Thursday, November 12, 2015

Visit to USA 2015 / Part 4

Eating out has always been part of our USA adventure.
Fast food outlets through the chains to up market restaurants are always on our list.
Breakfast at Perkins.
Coffee at Caribou  (Starbucks eat your heart out!) and Coffea Roasterie.
Lunch at Culvers, Cubby's and Backyard Grill (BBQ!).
Mexican at Chipotle, Chevy's and Guadalajara.
The Pheasant at Brookings was added to our list this year.
Mom's 75th birthday celebration lunch at Minervas was lovely.
And our usual Sioux Falls last night date night at Foleys was as good as ever.
I buy wine from a few places while in the area. I have to say that the selection of Australian wine was pretty disappointing this time round. Obviously the strong $A has affected imports at the cheaper end of the market which (unfortunately) seems to be 'our' niche.
But that didn't stop us enjoying a lot of Spanish, Italian and New Zealand as well as local west coast wine.
The Pinots from Oregon and Cabernets from Washington were very good. The Central Coast AVA (south from San Francisco) also had some interesting reds. The Santa Maria Valley Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir was a highlight.
Soon the three weeks in SD was up and we were heading to Houston, Texas, for the 2015 International Quilt Festival (see separate post).
The co driver had a quilt, a second prize winner, hanging there.
We have flown some pretty small planes in and out of South Dakota over the years eg.CRJs and EMBs but this year the Bombardier Q400 to Denver took the cake. Surprisingly, it was quite comfortable although a little more noisy than a jet.
Houston had suffered the remnants of Hurricane Patricia in the few days before we arrived. Over 500mm of rain had caused flooding and property damage.
The bad weather wasn't ready to quit while we were there. It was quite a hairy landing coming into George Bush Intercontinental (IAH). Severe thunder storms our first night caused at least seven tornadoes to touch down resulting in more flooding and more damage.
We met up with a couple of the co driver's quilting Facebook friends from Chicago. They were great fun and the three ladies prowled around the quilt show for a solid two days.
The Hilton Americas is a huge 1200 room hotel connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center. With the bad weather they were suffering staff shortages and an increased number guests 'staying in' during the evenings. The bars and restaurants were overflowing but they coped amazingly well. One of the best hotels we have stayed in.
Sadly Australia did not win the Rugby World Cup. New Zealand, as always, was just too good. Bizarrely while standing in line for the hotel restaurant the night of the match the co driver saw a guy walk past in a Wallabies jumper. I think he was just as surprised to be accosted by a fellow supporter in Houston of all places. They had a short mutual cry on each other's shoulders.

Our last night saw some easing of the rain and we found a nice restaurant close to our hotel, The Grove, which had a good selection of Southern inspired seafood and a great by the glass wine list.
So then it was time to head home.
Weather on our arrival in Sydney was atrocious with torrential rain and thick fog in places. This did not make our final 3 hour jet lagged drive from the airport, where we had left our car, any easier.
From our Houston hotel to our front door via San Francisco and Sydney Airports took 35 hours.
Are we both getting too old for this sort of travel?
Last week we both said yes.
Today we are not so sure.

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