Sunday, July 22, 2012

Houston - from beginning to end

When Sara lived with us, each evening when she arrived home from work Bobby would jokingly say to her; 'how was work, start at the beginning and don't leave anything out'.  After awhile it became the standard humorous saying around here when asking someone anything!

So in the spirit of starting at the beginning and not leaving anything out.....

Sara has been fortunate to have the opportunity to attend five professional conferences during her first year of teaching!  Three of the conferences have been this summer.  Usually when she attends a conference she has to share a hotel room with another teacher and sometimes there are even events in the evening to keep the attendees busy.  But her latest conference was in Houston and she had a room to herself, plus the conference ended on Thursday and they didn't schedule her flight home until Friday evening, the Friday of her birthday no less!  So what's a mom to do but fly to Houston and hang out with her daughter on her 25th birthday!

Sara left for Houston on Sunday and I flew down to join her on Tuesday.  She was still in class when I arrived so I sent her the picture message below to let her know I had arrived (upon receiving the picture I'm sure Sara thought it was going to be a long four days!) The whiskey glass prop in the picture was borrowed from her hotel room bar, which was complete with a mirrored wall, small sink, refrigerator, glass shelves, and drink glasses of every shape and size!  Sweet suite, it even had an extra 1/2 bath right inside the door!
This is the view from her room on the 15th floor.  This side of the hotel faced a very nice residential area next to Rice University with tree shaded streets and backyard pools.  The other side of the hotel faced a downtownish area of Houston called the Houston Medical Center and Museum District.  There are 49 medical institutions in this area including the world renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center.  You can see the other Houston downtown area in the distance.    
We had a great view of the Rice University stadium.  I bet this is a popular hotel during football season!

Once Sara got 'home' from class we headed to the Galleria for an evening of shopping!  It was a really large mall so we decided to do it justice we would need to come back the following evening!  This picture is from an outdoor shopping area up the road from the Galleria where we stopped for a cupcake at Sprinkles (of Oprah fame) and to do a bit more window shopping!

Wednesday while Sara was busy learning new stuff at her conference I went to the Holocaust Museum and learned a few new things too.  A portion of the building was designed to resemble a brick chimney from a crematorium, a very sobering visual reminder of the atrocities that were committed.  I was fortunate to be able to follow along behind a group of teenagers who were being given a tour by a survivor of the holocaust, his commentary added so much to the museum experience.  
(The picture below is from the museum's website.) 
Wednesday evening was Galleria Round 2 where Sara found some great back-to-school clothing bargains!  After shopping we watched ice skaters at the Galleria ice rink!

Thursday morning I hung around the hotel room finishing one book and starting another.  I did venture out at lunch time to try a neighborhood restaurant for a sandwich.  There were no tables available inside so I ate outside on the patio where I had to keep a close eye on my food so this little pigeon fella and his friends wouldn't help themselves to my lunch!  Not exactly the relaxing lunch that I had envisioned!  After lunch I hit up a few of the nearby shops including a well stocked toy store!  I had planned on spending the rest of the afternoon at the MFAH Museum of Fine Arts Houston to take advantage of the free admission on Thursdays, but when I got to the museum parking lot I was one of five or six cars circling trying to find a parking spot, I gave up and headed back to the hotel to continue reading!  And to have a short nap!  

While I was fighting pigeons and napping Sara was spending her time here at Rice University, she took a couple of pictures of their pretty campus!
Thursday evening we headed out for more shopping, this time to hit up the annual Mardel teacher supply sale!  This had been a pre-planned destination once Sara found out the annual sale was happening the week she was going to be in Houston she googled and found three Mardel stores there!  We had even planned ahead and packed an extra soft sided travel bag in case she found lots of bargains (gotta love that Southwest Airlines is still not charging for checked bags!) 
After stocking up on fun teacher stuff and having dinner we decided to catch a late showing of the new Ice Age movie!
Sara ready to dig into her birthday breakfast at Cafe Express!

On the way to breakfast we made a quick stop to take a picture in front of Rice Stadium (Sara and Evan have a travel tradition of taking their picture in front of college stadiums!)

After breakfast we went to the Fine Arts museum that I had bailed out on the day before.  We spent several enjoyable hours there before heading to the airport.  We were treated to a wide variety of art including several Remington paintings and this statue.  
From Remington, Rembrandt, and Tiffany to this turquoise sequined Buddha it was a great way to spend our last hours in Houston!

Off to the airport for our 6:30 flight and a few birthday drinks at the airport Buffalo Wild Wings!

If you've made it this far in my travelogue you deserve a cookie, or a cupcake!  Wish I had one of these pretty and yummy Houston cupcakes to give you!

P.S.  Thanks Josh for lending me your Garmin to help us find our way around Houston, it sure made rush hour traffic bearable!

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