THAT friends, is President Lincolns hair. An actual sample is on display at the Funeral History Museum in Houston- and we saw it.

Oh yeah! we partied on New Years Eve in Houston: 4 Redbox movies, 2 bottles of sparkling cider (with fancy glasses), party poppers and finger foods. Ah the decadence. Didn't even have to wear a shirt if we didn't want to.

We arrived in Houston on New Year’s Eve, and everyone in the bus made the same remark when we finally came to a stop: it looks the same as the last big city we were in, and the one before that and the one before that. After a couple of days here, we know that generally, big cities have the same stores, highway off ramps, and parking problems, although every one of them is trying to be different. Actually, city managers and mayors: your cities have generally lost their character and have all adopted the same personality by permitting development without guidance. Home Depot one block from Lowe’s, Sam’s Club across the boulevard from Costco, Applebee’s sharing a parking lot with McDonalds and etc etc etc. It is in part that pattern that is going to steer us away from big cities and toward small towns, where the demand for the national franchise plan hasn’t (yet) developed. The cities that raise eyebrows initially by controlling development stand out with their personalities, and the gamble for them if that personality is in favor, or will remain in favor… Choose wisely if you take a stand- but be prepared to soar to success if the people approve.

This bridge, in the center of the city action is the site of a nightly bat flight. They say that the size of the concrete expansion gaps make it ideal for bats to sleep in, and fly by the tens of thousands into the night air. We checked it out on a cool night (about 55 deg), so they weren't wild... When we took a peek under the bridge (despite the signs about poop) we could see thousands of bats flying back and forth below the bridge- very active and noisy. Cool.

No disrespect intended, Houston (since we know that You Don’t Mess With Texas), but you have driven the point home that big cities are generally the same, and it doesn’t help your case that your post office folks are 97% boobs. Allow me to elaborate: First off- Steve, at the Sam Houston Finance Station (Post Office on San Jacinto) is an intelligent, kind PO veteran of 30+ years that is concerned about customers. He is the only one we’ve run across in the Houston PO system so far that is though. Let’s start back 10 days ago- I called a post office, the downtown Houston location at 401 Franklin, to ask what address I could have General Delivery mail sent to. You see, not every post office will accept G/D mail anymore. Most cities have designated a single location, or set of locations that will provide this service- apparently being trimmed from the PO list of services. So the lady that answered my call (and not at the 800 number) replied that I could send it to that address, that I should not forget to include GENERAL DELIVERY on the address, and remember my photo ID when I came in for it. Well, she was wrong- and so far it’s only cost me 3 extra days in Houston at an RV park that is not free. Wah wah wah, I know, sorry story, huh? I’m explaining why we’re still here in Anytown America, when we’re really ready to move on. I figured out that the first lady was wrong when I arrived at the downtown post office- amid construction and street closures and big city parking and a post office line and then the man at the counter gruffly informed me that I was wrong. “General Delivery doesn’t come to this post office. It goes to the old post office downtown ONLY. If my mail was sent here to Franklin Street, it might get sent back, or it might get sent to the other post office” - he didn’t know. “Will my tracking number on Priority Mail help us find it?” I asked? “Nope.” (Here’s a big fat post office flaw: ) The tracking number isn’t scanned until it gets somewhere- not at stages of delivery like UPS (our new preferred, competent shipper). So here we sit. I did try to pick up our mail at the other post office, after passing through a metal detector and speaking to an irritated gal that was checking her iPhone as we spoke and she looked for our mail- who was able to at least provide 1 word answers to my questions including compliments about the beautiful architecture of this old wood clad post office- she had surrendered her personality some time ago it seemed. At least she heard my plea for a phone number to call and check the status of our mail the next day- which is where I spoke with the man that singlehandedly composes the kind element of the Houston postal system: Steve. He explained what may have happened to the package, explained what I might try to find it, and commiserated with me about not being able to put my hands on it- despite the Post Office website predicting delivery- 2 days ago on Monday. So, we’ll move out of here tomorrow (actually left after it didn’t show on FRIDAY), and ask that it be returned to sender. . . . and we’ll never deliver our mail to another big city post office. 

Nice streetcamping spot on the weekend, adjacent to the Health Museum- meters not enforced from 6pm Sat through 7am Monday. Free WiFi, lots of street action. Gotta watch the top of the 13.5' bus when driving under the mature deciduous trees, whose thick branches hang low.

It goes to show that one person’s small mistake (first lady’s bad info on the phone) can have an expensive hassle fraught ripple effect. And it showed clearly how the post office can pass the buck around enough that no one takes responsibility for their problems. (The man at the Franklin post office blamed it on the “800 line people” to start with even though I had called the local number to his post office. Sheesh.

When riding the pedal boats at Houston's Hermann Park, make sure that the child that talked you into going over to the fountain in the center of the lake is sitting upwind, to shield you from that chilly lake water. $8 for 30 minutes. Plenty of time to see the entire shore.

We found a real winner at the PPL RV Superstore this week- a clear waste water extension. This little beauty will let us see what's happening in the opaque hose, to know when things are cleared out. What a relief to know if we're getting it cleaned out right (fellow RVers will appreciate this).

Houston did provide some cultural and entertainment experience for us, as well as a Hollister Clothing store, and a chance for these mountain kids to see a shopping mall with an ice rink inside! That Galleria Mall is chock full of great shops.

As we rolled out of Houston into the night toward Louisiana, Meila was working her tooth loose. She has lost 2 so far on Bussie.