Monday, March 13, 2006

Day Off in Houston

We arrived at the hotel this morning around 8:45. Rooms were ready and waiting, which was great. I grab 3 papers in the lobby – the Houston Chronicle, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. Guess what I'm doing today?

Strange internet at the hotel today. I can get on AOL and handle email, but I can't use Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or even the AOL browser to get to the web and hit all my usual websites. Bummer, because I was gonna get the blog all caught up today. Maybe tomorrow, or the next day off, which will be Wednesday in Dallas.

Big, big mall a block away. I head out of my room around 2. It's about 75 degrees, but a lot of cloud coverage. I think it rained before we got here, and it threatens all day long. On the way to the mall, I come across The Container Store. Man, I sure wish there was one of these in Raleigh. For a new homeowner, it just might be the coolest store on earth. I spent about 45 minutes wandering around in there. I never knew there were trash cans worthy of being lusted over. Believe me, there are.

Spot a Starbucks in the parking lot as I'm leaving. I haven't eaten today and it's nearly 3. Looks like they've got about a dozen tables outside, so I'll grab something and enjoy the sunshine. Before I get too close, I spot a half-dozen familiar faces, including the boss (R. Kelly). They've got a couple of tables pushed together, and a small group of women are getting autographs from Rob. I don't like to run into folks I tour with on my days off, so I decide to bag the 'Bucks. No biggie, because I immediately spot a Barnes & Noble across the street, with another Starbucks inside it. Score…

One cinnamon-chip scone and a grande hot chocolate later, I'm wandering around the mall. The very upscale mall. I find The Walking Store and buy a new pair of Merrells, as mine are on the cusp. New dogs here:

Wander the mall for another hour, then take about a 30 minute roundabout walk back to the hotel, searching out dinner options. Some cool stuff in the area, but I'm not sure I'll feel like venturing out again later. Just off the lobby is the Omaha Steakhouse (a supposedly good steakhouse), so that might be the choice for dinner.

We have so many show days and so few days off on this tour that I'm just rolling in per diem money, so I won't mind springing 18 bucks for the grilled salmon. If you didn't know already, I'm a cheap fucker when I'm on the road. Standard per diem for crew guys is $245 a week ($35 a day for you Liberal Arts majors), and I like to stash at least a hundred of that every week to take home. If there was a Subway in the lobby, I'd eat there in a heartbeat over a sitdown dinner. And this whole homeowning thing has made me even more frugal.


Wound up at the hotel bar. Had dinner there – the salmon was good. A really cute blonde named Lisa came and sat beside me. She works for a German software company and lives in San Francisco. Originally from Pennsylvania, lived in Chicago for a few years, and has been in S.F. for the last 5 years. Her job has her travelling Monday through Thursday every week, except for holiday season, so about 200 days a year. I can relate.

Really cool girl…

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