Monday, March 24, 2014

Texas: Houston, Uvalde and San Antonio

Disclaimer: The author was totally swept off by Texas, in particular the way of life in small towns like Uvalde. What is here to see is more to do with the Texan way of life than the touristy spots. 

Houston


Smita's wedding was in Sugarland. Thanks to that I got see the place. Characteristic flat structures and standardized brick exteriors are the norm in Sugarland and they do manage to give the area a classy touch.

When Naman, Noopur and Navya came down to pick me up, we decided to explore Houston. First thing, we hit the butterfly museum. It was not just fun for little Navya, but a good time for the rest of us as well. The bugs' habitats in the initial part do give a creepy feeling but the enclosed park with beautiful butterflies of all kinds more than make up for it.





Next we headed to the NASA museum. I'll be honest here. I wasn't that very impressed by the whole thing. The only impressive parts are the real rocket on display, moon rocks and the simulation area. Maybe we were too excited, maybe we were expecting too much. Then it struck me. The reason why NASA stuff seemed redundant can be blamed on the movie: 'Gravity'.. We've been shown a lot cooler stuff and now seeing the old Houston abandoned mission control center does not impress me at all..
Next Naman wanted to take me to the 'Waterwall'. By the description of it (a man made waterfall), I was against the idea. Naman however was persistent and got us there. And I can't thank him enough for that. For I surely would have missed the mystical feel of the place had he not been hell bent on visiting the place.Sublime lighting, water flowing down with force, sprinkling gently to distant onlookers, right in midst of the impressive structures of downtown: has to be experienced and I cannot attempt to justify it with words.





We headed back to Uvalde and the drive was very much an American one with constant snacking and stops at drive-thrus.


Uvalde


Some of the reasons why I loved Uvalde are:

1. The Texan pride is very apparent
2. Monster trucks all around: Ford F-150, 350s, Dodge Rams, Chevy Silverados and (handful of) Toyota Tacomas & Tundras dwarf pretty much anything else you drive
3. It is relatively a comfortable area: with big ranches, hardly any congestions, a bit inexpensive ($ 3.3 to the gallon against 4ish in other states)
4. Most importantly: Naman, Noopur and Navya live here. It was the best time I had in their company

In the first round of the city, we visited the Garner airfield, the Walmart (one the largest in the country) and the city center. On paper this may sound drab, but it is a different experience in a small town where you can walk inside the airfield, check out planes real close and even hire them. 

These guys had a drive planned and we headed to the Garner state park: some 35 miles off Uvalde. The place offers camping sites, boat rides and canoes. We spent a leisurely afternoon in the cold waters of the Frio river. On our way back, we did make a stop at one of those bars which reminds of the wild west.





San Antonio

Since my flight was from San Antonio, Naman said it would be a good idea to visit the Caverns of the town as well. Now this was a trip very well worth it. The tour through the caverns takes around an hour and geography archives of the memory are strained to recollect the structural analysis of stalactites, stalagmites. Geography lover or not, all the caverns make up for quite a spectacular structure and their splendor will be ingrained in my mind forever.
Note- besides SF, this was the best tourist spot of them all.



To round it up, Texas is almost a country on its own (with several historical attempts to make that happen). While there were quite a few places to see, I loved the state for its way of life. I loved the way Naman and Noopur live, the way everything is huge out here (the ranches, the Walmarts, the roads, the schools & of course the pick-up trucks) and the cheery people comfortably living in this harsh terrain. 




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