Boating on Buffalo Bayou

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Buffalo Bayou Partnership is promoting its boat tours -- tying them into the Christmas season -- as part of its continuing effort to try to get Houston residents out of their cars and down to the bayou to see what all the clean-up has achieved.

So Thursday, after two prior postponements, it launched a pontoon trip for members of the media so that they would, in turn, spread the word. Here's what we saw and heard:

-- Greenish-brown water. Apparently whatever they're doing to clean up the bayou can't compete with the tons of fertilizer we put on our lawns that somehow gets flushed into our waterways. There's a lot of things cooking up in the water that don't make for the kind of pristine view you get scuba diving off the coral reefs near Cancun.

-- Surprisingly little debris floating by. And absolutely no dead bodies. But alas, no alligators either. Spotted: One orange-and-white fish about a foot-and-a-half long and a few white egrets.

-- Sounds of nature competing with and losing to the vehicular roar from highway overpasses stretching across the bayou. Also, in one spot, there's an "interactive" event which sounds like a freight train (we were told the nearby downtown main post office used to be the central rail station in town) although children are also told it could be a monster. Ah, bayou humor.

-- Those funny, pesky graffitti artists sure love nature and boy, they can plant their colors anywhere.

-- Big dreams. Eventually at Allen's Landing, there will be a hiking, biking and boating facility, an outdoor plaza, event space and a rooftop terrace. People will be able to sit out there at night (the banks are lined with lights) and look at the Allen Brothers' wise decision to set up the original port of Houston here, instead of further south as Stephen F. Austin and others did only to find out that low tide in some other places meant no water at all.

-- It isn't the San Antonio River Walk. And that's not bad at all. Thanks to Bush Sr. and others, plans to line Buffalo Bayou with concrete were stopped before they got anywhere. So Houston kept a natural bayou, something which everyone can enjoy right now by pontoon boat or walking the banks.

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