A Walk in the Woods – Bayou City Outdoors

My daughter found a free activity this weekend!  Hiking in Memorial Park led by a group called Bayou City Outdoors.  We met up at the parking lot at 8AM and proceeded with a 2 hour hike on the trails.  Memorial Park is huge (5.9km^2)!  I’ve played tennis there many times, however, there is running, baseball, soccer, rugby, biking and golf! (to name a few)

It rained pretty hard yesterday, but the trails are groomed with thick mulch which keeps them dry.

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There were about 30-40 people that attended.  These get togethers are designed for people to meet new people, it’s great for people new to the area or for someone looking for something to do with no one available to go with!  As a result, people are friendly and approachable.  And you are meeting people that like the outdoors and are pretty sociable.   I was absolutely thrilled to find out that a sister group is going to Big Bend this October.  I’ve already emailed the coordinator to find out how I can sign up!  This is one of the first things I learned from talking with Vivian.

Some of the trails were closed so we ended up back tracking, but some of the highlights were seeing different plant life, water lillies, my daughter saw a small snake that quickly moved out of our way!  There was a cat lounging on a trail and plenty of others walking their dogs.  We did see a pond with turtles on a log.  A sign read, “do not feed the turtles”…interesting.

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At times the trails were narrow, other times you could walk side by side.  We continued chatting with new people talking about what we do for a living to natural supplements. Even with the hot humid weather, there is quite a bit of greenery keeping the sun away. It was actually dark enough in some areas to remove your sun glasses.  Everyone carried water and we walked from 8AM – 10AM which was about 4 miles.  Afterwards, everyone was invited to brunch at a local restaurant.  My daughter had other plans!  Cabo baja tacos & burritos where they make fresh corn tortillas and the food is delicious!  A great Sunday morning!  It’s worth it to get up early!

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A Walk in the Woods – Bayou City Outdoors

Hamilton Pool Dream Come True

Hamilton Pool is another Texas treasure!!!  This natural wonder is located just outside of Austin to the West.   You have to make reservations to go and there is no guarantee that you will be able to swim because of bacteria levels which are tested daily.  Reservations are from 9-1PM and 2PM-6PM.  This is my own opinion, but I think there are bats in the “grotto” and I would think that the unsafe bacteria specifically ecoli might have something to do with their poop.  That’s just a guess.   It’s worth the risk to make the 3 hour drive because you can still enjoy the view of this beauty which is quite spectacular.   And there are plenty of other things to do in the area. Determined to go, I made the reservations months ago.  Even if I had to go by myself. Fortunately, my mother-in-law, son, daughter and friend went with! Your reservation is by the carload and since we have smaller vehicles, it was worth it to rent a minivan.  I looked at this day trip as a mini vacation and treated it as such!  We were comfortable!

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We began the 1/4 mile rough terrain to the water.  It really is steep in some places and rocky, the rocks aren’t even.  There isn’t anything to hang on to.  People lug their coolers, chairs and floats regardless!  There is no wheelchair access, which makes me sad because for people with disabilities this would be a huge challenge to go see and some would never go.

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The vegetation kept the hot Texas sun away.  There are lots of mesquite trees and cypress as you get towards the water.  I’m standing on the “beach”  here taking my first picture. This is where we laid out some towels and I called it our base camp.  The beach is rocky crushed rock with good size stones.  Outside of the stunning beauty of the cave like curved roof with water gently falling into a clear green massive pool, I noticed these three very large catfish at the water’s edge.  They hung out there the entire time!  First things first, I wanted to explore!  You can walk in the cave all along it to the other side.

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I thought bats were coming out of the swallow nests, but they aren’t.  If you look closely, you can see the muddy nests with a hole in the middle on the ceiling.

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Here is a view of the beach from the other side…

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Sometimes the water that falls is quite massive, on a day like today, it was picture perfect for standing under.

