The one glitch that we were left to sort out at the airport was that getting us to Texas on the 25th meant switching airports from Newark to LaGuardia, but we didn't change the return, that was still into Newark. Now, when I fly on my own, I don't end up leaving a car in long-term parking, so it didn't occur to me that that we had a slight problem until TQ was driving the Mighty Taurus into Lot P2 at LaGuardia and I started to say something about how nice it was going to be to get off the plane at the end of the trip and have the car waiting for us, and then it suddenly hit me that no, we were going to get off the plane at a different airport entirely! Oops. Fortunately we'd left lots of time for traffic jams and other driving delays and none ever really materialized, so we were there 2 hours early, already checked in and packed in carry-ons, so we had lots of extra time to stop at the ticket counter and explain our predicament to one of the reservation agents and she was able to switch the return half (and she didn't even charge us since the original glitch was US Air's fault). I was SO glad we were flying on Christmas day - the lines were short and tempers were not, I expect we would have seen that situation reversed had we been flying the day before. The only other unpleasant surprise of the trip came at the car rental desk in Houston, where the rental I'd been told would be just under $400 turned out to be closer to $800 after adding taxes and insurance. Worked out well to have our own car, but still, ouch.
Anyways, my dad called just as we were driving out of the airport (I let TQ drive that leg, I'd decided to wait until the next day to take the wheel so that I could do my first driving in 2 years in daylight and small-town traffic, so I was free to take the call) and told us that they were all getting tired so we should just go to the hotel. That was fine.
Family fun really got going the next day. First we went to my aunt and uncle's place, then I got LOTS of driving practice as we all hit the road to go to the family gathering in Tyler, Texas, more than 100 miles to the north of Huntsville! That all went fine, Texas highways are nice and although I was a little worried about driving at 70 or 75 (that's the speed limit, but it sounded awfully fast to me!) the traffic was pretty light and the main thing I found myself watching out for was when everybody else would suddenly slow down, which always turned out to be a 100% reliable indicator that we were coming to some small town and the speed limit was about to drop to 60, we'd usually see the sign a minute after everybody around us had slowed down. Since it was the highway speed I was all worried about, perhaps it was ironic that the only time I really got us in a jam driving-wise was a couple of nights later on the little dirt road that leads to my aunt and uncle's place - it was dark and had been raining all day and I mis-judged and ended up putting our teeny weeny lightweight economy car into soft soft mud next to the road, where it instantly bogged down and stuck fast. Ugh. Good thing TQ's got AAA, we ended up being a nice easy job for the gigantic tow truck that showed up. :(
But I do digress - the Tyler drive was fine, I eventually got relaxed enough for TQ to turn on the radio, we found a good country-music station where cowboy-sounding people were singing about taking rides on big green tractors ("we can go slow, or we can go faster!") or going fishing in crawdad holes, and it was a really pretty drive through the Texas countryside, and then, well, it was funny, just as we got there, we started seeing this white stuff by the side of the road! Took me a minute to place it here where I never expected to see it, but yeah, that was snow, Not much, but the kids were absolutely tickled with their white Christmas, and boxing day too! Here's one of my little cousins twice removed having a great time playing in the snow.
Everything's bigger in Texas, except the snowmen!
run honey run!
Pansies didn't look quite as happy with the snow as various dogs and children...
This is Aggie territory (please note little cap worn by snowman maker above)!
Texas connection, or at least part of it (plus TQ and me and my mom & dad of course). Great seeing these folks again, and meeting the ones I hadn't met, it had been far too long!