Houston was not originally a circled destination on my Amazing Adventure map. However, when I informed my YMCA class earlier this Spring that I would be leaving Louisville in June to travel the country, kick ass class members and dear friends Paula and Dustin told me that they were relocating to Houston in the summer. Paula told me if I didn’t stop in Houston she’d hunt me down!
So, after my San Antonio Foodapalooza, I backtracked east to Houston early Saturday morning. It’s interesting to note, (yet painful at the time), that there are no Starbucks on Interstate 10 between San Antonio and Houston. I made the three and a half hour trip without the assistance of caffeine. That’s alright, I’m almost getting used to making it through a day without it. Paula and Dustin’s house is quickly and easily accessible off of I-10, and I arrived a little bit after 1pm. Although I’ve been seeing many old friends along my adventure, I miss my friends in Louisville intensely. I cannot describe how wonderful it was to see Paula walk down to greet me and the feeling I had seeing one of my beloved YMCA peeps. The afternoon was spent catching up, touring their beautiful home, being introduced to their two HUGE Maine coon cats, Lewis and Blue, and waiting for a curiously difficult and lengthy internet installation. We also discovered a FABULOUS gourmet food and liquor store, Specs, where we picked up a few yummy items for cocktails and dinner. We returned back to the house to begin the social hour. Paula mixed a mean and tasty dirty martini with some delicious blue cheese and anchovey stuffed olives. I pretty much was in heaven with that and a few appetizers.
Paula whipped up a fantastic dinner of bacon-wrapped shrimp and scallops along with a heirloom cherry tomato salad simply marinated in balsamic vinegar. Dustin walked in shortly thereafter, fresh off his plane. We gave each other a big bear hug and then sat down to dinner. Afterwards, we eagerly made plans for the next morning, which would include an Alise-inspired Cardio Power workout!
The morning dawned beautiful, hot and humid. We fortified ourselves with some coffee and tea, donned our workout clothes, grabbed some water and dumbbells, and made the short trip to Memorial Park. We found a little shaded spot under a tree, threw our dumbbells to the ground, and started a little warmup in preparation of our workout. Dustin used 35# dumbbells, Paula and I used 20# dumbbells.
As if that weren’t enough, Dustin suggested that we walk around the entire 3 mile loop of the park. In the 90 degree heat. And humidity. With no clouds or any other shade. Ugh! We gamely made it around, stopping only once to try a few pullups on an available bar. Oh, good times!
I thought that we all deserved a little treat. So on the way home from the park, we just happened to pass a local doughnut shop that looked as if it might have something good inside. Why not! We brought those delightful treats home and then had a little decent protein along with them. Seriously, I was a little dizzy from the heat and just needed a little sugar to perk me up. Don’t judge me.
After that we got all cleaned up. Dustin was lucky that he would be going out with the two prettiest ladies in Houston. We piled into the car, headed off for the Galleria and spent about an hour and a half window shopping all the amazing high end stores, watching people ice skate on the rink on the lower level, and helping Dustin buy himself a pair of sporty driving moccasins. Mid-afternoon we headed off in search of an adult beverage, and pulled up in front of Canyon Cafe just as the final game of the World Cup entered into bonus time. We sat at a table and Dustin brought me and Paula a specialty of the house: a BadAss Country Iced Tea. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is aptly named.
We were in for a treat next, thanks to my dear friend Joe Mechavich, who suggested that if in Houston, I must go to Hugo’s. We arrived and were seated in a lovely bright table, and our experience began. First up was a fabulous margarita with an appropriate amount of salt on the rim. We took a look at the appetizers and ordered some little tacquitos, and then I was shocked as Paula ordered grasshoppers! I was eager to try my first insect ever. Folks, I have to tell you, they were amazing. They were pan sauteed, crispy, nutty and tasty! Think of the protein!
Our dinners did not disappoint. I debated between carnitas, baby pig, and pork shoulder with mashed plantains and plum sauce. Our server steered me to the shoulder, and I was amazed at how tender and moist it was. Paula went with the soft shell crab with a little corn pudding that was out of this world, and Dustin enjoyed the lamb. I’m pretty sure we licked our plates clean.
Dessert was next. MoJo had suggested that I try the hot chocolate. Paula went with the bread pudding, and Dustin had two scoops of some amazing cinnamon-chocolate ice cream. Demolition of dessert completed.
Monday morning Paula had to go in to work and left around 9. Dustin and I were charged with a few tasks: shopping at Costco, checking out a couple of Crossfit possibilities for Paula, making up a workout for later, and taking out the smelly garbage. Dustin investigated some gym possibilities in advance as the cats assisted.
Trips to Costco are always fun. But trips to prospective crossfit gyms are more fun! We scoped out a little spot, Crossfit TSC, and then Crossfit 1526. We had lunch at a bright little sandwich shop close to Paula’s office, and she walked over and then we headed to check out the construction on the assisted living facility she was going to be overlooking. Then we headed back home. Paula followed shortly thereafter and we threw on our workout clothes and headed to Memorial Park one more time. Thank goodness it was cloudy and the late afternoon sun was tempered a bit. This evening’s workout was all bodyweight: Ten rounds:5 pushups/10 situps/5 burpees/10 airsquats/50 yard sprint/50 yard recovery. I thought about all my YMCA peeps in my class as we cranked this one out!
After that butt-kicking, we went back to the house, cleaned ourselves up, and Paula prepared a simple but fantastic meal of some stuffed peppers and a baby kale salad mixed with the marinated heirloom cherry tomatoes from Saturday night. After dinner she pulled out some dessert options that were truly evil.
As I get further into my journey, I continue to be grateful for my friends who open their homes to me and welcome me with open arms. Paula and Dustin have only been in my life for a short time, but the effect they have had on me is huge. It is absolutely true that what you put out to the universe, you get back.
Paula has charged me with an assignment for the remainder of my adventure: What Would Alise Do. I”m supposed to come up with a workout every day. Whoo boy, this is gonna be hard!