Thursday, August 20, 2009

Every Library test trip

So back a few years ago, I pondered visiting every library in Hamilton County. I have revisited that off and on a few times, and while I was off on vacation this past week decided to give it a test ride.

The reasoning was to see how well the directions held up, how fast I could ride (approximately) with traffic and such, as well as test how long it took me to get in the library, check out a book, and get back on the road.

I left my house around 2:00 or so. Plan was to go to 7 libraries and then meet up with the fam at the end. A little something like this.

I set off and got to the Madisonville library right away. Coming down the hill was interesting. I mean going fast is nice, but you never want to get TOO fast. I've never been one of those guys that can just get super fast without worrying about falling. There were a few patches of gravel on the road which got me a bit nervous. I was up to about 35 mph coming down the hill.

So, as I got going, I realized I had forgotten a few things. This tends to happen to me when I just go without really focusing and planning on everything. Forgot my sunglasses, forgot sunscreen (it was hot and sunny), any water, my bike lock and perhaps most importantly, I forgot any type of carrying case for the books that I was going to check out. My plan had been to just check one book out at each library, and then returning it at the subsequent library. But that still meant I had to carry a book on the bike with me.

So I got to the Madisonville library and hurried to check out a book. There were a few hooligans hanging out by the front door, but I hoped that I wouldn't be in there long enough for anything to happen, and I was right. I grabbed a small paperback, checked out, and headed on the road. Left on Madison and headed towards Oakley. Got in there, parked my bike by the front door and went in.

It was annoying there because there was this kid at the checkout desk asking abou drawing books and the librarian was helping him (fine) and then she offered to show him where some of the books were. And I waited... and waited... it was probably 3-4 minutes of me standing in line waiting to check out a book. (No self checkouts there). Eventually I made my way back down Madison towards Hyde Park. There was a lot of road construction there, but I managed to find my way to the Hyde Park library without a problem.

Again no self checkouts at Hyde Park and I had to wait for a bit. When I went to checkout, the librarian said that she had seen me on her way to work while on my bike on Whetsel. Good times! I was right in Hyde Park Square and did not realize that I was supposed to turn right onto Edwards. So I missed the turn and had to circle back (onto Mooney if you're falling along). I went past Rookwood and past I-71 and into Norwood. I turned left onto Williams and then right onto a different Madison.

But then, tragedy struck. I got a flat tire :-(. I tried to pump it back up but it definitely had a hole in it. I got out my patch kit. I had a really hard time trying to get the tire off the rim but eventually got it but either my kit was too old and not working, or I was not doing it right, but I could not get it going.

So I called Carolyn and had her come pick me up. The baby was still sleeping but we agreed to meet up in Norwood somewhere. I started walking that way. I found a penny on the sidewalk as I was walking, so you know it's good times. And then I got thrown out of Kroger.

But things went well - I had about a 14-16 mph average and it was taking about 1-3 minutes per library.

One annoying thing was that the receipts on a normal checkout don't have a timestamp on them. It does appear that the self checkouts have a timestamp, but I really wanted to get timestamps for each one just as kind of a record of the trip.

But I think that it makes things possible. I believe the shortest distance was 121 miles. If I could keep up a 14mph pace (which I think would be tough over that long) that would be 8 hours and 38 minutes. Then if I could average 2 minutes per stop, that's 42 * 2 or 84 minutes (1 hour 24 minutes). That's about 10 hours. I have 11 hours to do it from 10 to 9 (possibly 12 hours if I start at the Main library which opens at 9).

Or I could always hope the library levy fails and they close a few branches :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Every State Highpoint

It has come to my attention that there is a group of folks attempting to visit every highpoint in the lower 48 states in 3 weeks.

Apparently the record (PDF) is held by a Brit - Jake Meyer at 23 days, 19 hours, 31 minutes.

Though in looking at these guys' website, the challenge has been called off for reasons that are currently unclear. Hopefully they will post something soon and hopefully everyone is okay.

Here are a few pics from our recent trips to Campbell Hill (Ohio) and Hoosier Hill (Indiana).

