11 Animals That Perfectly Sum Up My Vacation in Texas During July

Soooo… I took a bit of a sabbatical from the ol’ blogging, but I have good reason. The fam and I have been on vacation, that glorious mainstay of the summer.

VACAAAAAAY

We decided to amble on down south to that state unto itself, Texas. Now, I have been to Texas quite literally more times than I can count, but this time we decided to visit some new places we had never been before. We started off in Fort Worth, but before we even got there we got a flat tire. On our rental car. Just toodling along on the highway. We also learned that if you get a flat tire, you are responsible for repairing/replacing it. So heads up, car renters. Luckily, ours was a very simple and inexpensive fix, and we did not find ourselves too inconvenienced– well, except for having to unload all our luggage out of our car on the side of the highway to get the spare tire out of the trunk, putting it back in, then having to unload it all again when we got to the nearest Walmart Tire Center. All of this in burning, sweltering heat.
Did I mention that it was hellaciously hot? That was the mainstay of the whole trip: stultifying, draining heat (get ready, because there’s going to be a whole lot of synonyms for hot coming your way). We went to San Antonio and visited some of the old missions there and did a lot of strolling along the Riverwalk- which necessitated walking around outside. We visited Galveston, where the humidity nearly knocked me on my hindquarters whenever I stepped out of doors.

Me for a SOLID WEEK

Now, as my fam and I are dedicated, hardcore zoo junkies, one of the big highlights of the trip we were looking forward to was the two new zoos we were going to that we had somehow never been to before, the San Antonio Zoo and the Houston Zoo. Now, let me stress here, we freaking love zoos. Like, zoos are the best, guys. But we were going to zoos. In Texas. In July. Let me just give you a visual of what I felt like:

Ohhhhh, I just can’t WAAAAAAAAIT… to be in air-conditioning.

Simba there is perfectly embodying what I was feeling like, both at the zoos and during most of the trip. And in that same vein, I present to you animals at the zoo who understood exactly what I was going through during vacation. In Texas. In JULY.

1. LIZARD OF… UM…SOME SORT, SAN ANTONIO ZOO

I honestly thought maybe this lizard had died, but then I recognized how I was feeling before I came in the reptile house.

I honestly thought maybe this lizard had died, but then I recognized how I was feeling before I came in the A/C of the reptile house.

2. ANOTHER LIZARD OF UNRECORDED TYPE (perhaps a monitor?), HOUSTON ZOO

I just... I can't even

I just… I can’t even move from this log right now.

3. CHAMELEON, HOUSTON ZOO

Don't even try me today

Don’t EVEN try me today


4. YET ANOTHER LIZARD I DON’T KNOW THE EXACT NAME OF, HOUSTON ZOO

I can't even get comfortable, no matter what I do. (Note: DO NOT WEAR A MAXI DRESS TO THE ZOO ON A SWELTERING DAY)

I can’t even get comfortable, no matter what I do. (Note: DO NOT WEAR A MAXI DRESS TO THE ZOO ON A SWELTERING DAY, OR YOU WILL END UP WALKING AROUND LIKE THIS WITH YOUR DRESS HIKED UP INDECENTLY HIGH AND YOU WON’T EVEN CARE EVEN A LITTLE BIT)

5. YOU GUESSED IT IT’S ANOTHER LIZARD, SOME SORT OF MONITOR, HOUSTON ZOO

My lizard brethren were really feeling my pain this week. I was jealous this one got to sleep in a waterfall though.

Got my ass in my waterfall and I ain’t movin’ today, son.

6. KOMODO DRAGON, HOUSTON ZOO– (IT’S A LIZARD BUT I KNEW THE NAME YEEEEAH!)

My lizard brethren were really feeling my pain this week.

My lizard brethren were really feeling my pain this week.

"Like, you don't even understand how little I care right now." --this komodo when I stuck my face right by the glass and woke it up.

Komodo?? How about KomoNO.

7. CHEETAH, HOUSTON ZOO

I'm not running again until at least the middle of September.

I’m not running again until at least the middle of September.

8. LIONESS, HOUSTON ZOO

I don't think words are necessary here.

I don’t think words are necessary here.

9. LEOPARD, HOUSTON ZOO
(Brief note, LEOPARDS ARE MY FAVORITE ANIMALS, MILD HYSTERICS ENSUING, OKAY WE’RE GOOD)

I honestly am not even interested in eating your face today, it's just too hot for that nonsense.

