We loaded the folding bikes, Terns, into the back of my car as he headed out for the Christmas holiday. Also in the back were our suitcases and food for the holiday, as we were headed to Houston to visit family. Not knowing if we had time for riding, we were ready. The extra (hardly any really) hassle paid off magnificently, as we had the time to stop on the Buffalo Bayou Trail for a spur of the moment ride.
The trail was in heavy use on Christmas Eve Day, with lots of runners, cyclists and a dog-walkers enjoying the fresh air; and although the day was overcast and a little wet, all were having a good time. Houston has done some great work building and enhancing trails, and it shows.
How to have more fun on the road, tip 1: find trails wherever you travel. There are aps, of course, but I often just google, “trails Houston” or wherever I’m headed.
How to have more fun on the road, tip 2: if you have folding bikes, keep them in the car. If you’ve never ridden one, try to borrow or rent them for your next trip. They are fun to ride, more stable than you might expect, and compact when packed away. It helped us decompress from the traffic and the long drive there, and it made us happy. We took the time to see the beauty around us, another benefit of taking things slowly.
(Tip 3, below the video)
How to have more fun on the road, tip 3: Pack some books in the car to enhance your travel. On some trips, that would be a field guide to the birds, like this one. Or a wildflower book. I find another source infinitely interesting, the 1930s era travel guides for each state, in this case, Federal Writers’ Project Guide to Texas, or The WPA Guide to Texas. I have an original and a reprinted copy for Texas, and you can find them online for many other states as well.
Originally published in 1940, the Texas volume has an entry for the Buffalo Bayou, the site of our Christmas Eve Day ride: “An early English traveler in Texas described Buffalo Bayou as a jungle river, bordered by magnolias, ‘eighty feet in height with a girth like huge forest trees.’ The land slopes from wooded heights on the northwest to the bayou, which runs through the business section, at the lowest part of the city; and then, after rising slightly from the bayou, descends to the southern boundaries.”
Picturing Houston as it was in 1940, helps me understand it better today. While the Bayou isn’t a jungle river any longer, I’m grateful the city fathers (and mothers) and countless citizen volunteers and key nonprofit organizations have worked hard to keep it a little bit wild and a place for us to enjoy.