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Under the waterfall is the rock where people jump in.  I swam around the pool.  At first I thought it was going to be freezing because the water temperatures are in the 60s year round.  It was cold at first, you quickly get used to it.  Even though the water looks clear along the edges, it isn’t as it gets deeper.  Still it’s a very pretty green.  Looking up at the water falling is pretty cool as you see the droplets take the plunge.  I could have spent the day here, however my crew is not the chilling type.  At least not here.  I’m guessing it’s because there is no cellular service.

The idea was to eat here, bringing in food.  However, for this group it was a better idea to go out to lunch/dinner.  We ended up going to Canyon Grill which is on lake Travis.  We had another amazing view and great food!  Fantastic day ! ❤

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Hamilton Pool Dream Come True

Cyclists stick together

It’s a sunny Sunday in Texas and early enough in the morning before the blistering heat. About 1030AM I air up the tires to 120 and set off for the lake.  There is hardly any wind. At the lake, there are some people fishing, dogs at the dog park and the usual walkers, joggers and a couple of cyclists.  My goal is 20 miles.  This route includes a 2 mile loop around the lake.  I was on lap 4 when an explosion occurred behind me.  A burst of wind blew on my feet.  My back tire immediately went flat.  I was startled!  Fortunately there was shade from a recently planted oak tree.  I took out my spare tube and CO2 cartridges and began replacing my tube.  There were two fisherman in front of me.   Upon examination of the flat tube, a split at the seem was visible.  I got to the point where I needed to fill up the new tube with CO2 just enough so that it wasn’t completely flat.  That’s when the CO2 pump failed.  As soon as I put on the CO2 cartridge it discharged at the threading and you can’t touch it to stop it because it instantly freezes.  I had a full cartridge and two partials…all no good now.  I thought I would at least get the tube and tire on to walk it home.  A man who was walking came by and asked if I needed help.  He didn’t have his tools, but offered me water.  I was grateful and told him I’d be ok.  I kept working on my tire, it’s so hard to get the last stretch of tire over the rim, but I kept trying.  I went on with this for at least 30 minutes all the while fighting an attack by Texas ants.  It’s so weird, you can sit or stand on a spot that appears clear, then they come up through the ground and start attacking.  There really isn’t a place on the ground in Texas that is safe from ants.

A cyclist stopped by and asked me if I needed help.  He said he had an air pump in his truck.  Again grateful, I told him that would help!  He returned with the pump and at the same time the walker had made another round and stopped to offer assistance. Unfortunately the air pump was for a mountain bike and not the presta valves for the road bike. Still both men helped me get the remaining 4 inches of tire over my rim which helped me get the bike into rolling condition.  I was offered a ride and more water, even a phone in case I needed to call someone.

This is amazing to me.  There were a few people that passed and of course the fishermen in front of me, it’s the cyclists that stop to help and even offer water.  I really didn’t think anyone would offer to help.  This was a pleasant surprise to my older eyes.  At this point in life, taking care of my business on my own is what a strive for.   Having the tools, and a spare tube on my bike along with replacement practice is preparation just for this problem.  With the hotter temperatures, it wasn’t wise to fill the tubes to 120.  They needed to be filled between 100-110.

Another lesson learned.  You need to be prepared if you go out and ride. The cyclist that helped me mentioned he runs a lap around the lake and rides 4.  It’s great exercise.  I am amazed at how many people don’t pay attention to what is going on directly in front of them.  They are looking back, sideways or even down and just don’t see a cyclist coming towards them.  There is plenty of room to stay on the right side, however people walk directly in the middle of the path.  Many oblivious!  LOL!

I walked the 1.5 miles home in the heat with my clip in shoes on which is awkward.  I could have asked the family for help, not today.   What’s the rush?  Getting home will just take longer.  Instead, I looked more at my surroundings.  Maybe there was something I was suppose to see or that the walk was an opportunity to think about something I was suppose to think about (Like next time figure a way to check the CO2 cartridges or get an air pump to include on the bike).  Who knows!  It was hot and I feel as though my shoulders were sunburned through my shirt!  Once home, I filled the tire up with air and will complete the remaining 10 miles soon.  A new tube and additional CO2 cartridges have been ordered!