This was the log book - we got there about 1:00 p.m. but there had already been 2 people visiting before us that day!

Picture of the fam.

After doing the grueling climb up Campbell Hill (in our van :-) ), we headed west to Hoosier Hill. The Indiana state highpoint is a bit less well marked.

Here is the turnoff off of Elliot Road. We passed it because there was no sign or anything. We went down to the (north) end of the road and saw the signs for the highpoint pointing back this way so we made it. Apparently it used to be even more nondescript before 2005 when an Eagle Scout fixed it up as his Eagle project.

Carolyn showing her true joy upon reaching the summit.

And here she is, "pretending" to be angry about being forced to detour out of her way to visit this great site.

So 2 down, 48 to go!!!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Every Super Neighborhood in Houston - Trip 10

It's been really hot in Houston. We generally are over - or at least flirt with - a 100+ degree heat-index every day. But even so, David kept bugging me to get out and do another bike ride. So we did a "short" 27 mile one and nabbed two Super Neighborhoods. See map.

David let me wear his cycling jersey just so I could check it out. I have to say, not having to wear a backpack definitely cooled things down.

We zipped through familiar neighborhoods and got a little turned around on the way to the first stop, so I decided to wing it. We came across this sign for #32 Braeswood Place:

Not my most attractive picture.

We again kind of winged it over to the Astrodome (which we could see almost all the way from where we stopped in Braeswood. We took a fun yet bumpy route along the bayou and then overshot our turn. We came to the back entrance of Reliant Center and the guard wouldn't let us cut through. So we went around to the Reliant Stadium side, hoping it would say "Astrodome" somewhere, but there was another guard station. So we rode allllll the way around to the east side of Reliant Center and the only sign we could see was actually on the Astrodome itself, way in the distance. We asked the guards if we could just go in to take a picture, and they said they couldn't let us, and even if they could, no photography was allowed (huh?). So we just took the best pic we could get using a cell phone camera:

Guards wouldn't let us get any closer

Even though it's blurry, you can just barely make out that it says Reliant Astrodome. Not to mention: I'm in front of the freaking Astrodome. So there you have it, #34 Astrodome.

So that was the last one for the day. Just for fun we rode back through downtown and along the Buffalo Bayou trail. It was getting pretty darn hot when we got back around 9:30am.

So my total is up to 270.1 miles and 58 out of 88 Super Neighborhoods.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Every Super Neighborhood in Houston - Trip 9

Wow, it's hard to believe I've been on 9 trips now. Only 4 more to go after this one! Follow along on the map. Sorry it took so long for the update (the ride was on May 31st), but I had a lot of personal stuff I had to take care of.

I had a social gathering at my place the night before the trip, so Drew slept in our guest room rather than driving back to his place, then all the way back early in the morning. A new cyclist to these trips, David, also joined us, all dressed in his fancy MS150 gear.

The forecast was good, but still kind of hot. I made sure to bring sunscreen, and our first stop was at Kroger to stock up on Gatorade. After all, it was going to be around a 45-mile trip.

The first stop was not too far from home on Ella Blvd., to see this sign in #12 Oak Forest/Garden Oaks, saving us a trip to Oak Forest Elementary.

We continued on Ella straight north (which became Wheatley) until we came across the Acres Homes Center in #6 Acres Homes.

I was worried about the next super neighborhood, Hidden Valley. I spent a long time researching online and couldn't find anything bearing it's name. Even Hidden Valley Elementary School changed its name to Jones Elementary. There was a road that went through called "Hidden Valley Dr.," so I figured, worst case, I could get a shot of the street.

When we got there, we hit Hidden Valley Drive and I had an idea to go to the edge of the Super Neighborhood, on Hidden Valley Drive, to see if there was a "welcome" sign. We drove all the way down Hidden Valley to the freeway, and didn't see anything. Admitting defeat, I said we'll just go back and take a photo of the road sign. And wouldn't you know it, on the way back, completely covered by branches, was a sign for #7 Hidden Valley.

Greenspoint was our next stop, and it is (luckily) very oddly shaped. We crossed over to the other side of I-45 and went up the back road to Greenspoint Furniture in the very bottom skinny section of #2 Greater Greenspoint.

