Barker Reservoir Trail (Partial)

January 6, 2019. After having walked a portion of this trail I’ve looked forward to exploring the rest of it on my bike. Beginning at Terry Hershey Park to the east, the trail is roughly 11 miles long to its end at South Fry Road. The weather was, again, perfect for a ride: temps in the los 70’s with partly cloudy skies and a nice breeze. As I mounted my bike to begin my journey, the saddle-soreness from yesterday’s ride immediately dictated that this would be a partial exploration of this trail.

Our home, along many others, was flooded after Hurricane Harvey when the federal government opened the flood gates at the Barker Reservoir with no advance notice or warning. Seeing those gates now still brings back the memories of forced evacuation and significant property loss.

The section of trail I rode is unshaded, and follows the berms that form the reservoir. As I rode north and then turned west towards Barker Cypress road the breeze was in my face and I looked forward to a nice tail wind on the ride back. Reaching my turnaround point near West Houston Audi on the Katy Freeway, I snapped pics of the section of trail to be explored next weekend (left) and looking back over the route over which I have come (right) as I enjoyed my water break.

As I retraced my route eastbound, I was surprised that the breeze in my face was stronger than it was headed west. How in the world does that happen? Ducking my head to the wind, I persevered, soon arriving back at Terry Hershey Park. I couldn’t help but capture a few pics of an over-full Buffalo Bayou before heading home.

Having ridden two days in a row, my body is telling me it needs some rest, and I’m happy to oblige. I continue to enjoy my new hobby and look forward to hitting the trails next weekend, weather permitting of course!

Ride stats:

2019 Cumulative Miles: 44.8

Happy cycling!

Soli DEO Gloria!

(c) (2019)

Swollen Bayou, Firefighters & Dead-End

January in Houston offers some outstanding weather for hitting the cycling trails and today was absolutely perfect. I pulled out of the garage late this morning, greeted by a sunny sky and beautiful 64 degree temperature. My goal: Ride the bayou trail to Gessner Road and back. More on that in a bit.

We had a lot of rain this past week, and the bayou was overflowing its banks as a result. Many stopped to check it out, including this family.

As I approached the Sam Houston Tollway overpass, I was excited to pass this previous turnaround point for me. Proceeding under the bridge, I came upon several of Houston’s first responders practicing fast water rescues and maneuvers in the bayou. How cool is this??

Continuing on, I rode up a slight rise headed east towards Gessner Road when it happened. Dead end. The trail continued through a locked gate at a very nice looking apartment building. Best laid plans, I guess…

Well, what could I do? I rode up to the tollway and took a quick tour through an adjoining neighborhood, hit the trail and headed west towards home. I’ll be checking out the Houston trail maps, as I still intend to ride downtown and back by end of this year.

It doesn’t really matter, though. I ride for fun. I enjoy the weather and the scenery. Today’s ride was excellent. My new Schwinn is performing beautifully, and I’m enjoying the Strava app. I like that I see other Strava users marked in the app but haven’t found any local Strava friends yet. And the app calls me an “athlete” – that by itself makes it a keeper.

Ride Stats:

2019 Cumulative Miles: 31.0

Happy Cycling!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Cycling Journal 2019: New Bike, My 2019 Goal, and New Year’s Day Ride

Happy New Year! When I started walking the Hershey Park Trail in Houston’s Energy Corridor last fall, I noticed cyclists of all ages, shapes and sizes on the trail and the bug bit. I told my wife I wanted a bicycle for Christmas and, being the wonderful person she is, she came through with a brand new Schwinn!

Fortunately, it was rather easy to assemble. I took my first test ride around our neighborhood December 26 and my first venture onto the Hershey Park Trail December 28. The bike is easy to ride, gears shift smoothly out of the box, and I really appreciate the disk brakes and front fork suspension. For this novice, the Schwinn was a very good choice.

My goal for 2019 is to ride the trails round trip from my home in the Energy Corridor to downtown Houston by the end of the year. To keep myself moving forward and to track my progress, I’m trying the Strava app on my iPhone. I like that it maps my ride while showing me other Strava users in the vicinity. I also invested in a bell and a water bottle in preparation for crowded trails and need for hydration along the way.

Today, New Year’s Day, I rode 15 miles round trip, turning around at the Sam Houston Tollway. The sun was shining, providing a very nice temperature in the low 60’s. The breeze was a bit brisk, and the trail was fairly crowded with walkers, joggers and cyclists. My bell got a decent workout and I felt good about my effort upon returning home.

Thank you for joining me on my 2019 cycling adventure. I plan to chronicle my rides here as I make progress towards achieving my 2019 goal. As mentioned above I’m a novice rider. I welcome advice from experienced cyclists.

Happy New Year!

Departure – London & Berlin 2018

“The engine ingested the bird.”

Thus began my journey from Austin, TX to London, England earlier this afternoon. The plane that was to carry me from Austin to Houston struck a bird on approach into Austin, causing a significant departure delay as mechanics inspected the left engine in search of damage – or, in this case, ingested bird. Their findings prompted the announcement from the gate agent, “I wish I had better news; the engine ingested the bird. We will be delayed as repairs are completed.”


