After 2 1/2 months, ESNH trip 2 was finally on its way. I convinced my friend Drew to cycle with me, since it was a neighborhood with a reputation for crime, and there is safety in numbers. He arrived at my door at around 6:50am and, after arming ourselves with pepper spray, we were on our way shortly after.
As usual, you mapophiles can follow along in Google Maps and Houston's Super Neighborhood Map
We started in my home neighborhood of Greater Heights #15 and went north and enjoyed the sunrise and sparse traffic. It wasn't long before we crossed under I-610 and were in #13 Independence Heights. I missed the turn for the park, but not by much. When we found Independence Heights park, there was a man in a beat-up T-shirt walking around the corner, so I decided to ride past him and wait until he left. As we turned the corner, a car drove by and yelled at the man, and the man smiled (probably friends of his). After he left and I was no longer self-conscious about a photo, Drew snapped this beauty.
Not a bad little park... could use a cleanup
Now continuing east, we crossed under I-45 into #45 Northside/Northline. The original plan was to go to the Northline Mall, but we managed to see this realtor's sign about a quarter mile before we got there.
I'm pondering the meaning of life
Continuing east on Crosstimbers and coming up on the Hardy Toll road, we encountered an impatient driver who decided to honk at us because I guess I wasn't far enough over in the bike lane. I try real hard not to be one of those cyclists that think they own the road and can do whatever they want, so I talked myself down from getting upset about it. I turned to Drew and said "I figured that was going to happen at some point!"
Shortly after my comment, Drew motioned that we needed to stop and that he had a flat tire. As you can from the picture below, he has a rather old bicycle. We spent a good 20 minutes trying to get that damn tire off the wheel. It was so old that the rubber had fused to the wheel, so we had to use the removal tool to pry it apart.
Luckily I had my trusty patch kit!
Patching a bike tube is a dirty job
Getting the tire back on the wheel was difficult, but not quite as difficult as getting it off. Drew pumped his tire full of air and we were back on our way.
After the incident, we continued on Crosstimbers and turned on we turned on Jensen road. We had originally planned to go down Jensen (which just happens to be my last name) without a bike route or lane all the way to Cavlecade to see Jensen Supermarket. Then, this convenience store conveniently popped up right after we turned. It was the Jensen food store in #46 Eastex/Jensen.
Since we found it so close to the bike route, we turned around and continued on the bike lane on Crosstimbers. After a brief ride through #48 Trinity/Houston Gardens (where I wasn't planning on seeing anything photoworthy, and I didn't), we missed our turn for Hirsch. Quickly checking my map I decided rather than crossing a busy street to turn around, we would just go through the neighborhood.
Much to our surprise, when we turned a corner there was a big black man with a rifle!!! He shot it into the tree and we could tell it was a pellet gun and calmed down a little. I tried not to make eye contact as he kept shooting and we turned out of sight. I can only guess that he was shooting squirrels or birds or something.
Continuing on the southbound part of our circular trip, we passed Key middle school, and then back into the loop under I-610. After a short jog off Hirsch, we came to Kashmere Gardens Baptist Church in #52 Kashmere Gardens. We thought the entrance looked cool, so I got a photo in front of that as well, even though it didn't say "Gardens" on it.
I heard gospel music inside
Unfortunately, the next two super neighborhoods were failures. We got to #55 Fifth Ward where Mozelle's Fifth ward florist was supposed to be, and it was a barber shop with a different name. Fifth Ward has a reputation of being one of the highest crime areas of Houston, and people were up and about and loitering and staring at us, so it made me a little too uncomfortable to search more than a back-and-forth on the main street once. That, combined with Drew's rear brake cable snapping (he really does have a crappy bike), caused me to decide to leave.
Later, I found there was a library down the way that bore the name Fifth Ward Library. It's been closed since 2007, but the stucture should still be there on my next attempt... I hope.
Next up was #51 Northside Village. One interesting business of note when we first entered the neighborhood was Mr. Burger Seafood, which boasted Groceries, Beer, and Candy. I wish I had taken a picture.
We were supposed to go to Northside Bakery, but we couldn't find it. We couldn't find anything that said northside or even village on it. We made a quick donut stop at a non-descript bakery, turned on Quitman to get back to the Heights, and failed to locate a photo op for the neighborhood. Later, I looked up the address of the Bakery again, and found that someone had reviewed it on Yelp this year! I shot him a message and he told me that they had the best cheap fajitas (apparently it's a restaurant too). But the kicker is that he told me it was not where it was supposed to be on the map, and that it was half a block up Main street after we turned on Quitman. That pissed me off a little.
So all in all, we got 4 super neighborhoods of the 6 sought. The grand total mileage was 18.7 miles (the Google map doesn't have the exact start/stop). We're going to take another stab at Fifth Ward (library) and Northside Village (bakery) in trip three, when we visit the area just to the south of this one. I'm going to try to keep these going at one every other week, give or take.