My first 3 weeks in Houston I got out and about, exploring the city a little, as I ran errands and shopped.
Houston is a huge city, one that has expanded a lot, in territory utilized and built on, in the last 20 years. I realized that, just this afternoon, when I walked into a Westchase District branch of the Public Library. On a wall was a wall sized, aerial view, of Houston, looking from my neighborhood toward downtown, in 1995. A lot of open space, and groves of trees, can be seen where development has since sprung up.
Houston is a mix of historic, not so historic but old, just plain old from the last 50 years of the 20th century, modern, and brand new. At 700 sq. miles there is a lot to see in in Houston and its suburbs and I hope a newcomer can be pardoned for buying, at some point, the latest copy of a city road atlas, to supplement using Google to learn the region.
Learning and using, the Houston Metro Transit System is an adventure in itself! :-D
Unlike what I’m used to, the routes don’t come in a book, but in individual pamphlets, like LA Metro still does, and there is only 1 short metro train, 7 miles long, with 3 more in development.
So, I did what any smart person, new in town or not, would do, and went to the Metro store, downtown, to get all the routes.
Yes, the streets (many of them narrow) and sidewalks, in many places may need some repair and the narrowness of sidewalks, or frequent lack of them on many residential side street (and whole neighborhoods, by deliberate design, or not), may be disconcerting, but it all adds the charm and fascination of the city, and makes me want to explore it all even more.
As a bus passed narrow streets, with no sidewalks, I found myself peering at older residential neighborhoods with nice, well kept, homes with neat lawns and even a few of the richer parts of town. One stretch of a tony part of Memorial Dr. had signs forbidding bikes on the street, while the narrow sidewalk, on the right, had signs identifying it as a hiking and biking path. OK… :-D
As for the weather, everyone tells me I missed the serious heat and humidity of the summer. That doesn’t mean there have not been some hot and humid days, giving me the excuse to carry a large, ice cold, water jug around all day, but the heat has been no worse than what I was used to on real hot days back in the Inland Empire, east of L.A. County.
What has been fascinating to me has been the constant presence of clouds every single day. Houston is, it seems, parked directly under a cloud freeway! :-D
Some days just a few clouds pass through, some days it’s busier, with a few dark clouds, but many days it’s like the Orange Crush, the OC, at rush hour, just a bit faster.
In SoCal, when I saw the sky covered in clouds, most of them dark and threatening I made sure to wear a coat and/or carry an umbrella. Not here, here it has only rained a few days, one extremely hard (mid-day thunder and lightning included), but for only 45 min., the rest of the time these clouds
obviously had pressing business elsewhere. :-D
Things were a bit cooler, though, on those rainy days.
Even on the less crowded days the clouds would show interesting, sometimes towering (Mushroom Cloud, anyone?), formations, or great thickness, unlike the boring, uncreative, bunch that visit California. :-D