Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dirt road to oil well site in Barker Reservoir in winter

The Tim Miles Trail in Barker Reservoir

This is a side trail branching off from Noble Road Trail inside Barker Reservoir, running first south on the edge of the wetlands restoration area that was devastated by a wild fire in 2011, then turns West and ends at a fenced oil well site with a number of large tanks. This dirt road does not have a name; so I am identifying it by the name of the Oil Lease (Tim Miles) to which it leads. Unlike Noble Road Trail, which crosses the park and links up with the Barker-Clodine Road bike-hike trial, the Tim Miles Trail is a cul-de-sac that does not get much foot or bicycle traffic. The West Houston sunsets from the North-South section of the trail can be pretty awesome, though, rivaling the scenic sunsets on the lake right behind the Dam. While there is no water here most of the year, and thus no reflection of the setting sun, the charred tree trunks limbs make for a ghastly silhouette against the blue and orange evening sky. The wildfire raged here in the Fall of 2012 and effects are very much still present, especially in the winter when the greenery is gone.   

No Horses on Boardwalk in George Bush Park

Wetlands Restoration Area in Barker Reservoir

Treeline and ditch on side of Noble Road Trail looking West
(Feb 2013 photo)

First batch of Spring-time wildflowers in Bear Creek Park - Yellow predominates

Early signs of Spring in Bear Creek Pioneers Park near Golf Course. Yellow blooms on grass that is green again, but the trees are still without leaves. The weather is pleasant enough for a picnic, and no swarms of mosquitoes yet to spoil a nice afternoon at the park. Just some other bugs here and there. (See below)  

The paved roads inside Bear Creek Park are also great for bicycling. 
Compared to Terry Hershey Trail, much quieter. Although open to motor vehicle traffic, there is not much of it (except for War Memorial Drive, which connects North Eldridge to Clay Road
and Texas 6 further on West)

West Houston Sunsets at George Bush Park

Almost looks like another wild fire
Sundown at the big lake in Bush Park (behind Barker Dam)
View of setting sun from Tim Miles oilwell  access road
Sunsets at lake in Barker Reservoir with a couple of bird  in golden water

Sunset at Flood Channel T103 in the Southern section of George Bush Park
View from beneath the pedestrian bridge

Wind & Waves at Bush Park - West Houston afternoon in pics -

As retiring Pope Benedict reminisces metaphorically about the "choppy waters" along his path, we had the real thing right here in West Houston last week. The brisk wind was making waves at normally placid lake along Noble Road Trial in George Bush Park. Unusually turbulent indeed.   

Choppy waters on West shore of the lake behind Barker Dam 

Barker Reservoir photos of landscape in February

The re-greening of the landscape is well under way -- even with specks of blooms here and there - but the foliage canopy is not back yet. It's only a question of time.

Benches at lakes North (above) and South (below) of Noble Road Trail
in George Bush Park.

The largest one of three lakes in George Bush Park just behind the Dam

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Encircled BP America

Vultures on ledge of BP Office Building and circling in the air nearby

Moon Rise in the Energy Corridor

Moon rising over Barker Dam with silhouette of tree on shore of lake
Moon rising over Barker Dam
February 25, 2013 photo from wooden bench (visible in foreground) at George Bush Park

Moon rise in late afternoon at Barker Reservoir - View from the Dam Road

Different takes on the moon-in-the-tree theme
(different editing rather)

 Same raw picture of moon-ball in tree at night - different editing

Farm and Ranch Club Trail Ride Wagon at the Rodeo Parade

Houston Rodeo Kick-off Parade Downtown on Louisiana Street - Saturday February 23, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Exercise equipment for runners along the trail

Exercise equipment along Terry Hershey Trail between Dairy Ashford and Kirkwood

Jake Hershey Bridge on Buffalo Bayou Trail

Jake Hershey Bridge crosses Bayou tributary along the trail
The late Jake Hershey (Jake as in Jacob), who took a role in preserving the Bayou and its habitat and was also involved in a number of other nature conservation projects and organizations, has a pedestrian/bike bridge named in his honor -- on the hike and bike trail and park that is named for his wife, Terry (Teresa) Hershey. 

