Monday, October 8, 2007

Back in Texas

As I write this post, I am sitting in the Houston airport, waiting for my flight to New Orleans. The hubby and I spent a few days in Texas on vacation and are now headed to NOLA for a business conference (I will be at conference sessions all day while my husband partakes of the spouse programs with all the wives—I work in a male-dominant field).

Our trip to Texas was great. We spent most of our time in Austin and then went to Houston for less than 24 hours (thank goodness). Austin is a great city. If you’ve never been, you won’t understand until you spend a few days there. Austin has a culture that is a mix of hippies, diverse college students, young professionals, homeless people (“I love the homeless people,” says my husband looking over my shoulder) and real Texans. The nightlife is great, the food is abundant and yummy, and you could never run out of fun things to do. The only 2 bad things about Austin is that the weather is hot and humid and it is in the middle of Texas (you could drive for hours and still be in Texas).

A wedding was the original inspiration for our trip to Austin. Congratulations to my high school and grad school friend B and her new husband T. They had a lovely Catholic ceremony followed by a wonderful reception at the UT alumni center. I used to never cry at weddings, until I got married. Now I start crying as soon as the parents walk down the aisle. I wonder what that means.

It turns out that while we were in Austin, we got to meet our dear friends’ O and G’s 20 hour old baby girl. Congrats to the proud parents and their beautiful, beautiful baby girl. It’s quite an amazing sight to see some of your best friends holding their baby for the first times in their lives. Baby N is one lucky girl as she is going to have some of the most loving and doting parents in the world.

While we were in Austin we drove around a lot and checked out all of the places and areas we used to frequent. In the 4 years since we’ve been gone, Austin has changed a lot. Some of it is good (dense housing above some retail in a great location) and some of it is bad (a ton of cookie-cutter sub developments). There is also a big price difference based on radius from the city center/university area and the neighborhood. A nice house on a large lot (half an acre) about 10 miles from downtown might cost around $200k, while a small place with a small yard right next to the freeway and train tracks but about 1.5 miles from the university will cost over $400k. The real estate market seems to have done really well in the last year (double digit percentage home value increases), but I am not sure how long Austin can sustain that. There is a lot of building going on and while I expect a lot of Californians are fleeing to Austin, I don’t think the population is growing that fast and thus there may be a large surplus of homes in the coming years.

We drove to Houston for a night to hang out with the uncles, aunts, and cousins. We were greeted with a delicious Texan-Mexican BBQ – carne asada, grilled chicken, and deer sausage. It felt great to sit around the grill sharing stories (the time I sent my husband to buy cilantro and he came back with parsley), drinking bear, and chowing down, despite the heat and humidity (we would step inside to the air conditioning when we needed breaks from the oppressive weather). Thanks for hosting us Familia N.

The last event of our Texas trip was meeting up with our grad school friend P-Diablo in Houston. It was so nice to see him again and to share grad school stories. The trash talking about the Patriots and Cowboys was quite entertaining.

Overall it was a great trip. On to New Orleans.


Pablo said...

I don't know what you mean by trash talk. I only speak the truth.

jay said...

you'll love new orleans. I spent a couple of days there last year and had a blast. its sad to see how bad parts of the city still are though...