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Cyclists stick together

Texas Chain Saw Massacre

In preparation for selling our house , I am trying to tidy up some things.  It cost ways too much money to have landscapers do things.  There are some things I need them for that I can’t get too, like trimming the palms, they are just too tall.  I never thought I postage stamp size yard would require so much landscaping.   My husband says we live on 1/6 of an acre.  Anyway, the one day freeze reeked havoc on our plants.  I had to take out the 1 year old dwarf oleanders and trim back the bottle brush that were completely brown and were not coming back (this is where I used the chain saw).

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I asked the neighbor if he would move his gazebo which currently houses farm rabbits. (I am pretty certain this is not allowed in our neighborhood…they smell like bat poop).  Anyway, he just said go for it.  I didn’t damage his gazebo and I tried really hard not too.  I have bottle brush tree dead limbs in my garage, behind the waterfall and behind the garage.  It’s going to take a lot of work to get it to the street for garbage pick up.  Ugh!

Next up was replacing the Italian cypress trees in planter boxes.  I fit these babies in a camaro!  whoo hoo!

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Lastly for the backyard is the replacement of the oleanders.  I love the hot pink ones, but couldn’t get them in dwarf size.  So peach it is.  I waited at least a month for the local nursery to replenish supply.  They didn’t.  Oh well, this is for the new owners.

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I think our backyard is nice.  My daughter and I enjoyed the hot tub last night.  So I am the pool man too and have had a hard time keeping the pool clean and algae free.  In our new place we will not have a pool.  I never thought I’d be ok without being around water. I am ok with it for now.  Our new place will have such a better layout and a large covered patio.

I will miss some things but not others.   I won’t miss the neighbor across the street with their cars.  I will miss my tennis club and friends, how convenient it is to get to the store. I’ll miss my one neighbor for sure.  Who would have thought after so long being here, she would be the one that I have the closest bond with?  Our lives have changed so much. I think it’s time for a change.  And I’m excited for our new adventure!

 

 

Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Father’s Day in the Glades

My father’s day was special.  I traveled with my son to be with my dad in Florida.   He has always loved Florida and even though he lived in different states, and even in a different country, Florida has always been considered home for him.  The beaches are just gorgeous in south Florida.  They really have made them nice.  Each beach has it’s own personality. Fort Lauderdale beach, Delray, Hollywood, Boca, and Deerfield are favorites!

Since my son was with us, he really wanted to see alligators.  As if we don’t see those in Texas!  Dad loves the everglades too!  We went to Sawgrass Recreational Park for an airboat ride in hopes to see alligators.    They hand out ear plugs, the motors start up and it is so loud!  There has been a lot of rain in the area and the captain said there haven’t been too many sightings, even at night.  Alligators are nocturnal.  We ended up seeing a big one!   He came up on the side of the boat and I snapped a pic.  I was a little concerned about how close he was and I figured our boat was probably disturbing him.  In Texas, my favorite place to go to view alligators in their habitat is Brazos Bend State Park.  You can camp there, bike around a big lake (moat with alligators in it) and even go to the observatory in the park for star gazing at night.  The everglades is pretty cool.  It’s about 100 miles by 60 miles. The water is fresh and it comes from lake Okeechobee.  The everglades is actually a river. Recently they have stopped building around it for 100 years.  From what I got out of the talk, the depth can be 17 inches or more.  There is a razor sharp sawgrass that grows there and decaying vegetation then shell underneath. There is bass in the water.  The water is not clear it looks brackish.    The captain said there are snakes, however the airboats keep them away.

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Say hello to my little friend….

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Tomorrow we will be hitting the beach, weather permitting.

