Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Driving Across America: Leg 3

Monday, May 18th

After leaving the Alamo, we walked back to the hotel (Holiday Inn Express) to retrieve our car. We got out of town around 3ish. First on the agenda was picking up a case of water for the car. I tell you what - if there is one thing I have learned on this trip, it's that the little, mundane things might end up being the most eventful happenings.

So Melissa chooses an exit off of the 10 East where there is a market. There also happened to be bail bonds in the very same market. We should have taken it as our first sign to keep driving when the road we exited on was Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Anyone who knows much about cities knows that MLK is almost always a low income street. So we pull up to this "market" and there are literally crack heads loitering on the stoop. What I can only assume was the market owner was standing with his hands on his hips, just staring at them. We were the furthest thing from locals in sight. As we parked, a beat up old sedan came flying in to the spot next to us. A man got out looking very...poor...with his pants hanging so far down and his boxers bunched up so much that we could see the skin of his thigh between the hem of his underwear and the waist of his jeans. He was clearly heavily medicated. Anyhow, we walked in confidently avoiding eye contact. The place was a dump. I really wish we had pictures of this place (which would have included huge ads for bail bonds, among other things). I thought someone might steal my camera and trade it for crack right in front of me.

I navigated over to the refrigerated/drink area looking for a case of water. A delivery man was there stocking shelves.

Delivery Man: "Need sum'n?"
Me: "Just a case of water?"
DM: "Dat Ozaka?"
Me: "Uh...what?"
DM: (leading us up the aisle) "Heah." (points to a pile of unsorted cases of drink)
Me: (still trying to figure out what Ozaka is) "Thanks."
DM: "Mmhm."

Turns out...'Ozarka' is a brand of water, of which they had one case buried beneath several cases of purple stuff and Shasta. It is the local Texas bottling plant. Who knew?

So we got a 24-pack of water and paid $10 for it. We're used to paying $3 for good quality, name brand cases. And it stunk like nobody's business. So we did not drink any of it.

We got back on the road to Houston. We were meeting Brittany (my first friend from VT, met at orientation) for dinner. The drive from San Antonio to Houston was about 3-4 hours. And other than the Ozaka Ordeal, it was mostly uneventful.

Melissa had a sudden craving for Texas pecans (by sudden, I mean it was the sixth time she had mentioned wanting pecans before we left the state). So when we saw a huge highway billboard advertising Potter's Nuts, of course we had to stop. And it was well worth it. We went in and they had samples of a sweet and spicy chili pecan, a toasted cinnamon sugar pecan (still warm) and some kettle popcorn with something sweet coating it. They were all amazing.

Someone (Brittany) gave us bad directions in to town and we got a little mixed up driving into Houston. We eventually found the apartment building and were able to get a parking spot right out front. I wish we had taken pictures of the apartment, because it was gorgeous. We were both pretty envious. Brittany's boyfriend was not off work (doctor) yet so we chatted for a bit and then headed out to a local Italian place (her favorite restaurant). For some reason, on a Monday night, it was closed. So we pressed on. Brittany mentioned that the original Carrabba's is in Houston, and since Melissa talks about going there all the time and I had never been, we chose that.

We were seated right away. We ordered calamari (really good) while we waited for Ross. Also got a round of drinks. Service was not great at first, but the guy finally came around. When Ross got there, we ordered dinner. I got the chicken "Bryan Texas" - delicious - and Melissa got a pizza that was pretty decent. We had a really good time chatting. And then Brittany bought us dinner, which was too nice, especially considering they were putting us up for the night already. But she insisted, so we didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. After that, we opted for a night cap. Unfortunately, there was a slight miscommunication, and Brittany, Melissa, and I ended up in one place and Ross ended up at home. We went to a wine bar called The Tasting Room Lounge. Melissa ordered a bottle of Acacia "A," which is a red blend. The Acacia Pinot Noir is my favorite wine, but they didn't have it. This was pretty good, too, and I paid for it in exchange for dinner. Ross fell asleep and didn't make it out. We hung out. Very nice catching up and Brittany and Melissa seemed to hit it off pretty well.

We went home and promptly fell asleep. The next day, they had to work, but Brittany pointed us to Co Co's Crepes for breakfast/lunch. It was delicious, even though they fudged Melissa's order twice and they didn't have the mushrooms for my order. Still tasted great. I got a chicken and roasted vegetable whole wheat crepe with a wild mushroom sauce. She got a spinach, tomato, ricotta, and chicken whole wheat crepe with roasted red pepper sauce. They forgot her chicken, though, so she had to go back and get it. She offered to let them just throw the chicken on top, rather than remaking the whole dish. They gladly obliged, but they neglected to mention that that the chicken was practically frozen. So a return trip to have it reheated finally resulted in a delicious lunch.

We walked back to the car and decided to hit the road. We picked up some ice at the CVS around the corner. It was off to New Orleans - a 5 hour drive. This time, we did not get lost on the way out!

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