The Great Western Sensory Overload (Seattle to Texas)

We rejoin the quest for pure American sensory overload on 12/25, en route to Texas from Seattle. If you’ll recall, just hours before we returned from The Great Western Sensory Overload (Seattle to the Bay Area).

We head from SEA to Round Rock, TX (near Austin) to spend XMas Day at my parent’s new home. The town is named after get this… a round rock, in a creek by the Chisholm Trail. While the rock itself is not particularly fascinating or photogenic, this sunset is.


XMas dinner for 10 is overwhelming and decadent, as usual. We dine by headlamp this year. Candles are so last baktun.

Andre and I spend the next day as laborers at Camp Parental Units, where we are forced to install a double oven. We decide to distract the camp leaders with a road trip; it seems the only way to avoid further physical labor.


First up, Galveston. Our digs for the night are at the Hotel Galvez, on the Seawall. The hotel is lavish and grand, bla, bla, bla… but we quickly ditch it and head out on a mission to indulge in Gulf oysters. We have to hit four places before we find enough to properly meet the requirements of our party.


The next morning the Gulf is loud, the waves are active, and there are freaky birds everywhere. The locals laugh at us when we express concern.


This Grackle recommended that we look into the historic, Victorian homes. If you’ve seen The Birds you know not to argue.


We decide on the Bishop’s Palace, aka the Gresham Home, which was built in 1892 by a founder of the Santa Fe Railroad. It’s eventually bought by the Catholic Church, so the home is a mix of Victorian, uber rich opulence and Catholic over-the-top-ed-ness, plus crazy hurricane history, PLUS Christmas decorations and a gift cave.

The place is a sensory overload jackpot!


Across the street is the Sacred Heart Church, which also does not disappoint on the embellishment front, but we must press on, for further adventures.


We head off for the San Antonio River Walk, where my sister meets us at our hotel, the Emily Morgan. Unbeknownst to us, the University of Texas is playing Oregon State the following night at the Alamo Bowl. The place is utterly crawling with fascinating orange people. We take full advantage of the hoard of horse-drawn carriages that gather across the street. There are several to pick from, but only one obvious choice…


Our horse, Doughboy, is the biggest, the toughest, the meanest, and pulls the most masculine of all the Cinderella carriages. Doughboy’s driver takes us by haunted hotels and has a bunch of good stories. Fittingly, our hotel’s ghosts are rumored to be the most active.


The River Walk is full on gaudy and magical. We have a grand dinner and convince the waiter to take our credit cards over my dad’s by screaming “it’s their anniversary!” The waiter returns with champs for them, to which my dad toasts “we’re not even married!”


The night only improves from here with a late night photo shoot at the Alamo.


We head back for a few more days of eating and drinking in Austin and then head out for NYE in the American motherland of sensory overload… Vegas.

Stay tuned for the final installment – The Great Western Sensory Overload (Tejas to Vegas and back).

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