I honestly am not even interested in eating your face today, it’s just too hot for that nonsense.


10. ORANGUTAN, HOUSTON ZOO

I honestly have nothing left to give.

I honestly have nothing left to give, just go on without me.

11. BABY ORANGUTAN, HOUSTON ZOO

CURSE YOU, YE FOUL AND CRUEL WEATHER GODSSSSS!!!!!!

CURSES UPON YOUR HEADS, YE FOUL AND CRUEL WEATHER GODSSSSS!!!!!!

Suffice it to say, it was a little warm throughout our visit, and the heat often has a derogatory effect upon my person, my attitude, and any motivation or interest in life that I have. I was excited when we finally got to Galveston because all I was thinking was BEACH!OCEAN!WATER!BIKINI!LESSCLOOOOTHES!!!!! And during our last vacation to Galveston three years ago, I was recalling that boys just seem to be much hotter in Texas (the conclusions of this hypothesis will be revealed for your amusement in my next blog post so stay tuned) so I was hoping to maybe find me a cutie who appreciated a girl who doesn’t like running.

LOL TOTALLY IGNORING I DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT IN A BIKINI THOUGH

But then, you know, humidity happened.

I wore my hair up. Every. Single. Day.


Many more noteworthy and interesting things happened while we were there but I could spend ages talking about all of them (Quick highlights: mom got pooped on by a bird, a man was grilling on a tiny grill in the parking lot of one of our hotels wearing a shirt that said “hustler”, I saw an elephant swimming underwater, that baby orangutan dumped wood shavings on her head for a solid fifteen minutes in a shower of utter adorableness, I SAW DOLPHINS IN THE OCEAN, I had a few drinks and did NOT get sick (huzzah!), and no one in my family got eaten by sharks!!) . I’m going to include a slew of photos below to showcase a few things I particularly liked, but before I go I will sum up how nice it was, even after such a lovely trip, to come back home, via this final animal picture:

Ahhh, home sweet home, where one can truly relax.

Ahhh, home sweet home, where one can truly relax.

Now I hope you will enjoy my photographic endeavors below:

The charming beginning to my trip.

The charming beginning to my trip.

I always find it an auspicious beginning when your rental car has Smurfette in Paris stuck to the window.

I always find it an auspicious beginning when your rental car has Smurfette in Paris stuck to the window.

Whoops, how did this innocuous card about pillows find its way in here?

Whoops, how did this innocuous card about pillows find its way in here?

Mission Concepción

Mission Concepción from the back, San Antonio

Mission Concepción

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

I hope you can tell that is a sunshine with a moustache... Mission Concepción, San Antonio

I hope you can tell that is a sunshine with a moustache… Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission San José

Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

My sister in Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

Still my sister in Mission San José, San Antonio

Front doors, Mission San José

Front doors, Mission San José, San Antonio

There was a lady taking her bridal portraits, it was gorgeous. Mission San José

There was a lady taking her bridal portraits, it was gorgeous. Mission San José, San Ano

Mission San José

Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

Front entrance, Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission Espada

Mission Espada, San Antonio

Mission Espada

Mission Espada, San Antonio

My lovely sister and I. That's me there on the left, melting.

My lovely sister and I. That’s me there on the left, melting. At the beach, Galveston

The view from our hotel in Galveston.

The view from our hotel in Galveston.

This was on the inside of our hotel door in Galveston... isn't this kind of the point of a hotel???

This was on the inside of our hotel door in Galveston… isn’t this kind of the point of a hotel???

Enjoying a drink on our last night of vacation in Galveston!

Enjoying a drink on our last night of vacation in Galveston!

 

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Pizza’s Peculiar Recurring Role in My Life

Dear Friends, I want to tell you a story.
I know that you’ll find this hard to believe, but once upon a time I was painfully, terrifyingly awkward.
Now, I can guess what you’re thinking– what do you mean, Sara, once upon a time? Aren’t you still painfully, terrifyingly awkward?
And you are partially right, I am still very awkward.

I’m about this level of awkwardness now.

However, compared to my younger self, I now have all the confidence of Grace Kelly at a state dinner in Monaco. To put it kindly, when I was younger I sometimes became overwhelmed in certain social situations.

I was that blonde lady on the right.

