Back on Interstate highway 10, we sped east to Houston to stay with Tony, an old friend of my father, who’d emigrated from the U.K., married an American and settled in Houston.
A change from hotel routine and experiencing some home comforts were more than welcome. We’d been given directions that concluded with the tip to look for the house flying a Union Jack. Wasn’t too hard to spot.
The first evening there finished, after much barbecue food and booze, with me listening to Tony reminiscing about how he and my father had met in their twenties while touring Greek party islands during the ’60s.
He pulled out an old photo album and showed me a photo of my father looking very tanned, young and lean, with his hand bandaged after “a slight accident” during a party and his eyes containing a hint of wildness (there was a touch of Hunter S. Thompson about him).
I realised my father’s age in the photo was younger than my present age. There’s nothing inherently odd about that concept, clearly, but it felt odd, nevertheless. Plus we’ve always looked very similar at comparative ages, so it felt like I was gazing at someone who could be a brother or even myself.
Next morning Tony took us to the iconic Mexican restaurant Ninfa’s for brunch, where we ate like kings and had the finest Margaritas of the road trip.
We were staying in a nice area of Houston and a quick wander from Tony’s house brought us to a stretch of mansions, palaces, miniature castles and buildings that defied a label but shared a common theme of enormity and costing in the tens of millions of dollars. Houston has clearly been kind to some.
Had we found the heart of the American dream? It didn’t feel we had and there was still half a road trip planned out–the search would continue. But unfortunately it was time for Drew to catch his flight back to the U.K. and so we reluctantly drove him to the airport and disbanded the three road-tripping gringos.
It was back to just Pete and I. But we weren’t going east. We’d altered our planned route to hit Houston at the weekend so we could stay at Tony’s. Hence we pointed the Sebring west–we had to check out a city called Austin.