I think the next stretch was one of our longest (intentional) stretches without a single super neighborhood. We went along West Rd to Veteran's Highway, then crossed the beltway for the first time ever on these trips (Beltway 8 is about a 28 mile diameter loop around downtown Houston). 11.8 miles later, we were at Willowbrook Mall to grab #1 Willowbrook.

Willowbrook is one of the three disconnected areas of Houston; we were driving through unincorporated Harris County for nearly all of those 11.8 miles. The other two disconnected areas are the IAH Airport, and the Kingwood/Lake Houston area. I'll be doing both of the other two in the same, final trip.

By this point we were getting pretty hungry, so while on the way to the next one, we kept an eye out for donut shops. We drove south on Gessner. When we got back to the Beltway, we were stopped at a red light and Drew and David were behind me. I noticed it was clear (but still red) and so I went. They guys started yelling at me so I looked back and saw a cop car follow behind me through the red light. He looked at me through the window and gave me a "are you stupid?" look and kept on going. While I stopped and waited for Drew and David to catch up, the cop turned around twice, turned his loudspeaker on, and said (without stopping) in a heavy Texas accent: "Can y'all hear this?". We stopped and nodded as he was driving past. As he got close to us he said "Y'all don't be running red lights now!". We said "OK, sorry!" back to him even though it was obvious he couldn't hear us. It ended up being a running joke for the rest of the ride.

My guess for the reason he didn't write me a ticket is because he was an HPD officer and we were technically outside the city limits. So he would have had to stop us and call a Sheriff's Deputy over just to write us a ticket for running a light on a bicycle.

But moving on, after a few turns and two shut-down donut places, until we were on Antoine. Right after we turned on Antoine, I saw this:

It was not scheduled, and I still felt like we were out of the city limits (I later found out I was right), so I decided to keep an eye out for another Inwood.

After we stopped to take a photo, I found myself extremely fatigued and hungry. My chest was tight and I felt overheated. Before we took that photo, I sat on the ground for about 5 minutes to recover. It was very hot and humid at this point, and we had already gone 30 miles and I hadn't eaten, so I was not in a good place.

After the photo, we rode down to the next light and found another shut-down donut shop (I guess people in this area don't eat donuts?). I went to the convenience store instead and got some more gatorade and a snack. I told the guys I really needed to eat, and so we went over to a little taco trailer in the parking lot of the gas station across the way. The cashier didn't speak English, but we did the best we could. It was really great Mexican food, but not as good as the tacos I had on Trip 6.

After finishing eating, hydrating and applying another coat of sunscreen, we pressed on. I found my "backup" for #5 Greater Inwood at the Inwood Forest Golf and Country Club (which is really the one that counts).

We went all the way down Antoine to Hwy 290 and got even more Gatorade (did I mention it was hot?). We did a very quick jaunt the wrong way on the frontage to get to the Langwood Neighborhood (the one that we barely missed all the way back on Trip 4). This time we got this sign in front of Langwood Park to finally get #11 Langwood.

It was a pretty uneventful ride home after that. We stopped by Cedar Creek Cafe (since Onion Creek wasn't on the way) and had our traditional celebratory beer.

So 7 more Super Neighborhoods and 44.3 more miles down. That puts me at 56 out of 88 super neighborhoods and it looks like the number of miles is up to 243.4 total across all trips. Wow! After this trip, I'm past the original estimate to do all the super neighborhoods in one trip by car (210-220 miles). It's hard to believe that we still have about 210 more miles to go!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Soccer Golf #2

Last Friday, Doug, Randy and I attempted round 2 of Soccer Golf. For those of you too lazy to click on that link, it basically consists of kicking a soccer ball from point A to point B, and counting the number of kicks that it takes. Every time that you touch the ball it counts as a stroke. There is also a 5 stroke penalty if you go into an unplayable situation (e.g. in a creek, in a tree, etc).

This time we did the same course as before, but went in the opposite direction, from work to Randy's house. While Randy and I waiiiiiiiiiited for Doug to show up, we did a few practices on the patio to see what kind of strategies we wanted to make for making it into the back field.

