The Lone Star State
Ted and Thelma live in Texas. Thelma is from Doncaster and Ted and I worked together in Qatar. He gave me his sister and I gave him twenty camels, even though he doesn’t smoke. Ted and Thelma invited us to come and visit them in San Antonio once The Donald was no longer President.
We flew to San Francisco which is nowhere near Texas but DouDou wanted to experience First Class on the A380 super jumbo now that her beloved 747 had been retired. As luck would have it, First was full and we had to make do with Club on the upper deck, a thoroughly comfortable twelve hours.
San Francisco was hot and smelly with street sleepers and pan handlers on every corner but Alcatraz was chilling, and tranquil Sausalito restored our faith in American charm and hospitality.
As everyone and his brother wanted to fly from San Francisco to San Antonio we ended up being shipped via Denver. When we finally arrived at midnight there was Ted patiently waiting to take us home in his truck.
Ted is a successful, hard-working Senior Vice President of something-or-other and flies all over the States doing whatever he does thereby collecting millions of air miles and hotel loyalty points. He generously used up some of these to accommodate us in luxury hotels when we weren’t staying with him and his family in their stylish home in San Antonio.
Being the sort of chap he is, Ted had our Texas vacation planned down to the finest detail but first we had to go to his Vietnamese nail parlour to have a relaxing pedicure. It was just before Independence Day and in the spirit of celebrating the loss of our colonies I had my nails painted in patriotic colours.
As we were in cowboy country we wore stetsons and went to the rodeo, we drank beer and ate smoked brisket and beans.
But there’s more to Texas than cowboys. There are white sandy beaches like Port Aransas that stretch for miles along the Gulf of Mexico.
There’s the huge hydro-electric dam on the Colorado river which formed Granite Shoals Lake, now called Lake LBJ in honour of the President who owned a ranch nearby. Spending the 4th of July on the water was a refreshing change to the stifling heat of the city.
Whilst we were in San Antonio we celebrated my birthday!
Naturally, the evening didn’t end there.
Being so close to the Mexican border there is a huge Hispanic influence, billboards in Spanish, Mexican food and margaritas – lots of margaritas.
Lots of Margaritas
Wasting away in Margeritaville.Jimmy Buffett
It’s a three hour drive from San Antonio to Houston but we decided to fly and take an Uber to the Space Centre.
Mission Control was laid out just as it had been the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the Moon. Half-eaten pizzas, half-full ashtrays, slide rules and scraps of paper. As the tour guide said, we had used more Mb of memory snapping photos that morning than the entire Apollo program had available to land a man on the Moon.
The sheer complexity, the enormity, the incredible ingenuity and the innovative yet primitive technology was stunning.
One evening in March 2009 I looked up from Torsion Bar Terrace in Ezkurra and saw two bright lights moving swiftly across the clear dark sky. There was no light pollution up in the mountains. I phoned DouDou teaching her adult English class in Lekunberri to go outside and watch Space Shuttle Discovery as it docked with the International Space Station some 400 kms above our head.
We flew back to London flat out in First, leaving behind an empty pool…
…and some very lovely memories. Thanks Ted and Thelma!