Best Astro? Of this godforsaken season? Isn't that like having a category for Best Police Academy Sequel? Let's be blunt: Good Astros are few and far between this year. But why not offer up some applause for local-boy-made-good Lance Berkman, the pride of Rice University and slugger of the future? Berkman made the jump to the bigs with surprising ease, racking up a slew of multi-homer games to brighten an otherwise dismal Astros campaign. He doesn't qualify for Rookie of the Year honors because of a quirk in determining how long he officially was considered a major-leaguer last year, but his performance this year should offer hope that things at Enron Field eventually will get better.
SRO Sports Bar & Cafe
Nothing says "fine dining" like rows and rows of autographed sneakers and moldy uniforms, but such is the standard decor at sports bars nationwide. Luckily you don't go to sports bars for food. You go to see games you can't get on the tube at home, with a lively crowd, and you hope the beer's good and the food is serviceable. The SRO location at Westheimer and Gessner ably provides the necessities. It's a large, airy place, with a high ceiling that cuts back considerably on the problem of being unable to see the screen through the haze of secondhand smoke. The plentiful booths all have televisions that can be tuned to any number of games if you're somehow not satisfied with the choices offered by the big screens. The food's fine, as far as these places go; there are even some heart-healthy offerings in case cheese fries and nachos aren't your style. And yeah, if you just can't live without them, there are plenty of old sneakers and other memorabilia lining the walls.
Nothing says "fine dining" like rows and rows of autographed sneakers and moldy uniforms, but such is the standard decor at sports bars nationwide. Luckily you don't go to sports bars for food. You go to see games you can't get on the tube at home, with a lively crowd, and you hope the beer's good and the food is serviceable. The SRO location at Westheimer and Gessner ably provides the necessities. It's a large, airy place, with a high ceiling that cuts back considerably on the problem of being unable to see the screen through the haze of secondhand smoke. The plentiful booths all have televisions that can be tuned to any number of games if you're somehow not satisfied with the choices offered by the big screens. The food's fine, as far as these places go; there are even some heart-healthy offerings in case cheese fries and nachos aren't your style. And yeah, if you just can't live without them, there are plenty of old sneakers and other memorabilia lining the walls.
The powers that be have seen fit to pass laws to keep our hands to ourselves in times of personal conflict, but there's at least one place you can go to experience a good old-fashioned face pummeling vicariously. Browning Boxing has been serving up modern-day gladiators every month for three years now to satisfy audiences' blood lust. But don't think that because this is an aggressive sport the Hooters gals waiting the tables will be the only women you see. A couple of the women take their turn inside the ring, mano a mano, to get things rolling. The event is Las Vegas-style, meaning valet parking, hand-rolled cigars and a martini. $42, ringside; $22, general admission.
The powers that be have seen fit to pass laws to keep our hands to ourselves in times of personal conflict, but there's at least one place you can go to experience a good old-fashioned face pummeling vicariously. Browning Boxing has been serving up modern-day gladiators every month for three years now to satisfy audiences' blood lust. But don't think that because this is an aggressive sport the Hooters gals waiting the tables will be the only women you see. A couple of the women take their turn inside the ring, mano a mano, to get things rolling. The event is Las Vegas-style, meaning valet parking, hand-rolled cigars and a martini. $42, ringside; $22, general admission.
Start behind West Oaks Mall and head out Westheimer, which becomes FM 1093. Turn left at 1464 (by the Shell station), across the tracks past the Clodine general store. Instead of following 1464 as it curves left, take the road to the right, which is O'Brien. Cross Beechnut and continue to Madden. Take a right and head west. Note the goats on the left at the first curve. The Texas Department of Corrections owns most of the land out here. Take a right at the stop sign (Harlem Road) and go a short way until the first left, which is Mortin. Now you're riding in the Brazos River Valley. Note the cotton fields on the right. Cross 99 and continue to Skinner. Turn left. This is river bottom and prime horse country. Make a right at the bridge (McCrary). Past Bryn Myr Farms, note the emus on your right. Go all the way until Richmond-Foster, where you'll make a right. Continue to FM 359 north and make a left. This is a good time for a stop. Fortunately you're right at Old Schulze's Antiques. Located in a 1929 building is an amazing collection of restored wooden furniture, including a desk made out of an old organ, and a complete confessional, if you're decorating in a Catholic motif. Continue past the sprawling Hines Nursery until 1093. Take a left into Fulshear. When you intersect Main Street, make a right and go four blocks until you find Dozier's Grocery. This is where you want to stop for some of the best barbecue ribs in these parts. It's about 50 miles round-trip.
