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Houston

29°45' 38" N 95°22' 11" W Houston

Dec 3, 2014  –  by Maeva

The Texan way of life continued as we reached the city to meet with PG, a friend from France who is currently living and working there. He had warned us: “You know in Houston, it’s mostly business, there’s not much to do, mostly partying.” Well that’s no problem! We reached the city in the gloomiest weather before it started pouring and we were really grateful that PG kindly let us crash in his living room! After a few Coronas at his place, we headed to a bar catching the most epic Uber ride. The driver was completely hyper, couldn’t stop laughing, and was all like “Oh you know where the bar is! You’ve been going there a lot huh! They know you there now hey! Hey, your buddy’s got a girl where is yours?” All between giant bursts of laugh, it was hilarious. We enjoyed some of the million (almost) beers on tap the bar features, chatted and played darts.  We decided to play 110 as it’s supposed to be the easiest way. Steph went first, threw his very first dart of the game and hit the perfect middle: bullseye. PG was like: “Are you serious right now?!” Lesson of the day: don’t play aiming games with Steph. In the end PG won the first two rounds, Steph the last three and I zero – no comment. We then decided to move on to another bar to meet some of friends, but the drinks were a little strong so we called in a night soon after! We slept on a thin leather sofa that was both cold and uncomfortable – ha, we had been warned by PG and his roommate but we thought we could endure anything at this point. However, it sure felt amazing to be in a warm apartment while it was freezing and pouring rain outside.

The next day, the weather hadn’t improved much so we lazily enjoyed some breakfast muffins and chilled around. We were also thrilled to have finally received the package from our friends Les Crapules. Luckily there were three T-shirts, all beautifully designed by Crapules artist Ambroise. So we put them on right away for the cheesiest photo you’ve ever seen. Admire below:

the three Crapules
the three Crapules

What do Texan people do on a rainy Sunday afternoon with their families? Why of course, they go to the shooting range! We jumped in the car with PG and his roommate and drove there eagerly. I had never shot a gun before and Steph had only shot with a rifle in Oregon (to shoot discs) as in that state you can’t use a gun if you don’t have a gun and a licence. It seems more reasonable, but apparently in Texas you can do whatever the hell you want. So we just entered the shooting range, looked around the shop full of guns and saw a promotion on hand grenades (wtf?!). Then we just gave our passports, picked our guns, snapped some goggles on and went to the booths. Just – like – that.  PG and Mika had already been here, so they taught us the basics – thank god. It is a little freaky to think that in that room, everyone has a killing machine in their hands and most people actually bring their own weapon. As French people, we still couldn’t wrap our heads around the fact that people own guns in their homes. This feeling grew even bigger when we got to shoot for the first time! The strength of the bullet as you pull the trigger is insane. It was quite surreal to play badass with our guns and our Crapules t-shirts, that’s for sure! But again, very much a culture shock, especially as we would see kids enter with their parents…

Steph and PG at the shooting range
Steph and PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
Maeva thinks she's Lara Croft
Maeva thinks she’s Lara Croft
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph shooting a gun
Steph shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun

We then had a well deserved break back at the apartment and as the weather wasn’t getting any better, we thought it was ideal for a sunday night movie. After an unfair vote (2 boys vs 1 girl), we ended up watching Nightcrawler. Before the movie started, the boys couldn’t resist playing games to win prizes. PG tried to catch a minion and then Steph tried to win an iPad. Didn’t work out too well, but it sure was a good laugh! The movie was insanely good, mainly thanks to the crazy performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. No spoilers, only one word of a advice: go see it!

The next day was a bit of a fail, as we emerged late and then spent the whole day driving around to find a hard drive for Steph. Who would have thought it would be so complicated? Only after two Walmarts and two Best Buy’s were we able to finally find one. Apparently, people buy lots in Texas… Luckily, we made up for the shitty day with a very very cool evening: a Methodman and Redman concert. Yes, that’s right. Okay, I’ll be totally honest with you I didn’t who they were but the boys sure did as they spent their teenage hood listening to their songs! We first had some beers and food at the bar, with the most annoying waitress in the entire world. You know the one who doesn’t let you enjoy your drink or conversation for more than 5mn and then gives you the wrong price for a beer and tells you it’s actually $3 more expensive – once you’re already halfway done drinking it. Anyhow, we finally made it to the “Smokers Club Tour” concert. They’re a bunch of rappers touring together and well, promoting the stoned way of life! In the concert room, one person out of two was smoking weed, which really surprised us because it’s illegal in Texas and you actually risk prison for it! Oh well, it didn’t seem to bother the crowd or the rappers themselves at all! The concert got really fun and B-Real (singer of Cypress Hill) stepped on stage and rocked it. Steph and PG didn’t know he was going to be there so it was a pretty awesome surprise! And then, the final act was Redman and Methodman, who totally killed it. They are definitely showmen, making the crowd participate in every song and dancing like crazy! It was by far the best way to finish our epic american experience in Houston with PG!

