It's no easy task to get off the beaten path, when every trail in the Houston area has been beaten senselessly by the throngs. But the Big Thicket is waiting -- and wild. It's an hour or so drive from Houston, and worth every minute of it. Exit I-10 onto U.S. 287 near Beaumont (and leave the Louisiana-bound gamblers behind) and the dense stands aren't far away. Seven miles north of Kountze is the FM 420 cut-off to the Big Thicket National Preserve visitor center, a well-stocked, mandatory stop for first-timers. From there, pick your pleasure from among nine separate sections of the 97,000-acre park. There are short well-marked hiking routes that wind through hearty vegetation, and more daring long-distance trails that would tempt Davy Crockett himself. Options abound -- this is the place where the prime southeast forests flow into the plant life of the coastal plains and Midwest prairies. In other words, majestic cypresses and pines are neighbors with cactus. The real beauty is that the thicket is still relatively undisturbed. See it while it lasts.
It's no easy task to get off the beaten path, when every trail in the Houston area has been beaten senselessly by the throngs. But the Big Thicket is waiting -- and wild. It's an hour or so drive from Houston, and worth every minute of it. Exit I-10 onto U.S. 287 near Beaumont (and leave the Louisiana-bound gamblers behind) and the dense stands aren't far away. Seven miles north of Kountze is the FM 420 cut-off to the Big Thicket National Preserve visitor center, a well-stocked, mandatory stop for first-timers. From there, pick your pleasure from among nine separate sections of the 97,000-acre park. There are short well-marked hiking routes that wind through hearty vegetation, and more daring long-distance trails that would tempt Davy Crockett himself. Options abound -- this is the place where the prime southeast forests flow into the plant life of the coastal plains and Midwest prairies. In other words, majestic cypresses and pines are neighbors with cactus. The real beauty is that the thicket is still relatively undisturbed. See it while it lasts.
In a town as hot and biker-unfriendly as Houston, it seems almost pointless to purchase a two-wheeler. But once you check out this beautiful, highbrow Museum District neighborhood, you'll be apt to change your mind. The wide-open, well-paved streets are practically covered with a roof of oak trees. Plus, if you're riding slowly enough, you'll get your fair share of bird-watching in too. Worried about getting run over by an angry commuter? Don't be. There are more bikers, joggers and walkers than there are vehicles, so you won't have to do too much dodging. The best part of the ride? Gawking at the monstrous houses and getting a taste of how the other half lives. You know, the half that never has to bike anywhere because they've got drivers.
In a town as hot and biker-unfriendly as Houston, it seems almost pointless to purchase a two-wheeler. But once you check out this beautiful, highbrow Museum District neighborhood, you'll be apt to change your mind. The wide-open, well-paved streets are practically covered with a roof of oak trees. Plus, if you're riding slowly enough, you'll get your fair share of bird-watching in too. Worried about getting run over by an angry commuter? Don't be. There are more bikers, joggers and walkers than there are vehicles, so you won't have to do too much dodging. The best part of the ride? Gawking at the monstrous houses and getting a taste of how the other half lives. You know, the half that never has to bike anywhere because they've got drivers.
Being locked in a cell with a bouncing blue projectile hurtling toward your head isn't everyone's idea of a good time. But we happen to love racquetball. And at Northwest Fitness and Sports Club, racquetball is the main attraction. The club offers ten courts, including the preferable windowless closed courts. (Our skills are not quite audience-worthy just yet.) The club runs leagues and hosts special events such as the Texas State Doubles Tournament, but we've never had a problem getting on a court.

Being locked in a cell with a bouncing blue projectile hurtling toward your head isn't everyone's idea of a good time. But we happen to love racquetball. And at Northwest Fitness and Sports Club, racquetball is the main attraction. The club offers ten courts, including the preferable windowless closed courts. (Our skills are not quite audience-worthy just yet.) The club runs leagues and hosts special events such as the Texas State Doubles Tournament, but we've never had a problem getting on a court.

Is it the hair? USA Today published an article that focused on Mooch's braids. Nah, can't be the hair. Moochie is a truly creative player. He slashes, he dashes, and most important, he gets in those just-in-the-nick-of-time shots. In his three years with the Rockets, the six-foot-one, 175-pound Norris has consistently increased his field-goal percentage and rebounding with every season. The '96 University of West Florida graduate fits in well with the Rockets, and it's obvious that he loves to play ball. We're lucky to have such a solid and exhilarating player.
Is it the hair? USA Today published an article that focused on Mooch's braids. Nah, can't be the hair. Moochie is a truly creative player. He slashes, he dashes, and most important, he gets in those just-in-the-nick-of-time shots. In his three years with the Rockets, the six-foot-one, 175-pound Norris has consistently increased his field-goal percentage and rebounding with every season. The '96 University of West Florida graduate fits in well with the Rockets, and it's obvious that he loves to play ball. We're lucky to have such a solid and exhilarating player.
The great explorer Christopher Columbus stands at one end of the park, pointing to the Italian Cultural and Community Center. Nonetheless, this respite from the noise and traffic of the Museum District, this diminutive stretch of trees and grass, remains undiscovered (or at least unnoticed) by many Inner Loopers. Not really a picnic spot, or a sports spot, or a jogging spot, this place is more of a chill spot. Maybe it's the rippling pond with its quaint pair of bridges, waterfall and fountain, surrounded by pink crape myrtles and lush red hibiscus at one end; or just the fact that it's almost always empty. Whatever the case, it's peaceful enough to suit a small memorial to a beloved grandmother. ("I'll bet Grandma Pam is a pretty angel," reads the plaque.) Grab a spot on a bench and watch the birds, sip some coffee or just be still. When was the last time you did that?

The great explorer Christopher Columbus stands at one end of the park, pointing to the Italian Cultural and Community Center. Nonetheless, this respite from the noise and traffic of the Museum District, this diminutive stretch of trees and grass, remains undiscovered (or at least unnoticed) by many Inner Loopers. Not really a picnic spot, or a sports spot, or a jogging spot, this place is more of a chill spot. Maybe it's the rippling pond with its quaint pair of bridges, waterfall and fountain, surrounded by pink crape myrtles and lush red hibiscus at one end; or just the fact that it's almost always empty. Whatever the case, it's peaceful enough to suit a small memorial to a beloved grandmother. ("I'll bet Grandma Pam is a pretty angel," reads the plaque.) Grab a spot on a bench and watch the birds, sip some coffee or just be still. When was the last time you did that?

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