Bluebonnet site on Terry Hershey Trail in West Houston - Pic and location on map

A large bluebonnet field is located along the trail on a small hill on the North-East side of the bridge. It will no doubt soon delight park visitors all over again with a colorful abundance of seasonal blooms. Indian paintbrush flowers can also be found in the sea of blue. 

Jake Hershey commemorative plaque installed at the footbridge named in his honro
View of tributary flowing into Buffalo Bayou from Jake Hershey Bridge

Kid Fit exercise area in Terry Hershey Park

Kid Fit area at Terry Hershey Park

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Terry Hershey Park - Amenities and features (photos)

Large pavilion (above) with sun dial behind it; smaller gazebo with table and benches (below)

Small gazebo at Terry Hershey Park with table and benches 
near playground and restroom facility with running water and drinking fountain outside
Wooden picnic table and bench inside gazebo
near parking lot and playground area for  small children

Playground equipment in enclosed kids area at Terry Hershey Park

Playground at Terry Hershey Park on Memorial Drive
with colorful equipment, including slides

Enclosed children's play area with equipment to climb on
at Terry Hershey Park on Memorial Dr. near Memorial Mews, Langham Creek

Terry Hershey Park - Access from Memorial Dr with parking lot

Terry Hershey Park Entrance to Parking Lot seen from Memorial Dr. (Feb 2013)
Terry Hershey Park has restroom facility, pavilions, kids' playground, sun dial, kid fit exercise area, many ducks in park and at (and in) pond on neighboring corporate campus (fenced off)

Trail flowers in February - yellow and white dots in a see of lush green

Buttercup, yellow marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) 

or one of those 

Clover with white flower

Dandelion - yellow flower

Clover field alongside Terry Hershey Trail in flood control catchment area on Bayou bank

Friday, February 22, 2013

Terry Hershey Park and Trail ... and the Person

Photo of Terry Hershey, for whom the park
and trail is named
Both the Park (located north of Memorial Drive) and the trail system alongside both banks of Langham Creek and Buffalo Bayou are named after Terry Hershey, to honor her contributions to the preservation of this natural resource for the continued enjoyment by Houstonians and visitors. Both components (the contiguous park in the narrower sense, and the trails along the water-courses), are collectively referred to as Terry Hershey Park, which is somewhat confusing. The term "linear park" can also be found, which is a misnomer even for the hike-and-bike trail, for it is by no means straight. Anything but. It meanders, and the segment North of Memorial is actually a loop if you include the Memorial Drive road bridge over Langham Creek. 

The park North of Memorial Drive near the BP Office Tower (an area landmark with perennial circling vultures) features a playground, a kid-fit exercise areapavilions, and amenities such restrooms with running water, and drinking water fountain). 

Pavilion at Terry Hershey Park
Poster board for announcements - also has photo of Terry Hershey

A special attraction -- not to mention one of educational value -- is the ground-level sun dial that uses the shadow of the person wanting to know the time as a clock hand, with seasonal adjustments made for the month of the year.  Click the link in the preceding sentence if you want to know what such a sun clock is called. (The term would qualify for a spelling bee contest). 

Water fowl can be seen at Hershey Park throughout the year. In winter, large numbers of black-bellied whistling ducks can be observed at and on the pond that is part of the adjoining Exxon Chemical corporate campus to the West of the park (the corporate campus is not open to the public). There may be even more now since Skanska went ahead with its plan to drain the retention pond on the property across Memorial to the South, which it is re-developing for office use. 

The Terry Hershey trail system is designated "multi-use" and includes many ped-bike bridges along the way over Langham Creek, Buffalo Bayou, and tributaries/drainage channels. One of the pedestrians truss bridges is named for Jake Hershey, Terry's late husband, who was also a benefactor and nature and wildlife preservation activist. A big patch of blue bonnets on a slope closeby comes to bloom there every spring (in case you can't find the time to head out to Brenham to enjoy vistas of seas of Texas' official state flower the American way -- drive-by style). 

Caution is advised along the paved trails because of the "mixed use", i.e. the presence of both pedestrians and bicyclists. There is a posted speed limit for bikers (10 mph when passing), but it is routinely ignored. Some bikers do not use lights in the dark and pedestrians seldom do, if ever.   

A map of the trail system is posted at various locations, but Google Maps and Satellite view is more useful and convenient these days.