But it didn't really help much. We started off okay, navigating the patio and pathway and making our way to the bridge. We had all agreed that it was extremely risky to try and clear the ravine with a long kick. I was the only one who had attempted to cross the ravine going the opposite way. That way you at least have a slight elevation downhill advantage, and it still took me a chip shot from inside the ravine.

So we got to about 5 or 6 kicks. Randy was first to cross the bridge, and he gave it a pretty decent sized kick, only to find that the bridge had a little lip on it - his ball hit the lip and then bounded high in the air and went down into the ravine. He chose to not take the 5 stroke penalty but instead kicked his ball back out of the ravine and then over the bridge (more carefully this time). Doug made it across the bridge without a problem. I thought I was being careful but ended up hitting the lip too. My ball went further into the ravine, so I decided rather than taking the 5 stroke penalty or kicking back that I would play through. I think that ended up being the best move - it only took me 3 or 4 strokes to make it across to the other side of the bridge.

But Doug was already several strokes ahead of us at this point, a lead he would not relinquish. The next segment was going across the field, a place I was at a disadvantage due to my poor soccer skills. Then we crossed "Eastern Column" and moved on the south side of the street onto Innovation.

Aaaaannnnd let's just say there is a lot more traffic on Innovation at 4pm on a Friday than there was at noon.... We definitely had to evade a few cars, and one guy even shouted out the window "How stupid are you?", an epithet that we chose not to answer. At one point, Randy got his ball stuck on the side of the road, and there was a girl riding her bicycle, and a big semi truck coming, so he chose to take the 5 stroke penalty so as to avoid any unfortunate accidents.

That put him about even with me, with Doug 3 or 4 strokes ahead. We made it onto the service road (see the previous post if you want a map) and I made some good kicks here. It was definitely tricky getting the right combination of momentum to keep the ball rolling with not wanting to go too far into the underbrush.

We also noticed that Duke (or someone) had cut down the trees that separated the access road from the back of Randy's development, so that made things a lot easier. At this point we had to navigate our way around a ravine / stream, and I tragically went in. Well, my ball went in, but then I went in after it. Got real muddy and wasted probably 3 or 4 strokes chipping out.

Then it was just down the residential streets and onto Randy's porch. I believe the final score was Doug 72, Randy 75, Dan 80 (I 2-putted onto the porch).

We have decided that for our next course, we are going to go to a local disc golf course and try that out. We all agreed that Innovation was too busy for our needs.

All in all, it was a lot of fun!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bicycling 48 states in 48 days

So I was tipped off to a guy who is bicycling the lower 48 states and aiming to do it in 48 days.

That's the basic route, from a local newspaper article. He is from Ohio actually - near Dayton.

His website is but it's not up and running just yet.

It is about 8100 miles, so he has to do 165-170 miles a day, which should be quite daunting!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Every Super Neighborhood in Houston - Trip 8

I haven't really been biking lately since my bicycle was stolen last month, but I fitted my wife's bike and decided to start the trips up again. Since it's been 6 weeks since I've done one of these, I decided this would be a good time to do a shorter trip to revisit the South Park Super Neighborhood that I missed last time.

Both Drew and I had late nights last night, we decided to start at 8am instead of the normal 6:30. I got up and checked the weather and found it was perfect for a bike ride. 69 degrees and a cloud cover that would keep it 70 degrees for hours. After waiting about 40 minutes for Drew, I decided not to waste the great weather and to head out by myself with the tripod. Here's the route I took.

If it looks like I made a lot of wrong turns, I did. My printer is out of ink so I was just winging it. Everywhere I was going I felt I knew pretty well, and I just took roads that looked good.

It didn't make sense to me to go all the way to South Park without getting a few other auxilliary SNs, so I rode through the Hermann Park area on the way. It was a straight shot south to Rice University in #28 University Place

The oldest university in Houston, established 1912

For some reason I thought Hermann Park (right across the street) was a Super Neighborhood, so I snapped this photo:

You can make out Mr. Hermann in the background

Just a block further down, I was in the Medical Center, and came across this sign for #33 Med Center

Houston has the best cancer treatment centers in the nation

Now that the easy part was over, I rode over to South Park. I decided to give the MacGregor bike trail a try and was greatly impressed. It was all freshly paved and there were not many road crossings. I was flying!