So, big surprise, in high school I was not one of the popular kids. I’m not saying I was like an outcast by any means; I was acquainted with most everybody in my grade and I had a large group of friends. I just was not in the popular crowd. Now, I can’t speak for other places, but at almost every single high school in my state, the most important people at a school are the athletes. And generally, football players are the priority. For example, when I was in high school we put in a million dollar football field but didn’t have enough books for every classroom. Completely logical, right?
But anyway. So as you may know, I am an avid lover of soccer and I have played my whole life. This includes all four years in high school. It just so happens that after our million dollar football stadium was put in, the rule became that any time we played while it was raining, we played on the football field because it had turf. I was a sophomore the first year this rule came into effect. I won’t attempt to describe to you now just how awkward I was as a fifteen year old. Instead, I will let the following story speak for itself.

We had a home game, and I was incredibly excited because I got put on the varsity roster.

VARSITYYYYYY

I don’t actually remember, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say I didn’t even get to play, or if I did it was only for a few minutes. But what I do remember is that we had to play on the football field, because it poured down rain the whole time. I also remember that we won the game. The boys’ soccer team played right after us, and they won their game, too. I don’t know how or who or why it happened, but the word went around that all the Varsity players (THAT INCLUDED MEEEEE) were allowed to go eat Mazzio’s Pizza buffet for FREE.

I DON’T EVEN LIKE MAZZIO’S BUT ALL I HEARD WERE THE WORDS “FREE” AND “VARSITY”


Now, I must admit I don’t even really like Mazzio’s Pizza. However, I was particularly excited on that occasion for a specific reason. About two weeks before that game, I had gone to Mazzio’s with my dear friend Kasey and her family, and I had stumbled across a little piece of heaven.
It was called cheesecake pizza.

IT’S CHEESECAKE… PLUS PIZZA. NEED I SAY MORE.

Let me just lay this out for you, guys. When I really like a food, I am serious about it. Really, really serious. And when I rolled into Mazzio’s that rainy day of my sophomore year, all of my focus was directed on securing and consuming as much free cheesecake pizza as I could. The second I went through the door, I headed straight to the buffet, gleefully scanning it for the magical concoction I just knew was there waiting for me. But as my eyes ran through the offerings in front of me, I saw nothing that looked like the remembered cheesecakey-pizzaey delights of two weeks before.
Disappointed, but not defeated, I returned to my seat to keep a gimlet eye on the buffet, for surely they would be putting out the cheesecake pizza any minute now. Thus, I spent the first approximately fifteen minutes darting frenetically forward every time a new pizza was put out to eagerly check if it was cheesecake pizza.
Finally, my stakeout was rewarded when I saw a lanky teenager disinterestedly shove onto the buffet what my discerning eye recognized as my eagerly awaited prize, and my legs quivered as I leapt from my seat and charged forward towards the buffet.

“CHEESECAKEPIZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!”

But when the fevered haze of gluttony cleared from my eyes, I was frozen with confusion. For what I saw before me was not what I remembered from two weeks before. It sort of  looked like my cheesecake pizza, but it wasn’t exactly the same.

“Is… is this a trick? Cheesecake pizza, are you hiding in the ceiling?”

Try to understand my dilemma here. I had built myself into such a state of anxious anticipation, that my mind just could not seem to comprehend that what I thought was cheesecake pizza, just might not be cheesecake pizza.
I stood there, staring at the pizza before me in bewildered contemplation. Was it cheesecake pizza? Was it not cheesecake pizza? I just could not seem to confirm either way. As I was frowning down at the pizza in this fog of confusion, I gained the vague awareness that someone was standing next to me.
Now, have you ever just known that you had a weird look on your face? Like, you could just feel that there was some bizarre, contorted expression firmly planted on your features? As I slowly turned my head to see who was standing next to me, I realized that I had one of those looks on my face:

If I had been an animal in high school, I would have been Libby there.

