Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Houston, Texas - as seen through the eyes of a Brit!

Hi y'all! We started off our very first trip to the United States with a 10 day stay in Houston with our son and daughter-in-law, who met us at the airport wearing their own jeans (or "janes" if you're speaking with a Texas drawl), cowboy boots, and borrowed genuine Stetsons. Strangely enough, their attire didn't turn any heads or attract attention. . . . in Texas that's what people wear!

Houston is suprisingly green, with lots of trees, parks and grassy spaces - much nicer than we'd expected. Downtown is modern and has big skyscrapers. The suburbs are leafy and green.

Downtown we went up the Chase Tower - the highest with 70 floors - which has a viewing area on the 60th floor, and later took an evening trip on the Buffalo Bayou (river) which runs through Houston to a visit a bridge which is a bat roost. On the way we were given a talk about bats, then we waited for them to fly, catching sight of a few water snakes swimming about as we did so. They flew at 2 minutes to 8, and were still flying out from under the bridge at 8.10. A spectacular sight and there were easily tens of thousands of them.

The George Ranch, a short drive away from Houston, is a working ranch with a history. There you can visit ranch houses dating from the 1800's to the 1930's. Each one is a museum and the guide is dressed in a costume from the era. The most fun thing was the demonstration of ranching skills by the resident cowboys . Cattle were lassoed and we saw how they were pulled down to the ground for health checks and for branding. We were also shown how they were dosed with medication (for that, read a big pill pushed down the throat!). The cowboy stuck his fingers in the steer's nostrils, pulled its head back and opened its mouth before putting his arm down its throat up to elbow.

Brazos Bend State Park is another attraction not far from Houston, and has swampy areas which attract all kinds of wildlife:

But you go there to see the alligators! Mindful of the fact that we'd eaten alligator the previous evening in a recipe Maylis thought we'd like to try (it's chickeny), we tiptoed past them carefully and respectfully in case they decided we looked a good meal too. . . .Two of them face to face on the bank started hissing as we skirted by them & we burst into a sprint, but I think they were either having a slow stand off, or were undertaking some kind of reptilian mating ritual as they didn't show any interest in us at all.

Hissing 'gator and smiling 'gator!


Jackie said...

Your American holiday sounds so exciting, I would have loved to have seen those bats!

barbara said...

Hi Joyce,
I was just over at Abby's blog enjoying her photos.
I see that you had some close experiences with the "critters"!
I'am not a hero either; I'd be leaving those gators in record time!
I don't know Houston, or Texas for that matter.I enjoy the photo tour.

You take care;)

Mellow Yellow said...

Thank you both! There's more to come, and we really enjoyed experiencing American life and finding out about Houston.

Joyce :-)