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Each journey begins with a single step... Two kiwis escaping from the island to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where thousands have gone before... . .

Galveston, Texas

USA | Wednesday, 31 March 2010 | Views [463]

We had put an advert on Craigslist to get a rideshare from New Orleans to Houston and received a reply from Joshua who was driving through from Orlando. This is a much less expensive way for us to travel and means he gets company and another driver so he can have a rest.

He picked us up at 3am in New Orleans where we disturbed the whole house to organise ourselves out the door but the girls were great and we will miss them. Joshua drove a little way then swapped with Carol and she drove us all the way to Houston, about 5 hours. All this cost us was $35 in gas, the Greyhound bus would have been over $100. We said goodbye to Joshua at an intersection of the main highway a little north of Houston where we had organised to meet with Dawn (Carol's sister) who was coming from Galveston to pick us up. We sat in the sun on the grass beside a gas station and had a wee picnic while we waited.

The last time we saw Dawn was near the beginning of 2008 when she and her husband Alan and their friends Fawn and Dennis came out to NZ for a lightning tour during which we were lucky enough to have them stay with us a few nights. It was great to see her again, she took us back to Galveston, an island right next to the coast by Houston in Texas. On the way we saw some of the devastation of the hurricane which passed through at the end of 20008 and almost destroyed the island and its economy. There were still a couple of boats sitting in random places, buildings with holes in the side or roof not yet repaired, big gaps where buildings existed but now demolished etc.

We arrived on Wednesday night before the Easter weekend, Dawn and Alan had Friday off over Easter and we wanted to spend that extra time with them. During the week we stayed we got to see an old 'tall ship' called Elissa that has been beautifully restored and is a working exhibit maintained by volunteers, go to an oil rig that has been turned into a museum, and have a tour of the island. During the look around the southern end of the island we saw houses that were out in the breakers or left standing on the beach, this is because two rows of houses disappeared into the sea. There used to be the beach and then a road then a line of houses and behind them another row of houses then another road, the third line of houses now has a beach frontage. Although most of the houses now in the sea or on the beach have gone there are some that look completely whole and some damaged houses sitting forlornly out on the sand.

Another highlight was a visit to NASA Houston Visitors Centre. Dawn and Alan shouted us a special 'level 9' tour on which we got taken in a group of 12 to all sorts of buildings over the complex. We saw the old and the new Control Centres, the shuttle is in orbit and we saw its trajectory etc but as at the time it was the astronauts sleep time so nothing much was going on. We went to the huge 'Neutral Bouyancy Chamber' where they have full scale copies of parts of the shuttle and the international space station in deep water so they can practise using it replicating zero gravity. We also got to have lunch in the cafeteria there where everyone eats. It was quite an intensive tour and we got to see and learn a lot.

We also got to visit Carol's nephew Beecher (son of Carols older brother John) who is living in Houston with his wife Leslie and four children. The last time Carol had seen Beecher and Leslie was in 2005 when they were living in Hawaii and they only had 2 children. They live in a lovely big two storied home which Beecher said cost them only $150,000 to build, wow, much cheaper than homes in NZ!

Alan and Dawn spoiled us both and we had a wonderful time with them, the week passed very quickly and it was time to get on the plane and head to Colorado.


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