I simultaneously became aware that I looked like a drowned rat, with my soaked hair straggling all around me and my too-big, bulky hoodie on, with all trace of makeup washed away and skin still clammy and pale from the cold. The other thing I became aware of was that the person standing next to me was none other than Hunter Smith.
Of course, this probably means nothing to you, but let me give you some background– remember how I said athletes took priority in our school? Well, Hunter Smith, although a sophomore like me, was already something of a celebrity at our school. He was a star on the football team, but he was one of the best players for the boys’ soccer team as well. He was also, naturally, one of the most popular kids at our school. Though we were around the same age, in the same grade, and played the same sport, I had never spoken a word to him, and I was fairly certain he had not the slightest idea who I was.
I could only stare at him in a sort of bewilderment. Much like my mind could not comprehend the discrepancies between the cheesecake pizza I remembered and the cheesecake pizza that I had found before me, I could not comprehend that Hunter Smith was standing next to me, looking at me. The most popular guy in school was standing next to me, and I could only stare at him in disbelief.

Umm… you can’t be standing there?

Into the dead silence, Hunter innocently asks, “Hey, what is that?”
Oh, Readers.
All I can say in my defense was that I was already in a somewhat strange state due to the distressing situation with the cheesecake pizza. Then, you add to that the fact that someone I was in awe of (I’m not joking, I was outrageously and comprehensively intimidated by Hunter Smith and his athletic skills) was speaking to me, and I can only say that my brain simply shut down.
I took a deep breath, and then suddenly launched into this whole, long, stumbling explanation about how I thought it might be cheesecake pizza but I wasn’t sure it was cheesecake pizza because I’d been here two weeks ago with my best friend and got cheesecake pizza and this didn’t look the same as that pizza and blah blah blah blah blah. I honestly don’t even know all of what I said. Eventually, after who knows how much time, I came to my senses and realized I was rambling on to Hunter Smith about cheesecake pizza. Abruptly, right in the middle of  a sentence about heaven only knows what mysterious existential examination of the nature of cheesecake pizza, I stopped speaking. And resumed staring at Hunter.
Into this void of discomfort, Hunter politely says, “That’s cool. Is it any good?”
Ah, Readers.
This time I have no defense for what happened. I can only cringe.
In response, I scoop a piece of the much pondered pizza onto my plate, pick it up, and proceed to shove half of it into my mouth. Then I stood there, chewing. As I continued to stare at Hunter Smith.

Hiii. Just me here. Chewing.

After a good fifteen or twenty seconds of chewing to finally make it possible to swallow the half a piece of pizza I just ate, I finally manage to free my mouth to snap back this witty rejoinder: “It’s okay.” I then shoveled three more pieces of pizza onto my plate.
And then I stood there.
And continued to stare at Hunter Smith.

No. No, I don’t have any idea what’s going on either.

Into the absolute vacuum of awkwardness, Hunter replies, “Well, I think I’m going to get some.”
I nod dumbly back, and continue to stand there.
Hunter stands there.
We stare at each other.

EXCEPT WE WERE A FOOT APART

At last it occurs to me. In my fervor to secure ALL the cheesecake pizza for myself, I had unconsciously placed my body squarely in front of it. I was essentially hunched over its spot on the buffet, completely blocking all access to it. There was no possible way for Hunter to get to the cheesecake pizza.

BACK OFF MY NOMS

“BACK OFF MY NOMS”– my unconscious psyche.

Slowly, slowly I uncurled myself from the space around the cheesecake pizza where I was crouched like a beast of prey over my hapless victim. Then, without speaking a word, I backed away, turned around, and walked off.

Yep, and just walking away now.

For the two remaining years of high school, I did everything in my power to avoid Hunter Smith, which thankfully was not that difficult. You may think that this story is now at an end, because it surely has to be, because it could not get worse.
Ahh, but Readers. If you thought that, you underestimate my mind-bogglingly vast affinity for awkward, embarrassing situations.
Senior year of high school rolls around, and somewhat to my pleasant surprise I found myself in the soccer Homecoming Court. My naive mind did not comprehend immediately the potential for unpleasantness here, because I was actually really excited to be in the Homecoming Court… yay! The exciting shine of that wore off instantly, however, when someone mentioned to me how we were going to be paired with an escort from the boys’ team.
And Readers, you already must have guessed that Hunter Smith was one of the candidates for the boys.
But I was optimistic. I staunchly reassured myself that I would not be paired with him! There were six candidates each, which meant I had an 5 in 6 chance of not getting paired with Hunter Smith. Those odds were practically unbeatable. I would be fine.
You know already, don’t you?
What I failed to learn was just how a boy and a girl candidate were paired up– alphabetically by last name. Aka they put us in alphabetical order and matched us with the corresponding boy.
Hunter Smith. Sara Rowe.
In the Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009, Smith and Rowe were the corresponding names.

