Wrapping up the tour

Filed under: US tour 2009 — iain @ 23:37:07

The next stage of my tour was … the 1970s. Or so it appeared as I landed at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport, the airport that took a raincheck on the last thirty years.

I was met by a chap I’ll refer to as The Texan, lest anyone from Houston law enforcement figure out his real name and arrest him for driving under the influence. It was already eleven o’clock at night and I told The Texan that I was hungry and thirsty. We decided to visit a rundown shack, or as he referred to it, a bar. The Texan, who was already drinking his third can of Bud Light, explained that since "in Texas 75% of drivers are drunk, and 95% of them are armed" it was wise to chill out and go with the flow. This seemed like sensible advice. I’d already lasted an entire week without being shot. Getting drunk and letting dudes abide ought to be easy enough.

At the rundown shack I was treated to several terrible beers including a Lone Star beer on the house. From what I could tell the barmaid was delighted to find someone who didn’t already know how bad Lone Star was so she could actually serve one. I also enjoyed a selection of shots, all of which had two things in common: colourful names and a main ingredient of Red Bull.

By now it was Tuesday and the Texan hadn’t been able to get time off work so I was left to fend for myself. He threw me the keys to a dilapidated car, claiming that whilst it lacked niceties like insurance or licence plates it would nonetheless be perfectly fine to drive around.

I arranged to pass the time with some other Houstonites of my acquaintance, Jaime and Dylan. We visited the Space Center, played some Borderlands, lamented that I wouldn’t be around long enough to visit the Renaissance Fair, reminisced about Star Wars: Galaxies and, with the Texan back from work, went bowling. There was good food, too. I enjoyed a fine steak, a spectacularly good snapper and, learning nothing from my near-fatal bloating in Ohio, visited the aptly-named International House Of Pancakes…

The final leg of my tour took me back to Wild West country in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The main event was shooting with CJ, his son and friend Trevor, who inexplicably gave me a baseball cap with the NRA logo to wear. Sadly I couldn’t wear it on the police firing range as we’d planned. The chap arranging that couldn’t make it so we did what any regular American would do at the weekend and drove out into the desert to shoot at paper targets with an impressive array of rifles (including an Enfield .303), shotguns and pistols.

A trip out west wouldn’t be complete without a horse ride. Sadly, mine was. The planned equestrian activities also had to be cancelled. On the plus side that left time to go to Santa Fe, whose narrow streets and clogged-up traffic suddenly reminded me of home. The Indians peddling tacky souvenirs to tourists were an unexpected touch, however.

Despite losing some items from the itinerary Albuquerque was enjoyable. I received great hospitality from CJ and his family and after the previous week’s activities a slow end to my trip was just the ticket. After all the distance I’d covered and the stuff I’d got up to I was ready for a holiday. Good thing I had another week at the Phoenix office to come.

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