Houston and The Woodlands
|The Woodlands Waterway|
|One of the sculptures along the Waterway|
Our trip to Houston was really a trip to The Woodlands, and un-incorporated suburb north of Houston. This is where John’s friend and frat brother lives. We had heard the Houston traffic is crazy and I will have to agree with that. Even though we weren’t going to arrive at his friends until 5, we decided it would be better to drive through the city in the middle of the day so I looked for something in The Woodlands to do. I found they have a large Mall as well as an area called the Woodlands Waterway that has Market Street, a more upscale shopping area just off it. All of these things looked to be in the same area so that is where we headed.
There is a reason they call this area “The Woodlands”, and yes it’s because it’s built into a large forested area. There are so many trees you have to look to find things, the trees obscure things from the road and that includes gas stations and shopping areas. I had a restaurant called Green Goose Acre in the GPS, it is a highly rated grill and pub. This worked out great as we found parking in a lot that is suppose to be pre-pay but no one was at the pay station so we paid nothing for a lot that usually charges $5 to park in. This was just a block from the pub and The Waterway. The waterway is an area that reminds me a little of San Antonio’s Riverwalk, but with more green space and fewer buildings. It is a very beautiful place to walk. After lunch and the pub we took off walking on the trail and found that we could get to both Market Street and the Woodlands Mall on the trail. It was a beautiful day and a great time for some window shopping. I did get a group of gripping cutting mats in different colors at Williams-Sonoma. They take up less space than what I have now and are color coded so you can use them for specific food. Otherwise it was just a meandering window shopping trip. I think we walked several miles by the time we got back to the truck and the timing was right to head to Jim and Wendy’s.
|Jim and Wendy|
Jim was a fraternity brother of John’s and really the only college friend he has kept in touch with. It’s mainly just been Christmas cards and letters. The last time (and for me the only time) we had seen them was at their wedding over 26 years ago. We spent our 1st anniversary at the wedding in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a fun wedding, Jim is from a very Armenian family and his mom and grandma kept us more than entertained. As a couple we have a few things in common as Wendy is also a dental hygienist so even though it had been many years it was a very fun and comfortable get together.
We learned from them that The Woodlands was a planned community and I think it really shows. There are bike and hiking trails throughout the community and it just has a cohesive feel and yet not in a cookie cutter kind of way. It would be a nice community to grow up in.
|The Empire Cafe|
On Saturday Wendy had to work so Jim and John decided we would tour the St. Arnold’s Brewery. Jim had always wanted to go and beer isn’t really Wendy’s thing so it worked out great. First he took us to a little cafe called the Empire Cafe in a very eclectic neighborhood of Houston, it has kind of a “hippie” feel to it. We loved it. They were serving brunch and it was one of the best meals we have had on this trip. It was a beautiful day so we sat outside to eat. Eating on patio in January, this is a great life.
Then we were off to the brewery. When we arrived, it was a challenge to find a parking space. It is an industrial area with street parking and you could tell this was a very popular place. We have been to several brewery tours but this was the craziest one we have ever experienced. We had to stand in line to get into the tasting room and where the tour begins. It cost $7 each and you got 4 tokens and a glass (which you keep) for four 8 oz. samples. In line we noticed people had lawn chairs, coolers, backpacks and the like. The tasting room was so packed they were only letting people in as others left. Reminded me of a college bar on a football weekend. Finally in, we worked our way to the bar area to get our first glass and then worked our way over to the doors where the tour would start from. Looking around the tasting room, all the tables they had were packed and then on the ends and sides there were groups in lawn chairs eating and drinking; kind of like an indoor tailgating party. This place was nuts.
|The tasting room|
|Noticed these groups are using lawn chairs|
We got in on the tour and the tour guide was worried we all didn’t have our glasses full enough to get through the tour. It was interesting and we did learn a few thing about the difference between beer and ales and what it takes to be considered a craft brewery. I’ll have to get John to blog sometime about that because I am sure I would mess it up.
We left the brewery and headed to meet Wendy for dinner. It was again a lovely night so we walked the Market Street area, stopped for wine at the Cru and then walked to a little tex-mex restaurant. It was an altogether enjoyable day and I was glad Jim was the DD.
We left Sunday promising we couldn’t let it go another 26 years or we’d all be too old to have this much fun.
So now we are back in Port O’Connor and today the truck went in for its new transmission and we hope to leave here Friday for Kerrville Texas and the hill country.
This little vacation was fun and reminded us that the best part of this life is the time we get to spend with old friends and all the new friends we are meeting along the way.