Differences – part 2

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We have been in Houston for five weeks, and we’re coming up with more differences between Houston and Wellsboro, PA.

Homeless people – I suppose I knew there would be homeless people in Houston, but I didn’t expect to see so many, and all the time too. So far my only experience dealing with homeless people has been on vacations: visiting cities such as San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C. You see them for a few days, but then you go back home and you don’t think about them anymore. Now it is an every day thing. They are out at almost every major intersection, all holding up signs asking for money. Groups of homeless people hang out under every overpass bridge, staying out of the sun and heat.

Hurricane season – Last week, hurricane Hermine formed in the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually it turned east and it hit Florida, but for about a day or two, we watched the weather forecast more closely than usual! It is likely that a hurricane could hit Texas. Maybe not this season, but next year, or the next.

Diversity – Wellsboro (and Tioga County) is, to put it nicely, a very white town. Houston is the direct opposite, a melting pot. In our apartment complex, we have all kinds of people. White, African American, Asian, Spanish, Indian, etc. Out of Derek’s four classmates in the grad school art program, one is from South Korea, one is from Lebanon and one is from Iran. Wow!

Circulars – A huge pile of circulars comes in the mail every week. Back in Wellsboro, we would get the dollar saver every week, but that was more advertisements and classifieds than anything. The first week or two I was shoving the pile of coupons in the trash, but then I realized how valuable they were. Next time I go grocery shopping, I need to buy trash bags. I ended up finding a coupon for trash bags! How convenient. I also found a coupon for $5 off your bill at Olive Garden, which is right down the street from our house. Coupons may seem like old hat for lots of people, but it’s just something that I’ve never had to do personally until now. Also, you know you live in Texas when you get a “back to school” circular from the boot store!

News – I remember growing up and getting the news from Philadelphia, and there was always something bad going on. Then I moved to Tioga County, and the news was basically boring every day. Now that we’re in a city, it’s similar to Philadelphia. Shootings, robberies, etc. every day. Nothing really near our area, which is good, but it’s still scary. I’d rather take the boring news.

Fall – All of my friends back east (that is so weird to say and write!) are starting to enter fall mode. Everyone is talking about football games, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkins, leaves, sweaters, etc. I can technically get most of this stuff too, but the fact of the matter is that it will probably be quite a while before I can wear a sweater, and I have no idea if the leaves even change here! Everyone is talking about the mornings being chilly on Facebook, and it’s still in the mid 90’s here. Time will tell.

In case you missed it: Link to differences part 1 – https://texastalesblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/differences-between-tx-and-pa/

 

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Differences between TX and PA

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Derek and I have been taking note of some of the differences we have noticed between living in a city – and in Texas in general –  and living in rural Pennsylvania. Here are some of the ones we’ve come up with so far:

Roads:
A major difference is the roads. First of all, the majority of them are concrete. They are loud, and when it is raining out, they reflect in such a way that makes it hard to see the road! Not to mention the cracks in the concrete. Texas’ concrete cracks are akin to Pennsylvania potholes after a bad winter! Trying to learn the rules of the road, we quickly learned that there are no rules to the road. Some u-turns have their own lanes, some have a yield sign. Some exits are the “left two lanes” or the “right two lanes” and some are just one lane. Roads will go down from 4 to 3 lanes fairly quickly, and the same goes for 3 up to 4 lanes too. You have to pay very close attention! On the way to the University of Houston, there is one section where you literally have to keep right, then keep left, and then keep right all to get onto one road towards an exit! I am sure we will get used to it eventually, but thank goodness for GPS for now. Also, there are so many intersections that not all of them are named! When I am driving to the Target, I have to remember to “turn on the street after McNee,” because the street after McNee isn’t named!

The radio:
I thought I would be so happy having a ton of radio stations to choose from. Back in Wellsboro, there were only three to four stations to choose from, and I didn’t like the music on two of them. You were S-O-L most of the time when bouncing around from station to station. Plus, when you did find something you liked, it didn’t last very long, reception wise. Now we’ve got too many stations to choose from. Half of them aren’t in English! It took two weeks worth of driving around to find a country station that I liked, which was unexpectedly overwhelming. And to my surprise, the station lasted the entire hour drive to Galveston. We have a winner!

Stores:
We were joking around saying that we had been to more stores in two weeks than we had in the seven years that we were in Pennsylvania. Not too far from the truth! There are SO MANY stores/shopping plazas. We found one plaza about three miles from our apartment, and it is like a gold mine. So many good stores, I may not need to step foot into a mall once. Not to mention how HUGE the stores are. We had only been here about two to three days, and we went into a Kroger (the local grocery store) and the super target in one day. That was enough for us to realize that we definitely weren’t in a rural area anymore! The Kroger was at least double the size of our grocery store back in Wellsboro. We also went to a Lowes, and then it was my dad’s time to gasp at the sheer size of the store.