The dad’s that like to do things with you are the coolest.  My dad is exceptional.  He likes to have fun and has always been responsible, reliable and is an amazing care taker.  I know he had fun taking my son and I to the park and I’m so glad he got out to enjoy the day.  It was so beautiful.  The weather was in the 80s, a bit less humid than Houston, albeit it was humid.

 

Father’s Day in the Glades

Healthy snack

I have been searching for satisfying food that doesn’t cost too much and is healthy and low calorie.  A few years ago I went on a weight loss plan “Medifast” and it worked great.  My issue is that in maintenance I didn’t want to continue buying their “food”. Medifast did a really good job offering tasty “meals” that were around 100 calories and satisfying.  My only issue is that I have to buy them, either go there or have them shipped and it was getting expensive.  At least $3 per “meal” and I would have 3 or 4 a day on maintenance.  Specifically I was looking for a shake.  I have tried several recipes on the internet and found that the combination of flavors I was looking for is chocolate and peanut butter.  I love chocolate and thought the peanut butter would add some protein.  After trial and error I found something that I really like!  It doesn’t have too much sugar and the consistency blended well and the taste is satisfying!

I’m guessing it’s probably 125 calories if you add up the individual ingredients, which are:

1/2 banana

3/4 cup of vanilla almond milk

1 tablespoon of Powdered Peanut Butter

1 tablespoon of Natural Unsweetened Cocoa

1/4 cup of crushed ice.

The medifast meals had 11 grams of protein in them.  And 7 grams of sugar.  The peanut powder provides 5 grams.  So maybe I will work on increasing the protein.  Protein should keep you from getting hungry longer.  Powdered peanut butter has the taste of peanut butter and less calories and fat.  My daughter found this little gem!   This shake has about the same fat as Medifast, 2.5 grams.

And the cost, $.68!  Yippee!!!!!!

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Healthy snack

What the heart likes to do

I am so happy about the opportunity I had to give an old bike away to a friend who needed it.  My friend’s son is interested in bike riding and actually rides to school (college) from home.   My friend told me the current bike was not functioning and how much her son enjoyed biking.  They needed a functioning bike and I happened to have my husband’s bike that has been sitting in our garage for far too long.  It’s really old (1993) and it’s a Schwinn when Schwinn was good.  Before I was married my soon to be husband had me believe that he would adventure on bikes, canoes, camping, etc.  That lasted maybe a handful of times.

I had to get new tubes and a chain for the bike (about $50) to get in into working condition.  The gear shift doesn’t work anymore, despite the attempt to flush the lines.  I was told they may start working, although admonished not to get my hopes up.  Still the bike is stuck on a comfortable riding gear.  With Houston being so flat, you don’t really need to shift gears anyway.  It will cost $40 to get new shifts and $20 to install on each. For this bike as old as it is, the $50 spent to get it functioning was well worth it.  A new bike now-a-days is at least $400 at the bike store.  Of course they have the latest and the greatest options.  This bike is steel and heavier than the carbon frames.

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My friend arrived with her son.  Which warmed my heart.  Now a days it seems that kids just aren’t as appreciative.  Not this kid.   My kids would never ride a bike to and from work or school.   I would ride to work back in the day, not to save gas, just for the exercise.   My friend’s son was so appreciative and told me about his riding paths.  Again, warming my heart that he has found exercise he enjoys.  It is so special to me that I can contribute something that fosters the desire to keep going on this path.  There is just not a better feeling.  I hate throwing things away.  Finding a purpose provides meaning.

Cycling has so many good purposes, traveling from here to there, good for your knees, exploring beautiful scenery, physical challenge, etc.  There are so many places to travel in the USA and ride.  Back in the day, I almost planned a trip alone to Martha’s Vineyard to cycle the island.  I may someday go back to that plan.  Just listening to the bike shop chatter, there are trails in the blue ridge mountains and in many other places that you can ride for miles. I can’t wait for retirement.  I can definitely see me on these trails.

What the heart likes to do