Saturday, April 22, 2006

Six-wheeling through the woods.

We had a great time today going on a bike tour of Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center. They were celebrating the grand opening of it's new, dedicated bike trail with a big hoopla of VIPs, free food, live music, a video crew, and reps from REI passing out free bandanas and trees. This celebration was also to celebrate Earth Day. It was kind of ironic then that we needed to drive BOTH our SUV's to this event. Our bicycles and Miniwether's buggy filled Missewether's Honda Pilot, so Miniwether and I had to drive there behind her in my RAV4. Nothing says "Save the Planet" like driving two SUV's twenty-five miles to go for a bike ride.

Anyway, we skipped all the talky-eaty stuff and just went for the guided bicycle tour. Turns out after all their promotions and advertisments of the event only one lady and the three of us showed up to actually ride the new trail. I think the park people were kind of disappointed. On the plus side, they had us ride our bikes back and forth through the begining of the trail while videotaping us for some Houston Parks commercial. Cool! baby, I'm going to be a STAR!!!

And then were were off for the real ride.
bike1

Or in Miniwether's case, off for a nice buggy ride with a bag full of snacks, a sippy cup, and Fledgewing the Dragon.
Buggy

The new bike path was only a mile long so after we finished it our guide (Ranger Anita) led us down other trails to show us neat things in the park. We'd peddle along through lovely shade then stop somewhere to watch butterflies circle in the sun or to gorge ourselves on wild blackberries. We really like wild blackberries.
buggy2

At another spot we stopped to watch a still-smoldering forest fire. The fire had started somehow six days ago but hadn't turned into the ranging inferno most people visulize. It was slowly clearing out overground underbrush which is a good thing. The park people were keeping an eye on it but the plan was to let it burn.
fire

Parts of Jesse H. Jones park are ancient cypress swamp and they've built boardwalks through them. Red Slider turtles and banded water snakes were swiming everywhere! It was really cool!
bandedsnake

boardwalk

swamp3

swamp2

After the ride we headed back to the the park's Nature Center. This is a great place for anyone who likes lots of live snakes and dead animals. There were all sorts of skulls, bones, skins, and even different animal scats encased in clear epoxy.
naturecenter

Better still, they had sixteen cases with live examples of interesting (venomous!) Texas snakes. Miniwether thought the water moccasin was very pretty.
watermoccasin

We were finally able to pull Miniwether away from the snakes with a promise of lunch. We peddled over to the picnic area and I fired up my popcan stove to cook my famous "couscous with anchovy paste".
popstove popstove3

lunch1

By the time lunch was over Miniwether was falling asleep where she sat. We loaded the bikes into our SUV's (I keep laughing about that!) and headed home. As usual on our adventures, Miniwether fell asleep as soon as her tush hit her carseat.

What a great day.

Note: The new bike trail at Jesse H. Jones Park is open for riding every day during their normal hours. All the park's other trails are open to bicycling every Sunday morning. We'll be heading back for more riding! Um, and we'll be getting a bike rack for the Honda.

Adventure! Excitement! Peddling!

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