Come Take a Walk to the Park with Annie

Annie Resting on the Bench

Annie Resting on the Bench

Having a dog means walking, or at least, it should mean that. I’m so fortunate that I live within “spittin’ distance” from what I think is one of the nicest parks anywhere, Memorial Park in Houston. Annie and I are out the door, and within five minutes we can be to the edge of the park. For the both of us, there always seems to be something new to see, or in her case, to sniff. This evening she got to sniff, and I snapped some photos.

Here are some of the highlights of our walk this evening.

Bright Yellow Trumpets

Bright Yellow Trumpets

Dwarf Magnolia Blossom

Dwarf Magnolia Blossom

Orange Trumpets Along the Road With the Park Behind

Orange Trumpets Along the Road With the Park Behind

Tiny Purple Flowers with Seed Pods Like Miniature Bananas

Tiny Purple Flowers with Seed Pods Like Miniature Bananas

A Shiny Pot and Palms Near the Esplanade

A Shiny Pot and Palms Near the Esplanade

The Majestic Oak Tree Shading the WOW Roundabout

The Majestic Oak Tree Shading the WOW Roundabout

Flowering Vines Overhanging the Yellow Gate

Flowering Vines Overhanging the Yellow Gate

The Wonderful Century Plant Crowding the Walk

The Wonderful Century Plant Crowding the Walk

Bluebonnets–Blankets of Color in the Texas Spring

Checking Out the Bluebonnets

Checking Out the Bluebonnets

Last week I put up a new banner photo, but I didn’t mention where it’s from. Actually, during a rain shower, I jumped out of my car and took a few shots of the bluebonnets on the esplanade on Washington near the entrance to Memorial Park.

It’s the time of year for bluebonnets (the state flower), which grow wild in the meadows of Texas, especially in the Hill Country around Austin. For a few weeks each spring, these elegant sprigs pop up with rows of miniature “bonnets” on them, producing a lush blanket of blue along roadsides and in the adjoining pastures.

Getting a Good Whiff

Getting a Good Whiff

These days, many Texas roadsides are seeded with bluebonnets and other native wildflowers, which all started with the Highway Beautification Act of the 1960s, a project spearheaded by then Lady Bird Johnson, wife of a Texan, President Lyndon Johnson.

A Burst of Color

A Burst of Color

Today I went back to the esplanade with Annie to try out my new digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix S230, which I just got yesterday to replace my old one, a Canon Powershot S410, which had started having lens problems, making every photo look psychodelic. I had been holding off getting a new camera, using the still setting on my JVC Everio Camcorder, but I’m glad I got it. The best thing about it is that it has a touch-screen menu. Actually, that’s not the best thing; the best thing is it’s easy to use. I figured out how to take both still shots and video and get them loaded onto the computer the first day! I have to say that I never really understand how to use all of the functions of the Canon.

(Here’s a little video I took with the same camera.  As you can see, it took lots of coaxing to get some of the other shots.)

Maneuvering the WOW (A Short Film with No Intermission)

They have a lot of roundabouts in Europe, but, comparatively, there aren’t so many, of what many of us call traffic circles, on this side of the Atlantic. I remember one of the first I ever encountered in a car was in Sheffield, England years ago. I had a hard time maneuvering this circle, not only because I hadn’t ever had to traverse one before, but I was also driving on the left side of the road for the first time in my life. Whatever I did was obviously wrong because other drivers started honking at me, something the polite British seemed to rarely do.

This is the WOW at Westcott and Washington. I see some drivers, who themselves obviously haven’t encountered very many traffic circles before, trying to make their way around it, deciding which lane they need to be in, and finally figuring out which street to exit on. I’ve seen some get so confused that they go all the way around it before realizing that they are back where they entered the circle. I’ve seen semi trucks crunching up the curb and squeezing out cars. I’ve even seen a few fender benders and almost have been in more than one because drivers in the other lane try to make a fast move into mine. Even worse is that very few drivers pay attention to the yield-for-pedestrians-in-the-crosswalk signs, some of them even “gunning” their engines because, despite seeing the man and his little dog, they want to beat him to the crosswalk so they don’t have to wait for them to cross.

Most people that have lived in Memorial Park area for some time really like the roundabout. The WOW works so much better than the old intersection of five streets, where cars backed up at the never-ending red lights. Not only that but the traffic circle adds character to the neighborhood, especially with its old Live Oak tree (which came through Hurricane Ike practically unscathed) standing majestically in the middle.

Even with some near misses and encounters with a few arrogant drivers, I like the WOW too; thus, I’m using it as the setting for one of my first attempts at making a little video on my very recently purchased Everio camcorder. (And by the looks, I still need a great deal more practice.)

After Hurricane Ike–Seeing the Light in Houston’s Memorial Park, Camp Logan, Rice Military, 77007, and WOW Areas

October 1, 12:00 AM–It’s a decent night outside, and the streets in all directions seem so bright. It’s an amazing contrast from about three days ago and even more when compared with just ten days ago.

