November 9

I left Houston about 4:30 PM and, after losing a few minutes because I passed up the Town & Country Starbucks and stopped at the Beltway 8 and West store instead, I had a smooth ride to College Station. On Highway 6 I was able to pace a pickup at 90+ for about 30 miles of the 40-mile distance. Made it into College Station a little after 6:00 and dropped by the Starbucks to ask if they were still on schedule to open. I went up to the door and the barista that saw me motioned that they were closed, so I stood there like a lost puppy until one of them came over to see what I wanted. Still on schedule, with a "Friends and Family" scheduled for 3:00 to 6:00 the next day.

I headed over to Corey's, Dave gave me the comics he had picked up for me, and we hung around for a while and then decided to go get some food at DoubleDave's and go see 8 Mile, where we were lucky to be an hour early because the show was sold out. Being almost first in line, we got good seats. No, we got excellent seats, because of the co-eds a seat over from me. I struck up a conversation, and then the movie started. When the movie ended, I asked the philosophy major's name, Cameron, and mentioned we would be heading over to Sweet Eugene's, and independent coffee house in town.

I was pleased to find Cameron and her friend Alix already at Sweet Eugene's there when we arrived, a bit later for having gone back to Corey's to pick up my Scrabble board. We set up a Scrabble game outside, and after a while Cameron came outside to watch for a while until it got late. I mentioned to her about the Starbucks Friends and Family and said she should come by. Dave, Corey, and I played until after Sweet Eugene's had closed, almost 'til 4:00 AM.

The next morning, which was really only several hours later, around 7:00 I guess, I woke and saw that it was cloudy, so there was no point in going out to photograph the Starbucks. A couple of hours later the sun had come out, but I didn't feel like getting up. Finally, around 10:30 or 11:00, I got up and headed out there, and regretted not having shown up earlier, because I could have gotten a much better photo without the cars and with more subdued lighting.

Went back to Corey's, had some food, then went to his architecture studio because he had to photograph some models. Then I went over to Starbucks for the "Friends and Family", where plenty of folks had shown up already, in anticipation of free drinks from 3:00 to 6:00. I introduced myself to the D.M., Cheryl something, and showed her my photographs and asked about putting them up at one of her Houston stores. She said she would look into it. Later on I introduced myself to the store opening specialist who seemed more enthusiastic about my project and later mentioned it to some other managers who had come in from Houston. One of them said that he'd be happy to display some of my photos if he got approval.

Meanwhile, a news crew showed up, KTXB, to cover the event. But I had never heard back from the TV or newspaper station that I had e-mailed about my visit.

But I didn't care, because it was a beautiful day to sit and chill. Dave showed up and we played around with his wide-angle lens. Then Cameron showed up and later Corey, and we hung out until almost 6:00, then walked across the street to Freebirds, a local favorite, for some excellent burritos that required special instructions to eat. We passed Hastings on the way, where Kevin Fowler, and up-and-coming country artist, was supposed to play. But too few people showed, so he headed out to Pasadena for a show.

After dinner Cameron went off to study, and we headed to Coffee Station, another local coffee shop with a railroad motif, where Corey studied while Dave and I played chess. After Corey gave up on his homework, it was over to P.O.E.T.S. Billiards for some pool. Then Corey went back to his place to study some more, and Dave and I played Scrabble at Sweet Eugene's until about 2:00, at which time he decided to go ahead and drive back to Dallas instead of staying up all night with me waiting for the store to open. Sweet Eugene's, BTW, was a pretty cool coffeehouse, spacious, with plenty of plush furniture.

I photographed the places I had visited, and then went back to Starbucks, took a night photo, and then parked myself in the far end of the parking lot next to Hobby Lobby, I think. There was still construction of the building that housed the Starbucks, so there was a portapotty, but went I went over to use it later on there were a couple of cops parked there, so I went elsewhere. I came back and asked the cops if there was a problem, and explained that I was planning to be the first customer so they wouldn't hassle me when they saw me parked there. I just parked in front of the Starbucks, but I had to keep driving over to the Exxon station to use the restroom, so I never got much sleep.

It was almost 5:00 AM when the crew showed up to open the store, so I went ahead and changed and listened to the news and read while waiting for 5:30 to roll around. When it did, I got up and paced in front of the store, but they were running behind, so I wasn't until about 5:47 that I got my coffee. A little disappointing, because I wanted a receipt that read 5:30, proving I was the first customer.

I headed out towards Austin immediately, but on the outskirts of Hearne I noticed some empty supermarket or something, and figured that was my best bet to get some sleep. Slept for a few hours, with an interruption by some parents dropping kids off for the school bus. A couple of hours later I resumed the drive to Austin, arriving well in time to meet with a local D.M. about my photos. Success, finally, as he agreed to order some art hangers for the wall of that very store to display 6-8 of my photos in a few weeks!

Mission accomplished, I headed back to Houston.