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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brays Bayou Central

The sky is blue, humidity is low and there is a light breeze – a perfect day to complete the final section of Brays Bayou trail.  We parked the car in the strip mall at Kirby and South MacGregor, crossed over the bridge to the path on the north side of the bayou where we finished up last time and set out eastwards towards Hermann Park where we had left the other car.  The path here runs close to the bayou and the steep slopes on either side protect you from traffic noise and views of the city so you are immediately transported to a slower, more peaceful world where water birds silently look for prey, swallows swoop by, fish jump high out of the water and flowers wave in the breeze.

We found ourselves instantly relaxing into another nice walk.  That is, until the first cyclist shouted “On your right!” and we jumped into single file to let him go by.  By the 20th time we suffered this mild panic we were getting the message that perhaps rush hour is not the best time to walk this stretch of the trail.  The route is heavily used by commuters to the Medical District, which was now in sight ahead of us.  Despite any minor irritation we may have felt in the moment, it is very interesting to see these cycle trails being so well used.  To any of you who think that Houston is a city for cars only, I would say – look again – things are changing!

Cambridge Street Bridge
New Pedestrian Bridge
As we passed the power plant at the back of the Medical Center we had to admit that this really was not the most scenic part of the trail but we knew that beyond the medical district it would change again for the better.  Well, one day it will!  But today we abruptly came upon a “Trail Closed” notice and we were forced up off the path onto Braeswood Boulevard. To avoid the continuing construction work and to get over an, as yet un-bridged, drainage inlet we made our way over Holcombe Boulevard and onto N. McGregor Way before finally dipping back down onto the trail just before Cambridge Street where the trail leads under the rather innovative Cambridge Street bridge with its drawbridge styling and wide curving steps.    The landscaping here is taking shape and wide grassy banks open up to views of Herman Park.  Ahead we could see that work on the paths on both sides of the bayou is progressing well and it looks like the pedestrian bridge linking the two sides is nearing completion. 

Much to look forward to. But for today, we stepped away from the dust and noise back onto McGregor Way and, rather than returning directly along Herman Park Drive to the car, we fortunately chose the more circuitous and shady path which runs along the outside of Herman Park Golf Course and then turns into Greenway Trail which leads through the course back to the zoo parking area.  Here we hit upon the highlight of our walk!   A pair of black bellied whistling ducks were out swimming with their new clutch of young.  The fluffy black and yellow ducklings looked for all the world like 10 adorable little bumble bees.  I tried to capture the scene and include the least blurred of my rather disappointing shots!

A Dragon's view of McGovern Lake
Back at McGovern Lake we were greeting by, quite literally, hundreds of schoolchildren.  Home to both the Museum of Natural Science and the Zoo and providing acres of picnic area, Herman Park must be one of the most popular destinations for school outings.  Our plans to stop for a cool drink were thwarted as Pinewood Café does not open until 11:00 a.m.  But we did stop to enjoy and learn more about the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads by Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei.  This exhibition is on a world tour and will be here until June 3rd 2012 so there is still time to get out and see these spectacular heads.

Enjoy Houston

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