Sunday, March 17, 2013

Urban hike Houston

Yesterday was a typical gorgeous Houston spring day, and so the husband and I went on a three-mile ramble from the Children's Museum by Houston Garden Center (not the retail outlet of similar name) and then through Hermann Park, past the Houston Zoo, alongside Texas Medical Center, and then we wound our way through the Rice University campus before looping back and having lunch at Za Za's outdoor patio  (service was slow but the food was worth waiting for... I had the "One Hot Chick" sandwich).   Here are a few pics from that pedestrian patter.
This is on my list of the six thousand or so local attractions that I have not yet seen despite living in greater Houston for about twenty years now. 
We didn't go inside (and I don't know if it was possible to do so yesterday), but we checked out the associated rose garden. 
Hermann Park, heading toward the zoo.  This is what properly-maintained live oaks are supposed to look like.  Compare to a few of League City's neglected examples here
Lovett Hall, Rice University.  Hard to believe anything in Houston is one hundred years old. 
Rice can be absolutely stunning during azalea season, but we are having such horrible dry weather (again, grrr) that this year's display seemed a bit underwhelming to me.  Here's a close-up of some well-formed blooms, but most of the azalea vistas were not up to the calibre of what I've seen at times in the past. 
Speaking of this interminably dry weather, some of Rice's younger trees were wearing these creative diaper-like devices, where water could be added to then slowly seep into the root zones. 
I want one of those!!  I particularly like that the "roots" of the sculpture are poking up through the pavers.  It has removeable stainless steel dishes set into it, which presumably are bird feeders and waterers.  Alice's Garden, Rice campus. 
After hiking this Hermann loop, we did stop by the 2013 Sustainable Living Festival at Market Square Park in downtown Houston, which I mentioned in this previous post.  We were generally underwhelmed by the festival - it was more hype than happenin' - but we saw a few neat things in the process of visiting that area of town.
This is the Courthouse district.  What a stunning building (and also one hundred years old).  And those live oaks!

This is one of those older areas of Houston that offers a juxtaposed experience of disorder and order, crime and prosperity, wealth and poverty.  A very expensive stainless steel art-inspired city bike rack is home to a frame picked clean. 
A short distance away and in rather sharp contrast, here's one of the new Houston bikeshare B-stations.  I wonder how this effort will pan out?  We did notice that these bikes have been rigged to minimize the chances of stripping.  Good thing. 

Generally we found SusFest to be too loud, too crowded, and too de-focussed, with not enough emphasis on the nuts and bolts of sustainable or innovative living.  

In other words, it was more a party than a presentation.  It's nice that they had vendors selling clothing, jewelry, and skin care products, but what's that stuff really got to do with sustainability on the scale of a lifestyle?  Maybe I'm just spoiled by the high quality of the outreach at 1002 Washington, but I'd love to see these guys set up a real show with cohesive and organized sourcing displays and vendor participation in a facility properly designed to handle the flow of visitors to such an event. 
I did enjoy these artistic interpretations of trash cans which a number of high school teams had entered into a city contest. 
But the real show-stealer at Market Square Park yesterday was actually this playful pooch whose owner indulged him in a game of water spray.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present The Incredible Levitating Dog!!
He was intent on catching that water stream in his jaws...
...and was willing to engage in whatever contortion was required to achieve his goal!
Get outdoors and enjoy the hospitable Houston spring weather.  You have to carpe diem while you can around here, because summer will be bludgeoning us soon enough. 

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