The next day it was time for goodbyes as we had to take the road to New Orleans. But not without stopping at a Texan barbecue on our way, of course! PG, a million thanks once again, we had a blast and you were a perfect host. Looking forward to returning the favour!

Texan barbecue
Texan barbecue

Hello Cowboy

30°16' 2" N 97°44' 35" W Austin

Nov 26, 2014  –  by Maeva

When we looked up the directions from Moab to Austin, Google Maps said it would take 19 hours. Okay then… The road was actually a little scary that evening because it was extremely dark, a single lane in the middle of nowhere with the speed limit of 75mph (120km/h.) We were definitely afraid of animals crossing the road so we were constantly on the lookout for movement ahead of us. We stopped to sleep at a Walmart in Albuquerque (New Mexico) and we woke up really early and really cold. There was snow on the road as we kept going and when we decided to check the temperature, we realized it was -14 degrees (7F). There had been no transition for us, we had gone straight from summer to winter in a split second!

Snow on the road to Austin
Snow on the road to Austin

After a day of non stop driving, we finally arrived in Austin in the evening. Too tired to do anything, it was Happy Meal and straight to sleep! Just like the kids. The next day, we went to the outlet store in the morning and instantly caught up on our lack of shopping over the past 2 months! North Face, Nike, Adidas at crazy prices, say no more! Once we were done, we were obviously starving. We first drove to the famous Franklin’s Barbecue. Obviously they were sold out. They open at 11am and are so popular that people show up at 8am to start lining up. They wait up to 4 hours in order to get to eat there. The girl who explained this to us said that the wait was part of the experience: “Some people come with camping chairs, blankets, games. It’s almost like camping!” Okay… When have we ever waited 4 hours outside in the cold to eat? Never.

We then picked a Tex-Mex location that had good reviews and where we would actually be able to eat right away! We ended up at El Rancho’s (check) in a cute hacienda like restaurant. You know the saying that everything is bigger in Texas? Well it’s true when it comes to food! We found ourselves with a huge amount of food on the table, everything looking more delicious than the other. After 3 bites I think we were already full, but the fajitas that we got to make ourselves from meat still burning on the plate were just too delicious to stop. When we were officially full (and I was half asleep on the table), we got the rest in a box to go.

Matt's Famous El Rancho Austin
Matt’s Famous El Rancho Austin

It was then night time and a Friday night, so we knew we had to do what a real Texan cowboy would do to go out. We went to Broken Spoke, a family owned bar celebrating their 50th anniversary. Entering this place was like entering a new dimension: cowboys, girls wearing santiags, very very old school haircuts (the ones you wouldn’t think are even still possible to get today) and a Texan cowboy singing country music and yodeling at the same time. I was still in a bit of a food coma so I asked the old lady at the bar for a coffee, to which she replied with a stunned expression on her face: “You want coffee?! There’s the beer menu here!” In the bar, there was a cool room called the Tourist Trap, which obviously lured us in. It is a collection of photos of the owner with all the celebrities that visited this bar from Clint Eastwood to Tarantino to Robert Rodriguez to Robert Duvall. 50 years in business, 50 years of photos. We also got to see two-step dance lessons given at the back as youngsters arrived for a dance night dressed in their boots, cowboy hats and mini skirts! I even got to take a photo with the cowboy owner, please admire the diamonds on his shirt.

Broken Spoke
Broken Spoke
Clint Eastwood photo at the Broken Spoke
Clint Eastwood photo at the Broken Spoke
Dolly Parton photo at the Broken Spoke
Dolly Parton photo at the Broken Spoke

Maeva and the cowboy owner of Broken Spoke

It was still relatively early in the evening so we decided to move to another typical Austin location for a night out: Dirty 6th. Now, this one is a little less old fashioned and gathers all the young people of Austin into one street full of bars. We started with Buffalo Billiards to play some pool. Obviously, I lost – in my defence, Steph has practiced many times and is too mathematical to be beaten. We then randomly picked another bar for a few drinks. There was live music from a super friendly guy named Joe Vega who could play a huge list of songs upon request, right there with his guitar and microphone. Steph picked “Escape (Pina Colada)” as we’ve been listening to it a lot from our Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. It was lots of fun, especially as we got to watch a few birthday girls who had had a few too many drinks dancing in the middle.

The next morning, we passed by in front of Franklin’s to see if people were really THAT motivated for barbecues. And it turns out they are! It was early on a Saturday morning, it was raining, it was cold and a huge huge line was just waiting outside the restaurant… O-kay. We went to Spider House Cafe instead for a warm drink in a warm and cozy coffee shop. With an eclectic decor, a hipster setting and lots of vintage furniture, the place is perfect for good coffee and good conversation. You can never get enough of artsy and kind of weird places with a unique charm like this one!

Franklin's barbecue Austin
Franklin’s barbecue Austin
Cool graffiti in Austin
Cool graffiti in Austin
Spider House Cafe
Spider House Cafe