Even though I’d not had much sleep lately I found myself awake at 03:00, seemingly from the time that the apartment’s fridge joined in the cacophony from the air conditioning fan. For the next few hours I tried to sleep, but couldn’t so got up at 06:00 and went for a slow 4 mile run around the area.
The area around the hotel, and the rest of Tyler for that matter, doesn’t have sidewalks which meant for the entire run I was either running on the road, the grassy banks, or in a cycle lane when available. The six lane road was a little questionable, but I ran along it anyway. After I’d done 1.6 miles I decided to head back as I was doing a “there and back again” style run, but I found I’d missed my turning and inadvertently ran a little further than planned. After finishing 4 miles in humid heat I was drenched and could barely see, but at least after a shower it was time for breakfast.
The breakfast at the Staybridge hotel was quite unusual – you don’t have to tell anyone your room number, or have anyone explain what to do. You just turn up and figure out where everything is. I had quite a mixture for breakfast, but I did at least get a cup of tea – the same type I usually end up with whilst travelling (one of these days I’ll take my own tea bags).
At 08:45 I checked out and got to leave my camera bag and suitcase behind to pick up later. The 1.8 mile walk to Tyler Junior College was a warm one, and by the time I got there it felt like I had melted into a mess. It felt unprofessional to get there sweating like crazy, but I think fortunately they didn’t realise I was. At this point I understood why there were no sidewalks – no one walks anywhere because it’s too warm to do so at this time of year! I was dressed in shirt and tie, but couldn’t bare to put my suit jacket on with the heat the way it was. The people there were great – they were friendly and interesting to talk to, and got me a glass of ice cold water to drink as we talked.
After my meeting they gave me a lift in an air-conditioned Mustang back to the hotel where I picked up my luggage, got changed and ordered a taxi to the airport. This taxi ride consisted of the driver leaning over his broken chair, telling me his life story and about how he had been in prison for 5 years. I think I’d have preferred it if he had watched the road instead really. The fare for this journey was US$30 though for some reason he only put US$25 on the receipt – which is probably what it would have been had we not been stuck in traffic.
Although I was at the airport 6 hours before my flight they still allowed me to check my luggage in. One unusual thing though was that as they don’t have an x-ray scanner for checked baggage they asked me to remove my lock so they’d be able to check it by hand later before it is put on the plane. This didn’t sit too well with me, but I didn’t really have a choice so removed the lock. It also cost me an extra US$25 to check the bag in as well as apparently it wasn’t included in my ticket. This probably meant my flight from San Antonio to Dallas on Sunday wouldn’t have it included either.
Although a small airport, it has a food place that online reports it to be open until 16:00 so I decided to see what sort of food they did. They don’t yet have a menu (it sounds like they’ve not been open long) but from the list of things I was told they did I decided the most appetising of them would be the chicken and fries. This meal with a bottle of cola came to less than $10 – cheaper than most food places outside of airports!
The food was a little on the salty side, but at least it was warm food. I also took the opportunity to go back and buy a chocolate muffin and some water to use as my evening meal as I doubted I’d be able to visit anywhere, or have the energy to by the time I’d be in Houston.
To pass the time I then sat in the airport terminal on my laptop, catching up on some work. I had been tempted to walk the 1.8 miles from the terminal, along the 6-lane road to the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum as the reviews of the place were very good. By the time I’d eaten though I wouldn’t have had much time there though as they close quite early during the week. To make matters worse the heat outside had gotten worse whilst I’d been indoors so it’d have been a every warm and humid walk if I’d have gone.
Just after 18:00 I went through security as they wanted to close up, but I didn’t have to wait long – they started boarding the plane early and we had left the gate 15 minutes early. We then arrived in Houston 28 minutes early and the airport believed we hadn’t even left Tyler yet (the flight only takes 40 minutes from gate to gate).
On the way to the luggage carousel I bought some more water as I was starting to feel dehydrated, and by the time I got there my luggage was waiting there for me. I then ordered a taxi – it took 45 minutes to get to the hotel due to the distance, and this cost me $56 on my credit card, and then another $5 as a tip.
When I checked into the Residence Inn they commented that a taxi ride to the Johnson Space Center would likely cost me around $60 due to it being the weekend I’d be going. The cost of having a short detour to see the space center was rapidly increasing! The hotel room was another apartment style one, and was a really comfortable room. I then relaxed in front of the TV, watching “Uncle Buck” and eating my food for the remainder of the evening.