28 February-6 March 2015 Texas - Houston area

Saturday 28th Feb

Our Amazon goods have arrived except for one picnic chair - there is always one - and we have decided to move further south to Houston. Livingston is very rural and we need to finish stocking up the RV, therefore we have decided to move further south. Forty miles west of Houston is a place called Katy where there are plenty of large stores, a shopping Mall and most importantly a Camping World shop. The nearest RV park is at Brookshire about seven miles further west along the Interstate 10. Our route was on US-59 via Cleveland and passing Humble and then onto the Houston inner ring road or loop as they say here and this was where things went wrong. Spaghetti Junction eat your heart out. Houston has flyovers to end all flyovers, low ones, very high ones and crisscrossing everywhere. Traffic was heavy on the multi lane highways, then we hit road works and before we knew it we had missed our turn off to Katy. The SatNav did not have the new road system on board. We carried on around the ring road waiting for the SatNav to find it's way, eventually we ended up on the outer 'loop' and this had toll roads. We spent most of the time avoiding the pre paid toll lanes and listening to the SatNav telling us to leave the motorway on the approach to every exit. We thought if we kept going around long enough we would come to the I-10 west and eventually we did. The Houston West RV park was located between the I-10 and the small railway town of Brookshire.

Sunday 1st March

We hit Katy Mills shopping mall this morning and found there was a large Pro Bass Outdoor World Shop on the site. We first came across these shops in Florida and they are more of an experience than a shop. Everything you could want for huntin', shootin', fishin', boatin', campin' and more. They have an incredible amount of stock of guns, fishing poles and outside the shop boats sitting in the car park ready to buy. It is just fascinating to walk around and can keep you occupied for hours. I always feel like I have been to a theme park when I walk out. Had lunch at Denny's Diner a place we remember from our last visit to Texas back in the 1980's. This chain has been going since the 50's when it started in California as Danny's Donuts.

Monday 2nd March

Today we went into Camping World and bought the BBQ we wanted, a Weber Q2000 with trolley stand. At last we can have a Barbie, if the weather allows. For lunch today we had TexMex at a lovely restaurant called Jimmy Changas, fish taco dinner, delicious.

Tuesday 3rd March

More shopping today. In the evening we went to the Wildcatter Saloon. We saw a sign for this place yesterday near Camping World on the frontage road that runs along the I-10. It was dark when we reached the turn off which was down a dark potholed track. As we crept along gingerly thinking it can't be here there are no lights, the track petered out at a small bridge with a large model chicken positioned to the side of the entrance. We turned the car around and saw two buildings and a few cars parked and then spotted a side door that led into the bar. We were greeted with big smiles and a welcome from the bar staff. There were a few people in the bar and it sounded like a good time was being had by all. The bar reminded us of Turkey Creek back in Alverado, lively, friendly and full of locals. Until three years ago the Wildcatter had been called the Bryant Ice House and was primarily a biker bar. A new owner bought it and a television network approached him to feature the bar in a television series called Bar Rescue where a team make recommendations on how to improve it whilst also remodelling and making changes. The bar has a new menu which is served from an outside food truck, and Wildcatter is now apparently much more of a neighbourhood bar. Well we liked it and we had a good chat with Alan one of the staff there. He explained about the changes to the bar and how it had reopened. We told him we were heading towards the Gulf coast next week and he advised us where to go. The Houston Rodeo was on that week and he also told us when to go and what to see. Yet again, we had a plate of fantastic waffle style Nachos. We left promising to come back in on Friday to see the live band.

Wednesday 4th March

Ellie's birthday. At this site we have decent wifi most of the time for a change. I managed to get through to Simon, Nin and Ellie on FaceTime they were in the Bank Resturant, Brindley Place celebrating Ellie's birthday. It was great to speak to them and see their faces.

Thursday 5th March

Off to Rodeo Houston. This is an annual event held at the NRG stadium in Houston.

The stadium is a cross between the NEC and the NIA with an arena, centre, park and stadium. There are livestock and horse shows, ranching and wildlife events, a carnival area and in the evening the stadium hosts the rodeo followed by a concert. On top of that, lots of outlets selling western clothes and of course all kinds of food. It was very busy but well organised, it was a shame that it was such a cold day. At 6pm we made our way to the stadium to find our seat ready for the rodeo. Our seat was second row from the front, right by the gates where the animals are released into the arena. The stadium holds over 70 thousand people and we had purchased our tickets on arrival and some how managed to get second row seats with a fantastic view. The show started with a horse and rider parade and singing of the national anthem by a soloist. Then the rodeo started. There was tie-down roping, bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, bull riding and a calf scramble. Wow, it was a fast furious and exciting two hours. All the different disciples were championship events and we saw some of the top competitors in the rodeo business perform and they are very skilled at what they do. Some of the bull and bronc riding is incredible. How the riders do not break their backs I don't know, I was concerned about the animals, particularly the roping of the calves which is done at tremendous speed in a matter of seconds because time counts. But once released they trot off as if nothing has happened and quite happily go back behind the open corral gates. After the rodeo finished the mobile stage was brought on and set up for the concert which featured Miranda Lambert who is a country music star from Texas. She was joined for a couple of songs by another successful local country singer called Rae Lynn. It was a really good show and of course Miranda being a local girl, the crowd loved it. On our way out of the stadium we stopped to take some pictures when a guy looking splendid in a stetson hat asked if we would like him to take a shot of the two of us. We got talking and it turned out he had recently been to England as a guest of Aston Martin and had been to Millbrook track. He told us where to go for good beer and good wine in Houston and we had a really nice chat. It was as if we had known each other for years. On our way back to the car park we contemplated the afternoon and evening we had just had at this marvellous event. A show, a top class rodeo and a concert with excellent seats all for 25 dollars each, outstanding! Now we had to face the ride back to Brookshire through Houston in all the traffic.

Friday 6th March

Back to the Wildcatter Saloon to see the band. We arrived about 7.30 and it was much busier than Tuesday. We walked into the bar past the food truck, noticing a building opposite which turned out to be the pool hall. We ordered food and waited for the band which Alan said should have started at 7.30. He went to investigate and it seemed that they were there but they have now disappeared. It was a mystery that we never heard the end of, because they were still missing when we left.