in Houston itself. The day I drove in, the city was flooded, and the highways I planned on using were closed down. On a detour I had to take, I had to make another detour because the road passed under a bridge and had flooded out, and all you could see was the roof of a pickup truck submerged in all that.

I finally reached my destination and when I parked in the hotel, the rains shut off. Literally. As if somebody reached over and threw a switch, the water falling out of the sky simply stopped. Within 45 minutes, the water on the ground was gone as well, and the city came alive as if nothing had happened. That night it rained again and flooded everything once more, and once more the water collected on the ground had vanished.

In my first week in Houston, there was a city-wide flood that culminated in a lake forming over Hwy. 10, forcing those motorists caught in it to get out of their cars and climb on their roofs while news helicopters hovered overhead. That, too, quickly dissipated and the city returned to normal. It continued to flood like this throughout my entire stay in the city

One time we watched from the office window a lake forming on a highway offramp, flooding two bridge underpasses as well as the approaching roads. The same storm also blew every sewer cover in a sequence, one after another. It was something to behold. One of the more impressive floods happened the day I had to stay late in the office, and when I finally left and drive home, the water on the road was literally splashing over the hood of my car. How my engine failed to flood and stall passes my current understanding.

Between the tornadoes, the floods and the forest fire smoke from Mexico, it was an exciting stay.

The state parks in Texas are incredible, even though some of the signs in them are a bit odd. I came across one that said, “No cars with catalytic converters allowed to park here if the indicator is red”. That's because they don't want your car setting the dry grass on fire after an hour's drive to get there.

And the food! My God! The food! I still, to this day, remember crawfish etouffe, a dish I doubt I'll ever have again. It didn't help matters that there was a seafood restaurant across the street from my apartment, and that's where I ate at least three times a week; they actually knew me by name and would sometimes even make specific dishes for me that weren't available on that day to the general public. It's sad that I can't remember the name of that place, but it's been eight years.

The people, too, I got along with. They were friendly and easy to deal with. They also took a strange attitude towards gutter fights; instead of separating the combatants or calling the cops, they'd just stand around and cheer them on; sometimes they'd bet beer.

All in all, I enjoyed Houston. It was a fun city, with many different things to do, and very friendly people. Next time, a trip down memory lane to Boston, MA.


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