One of my first posts here on Three Ladies and Their Babies was about my awesome home state of Kentucky and how much it has to offer. I have spent a lot of time over the past year and a half missing “home”, but it hit me like a brick last weekend that not only am I enjoying Colin’s job and our new way of life here in Texas, but I am truly starting to enjoy being here. For the longest time, I lamented the fact that even though the house we live in felt like home, I just didn’t feel at home here in Houston. Lately, however, this has started to change. It has been a slow progression and it certainly didn’t help that I was pregnant during my first summer here (100 degrees with 100% humidity is not how you want to spend the day when you’re hugely pregnant AND have a two year old), but slowly, Houston has become home to me. In celebration of this newfound realization, I decided to make a list of the things I’ve found that I love about Texas.
1. BBQ – Growing up, grilling out or barbecuing meant hamburgers and hot dogs to me. Maybe there would be a little chicken, too. And I loved those events. It always meant it was summer, when the days were long and the food was delicious. Here, however, barbecue is a completely different animal. Early last summer, we were invited to a barbecue in our neighborhood. Now I knew that Texans prided themselves on their barbecues, but I had pictures in my head of Memphis style ribs and sausages. Boy was I surprised. And pleasantly so! Having a barbecue here means there’s going to be a lot of meat. There were no hamburgers or hot dogs, but there was most definitely good food: chicken prepared forty different ways (some of it stuffed with cheese…so good), sausages that were REALLY tasty (I never really liked them before), ribs, shrimp, pulled pork, and brisket (Oh my God, the brisket…). I’ve since learned that this is pretty standard fare around here, whether you’re at a BBQ restaurant or in someone’s back yard. And they all know how to do it right. Even those places that are known for only having average barbecue are good. And for someone who has never really been that fond of the meat portion of dinner, let me just say, I am now in love with brisket. Seriously. I can’t say enough about the brisket.
2. Galveston – When we moved here, we knew we were going to be an hour to an hour and a half away from the beach. This excited us. Being landlocked my entire life, the closest beach was at least 11 hours away. We’ve been to Galveston six times since we’ve lived here and I always love going. I’ve heard from some of the locals that it isn’t great because the water isn’t the beautiful blue-green associated with more exotic places, but let me tell you, it’s a beach. It’s warm and there is plenty of sand and sun. Good enough for me! Not to mention, should we ever decide to take a cruise, a number of them leave from Galveston!
3. Port Aransas – Along those same lines, about 3 hours from our house is Port Aransas. This little place is so charming that I almost hate to talk about it for fear that tourists will catch on and ruin it. It’s a great little ocean town that seems to have avoided all of the tourist attractions that usually come with a beach community. Aside from a few large swim and surf shops, it really doesn’t cater that much to tourist traffic. Maybe it’s the fact that it is only accessible by ferry, which in itself is kind of cool. We all loved driving onto the boat and then watching the seagulls and pelicans during the ten minute ride to the island. We were also able to see dolphins on the ferry ride to the island our first day. The locally owned restaurants are spectacular and there’s this great little candy shop that makes you feel like you just stepped back about 60 years. You can also drive and park on the beach, which is really awesome if you have young kids in tow that require a lot of gear for a day on the beach. This place is truly a gem!
4. February and March – I’m going to be honest, the weather here depresses me around Christmas time when it’s still in the low to mid 60’s. My hands should be numb when I’m putting up our Christmas lights. And summer feels like you’re in a boiler. But come February and March, when so many people are just ready for winter to be over, Houston really starts to feel nice. There is no humidity and the temperature in the afternoon gets up into the mid 70’s. It’s perfect weather. It doesn’t last too long before the days get really steamy, but I’ve learned to appreciate it. Which brings me to my next point…
5. Zoo and Other Outdoor Activities – If you love the zoo, the weather is perfect! We have annual passes and with little ones, the zoo is a great way to pass a Saturday morning. With the weather staying relatively warm all year long, there are very few days when going to the zoo is out of the question. Even in the summer, if you go early or late enough in the day, it’s great. We really get our money’s worth out of those passes! The same can be said for going to the park and having picnics. We live three houses down from our neighborhood park and we are there a LOT! At least four days out of the week, Ian asks to go. Luckily, it’s a great way to let him run off some energy and the weather is usually agreeable.
6. Shopping – Outside of the holiday season, I’m not typically a huge shopper. I have to say, though, that a place like Houston offers such a wide array of options that I find myself wanting to shop. Growing up, we had to drive thirty minutes just to get to Wal-Mart. Here, there is literally nothing you could want that you cannot find within an hour drive. Living in a city as large as Houston does sometimes come with its drawbacks (traffic, smog, etc), but it is so nice to have so many amenities nearby!
7. The People – Last, but not least, the people here are really great. I come from an area that is very warm and inviting, where people will invite you into their homes for dinner and ask you to sit on the porch with them for a while afterward. Houstonians are very similar. From the moment we got here I noticed it. In fact, the very first night we stayed in our house, I had to go to Kroger to get some things and I noticed that people were talking to me in the aisles as I was finding my groceries. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the fact that people are willing to chat and be courteous is very nice. The second night we were here, one of my neighbors came by with chocolate chip cookies to welcome us to the neighborhood. Another neighbor was quick to bring dinner one night after I had Declan because she knew that all of our family had gone home and I could probably use a break. We have been welcomed with open arms into our community. From the very beginning, Ian was invited to play with the neighborhood kids and everyone was quick to tell us all of the great local things that we needed to see and do. One friend has even made it her mission to make sure I try all of the great local restaurants, including Bob’s Taco Stand, which was once featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive Ins and Dives!
I’m sure that the longer I’m here, the longer this list is going to get. For now, though, I’m very thankful to be enjoying my new home. It was daunting at first, but it’s a move I’m glad we made and I look forward to raising my family here. I still consider myself a Kentuckian, but it doesn’t feel too bad to hear myself referred to as a Texan anymoren. 🙂