Start behind West Oaks Mall and head out Westheimer, which becomes FM 1093. Turn left at 1464 (by the Shell station), across the tracks past the Clodine general store. Instead of following 1464 as it curves left, take the road to the right, which is O'Brien. Cross Beechnut and continue to Madden. Take a right and head west. Note the goats on the left at the first curve. The Texas Department of Corrections owns most of the land out here. Take a right at the stop sign (Harlem Road) and go a short way until the first left, which is Mortin. Now you're riding in the Brazos River Valley. Note the cotton fields on the right. Cross 99 and continue to Skinner. Turn left. This is river bottom and prime horse country. Make a right at the bridge (McCrary). Past Bryn Myr Farms, note the emus on your right. Go all the way until Richmond-Foster, where you'll make a right. Continue to FM 359 north and make a left. This is a good time for a stop. Fortunately you're right at Old Schulze's Antiques. Located in a 1929 building is an amazing collection of restored wooden furniture, including a desk made out of an old organ, and a complete confessional, if you're decorating in a Catholic motif. Continue past the sprawling Hines Nursery until 1093. Take a left into Fulshear. When you intersect Main Street, make a right and go four blocks until you find Dozier's Grocery. This is where you want to stop for some of the best barbecue ribs in these parts. It's about 50 miles round-trip.
Remember back in the 1980s when it seemed like everybody and their mother was playing racquetball? It was as if the pasty white walls of the racquetball court were placing everyone who entered under some mysterious sweat-soaked spell. But the boom went bust. As trendy activities like step aerobics, spinning and kickboxing grew in popularity, racquetball courts went bye-bye. But at the Memorial Athletic Club near Dairy Ashford, the sport is still given its due. Even though the facility has decreased the number of courts from six to three in recent years, the remaining courts always are well maintained, and the club hosts regular clinics, tournaments and parties called Racquetball Socials. It's not uncommon to hear players discussing topics like making effective use of the back wall or how to execute the perfect two-inches-off-the-floor kill shot on a regular basis. While other clubs may have more courts, none caters to the wall-bangin' crowd quite like the MAC.
Remember back in the 1980s when it seemed like everybody and their mother was playing racquetball? It was as if the pasty white walls of the racquetball court were placing everyone who entered under some mysterious sweat-soaked spell. But the boom went bust. As trendy activities like step aerobics, spinning and kickboxing grew in popularity, racquetball courts went bye-bye. But at the Memorial Athletic Club near Dairy Ashford, the sport is still given its due. Even though the facility has decreased the number of courts from six to three in recent years, the remaining courts always are well maintained, and the club hosts regular clinics, tournaments and parties called Racquetball Socials. It's not uncommon to hear players discussing topics like making effective use of the back wall or how to execute the perfect two-inches-off-the-floor kill shot on a regular basis. While other clubs may have more courts, none caters to the wall-bangin' crowd quite like the MAC.
With its woodlands, low-lying prairies and many acres of ponds, Barker Reservoir has helped make Houston's ozone-choked air less foul, and more fowl. The nature preserve is a pre-eminent spot for birding within the city limits, particularly during winter months. Assorted songbirds, waterfowl, hawks, blackbirds, owls and other species thrive in the sanctuary, which lies west of Highway 6, between I-10 and Westheimer. White-tailed hawks, black-shouldered kites, flycatchers, warblers and a variety of sparrows animate the refuge. Restored wetlands have attracted white ibises, great blue and green herons, egrets and other shorebirds eager to troll for crawfish and tadpoles. Miles of nonvehicle roads and running trails allow wide-ranging access.

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