Although we had electricity here just 4 days after it had gone out, because of Hurricane Ike’s winds, much of the neighborhood was still in the dark. Looking toward the WOW Circle about ten days ago, it almost felt like standing on the edge of the city looking out into the darkness.

This past weekend, there was a flurry of activity by the repair crews, and finally by late Sunday evening, it seemed like most everyone in the area had electricity once again. Spec’s, Shipley’s Doughnuts, and the convenience store have been open for about 8 days, it took Candelari’s Pizza a few days longer. But that last holdout that would show that “yes, civilization had once again returned to the neighborhood”–those golden arches of McDonald’s did not light up the night until just yesterday.

As of 8 PM this evening, Centerpoint Energy show that just 2% or 42,000 customers are still without power, and in the 77007 zip code just 72 customers or 1%. Although some people have complained about being without electricity, most people that I know have kept a pretty good attitude throughout the entire time after Hurricane Ike. In reality, getting power back to more than 2 million people in this amount of time is no short task. The local crews as well as those that came in from parts far and wide have really done an amazing job, and by looking at the outage maps on a daily basis, we’ve seen it take place. 

Perhaps, there have been a few rough moments here and there, but by and large, the officials of local city and county governments have done a really good job of trying to get people out of harm’s way, taking care of the people who needed it, and getting life for most people of Houston and the area back to normal as quickly as possible.

Here in our area, there were many trees in Memorial Park that were lost to Ike’s fury, some roofs and outer walls need repairs or to be replaced, and outside fixtures and equipment like ACs may have been damaged, but overall this neighborhood stayed in tact.

Likewise, those who meet at our little pie-shaped dog park were good support for each other, just by enjoying the dogs and sharing and comparing experiences.

Still wanting more Hurricane Ike information?

After Hurricane Ike–Dealing with the Effects; Information Links for Residents of Harris, Galveston, and Neighboring Counties

Updated at 9:00 PM CDT, Friday, September 19th–Hurricane Ike passed through the area last Saturday AM.

The following links connect to Harris and surrounding county offices.  Each gives specific information relating to dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Ike in that particular county.

NASA has an excellent in-depth page on Hurricane Ike here.

Houston Weather–Enjoying the Rainy Week in the Camp Logan, Memorial Park, 77007, and WOW Area

Annie Taking a Break

Annie Taking a Break

Pretty Red Roses

Pretty Red Rose

Yellow Trumpets

Yellow Trumpets

Tiny Purple Flowers

Tiny Purple Flowers

Tuesday, 8:30 PM–The rain stopped here in the early afternoon hours, but the sky stayed cloudy, almost promising more showers, which never occurred. Annie and I took a leisurely walk over and back through the Camp Logan area to Memorial Park. There were puddles to be jumped and a myriad of scents to be found on the ground. I took my camera along; there are always so many different things to see, and my cell phone doesn’t have Blue Tooth. Some of the other dog and owner friends were also out

Light Purple Oleanders

Light Purple Oleanders

and about trying to dodge any new rains that might come. There were quite a few runners

Pink Hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus

Light Blue Posies

Light Blue Posies

Spec's Liquor and Foods on the Wow

Spec's Liquor and Foods

Annie Smelling

Annie Smelling

on the jogging trail, taking advantage of the almost cool mid-70s temperatures. When we got closer to home, Annie started dragging her feet, wanting to go back and see her friends at our own little park.

Yellow Gate

Yellow Gate

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

Small Red Flowers

Small Red Flowers

Shipley's Donuts on the WOW

Shipley's Donuts on the WOW

Another Hibiscus

Another Hibiscus

Small White Flowers

Small White Flowers(I took all these photos today. Click on any to get a better look and copy if you like.)

Early Sunday Morning Weather in Houston at Memorial Park, WOW, Rice Military, and Zip Code 77007

Sunday morning, 7:29 AM–Despite the early hour and the late hour of going to bed, but because of the beautiful, cool morning–74 degrees, feels even less–Annie and I took a longer walk than usual back a few blocks into the Rice Military area (south of Washington, east of Westcott). It’s a terrific morning for a walk, nice air, a little dew on the grass, and the sun not high enough yet to start heating things up.

Although everyone is claiming the Houston real estate market is still good, it appears a little different from street level observation. I hadn’t walked back in that direction for quite some time. The older, little one-story houses, which a few months ago had signs in front promoting new building on the lot, look clean and lived in once again, but now without the signs. On the other hand, more and more of the townhomes, which have been built back on those streets in recent years, do have for sale signs in front.

Making our round back home via Washington, I noticed two bums. (Yes, how did we get so euphemistic, by grouping all of these people together and calling them homeless? Being homeless is when someone has been forced out of their home by some disaster or economic reasons. People who won’t work, just want to stay dirty, break into neighborhood cars, and beg for money in front of convenience stores are bums–plain and simple. Sorry for the left turn in my train of thought.)

What was really nice to hear were the roosters crowing from Wabash Feed Store. It’s one of those places that gives the neighborhood life and character, despite all the so-called gentrification going on.

Have a wonderful Sunday! Here’s the local forecast from NWS:

Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 89. East wind around 5 mph becoming south. Chance of precipitation is 50%.