Prior to the fateful moment a shipping company boxed up my belongings and shipped them off to Belgium in 2011, I was living in the proud city of Houston in the even prouder state of Texas. From 2005-2011, this guy tried to make the most of the experiences Houston has to offer. I was increasingly chomping at the bit to indulge in anything related to Europe, whether it was being a member and frequently visiting the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, attending the Houston Opera, or visiting the various other art and science-related museums in the city. Houston, by no means will remind anyone of any European city, but I did my best.
While I was not yet the beer, hiking, and biking blogger, my time in Houston did set the stage for my interest in using my bike as a means to explore. The weather in Houston is essentially 11 months of warm-to-blistering hot, sunny weather with the occasional hurricane and only 1 month where the temperature drops into the single digits in Celcius. So there were always plenty of opportunities to throw the bike on the car and…. well, drive and drive and drive some more. The greater Houston area is massive. Ten times the size of Luxembourg. So traveling in the Houston area doesn’t have the same flair as in Europe, to say the least.
If there was one place in the Houston area that I could teleport to from Belgium (besides all of the delicious Mexican restaurants), it would be the Brazos Bend State Park. This was my favorite place to take my bike and spend the day. Being that it is a State Park may make it sound like it isn’t all that special. However, this park has one of the most unique characteristics of any State Park or park in general for that matter. They don’t call it the Home of the American Alligator for nothing.
Besides alligators, depending on how deep you wander into the park, there is a chance you will also encounter some of the other critters that Texas is known for — snakes, spiders, and feral pigs. Of course there are deer, turtles, and many varieties of birds as well. The park also has all of the features I love about Texas nature. Rugged wild streams, Spanish moss hanging from massive oak trees, the persistent aroma of dry pine needles, and of course the ever present blue sky.
My typical route would have covered about 30km but I wasn’t recording my routes back then. A mountain bike is definitely recommended for most of these trails. There are no fences here, so you will be sharing the park with some scary looking prehistoric creatures. You sometimes have to walk or bike within a couple feet of them if you want to follow the trail, but for the most part they just lay there sleeping.
Now on to my own photographic teleportation….