It was a place we used to go when we were dating, and a place we often went to on special occasions when we were in town. The place was always great; with amazing spiced tea, fried mushrooms and the best crawfish etouffee and fried crawfish around.
It had been about 4 years since we had been there, and it occurred to me on the way into town that we probably should have checked to make sure it was even still open. Thankfully, it was, but we were both surprised to find the parking lot practically empty when we got there. Now, it was just before 6:30, but it was also Friday night, so I really expected the lot to be it's normal, buzzing self. But then again, it was also the day after Thanksgiving...
We walked in, and there were only 2 other tables occupied in the entire place. The bar was completely empty and the patio was barren as well. We sat in a booth and ordered our "usual". One table left immediately after and by the time our food arrived the other table was gone too. At 7PM the entire restaurant was empty except for us. It was eerie. The food seemed about the same as we remembered, but we were slightly worried that we might be headed for food poisoning, just because there was no one else in the restaurant.
We were done and out of there in only about 40 minutes and tried to go over to Transco Tower to see the fountain, but the streets were blocked off. We decided instead to head to the opposite end of town for dessert at the Cheesecake Factory. The van was low on gas, but we had enough to get there and back home, so I didn't worry with stopping for a fill up. When we got on the freeway, the emergency alert signs were warning drivers of an accident ahead. We managed to exit the freeway just before the accident, and after sitting through several lights several times each, driving past 2 blocked entrance ramps and missing our highway exchange, we took a through street that cut over to the freeway we missed. We were stopped at the light in the turn lane to the freeway and I noticed there were panhandlers on every corner. Being from Austin, it was not an unfamiliar site, and Hubby and I were amusing ourselves by reading the sign one particular man was carrying. It was a strange mix of Spanish and English and really didn't make much sense. While Hubby was talking about it, I noticed another man on the corner, staggering around a real estate sign.
As I watched in disbelief, he turned toward the sign, unzipped his pants and assumed the stance...
We got back on the freeway and headed toward the Woodlands. The digital alert thingy on the van was telling us we had about 45 miles left on that tank of gas. We noticed it go down to 42 then 41 then it changed to "Low". The needle in the gas gage was well below the "E" line. But again, we discussed the fact that we didn't have far to go, and we headed straight for the restaurant. The Cheesecake Factory was great - fully seated and hoppin' as a restaurant should be. Hubby and I split a slice of lemon raspberry cheesecake and a slice of dutch apple, and were full, fat and sassy by the time we finished. We walked over to the Barnes and Noble to browse the books for a while - something we used to spend many evenings doing before we had kids. I picked up a thick book from the shelf that contained several hundred pages of business logos. It was in a different language, but the chapter headings were in English. I flipped through to the creative arts section and was perusing the many varied logos when one in particular caught my eye. It turns out, it is the logo for one of Hubby's friend's businesses! We tried to call him but were unable to reach him. He had no idea his logo had made it into a book containing the world's top 2000 logos!
We left the bookstore and walked back to the car. While driving through the parking lot, I noticed the digital gas display said there was 50 miles left on the tank. I looked down to the regular gage and the needle was resting comfortably on 1/4 of a tank. For a minute I really thought we had gotten into the wrong car! When we got back up on the freeway the digital display kept climbing. It was so strange that we decided to go ahead and stop for gas. We pulled off and into a Shell station and Hubby got out to pump the gas. He put his card in the reader, punched in our zip code and suddenly the pump started beeping. Then on the screen the words "ALL PUMPS ARE NOW SHUT DOWN" appeared. The entire gas station went silent. Patrons at the pumps looked at their screens and then to the clerk in the store. The clerk was going about his business, ringing someone up inside. There was no glance into the lot, no signal that things would be back to normal, nothing! So everyone got back in their cars and headed across the street to the Shell station on the opposite corner (why are they always on both corners??) and tried once again to get gas.
One full tank later and we were headed to the inlaws house. I exited the freeway to turn on to a street and as we rounded the corner at the turn, the van started dinging at me! "ding! ding! ding! ding!" No lights came on, nothing changed to indicate what the problem was; it just decided to ding.
Thankfully we made it home safely, shook our heads at such a bizarre night and went straight to bed.