Step out of the city and into the Wild West. Down Cyprus Woods Road out in Humble is Cyprus Trails. You pull into the driveway, and the yard is filled with horses tethered to trees and roaming around. On your left is a pen filled with puppies and a potbellied pig. Kittens crawl through the haystack; there are more than 30 horses surrounding you. Inside the ranch house, battered western saddles hang from the ceiling beams. On the wall are spurs, horseshoes and paintings of horses. Darolyn Butler-Dial and her husband, Mark Dial, run the ranch. You can saddle up an Arabian for $25 trail rides, three times a day. These relaxing rides take you deep into woods surrounded by wildflowers and across cool creeks. There's one trail that leads across sandy white beaches on the way to Old Spring. (We didn't know there was white sand within 500 miles of Houston.)
Step out of the city and into the Wild West. Down Cyprus Woods Road out in Humble is Cyprus Trails. You pull into the driveway, and the yard is filled with horses tethered to trees and roaming around. On your left is a pen filled with puppies and a potbellied pig. Kittens crawl through the haystack; there are more than 30 horses surrounding you. Inside the ranch house, battered western saddles hang from the ceiling beams. On the wall are spurs, horseshoes and paintings of horses. Darolyn Butler-Dial and her husband, Mark Dial, run the ranch. You can saddle up an Arabian for $25 trail rides, three times a day. These relaxing rides take you deep into woods surrounded by wildflowers and across cool creeks. There's one trail that leads across sandy white beaches on the way to Old Spring. (We didn't know there was white sand within 500 miles of Houston.)
Houston has never been known as a hotbed for big-time auto racing. Sure, A.J. Foyt grew up in the Heights, but as far as top-notch racing facilities are concerned, forget it. That was, until 1988, when Houston Raceway Park in Baytown came onto the scene. The sprawling facility has played host to national events sanctioned by the traveling horsepower circus known as the National Hot Rod Association for the past 12 years, and has been the site of numerous speed records. The track is open to amateur racers as well. The NHRA races twice a year on the quarter-mile drag strip, while the facility this year added a three-eighths-mile oval dirt track for your high-speed enjoyment. In addition to holding weekly Saturday-night events for area racers, the dirt track also hosts the World of Outlaws sprint car series twice a year.
Houston has never been known as a hotbed for big-time auto racing. Sure, A.J. Foyt grew up in the Heights, but as far as top-notch racing facilities are concerned, forget it. That was, until 1988, when Houston Raceway Park in Baytown came onto the scene. The sprawling facility has played host to national events sanctioned by the traveling horsepower circus known as the National Hot Rod Association for the past 12 years, and has been the site of numerous speed records. The track is open to amateur racers as well. The NHRA races twice a year on the quarter-mile drag strip, while the facility this year added a three-eighths-mile oval dirt track for your high-speed enjoyment. In addition to holding weekly Saturday-night events for area racers, the dirt track also hosts the World of Outlaws sprint car series twice a year.
Dairy Ashford Roller Rink
Grade school and junior high in the '80s. Days of tube socks, Keds, T-shirt rings and passing crushes. Every Friday night you traded in your sneakers for a pair of brown quads with bright orange wheels and fat rubber toe-stops. If you were really cool, you brought your own skates. In skates, you were taller, another kind of creature who could glide into the stream of moving bodies and circle the floor beneath the disco ball. Maybe you fell sometimes, the pain in your bottom compounded by scores of legs rolling past you, those legs belonging to snickering classmates. Maybe you were one of the kids who could skate backward, who won the races. But none of that mattered as much as this: Who would skate together during the couples skate? These days, till 10:30 p.m. on Friday night, kids still pack the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink, a somewhat stale and rundown but held-together place of elementary school soap operas and birthday parties. Now they whirl on in-line skates to the Backstreet Boys and other Top 40 songs (no rap or hard rock, though). They still do the Hokey Pokey, and you can too. Thursday nights are for you now -- half-price tickets for adult skate, the best of the oldies from the '50s to the '80s -- so go ahead, double-knot those thin, long laces. Relive your childhood.
Grade school and junior high in the '80s. Days of tube socks, Keds, T-shirt rings and passing crushes. Every Friday night you traded in your sneakers for a pair of brown quads with bright orange wheels and fat rubber toe-stops. If you were really cool, you brought your own skates. In skates, you were taller, another kind of creature who could glide into the stream of moving bodies and circle the floor beneath the disco ball. Maybe you fell sometimes, the pain in your bottom compounded by scores of legs rolling past you, those legs belonging to snickering classmates. Maybe you were one of the kids who could skate backward, who won the races. But none of that mattered as much as this: Who would skate together during the couples skate? These days, till 10:30 p.m. on Friday night, kids still pack the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink, a somewhat stale and rundown but held-together place of elementary school soap operas and birthday parties. Now they whirl on in-line skates to the Backstreet Boys and other Top 40 songs (no rap or hard rock, though). They still do the Hokey Pokey, and you can too. Thursday nights are for you now -- half-price tickets for adult skate, the best of the oldies from the '50s to the '80s -- so go ahead, double-knot those thin, long laces. Relive your childhood.
It may seem odd to pick a guy who wasn't even good enough to start for the Rockets last year, but don't let Cuttino Mobley's sixth-man status fool you. He's more important to the team than fellow guard Steve Francis, who has the name recognition and the fancy dunks but little of Mobley's game-breaking abilities. The Rockets' No. 1 goal this off-season was to sign Mobley to a multiyear deal, and the organization did exactly that. The guard, who averaged 15.8 points last year (second to Francis's 18 points), agreed to a six-year contract worth a reported $32.2 million. On the day the signing was announced, Rudy Tomjanovich told the Houston Chronicle that Mobley was "one of the handful of players in the league that can be called a "go-to guy.' By that I mean we can get the ball in his hands, and something positive is going to happen." Mobley is the kind of shooting guard who's not afraid to drive toward the basket, which has not exactly been a Rocket hallmark. His speed and agility could transform the Rockets from a boring inside-out post-up team to a fun-and-gun quintet. That ability alone -- to make the Rockets more funky James Brown than elegant Nat "King" Cole -- makes him worthy of accolades. Cuttino! Take us to the bridge! Or the hoop! Or the play-offs!
It may seem odd to pick a guy who wasn't even good enough to start for the Rockets last year, but don't let Cuttino Mobley's sixth-man status fool you. He's more important to the team than fellow guard Steve Francis, who has the name recognition and the fancy dunks but little of Mobley's game-breaking abilities. The Rockets' No. 1 goal this off-season was to sign Mobley to a multiyear deal, and the organization did exactly that. The guard, who averaged 15.8 points last year (second to Francis's 18 points), agreed to a six-year contract worth a reported $32.2 million. On the day the signing was announced, Rudy Tomjanovich told the Houston Chronicle that Mobley was "one of the handful of players in the league that can be called a "go-to guy.' By that I mean we can get the ball in his hands, and something positive is going to happen." Mobley is the kind of shooting guard who's not afraid to drive toward the basket, which has not exactly been a Rocket hallmark. His speed and agility could transform the Rockets from a boring inside-out post-up team to a fun-and-gun quintet. That ability alone -- to make the Rockets more funky James Brown than elegant Nat "King" Cole -- makes him worthy of accolades. Cuttino! Take us to the bridge! Or the hoop! Or the play-offs!
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.
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.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of