The drive south was dull except for the sixty foot statue of Stephen Austin perched on the edge of the expressway. Suddenly the landscape changed as if someone had drawn a line down a map. Now we know what Texans mean when they talk about the piney woods. As we drove through Houston, it felt so much like home. My first impression is that Houston is Chicago with palm trees. The two cities are similar in population; the traffic and multi multilane expressways began long before we actually entered the city. The downtown has an impressive skyscraper collection and we passed through the museum district and the theater district. The land is flat and the suburbs are neat, well organized and affluent looking, especially compared to many other parts of Texas we've seen so far.
We spent the afternoon on the Kemah boardwalk, an area much like Navy Pier in Chicago except that we parked for free rather than spending $20 as we would at home. To be fair, Kemah is a suburb, not central city as Navy Pier is. The boardwalk features eateries, thrilling amusement park rides, and shops selling things you didn't know you needed until you see them in the shop window. The crowds were thick on this beautiful day and as many people passed us wearing necks full of beads, we realized that we had just missed the Mardi Gras parade here. We were sorry we weren't hungry as we walked past one great restaurant after another. People dined al fresco in the beautiful warm sunshine. A steady parade of recreational boats moved in and out of the harbor making the most of the great weekend weather in the calm waters of Galveston Bay.