After going a little too far and backtracking to Cullen to get across I-610, I turned on Bellfort and saw a dead horse laying in the median... It really smelled too as I passed it; it must have been there a while.

Anyway, I continued on to my destination, the South Park Child Redevelopment Center. As I got closer, I saw a giant for lease sign and no others. I decided to ride up to the entrance and see what I could see, and luckily this sign was still outside, for #72 South Park

It looked like the vacated pretty abruptly, there were still notices to parents on the door

I saw a sign for South Park Baptist Church, and I thought it would make a better picture

I may look upset because I was having angle issues

I rode back up to the MacGregor path, then my plan was to go north on another new bike path until I got to Binz, which of course take me to the Binz Super Neighborhood. When I got to Alabama, I knew I was waaay off. So I cut over to Midtown and then went back south.

Binz was a super neighborhood that I could not find any businesses bearing its name online. Really no one calls this area Binz, it's considered the eastern edge of the Museum district (which is also not a super neighborhood). Binz also has the disadvantage of being very small. I figured if I was going to see anything, it would be along the tiny stretch of Binz Rd. that runs through the southern edge.

Normally I discourage myself from taking photograhps of street addresses, but I made an exception in this case because it was just so colorful and unique. Not to mention I couldn't find anything else. So here is #66 Binz:

I tried panoramic to get all the wording, but for some reason it didn't focus.

After Binz, it was a pretty uneventul ride home, basically taking the same route I took to get out there. So after these 4 new Super Neighborhoods, it puts me at 49 out of 88 Super Neighborhoods. It took me just over three hours and was 31.0 miles long.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Every Super Neighborhood in Houston - Trip 7

Trip 7 went pretty well. We actually clocked in under the expected mileage by a tenth of a mile. The southern Super Neighborhoods (founded after WWII) were really good about having "Welcome to..." signs, which cut out a couple detours.

Mappy mappy

It was a little chilly and windy to start at around 43 degrees; I had to ride one-handed (with one hand warming in my pocket) until the sun really got out. We took a detour through Montrose, Fourth Ward, and Midtown (see Trip 1) so that Drew could catch up on those ones he missed before we started. After that, it wasn't long until we were in the predominantly poor and black neighborhood of #67 Greater Third Ward. It's 80% black, with the other 20% being poor white college students, since the University of Houston is in this neighborhood.

This was the "small" church, the big one was across the street.

An uneventful jog down the road got us to #83 MacGregor, named after the road that runs through it along Brays Bayou. This apartment complex was right on the bayou.

Keep a look at my attire, you'll notice me sheding layers as it gets sunnier

Continuing down Scott, we came across the first of many "Welcome to..." signs to smack us in the face in #68 OST/South Union, which is a much more appealing photo op than the South Union Place Apartments.

I love "Welcome to..." signs. Indisputable proof :)

Continuing on Scott street, which was a fairly busy road with 4 lanes, we again found another "Welcome to..." sign for #71 Sunnyside. This sign saved us about a mile because we didn't have to delve into the neighborhood, we just kept on going down Scott.

After this I had "Keep on the Sunny Side" from O Brother, Where Art Thou? stuck in my head.

Next we zig-zagged through another neighborhood to find South Park Inn, which I later found out was not in the South Park super neighborhood. In fact just on the other side of is the boundary. It was just like that damn church in Trip 4. I'm going to make a special trip back there myself to get it later; it's going to be too far out of the way to do on the Clear Lake trip (Trip 10), since it's right in the middle of the area we covered. It's only an 11 mile round trip from my school, so the next time I go up there to study on the weekend, I'll take my bike to school and do it on a study break.

Stupid South Park

Right after we turned on Airport to #76 South Acres/Crestmont Park was another sign! Luckily the back of the sign also said South Acres (don't ask me why) so we took the photo this way because the sun was pretty bright. (That story would have been a great pun for Sunnyside).

