—————————————————— Best Place to Drink Bloody Marys 2001 | Palace Lanes Bowling Alley | Best of Houston® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Houston | Houston Press
Forget brunch. We submit that the best time for a Bloody Mary is when you're bowling. Bowling can make you thirsty (it's a sport, you know), and Bloody Marys are light and refreshing. But they're also strong enough to help you take yourself a little less seriously in rented shoes. And at Palace Lanes, the Bloodys are quite good. Yes, they're made from a mix (it is a bowling alley), but it's a good mix -- nicely spiced and not too tomatoey. The Palace Lanes bartender is generous with the vodka, and the drink is served from the bar's take-out window in a plastic cup with a wedge of lime. Order one. Your beer-bowling friends will be jealous.
Forget brunch. We submit that the best time for a Bloody Mary is when you're bowling. Bowling can make you thirsty (it's a sport, you know), and Bloody Marys are light and refreshing. But they're also strong enough to help you take yourself a little less seriously in rented shoes. And at Palace Lanes, the Bloodys are quite good. Yes, they're made from a mix (it is a bowling alley), but it's a good mix -- nicely spiced and not too tomatoey. The Palace Lanes bartender is generous with the vodka, and the drink is served from the bar's take-out window in a plastic cup with a wedge of lime. Order one. Your beer-bowling friends will be jealous.
Would you believe Houston has more than 200 miles of bikeways? Well, it's true. And the West White Oak Bayou Trail comprises five of the best. Just a year old, the 12-foot-wide concrete path follows its namesake bayou from T.C. Jester at 11th Street in the Heights up to Pinemont, north of Loop 610. Plenty wide and plenty smooth, on a recent holiday morning the trail was sprinkled with families and singles on ten-speeds, Rollerblades, with strollers and on foot. You don't need to be Lance Armstrong out here; just dust off your old beater and join the folks enjoying the virtually uninterrupted ribbon of pavement, complete with bike/ped bridges and special underpasses. And if you dig it as much as we did, you'll be thrilled to learn that the White Oak Bayou Trail is just a small part of a planned bikeway network for Houston that will consist of bike lanes, shared bike routes and hike/bike trails, which we hope will encourage people to get out of their cars and take traveling into their own hands. Or rather, their own feet.

Would you believe Houston has more than 200 miles of bikeways? Well, it's true. And the West White Oak Bayou Trail comprises five of the best. Just a year old, the 12-foot-wide concrete path follows its namesake bayou from T.C. Jester at 11th Street in the Heights up to Pinemont, north of Loop 610. Plenty wide and plenty smooth, on a recent holiday morning the trail was sprinkled with families and singles on ten-speeds, Rollerblades, with strollers and on foot. You don't need to be Lance Armstrong out here; just dust off your old beater and join the folks enjoying the virtually uninterrupted ribbon of pavement, complete with bike/ped bridges and special underpasses. And if you dig it as much as we did, you'll be thrilled to learn that the White Oak Bayou Trail is just a small part of a planned bikeway network for Houston that will consist of bike lanes, shared bike routes and hike/bike trails, which we hope will encourage people to get out of their cars and take traveling into their own hands. Or rather, their own feet.

In the first season following Cynthia Cooper's premature retirement, fans were looking forward to Sheryl Swoopes to carry the team to its fifth WNBA championship. But when a knee injury sidelined Sheryl for the entire season, Tina Thompson took over at forward, with Janeth Arcain as her support at guard. The two took the team to the playoffs with a respectable 19-13 season. Thompson came in third in the league in scoring, and sixth in rebounds. She was the leading vote-getter in the West for the all-star game. But beginning with a suspension in July and then a sprained ankle, Thompson's Comets hit the skids in August. Before that, Thompson was being touted as an MVP contender. The Comets couldn't make it past the L.A. Sparks in the playoffs, and Thompson tore a calf muscle in the deciding game. Now she's recuperating for next season as the rest of us hang our hopes on the triumvirate of Swoopes, Thompson and Arcain picking up where the Comets left off this year.

