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Vicki’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 13 Sep 2011

Location: Houston, USA

MapI can't believe I've been here a whole week now - the time is going so quickly! After my exciting entry into the country, things have settled down and I'm enjoying a very leisurely and luxurious stay here in Houston with my friend Barbara and her husband Chris. As Barbara said to one of her singing friends yesterday - we've known each other since we were eleven so we can't hide anything!
Apart from driving around the area and getting a feel for everything, I've been to the museum of natural history, which was really interesting, although the planetarium and Imax theatre were so cold that we had to go outside to warm up. The temperature has been in the high 30s all week, but we don't go out very much so there have been times when I've been quite cold.
The Texas wild fires are further north from Houston, but we could see the smoke on Wednesday night, and there's a lot of ash around on all surfaces.
On Saturday we went to the NASA Johnson Space Centre - somewhere I've always wanted to go to. As they said on the tour, this is not a theme park it's real. Highlights of the visit included going to mission control centre, the astronaut training facility and the Saturn V facility wherethey have an actual Saturn V rocket - it was hugh! There was also a fantastic exhibition of various genuine artifacts from all the different space missions, and also some moon rock which I actually touched. It was a really good day.
After NASA we went to Kemah, which is on the coast, for a drink. I discovered Corona beer, with lime and salt. The bottle is coated with salt and a slice of lime is wedged in the top - very nice, even though I'm not normally a beer drinker.
Sunday was the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and there was a lot of coverage on the TV, and the flags were flown half mast.
On Sunday morning we went shopping in the morning then had lunch out (as we have every day). It felt very strange asking for tomato basil soup, which I had to pronounce as "tomayta bayzil". Am trying to learn the lingo! On Sunday afternoon some of Barbara's family came round - daughter Jane and her husband Auggie, and baby Evie who is "almost two". We spent most of the afternoon in the pool which was fantastic. There's a photo of me drinking cider whilst floating on a blow up bed - I could really get used to this!
Yesterday I went with Barbara to her singing group, which was in one of the many churches in the area. Then we went north to Tomball, which is a small city that is totally unlike Houston - much more like I expected Texas country towns to be like.
So I've only got today and tomorrow left in Houston before I fly to LA for the next part of my adventure. I'm hiring a car at the airport and making sure it has satnav, otherwise I'll never find my way around. Barbara let me have a go at driving her car yesterday so I could practice driving an automatic on the right (wrong?) side of the road. I'm staying in a hostel in LA so I hope I can get access to the internet. I will update again from LA as soon as I can.
PS I saw the photos of the effects of hurrican Katia - it's ironic that when I'm in Houston at the peak of the hurrican season it's the north of the UK that gets the hurrican!