December 3-6, 2015: Since mid-October, we have been on a farewell tour, bidding adieu to our old life and at least farewell for now to a whole lot of incredible people. We have had dinner parties, house parties, brunches, lunches and more happy hours than we care to admit.
Arriving in Houston on Thursday afternoon, we began the final leg of the tour, getting together with our friends Jim and Wendy and their twins. Michael met Jim during his days of solo practice in Houston – he and Wendy always provide entertaining and challenging conversation (and great food, but honestly, in Houston, that pretty much goes without saying).
Friday morning we got up and went for a walk in Memorial Park, which shamefully we had never done in all the years we lived in Houston. For an urban park in the middle of a gigantic city, it is surprisingly wild, with lots of good trails in the woods.
Later that afternoon we spent some time with Maritza. She is 24, has finished a 2-year degree, gotten married and is expecting her first baby pretty soon. Laura was her 2nd grade teacher, when Laura was 24. Maritza’s all grown up now (though not very high).
This visit made Laura feel very proud and more than a little old.
Friday evening found us in The Heights at Matt & Robbie’s 9th annual Charlie Brown Christmas Party. For those who didn’t score an invite, there was a lot of tasty food and drink, great conversation, and most folks wore their finest holiday PJs. Robbie and Matt let us stick around Saturday morning (Breakfast of tamales, chili, queso and fritos for Michael) and watch UH destroy Temple in the AAC Championship game. GO COOGS!! It’s great to see the Houston community finally getting behind the University of Houston.
On Saturday afternoon we drove over to our old stomping ground, the Montrose, and continued what looks to be a trend on this adventure, another amazing and free collection of art at the Menil Collection.
The collection spans ancient to modern. There are great permanent collections, plus fantastic visiting exhibits. A must see in Houston.
In addition to the art, there is a nice public space where lots of people were hanging out enjoying the warm, sunny day.
There’s also the Rothko Chapel, which reminded Laura that she really does not understand modern art.
We then went back to the Heights and spent the evening catching up with Roy and his son Julian. Roy is the principal of Milby High School. Had anyone told any of us (including Roy) when we met him 20-something years ago that he would end up where he is, we would have all found this quite hilarious. He obviously loves every minute of it in spite of being in year two of a 3-year reconstruction of his entire school.
Saturday afternoon found us walking on more great trails, this time along Buffalo Bayou. It seems to us that Houston is much more focused on getting folks outside and enjoying public spaces than when we lived there. But maybe it’s just that we weren’t focused on going outside in our 20s and missed it. Either way, there’s a lot to like about what’s going on right now.
We finished this leg of the tour with Stella and Hieu and their two girls. I think that it’s fair to blame Stella and Hieu for our love of really fine food. They’ve always spoiled us with really excellent meals in their home and this was no exception. Hieu’s cooking is amazing. We won’t tell you what he made, because you’ll be so jealous you’ll stop reading. But just to give you a glimpse of the picture, he sous vide the carrots.
The Houston trips was amazing, but now we’re back in Blessing, making final preparations to continue on our journey. Tonight we’re going to eat shrimp literally right off the boat from nearby Palacios, Texas. When the fisherman peeled a fresh shrimp to show Laura, she took a bite. The fisherman said, “I guess I’ve seen some people do that before.”
The next time you hear from us, we should be in Mexico! In the meantime, we welcome your comments and feedback.