Brazos Bend State Park

This spring's horrific flooding, which forced evacuations of most of Brazoria and Fort Bend counties, was equally unkind to Brazos Bend State Park. One of the largest state parks in Texas and easily the closest to a majority of Houstonians, Brazos Bend was knocked out of commission for several weeks. Happily, all but a very few of Brazos Bend's nearly 5,000 acres and 37 miles of trails are open again for camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. The park is easily one of the most picturesque destinations within an hour's drive of the city, especially for wildlife-watchers — Brazos Bend's famous gators came through the flooding just fine, officials have said — or armchair astronomers headed to a Saturday-night stargazing party at the George Observatory.

If you want the measure of a professional, go back and watch an Astros game from the horrific 2013 season, in which they went 51-111. Listen to the stadium announcer and the enthusiasm and energy he brought to a near-empty stadium. Now watch the Astros as they chase glory in 2016, and that announcer has the same zeal and fire. That's the voice of Bob Ford, who's been belting out lineups and batters' names with that booming voice going all the way back to the days of the Killer Bs. Ford's a true pro's pro, and his welcoming tones are as much a part of the Minute Maid Park experience as Orbit, Altuve and the train in left field.

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