Houston and the Big Drive

Trip Start Apr 30, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, May 7, 2010

The Republic of Texas – Don't Mess With It

We cruised into Texas late Friday afternoon, and immediately noticed one thing: Texas is BIG. How big? Well, the Welcome Centre into the state is at exit 880 – as in Mile 880, because that’s how far this state stretches top to bottom. It’s 700 miles across, isn’t too far off all of Canada in terms of the population (23 million) and has almost 130 cities with 100,000 or more.

This state is huge, it’s unique, and Texans love it. So much in fact, that after joining the Union in 1845, after nine years as its own nation, it insisted on retaining a clause that would allow it to secede again if it so wished – the only state with such power.

Alongside the sheer size, (which we came to understand better on Day Two’s drive – all 900-odd kilometres of it) you notice the heat. The tail end of the drive from Louisiana state line into Houston became almost unbearable. The rays felt magnified through the car windows and we obsessively re-applied sunscreen every hundred clicks or so. I was at the wheel, which was sticky beneath my fingers. My watch seared into the back of my wrist, my shirt stuck to my back and my legs felt melted into the vinyl seat.

Then Matt had an idea. A brilliant idea.

He reached into the ice-filled cooler and pulled out two frosty cans of beer.

He told me to lean towards the wheel a bit, reached over and slid it behind the small of my back. He slipped one behind his back too.


We soon figured out the best technique was to place the can behind your neck – which felt heavenly – and then every few minutes, lean forward, shrug your shoulders and let the cal roll down a few centimetres. A fresh, cooler side of the can would then settle into the next section of your back.

An air-conditioned massage. Good work, Palardy.

We didn’t do any sight-seeing in Houston, partly because we got there late and even if we had had time, it was so huge and overwhelming we wouldn’t have known where to begin. The sprawl is big, malls are big, the highways are big. We crossed through one overwhelming interchange that Matt deemed "the Turcot on steroids".

But the awesome part about Houston was that Matt’s sister Karla – who also worked with us for a summer at the Montreal adapted sailing program and is a friend of mine – happened to be in Houston for work that week. So we met up with her and her colleague Andrew for a bite to eat and to catch up.

Good to see you and thanks for dinner Karla! Matt will see you back in Calgary in a few weeks.

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