Now, most all of the girls on my team had heard the great Cheesecake Pizza Story at one point or another over the years, and they were absolutely loving it that I was paired with Hunter. The story made the rounds again, and it just so happened that Hunter’s girlfriend at the time was the athletic trainer for the soccer team. I had to get my ankle wrapped every day for a while, and somehow I ended up telling her the story. She thought it was hilarious, and told me she was glad I was the one paired with her boyfriend and not someone else. I did not share the sentiment.
Fast forward to the day of homecoming, and as so many big schools insist on doing, we had to have a PEP RALLY. And this pep rally had to feature the Homecoming Court for soccer! And of course, it had to be a THEMED pep rally. Our theme? Black light. So we find out kind of last minute that our escort will, well… escort us down this aisle set up in the gym, through a sword arch made by the ROTC, and then we will sit in chairs in front of everyone for the duration of the pep assembly. Awesome. Fantastic.
So we gather outside the gym, waiting our turn to be called. Hunter is, thankfully, off talking to the boys. A minute or so before its time for the first pair to walk, they line us up just inside the doors to the gym with our partners. This is the first time I will have spoken to Hunter Smith in two years. Let’s just say I was slightly anxious. Luckily, he says very little, merely a hello and a how are you. I think, hey, maybe I can survive this. The pair in front of us takes off. We’re next. It’s totally dark in the gym, may I remind you, except for black lights everywhere. I realize it’s much easier to face Hunter when I don’t really have to see him. He takes my arm. We step forward. And then we are walking the tarp aisle laid out.
Oh. Oh I got this.

LIKE A BOSS

I throw my shoulders back and I STRUT. I am a senior. I am in the Homecoming Court. I am escorted by the school’s athletic champion.  And my fervent wishes have come true, and he clearly doesn’t remember that time two years ago I made a fool out of myself. I start smiling so big that I know my pearly whites have got to be absolutely GLOWING in all the black lights around us. We reach the ROTC members lined up on either side of the aisle, and they make a freaking SWORD ARCH over our heads as we go by. I am ON. TOP. OF. THE. WORLD.
Then, Hunter casually leans towards me and says, “So… had any cheesecake pizza lately?
….
…..
……

I am, as the last time I was near enough to Hunter Smith for conversation, struck speechless. He chuckles and says his girlfriend told him about it. Then suddenly we are at the chairs, and Hunter escorts me to mine before going to sit with the boys on the other side. I cannot tell you to this day what happened during that assembly, because my mind was frozen with horror.
When the evening rolled around and it was actually time for the actual Homecoming ceremony, I hid in the dressing room as long as I could, pretending to get ready. Someone finally had to come get me to tell me it was time to go take our places. Hunter– who let me stress was always kind and polite to me, except for the teasing during the assembly– very sweetly said how pretty I looked. And because I am the living embodiment of Socially Awkward Penguin, I told him, “You too.”

This happened last week.

Then we were strolling, me trying to keep up in high heels, which I feel like I don’t even need to describe to you how that went. Luckily we didn’t really have time to say anything, and no more references to cheesecake pizza were made, and after Homecoming was over the Hunter Smith saga came to a thankful close.

Oh, hi, why am I wearing these shoes and trying to walk on grass again?

Oh, hi, why am I wearing these shoes and trying to walk on grass again?

The regal Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009

The regal Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009

But Sara, you are saying, now that I’ve finally stopped rambling about cheesecake pizza long enough for you to get a word in. That story was painfully humiliating, why on earth would you ever share it?
An excellent question, and I thank you for it, because you have created the perfect segue for me.
As I blogged about before, I am a big fan of CiCi’s pizza buffet. Unfortunately, the last time I was there someone thought I was a man, and I proceeded to eat half of a pizza to comfort myself. I went again to CiCi’s for lunch this week, and I am happy to report that nobody mistook me for a member of the opposite gender. But alas, who to my wandering eye should appear, but Hunter Smith, who I have not seen since I graduated high school.
Me. Hunter Smith. A pizza buffet.
It all came rushing back to me, and to ensure that a repeat of the infamous Cheesecake Pizza Incident did not occur, I pretended that I did not see Hunter Smith. To be honest, I’m not even sure that he recognized me, or knew who I was.

Ah Readers. Isn’t it funny how sometimes life comes full circle?