The Lone Star State.

And just like that things turn around! I’m feeling a lot better, and shortly after I had written my latest post, I got a comment from Janet telling me to get in contact with her. Who’s Janet? She’s one of the friends I made at the Cardinals baseball game in St Louis a few weeks ago, and she told me that I was welcome to stay with her and her husband Phil when I got to Houston. Very lucky for me, since that’s where I was going the very next day!

But before driving to their home, I had a very special place in mind.
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That’s right: IKEA! The place where dreams are made, or maybe that’s Disneyland? Either way it’s the place where you can buy Swedish food, though I had hoped to find some salty licorice but no such luck. I did find chocolate though. I was happy!

After that I got back in my car and braved the insane Houston roads. I have to keep taking deep breaths while driving those crazy 7-8 lane (yes, that’s in one direction) interstates, it feels like there’s more people on a single road than in all of Sweden… well, it probably is. But I made it to Janet and Phil’s house, and was welcomed with open arms. I love this country, I go to a baseball game and talk to some people for a few hours and then they invite me to stay with them several weeks later. It’s amazing. Soon after I got there we headed out in their awesome Mustang, I’ve never ridden in one before. I’m impressed and wouldn’t mind one of those myself.
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We went out to lunch, and after some food shopping headed back to their house. We just hung out, preparing some food and talking a lot and had such a good time. Janet and Phil are truly great people, and so generous. They are world travelers, and we talked a lot about different destinations. They’re going to southern Europe on a cruise in September, so treat them nice Europe!
We also went for a walk to an area close by to look at the view of downtown Houston. It was so hot though! 100F/38C is way too hot to be out walking, even for me. 
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A dog park close to their house. Very fancy!

For dinner they had some friends over, Biff and Criss. They had just been on the same cruise in Europe, so we got to hear their stories and had a great dinner. I can eat again, but after not eating for almost four days my stomach has shrunk down to tiny, so I could only have a tiny bit unfortunately. And here I had been fighting so hard to get back to normal eating habits… but it was a great night and we got to see a lot of photos from Europe. Felt almost like home!

This is when I realized that I had forgotten to take any photos from the entire night. Oh well. It was like a sauna outside, hot and humid.

This morning we went to breakfast (they spoiled me!) before I had to hit the road again. Once again, a big thank you to the Jenkins for being such great hosts and taking such good care of me. I really appreciate it!

And just like that I was back on the busy highways. I don’t mind driving around actually, I still celebrate every hill that I don’t have to cycle up, and I have great company in the podcasts I listen to (P1 sommar and P3 dokumentär mostly, so all Swedish). But after a few hours I could finally head off the highway and out onto the tiny road towards the Hamilton Pool, a place I have really been looking forward to.
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I was really lucky, this was the line to get in. They have a tiny parking lot to minimize the amount of guests at the same time, so even these few cars took 10-15 minutes before I could park. On the website it said I should be prepared for a 90 minute wait so yeah, I was lucky…

You had to hike for a bit to get to the pool, but it was so beautiful. Very hot though, almost 100F again, but Janet gave me a really cute little cooler filled with ice so I came fully prepared thankfully. And the pool? Just wow. Wow. This is what wikipedia has to say about it, and after that I think I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. The pool is located about 23 miles (37 km) west of Austin, Texas off Highway 71. Since the 1960s, Hamilton Pool has been a popular summer swimming spot for Austin visitors and residents. Hamilton Pool Preserve consists of 232 acres (0.94 km2) of protected natural habitat featuring a jade green pool into which a 50-foot (15 m) waterfall flows.

The pool is surrounded by large slabs of limestone that rest by the water’s edge; large stalactites grow from the ceiling high above. The ceiling and surrounding cliffs of the grotto are home to moss, maidenhair fern and cliff swallows. The Ashe juniper (cedar) uplands of the preserve are home to the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

The natural pool and creek are not chemically treated, so water quality is monitored regularly and swimming is occasionally restricted.

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And even though I think these photos are SO beautiful, it was even more beautiful in person. If you ever find yourself in the Austin area, I would recommend a visit. Unfortunately the water wasn’t good enough for swimming when I was there, but I bet there would have been a lot more people there if it was so maybe that was just as well.

After the pool, I only had a half hour drive to the next pool, the one at my hotel. And it’s probably the best hotel pool yet, as it overlooks the Colorado river.
Tomorrow, I’m actually not entirely sure where I’ll end up yet! I have to fight with myself a bit just for how long I want to drive tomorrow first… my brain says “you can go FAR!” but my heart is not quite as convinced. In the meantime I’ll enjoy Welcome to Sweden on TV here, so weird hearing Swedish on TV again but I love that show, and have a scroll through trip advisor for inspiration.

So who knows what stories I’ll have next time, I have no idea myself! Isn’t that just great!