I was double checking the boundary on google maps to make sure it was in it.

"I took a picture of myself so you don't have to"

I'm not buying it :)

This next picture I took snapped because my wife went to a different Sterling High School in the Greater Houston area. Nothing special.

Not Baytown

The next sign I was really worried about. Google Maps showed no businesses at all bearing the Minnetex name. Through a little internet detectiving, I found there was a Minnitex Civic Club just west of Mykawa. When I checked it out on street view, it looked pretty abandoned. But having no other options, we checked it out anyway. I was worried when I pulled up because the sign that appeared on street view was not there. Luckily, it was propped up against the door. So here is the most rural Super Neighborhood in Houston, #77 Minnetex. Only 2,245 people live in the entire region, 5 times less than any other neighborhood I looked at.

I don't think they're meeting anymore.

Long shot of the former Civic Club (built in 1923 as a schoolhouse).

Next up was probably the scariest part of our trip, along Telephone Road. It's a very busy 6 lane divided road with intermittant sidewalks. After snapping this picture for #78 Greater Hobby Area and grabbing some breakfast, we spent about 30 minutes riding fast and praying we didn't get hit from behind. Don't worry, we didn't.

I was looking for Hobby Liquor, but this will do. There were many more signs as well.

After getting off telephone road, we went through a small neighborhood to get #73 Golfcrest.

We took a 5 minute break after this, my legs were really starting to hurt.

About 3 minutes later, we saw the giant sign for the Gulfgate Shopping Center in #69 Gulfgate.

Bad timing on the picture, I look like an idiot

Just for something different, we went through the area we went through during Trip 3, and found a really nice hike and bike trail that took us through most of it. We stopped for a beer again at Onion Creek in the Heights and then went home :)

Total time with breaks (minus Onion Creek) was about 4 1/2 hours and 40.3 miles. We picked up a whopping 9 Super Neighborhoods bringing us past the halfway point with 45 out of 88 Super Neighborhoods. We're going to do a short "make-up" trip this Sunday afternoon so Drew can at least ride through the Super Neighborhoods from Trip 6, then Trip 8 (Willowbrook/Greenspoint) is scheduled for April 19th with Trip 9 (Addicks) shortly after on the 25th.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Every Whatevers

In an effort to make the site a little easier to navigate, I've tagged each post with a category, then linked to those labels on the left hand side of the website. So now you can not only see what we've done and what we're working on, but you can easily click once to read all posts about that topic.


Every Super Neighborhood in Houston - Trip 6

Trip 6 sucked. Let me tell you why. It's a long story.

A quick look at the map will show you how much of a mess it was (I'll throw the pictures in the map later). It was supposed to be 36 miles. It ended up being 51.5 miles.

It started with both people I was going to ride with canceling (both had pretty good reasons), so I had to do the whole thing on my own. It also started with a dead cell phone that I had to charge up a little.

Unfortunately all this meant I needed to bring my somewhat-heavy tripod so I wouldn't get nothing but face pictures, like Trip 1, and my nice camera as a backup in case my cell phone dies. I personally think my face is pretty, but I got a couple complaints about the lack of variety of the pictures.

I decided not to trek down to the bike lane on Lyons and just take Quitman all the way to "take 3" of Northside Village. Quitman actually turned out having a lot of room on the sides for cycling, so I think I'll make it a normal route when I need to go out this way. When I turned on Elysian, it really felt like a poorer neighborhood (see below)

I wonder how they keep them from running away/getting hit by cars?

I turned the corner to get to Northshore Redevelopment Center and saw a lot of homeless-looking people with garbage bags. When I got to the NRC, one of them was singing or yelling or something in my direction, so I decided it would be best not to take the time to whip out my tripod and good camera, so I snapped this one quickly with my cell phone and finally had #51 Northside Village.

I thought it was ironic that this building was for lease...