In the first season following Cynthia Cooper's premature retirement, fans were looking forward to Sheryl Swoopes to carry the team to its fifth WNBA championship. But when a knee injury sidelined Sheryl for the entire season, Tina Thompson took over at forward, with Janeth Arcain as her support at guard. The two took the team to the playoffs with a respectable 19-13 season. Thompson came in third in the league in scoring, and sixth in rebounds. She was the leading vote-getter in the West for the all-star game. But beginning with a suspension in July and then a sprained ankle, Thompson's Comets hit the skids in August. Before that, Thompson was being touted as an MVP contender. The Comets couldn't make it past the L.A. Sparks in the playoffs, and Thompson tore a calf muscle in the deciding game. Now she's recuperating for next season as the rest of us hang our hopes on the triumvirate of Swoopes, Thompson and Arcain picking up where the Comets left off this year.

The Hakeem era -- those glorious days that brought Houston its first major pro championships -- is now, officially, history. The Dream is a Toronto Raptor, and he probably has a better chance of making the NBA Finals with new teammate Vince Carter than with the current Rockets. But the Rockets are the team with the better future, and much of that future will rest on the shoulders of guard Steve Francis. Francis won the Co-Rookie of the Year award after the 1999-2000 season and continued with solid play in this past season. The Rockets prefer to spread the wealth around instead of having one dominant scorer, but Francis led the team with an average of 20 points and 6.5 assists per game. He's pretty deadly from the three-point line, and he's steadily developing into a leader both on the court and off. Francis came out from the University of Maryland after his junior year but has spent this summer going back to class to get closer to his goal of a degree in criminology. By the time the Rockets move into their new arena for the 2003-2004 season, Francis should be firmly established as one of the NBA's stars.

The Hakeem era -- those glorious days that brought Houston its first major pro championships -- is now, officially, history. The Dream is a Toronto Raptor, and he probably has a better chance of making the NBA Finals with new teammate Vince Carter than with the current Rockets. But the Rockets are the team with the better future, and much of that future will rest on the shoulders of guard Steve Francis. Francis won the Co-Rookie of the Year award after the 1999-2000 season and continued with solid play in this past season. The Rockets prefer to spread the wealth around instead of having one dominant scorer, but Francis led the team with an average of 20 points and 6.5 assists per game. He's pretty deadly from the three-point line, and he's steadily developing into a leader both on the court and off. Francis came out from the University of Maryland after his junior year but has spent this summer going back to class to get closer to his goal of a degree in criminology. By the time the Rockets move into their new arena for the 2003-2004 season, Francis should be firmly established as one of the NBA's stars.

Forty-five minutes north of town on I-10 (at least the way we drive) lies Huntsville State Park, nestled among the Piney Woods of the Sam Houston National Forest. Here you can thrash and crash (well, if you're doing it right, it occasionally happens) more than ten miles of hike-and-bike trails for a $3 day-use fee. Following the perimeter of Lake Raven, these mostly single-track dirt paths are well maintained, with cute wooden bridges. There's nothing too technical here, but the roots of the skinny, towering trees can be challenging to negotiate, even when you're not busy avoiding the fine sand that gathers in deep pockets between the hills. After that long, fun ride, you can kick back in the parking area with the other bikers, clean up with a shower or, heck, go jump in a lake.

Forty-five minutes north of town on I-10 (at least the way we drive) lies Huntsville State Park, nestled among the Piney Woods of the Sam Houston National Forest. Here you can thrash and crash (well, if you're doing it right, it occasionally happens) more than ten miles of hike-and-bike trails for a $3 day-use fee. Following the perimeter of Lake Raven, these mostly single-track dirt paths are well maintained, with cute wooden bridges. There's nothing too technical here, but the roots of the skinny, towering trees can be challenging to negotiate, even when you're not busy avoiding the fine sand that gathers in deep pockets between the hills. After that long, fun ride, you can kick back in the parking area with the other bikers, clean up with a shower or, heck, go jump in a lake.

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