After twelve hours of travel (one missed connection and being on standby for two flights), I arrived in Houston, Texas. Even as we were on final, I knew I was in trouble - we were at altitude and I was sweating slightly. (I'd just left a comfortably warm day of 44 degrees at home.) As I walked up the jetway, I had a brief impression of trying to breath a warm soup of jet exhaust before getting into the climate-controlled terminal. Upon meeting and greeting Peter, I walked with him all unsuspecting into the ambush in the parking garage.
Barely had I taken ten steps, shuffling a little awkwardly with my carry-on luggage that seemed to be growing heavier and heavier every time I picked it up, when WHAM!
I got clobbered with a full body slam that drove the breath out of my lungs. At first I thought I had merely been tag-teamed by two southern muggers, Mr. Heat and his drinking buddy Mr. Humidity, but as I simply struggled to breathe through their blows while Peter hurriedly dragged me to the safety of an air-conditioned truck, I realized that the other guy on the three-day bender at the bar, Mr. Smog, had joined in.
Much gasping and wheezing and a small exhausted nap later, I woke up and found myself on the road between Houston and San Antonio. We were pulling into a stop for some gas, and the sky was blue and filed with puffy clouds, the wind was a good steady fifteen knots with gusts, the air was comfortably, pleasantly warm, full of bright sunshine, the earth was lush and verdant with green growing things, and the cutest tiny little black birds that look like raven chicks almost too young to fly, but have this big showy black tail almost bigger than their body were filling the air with melodious chirping. (What are they?)
So I'm going to give Texas a second chance before fleeing in horror... but Houston might just have used up any chance for me to ever want to set foot there again.