I went back down to Quitman and zig-zagged through Fifth Ward (where I saw two more Fifth Ward signs I never saw before, so I continued kicking myself for missing this the first time). I crossed I-10 and went the wrong way on Market Street (I was supposed to cross further east). Luckily, I ran into this post office just before the edge of the Super Neighborhood and got #56 Denver Harbor / Port Houston.

Nothing really special here, just a post office

Here is where it went downhill. Up until this point I felt like I could ride forever. Then the nonmoving train happened. I waited at the tracks (while checking my map) for about 5 minutes, then decided to go up to the freeway because it looked like the feeder went under the tracks. When I got up there, I found that the feeder actually dead-ended at the tracks and that in order to go underneath the tracks, you had to get on and off the freeway.

I seriously considered doing that, but my better judgment advised me against it. I even considered throwing my bike between the cars and climbing over, but my better judgment advise me against that as well. I rode to where the feeder dead-ended and started looking for an alternate route, because the train was still 100% completely stopped. It seemed the only way around it was to drive alll the way down Wayside to Clinton. If I didn't need to hit Pleasantville, this wouldn't have been so bad. Just as I was about to head out, the train started moving! (Elapsed time about 20 minutes). I rode down to the original crossing, because that crossing would be clear sooner than the one I was at.

When I got to the crossing, the train stopped, again. This time the end was only two cars away, so I hopped off my bike and carried it around. Two other cyclists who were stuck there had the same idea. When I turned around to look at the train, I saw this weird sign on one of the cabs:

"Do Not Hump"

Apparently they have a train humping problem... Anyway, after that bit of pansy time, I was on my way to Pleasantville.

Pleasantville was a bit of an anomoly. I was riding along, completely surrounded by factories and warehouses, and then all of a sudden, I was in a really nice little 50s neighborhood, complete with a run/bike trail. I pulled out my trivia printout and found out that Pleasantville was just that... formed after WWII and maintined their identity as a neighborhood despite warehouses popping up everywhere. I went to Pleasantville Library and found it had a bad word tagged on it, so I went up half a block to the Pleasantville Elementary school to get #57 Pleasantville Area.

I have an eye on the tiger

After leaving Pleasantville, I was out on the East Loop in a very indusrial-looking area (again). When I hit I-610 I knew I missed something. I looked at my map and apparently this truck docking area was called "Industrial Way" on google maps (see below). It didn't look like a street to me, but it was better than riding on the feeder with no sidewalk, so I cut through it.

Industrial Way

It wasn't much further after when I turned on Mississippi, went under the freeway, and was in #59 Clinton Park / Tri-Community

The elementary school across the way was for lease...

After taking the Clinton Park photo, I went through the Tri-Community area up to Market Street. It was a really really weird layout for a neighborhood (take a look at the map while I explain this). There were 50-foot high levees on either side of the road, and the entire neighborhood was in some sort of weird levee-valley. There was one main road that went all the way through, then each side street was a dead end. The history page says the neighborhood was settled by black men to work at the Port of Houston, and is still predominantly black to this day. It also said that "Large holding ponds containing materials dredged from the Houston Ship Channel are located adjacent to the residential areas. The high earthen dikes surrounding the ponds are distinctive forms on this flat coastal plain. The wetlands created by these dikes offer open space that permanently buffers many residences." Interesting!

Ok, now comes the downhill slope part of my trip. I spent about 2 hours and 15-20 miles in detours just to get the Northshore neighborhood.

It all started when I trusted Google that the name of this park was North Shore park. When I got there, I found that it was called something completely different. I remember checking Google Street View and seeing a sign. While I couldn't make out the words on the sign, it looked like it could have been Northshore. I don't remember what it was called, but it started with an 'S.'

I figure since I'm in the area, I would give the bike path in Herman Brown Park a try, since I was pretty sure it went through to Maxey Road, so I could look for something else that says Northshore on it. While biking through the park, I called Pam and she gave me some info on the best place to find something that says Northshore on it. Turns out the park does not exit to Maxey, so I basically rode aroundin a circle and exited very close to where I entered.

