Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Sunday brought more family to Galveston. My brother and niece came from NYC, Mom from upstate NY was already here, another brother from Oakland, CA, one nephew from Houston with his girfriend and another nephew fromHouston with his wife and daughter. We had one cancellation, my step-sister and her husband were snowbound in Denver because of the big blizzard and their flight was cancelled.

It was a blustery day. My daughter and I took a walk about ten blocks to the Gulf of Mexico. The wind had whipped up the surf and was blowing pretty hard. Not too many people were out. We enjoyed the architecture of the old homes in the historic district. When we got back to the house it was a very active scene with the preparation for a Christmas Eve party my sister and brother -in -law were having.

MY NYC brother, his daughter, my two kids and I decided to explore the local Target for last minute gifts and stocking stuffers. We drove down Broadway to and had an uneventful shopping experience. The cashiers were very friendly. One thing I noticed was the vast number of old Chevy Suburbans driving around. I guess cars last longer down here because they don't rust like they do in the Northeast.

Once we were back at the house there was constant movement of family in and out of the kitchen, bathrooms and rotation of turns at the computer for internet surfing and e-mailing. We were checking blogs, My Space and the weather back home. Food was served and drinks were flowing. Adults were having interesting but seemingly fragmented conversations while the kids had staked their claim to the big screen TV with surround sound. As the clock progressed towards evening the preparations for the party hastened.

The party was attended by all the family members that were in town and by many friends of my borther in law and sister. Several were members of the faculty at Texas A & M - Galveston. I think that most of the sceince department were at the party. Plus there was a Russian Post-Doctoral student that wandered around clutching his translation books, he did not appear to speak any English, but he smiled alot. The party wound down around 9:30 and some of us got ready to go to the historical Trinity Episcopal Church for the Christmas Eve Service.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Take Me Back To Texas

Christmas in Texas (Chaper1, The trip down)

My wife, two children and I left for Texas on Saturday December 23. Thinking that the airport would be crowded we left at 11:00 AM. It was unusually light traffic going into Boston and it only took 45 minutes. The there was a long line to check-in at American, so we moved over to self-service. In ten minutes we had our boarding passes and our bags checked. Now it was off to security, where we figured there would be a long line. Nope, after removing belts, shoes, change, and putting them in the grey bins we were done with that in another 15 minutes. Now we had 2 hours to wait. The upside was we never felt the anxiety of missing the flight and we had time to eat and read magazines.

The flight to Dallas was overbooked and the airline was looking for 13 people willing to give up therie seats. I would not have wanted the be the person to tell someone that they were denied boarding a flight they had paid for. There was one poor guy that had been trying to get on a flight to Dallas since 5:30 AM. The airline had flown him to Boston to fix something and now he couldn't get a flight home. He didn't make it on to our flight, I hope he got on a later one. The flight to Dallas was uneventful, I read a book about the Dustbowl and depopulation of the southwestern plains in the 1930's and then watched episodes of the Family Guy with my son. That is one pretty strange cartoon. After that we watched most of the movie 50 First Dates, there are some pretty funny scenes in that one. I think our laughing may have bothered the couple in front of us, but they spent a lot of the flight making out, so there were involved in themselves quite intimately.

We landed in Dallas and took the sky train over to terminal D found our gate and were ready for the last leg to Houston. Then our gate was changed and the flight was delayed about two hours. No crew. This gave us plenty of time to eat and explore the shops. It seems that they have made this terminal upscale so I was disappointed that there were not tons of tacky Don't Mess With Texas t-shirts and keychains available.

We finally boarded for the 30 minute flight to Houston. We were barely in the air and then onto our decent and final approach. Taxi, deplane and heading to baggage claim. Waiting at the exit of the secure area was my brother from Oakland, while my Texas brother in law was posted at baggage claim. Baggage claim is always fun, elbowing people out of the way so you can grab a suitcase that you think might be yours. My brother offers to help, "What color is your luggage?" Black, just like 400 others. Mine has a big swatch of duct tape by the handle with our last name on it in bold magic marker. So we get all out stuff and off to the minivan. Six people, four big suitcases, carry on luggage and an acoustic guitar in a hard case. Cram it all in, and off to Galveston in the rain. Stop to rearrange the luggage so the driver can see out the rear view mirror. Then a white knuckle drive down 45 to the coast. I won't describe the whole trip, but my brother in laws driving scares me, and it isn't because of speed. His driving reminds me of the first time I took my daughter out on her learners permit.

We make it to Galveston at 12:30 AM the 24th. Fourteen and 1/2 hours New Hampshire to Galveston. Not bad, just think how long it would have taken 100 years ago.