Grocery stores:
Diving a bit further into stores now, specifically, grocery shopping. We soon discovered that there were about five or six grocery stores to choose from. The Kroger we soon found out was a bit on the expensive side (bear in mind we are used to non-city prices) so then I started panicking over the circulars that came in the mail for the different grocery stores. Was I really going to have to shop at each one before we found a good fit???? We decided to start with the super target, since it is the closest to the apartment. That ended up being a good decision, for the most part. The craziest thing I have gotten anxiety over while being here is the meat department. Usually I buy ground beef in various sizes. Some dishes I make require a bit over a pound, and some a little under. Here in stores (both in the Kroger and the Target) they only come in one size only – one pound. Plus, the meat is just TOO EXPENSIVE overall. So then we went over to Fiesta Mart (another grocery store) which is branded as being an inexpensive option. There the meat selection was more what I was used to seeing in Wellsboro. So, I may have to go to two separate grocery stores to get what I want, but at least we got that sorted out fairly quickly. The Fiesta Mart in itself was amazing. There was a whole international foods section. Some day I just want to go and browse it all. The strangest thing we saw there was cactus pads in the produce aisle!

Weather:
The weather here is unreal. In the last three weeks, I feel like maybe only two days have gone by where there hasn’t been a thunderstorm. And the storms are BAD. Just today the lightning and thunder lasted at least an hour. When it rains, it POURS. I am glad that we live on the second floor. I am surprised we haven’t needed a boat yet. With all this moisture in the air, the humidity is unreal. Humidity doesn’t necessarily bother me, but no denying it is there when you go outside and our glasses immediately fog up!

Texas, Texas, Texas:
People in Texas are proud that they are from Texas! Texas flags everywhere, everyone wears Texas themed shirts, Texas bumper stickers, etc. Grocery store aisles have rows and rows of “made in Texas” salsa, and Texas beef (way more expensive than the already expensive meat I mentioned previously.) When we were in Galveston for the day, nearly everyone had a tent or chairs that was branded with some sort of Texas school or sport team. I just can’t recall seeing so much “Pennsylvania” branded items. Maybe the maple syrup? But I think that is less obvious.  “Made in Pennsylvania” is one thing, but having a huge Texas flag label with cowboys, horses, long horns, armadillos, etc, is another! In Buc-ees and in the campus book store, there were Texas themed cookware. I’ll admit I “oohed” at the Texas shaped cutting board, but does anyone actually buy and use these things? Maybe it is more of a novelty, for the people visiting Texas, instead of the people who live here.

That is all of the differences I can think of for now, but I am sure there will be more as time goes on!

Buc-ee’s convenience store

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When we were still in Pennsylvania, I was wondering what type of gas station/convenience store chains there would be in Texas. Growing up in the northeast, I was fiercely loyal to Wawa and Sheetz, and would miss them terribly after the move.

I starting searching online for what kinds of stores we would encounter down in Houston, and Buc-ee’s was the top hit. I was reading the website and newspaper articles about this chain, and there was a lot of hype about the beaver.

During the planning of the trip, I told my dad that we had to make a stop at a Buc-ees. Once we had crossed over the Texas state line, Derek and I went ahead at the 75 mph limit (woah!) to get to our apartment early. Dad, pulling the trailer, had to stay at about 60 mph. He decided to stop for lunch at a Buc-ee’s. I got a call from dad after he left, and he said, “Holy smokes.”

I have to admit, I am glad that the hype was warranted. Dad said that it was unbelievable inside. The floors were clean enough to eat off of (it was voted #1 cleanest restroom in America) and there were 96, count ’em, 96 gas pumps.

So now Derek and I were even more excited to experience Buc-ee’s during our day trip to Galveston. (There is a Buc-ee’s on the way to the beach.)

When we got there, we were not disappointed, but dad was. This station had only 56 pumps! Ha!

We entered the store and there was so much to look at and purchase! You could do your Christmas shopping there for the whole family!

After leaving the store, I have come to the conclusion that things really are bigger in Texas!

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Moving to Texas

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Derek and I are moving to Houston, Texas. This blog will be a way for friends and family to see what we are up to.

Derek will pursue a MFA in Studio Art – with a concentration of graphic design at the  University of Houston. It is a three year program. While he is in school, I will work. I do not have a job yet, but time will tell. (Update: I am a paginator (page design) and reporter for Houston Community Newspapers.)

It will be an adventure, and culture shock for sure. We are moving from Wellsboro, which has a population of about 3,300, to Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S., population 2.1 million.