I tried to get over to Maxey, but the roads kept pushing me towards the freeway, until I actually got to the freeway. Where the bayou went under the freeway, there was a bridge on the feeder with no sidewalk. So I had to walk my bike across the bridge, staying as close as I could to the edge, with cars zipping past me at 50-60mph. As soon as I crossed the bridge I took myself back into the neighborhoods and out to Maxey Road.

I took Woodforest out to Uvalde and saw a bus sign that said Northshore on it, so I took a picture as a last resort. I try not to take photos of road signs or bus signs because 1) it makes it too easy, and 2) I don't consider those to be in the super neighborhood, but rather going through the super neighborhood, if that makes sense. Still determined to get something that says Northshore on it, I rode down Uvalde.

Then I found it, at long last, #58 Northshore was complete with Northsore Marine, on the far eastern edge of the map.

This is a mix of really tired and estatic.

On the way back up to Uvalde, I saw Northshore Auto parts :-/ The sign was blocked by a tree the other way and I rode right past it.

Since Uvalde was a busy road with no sidewalk, I tried to take neighborhood roads, but it proved difficult and I ended up on Uvalde anyway. I took a left on Wallisville, picked up a headlight for our car at the auto parts store there, and then stopped for lunch.

The place I stopped for lunch was the highlight of my entire trip. It was a little trailer called "Tacos y Pollos 'El Ray'". You could order one of two items: a bifsteak taco (con y sin queso) or half a chicken. I got two tacos with cheese for $2.50 and they were the best tacos I have had in my life! It came with fajita beef, seasoned to a perfect spicyness, and montery jack cheese. Then you got to put onions and cilantro on it along with a home-made green sauce. And it was all on a hand-made tortilla. It was extremely yummy!

The next leg had even more problems, as there was heavy heavy construction at Wallisville and Lake Houston Parkway. It looked like they were building an overpass. They had all traffic go on a two-lane road with no shoulder, and I tried my best to ride along it, but cars were getting very close to me at 50 mph. I finally got off that part and got #54 Hunterwood.

They must have had high vacancy rate, they were advertising $100 first month and no deposit.

There were no construction workers around, so I took the beat-up closed road back to Wallisville. Other than a 2 foot drop halfway through that I had to step down, it wasn't that bad. By this point, however, I was feeling a little sunburned and very dehydrated. I picked up a gatorade from the conveinence store and continued down the horrible Wallisville sidewalks.

Next up was my horrible judgment call that cost me about 4 1/2 miles. The neighborhood was called El Dorado/Oates Prairie. I was a little skeptical about my scheduled stop at El Dorado Taco, because when I double checked the street view, it just looked like a gas station. I got to Wallisville and Oates and decided to ride up Oates to see if I could find any business with "Oates" on it. That was a big mistake. There was nothing but trucking companies along that road and not one of them was named after the street they were on. I continued alllll the way up to Hwy 90 then took Hwy 90 all the way back to the loop, then took Wallisville alllll the way back to where El Dorado Taco was supposed to be. And there it was... as part of the gas station. El Dorado Taco for #53 El Dorado / Oates Prairie.

You can see the look of self-loathing in my face right now.

So that was it! I got to go home! I was tired and thirsy so I bought another Gatorade and had some Gu for energy. I looked at my map and it looked like Wallisville turned into Libery, which turned into Quitman, which turned into White Oak near my house.

Turns out it doesn't turn into Liberty. I got to where it was supposed to, and it required going back riding up a massive train bridge, then turning around again to hit Liberty. I was too exhausted to ride up one of those hills, so I zig-zagged through neighborhoods until I was eventually forced onto the bike path on Lyons. Luckily, while on Lyons, I got to see where the proposed future site of St. Arnold's brewery was. I liked the fact that it's closer to me than the other one, and it's on a marked bike route.

Future site of St. Arnold's; it definitely needs a lot of work.

From there I took the bike route all the way home. I collapsed, drank a lot of water, and ate some food. At least now I know I can do a 50+ mile bike ride. Hopefully the 41 miler this weekend will feel like a walk in the park. I left at 7:20am and got back around 2:25pm. It was a very long day.

So now I'm at 36 out of 88 Super Neighborhoods. They are going to come fast and furious now.