Airline mechanics inspect engine for bird damage at Austin Bergstrom Airport. 9.19.2018

I always feel bad for inexperienced travelers when these things happen – some panic, some cry, some get angry. I spoke to one lady who absolutely had to be in Kuwait tomorrow. She was upset that United Airlines had ruined her plans, as she only had a one-hour connection in Houston which she would definitely miss.

Rule-of-Thumb #1: Allow more time than you think you will need when making connections, especially when traveling internationally. Things happen; allow time for that. Worst case scenario? You have two-plus hours to explore a world-class airport like IAH. And maybe even enjoy a nice glass of wine!

I talked to a young lady, about my daughter’s age. She asked me if I’ve flown before – this was her first trip, heading to Little Rock via Houston Intercontinental. She was waaaay back in line. I gave her the toll free number to United and suggested she call as she waited in line. She did call; United couldn’t help her over the phone. I assured her she’d get to Little Rock

Rule-of-Thumb #2: Use the airline mobile phone app and have their customer service number stored on your phone, just in case. While I don’t know why United couldn’t assist this young lady, I’ve circumvented many a delay line by calling customer service.

As I looked out the window to see what the mechanics were up to, I heard a man nearby yelling at an airline representative over the phone, as if he or she had special ordered the bird, directed it to this plane, and personally sucked the bird into the engine. As I listened I shook my head. I’ve never understood why some passengers treat airline employees so poorly.

Rule-of-Thumb #3: Airlines don’t cause bird strikes. Airlines don’t create bad weather. Things go wrong sometimes. Their employees are there to help. The employees didn’t create the issue. Trust me, they don’t like these situations any more than we passengers do. I understand being frustrated, even angry, but take a chill pill. Please don’t treat them rudely, and be sure to thank them for their assistance once you’re finished.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.49.35 PMAs I type this I’m on my United flight to London. I’m looking forward to visiting this world-class city and Berlin next week. Tonight, as we head across the pond, I’m thankful for the privilege of traveling and for the people that make it happen. And, of course, I’m looking forward to exploring two of the world’s finest cities. I am blessed indeed.


Hurricane Harvey: Evacuation

Monday, August 28, 2017, 11:30 AM. The boats on which we rode out of our flooded neighborhood dropped us off at the main entrance to our subdivision. Coast Guard helicopters hovered in the sky above us. Clutching two kitchen trash bags hastily stuffed with clothing and our cell phones, I along with my wife, my son, four dogs, and one cat stood trembling with wet cold on Memorial Drive, which was becoming somewhat of an island among the rising flood waters. The transportation to shelter we were told would be waiting was nowhere to be seen. Although the guts of Harvey had departed our area, it was raining. We were wet, we were cold, we had four animals with nowhere to go and no way to get there. How did we wind up in this perilous situation?

IMG_1131Sunday, August 27, 2017, 6:45 PM. As I sat in the family room completing my fantasy football draft, the power suddenly went out. I was surprised; so far, Harvey had passed with no power issues in our neighborhood. As the evening wore on and the power remained out, my surprise transitioned to concern. We began to see chatter on Next Door (, a website on which neighbors can commiserate on items of interest in the neighborhood) and other social media apps that the US Army Corps of Engineers would begin opening flood gates on nearby Addicks and Barker Reservoirs sometime during the night, and that water would soon begin to enter adjoining neighborhoods. The chatter included assurances that the releases would be controlled and we in the path of the coming floods would have ample time after daylight to safely leave our homes.


Power out, monitoring Internet for news and information. 8.27.2017


Flood waters rising, early morning 8.28.2017

Monday, August 28, 2017, 5:45 AM. We awoke at the crack of dawn with flood waters already halfway between our front door and the street. There was no way we were driving out. Overcoming our initial frustration, we began moving non-perishable food items and other storm survival essentials upstairs, expecting to remain up there for a day or two until the flood waters receded. I pulled our cars as high up in the driveway as possible. As the morning wore on, the waters continued to rise. We began to see people walking out of the neighborhood towing kayaks, pool floats, and even a large inflatable duck. Soon powered watercraft were cruising the street. Jet skis and bass boats operated by volunteers were joined by the red boats of the US Coast Guard. As the Coast Guard was loading up my next door neighbors, I walked over in ankle-deep water that lapped against the front of our house. I noticed the Coast Guard helicopters flying back and forth across the sky over the neighborhood, the thump-thump-thump of their rotors reverberating in my chest. (It was at this moment that I truly understood what the word “surreal” means. This was it.) “Sir, if you want to leave, you’ve got to leave now,” the young man on the Coast Guard boat said as he helped my neighbors climb aboard. “Seriously?” I asked, somewhat incredulously. “Sir, the flood gates are open and you will soon have six feet of water, maybe more, in your home and it will be here for at least two weeks. If you want to go, we will come back for you after we evacuate these people.” We really had no option. “Okay,” I said, “we’ll get ready. Where will we go?” He responded that there would be transportation waiting to take us and our animals to an evacuation shelter at the nearby British Petroleum office building. “Pack light and hurry,” he said.


Early evacuees walked out with aid of kayaks and other small watercraft. 8.28.2017


One of many volunteers who aided evacuation efforts. My wife took this pic as they navigated down our street. 8.28.2017

Monday, August 28, 2017, 11:00 AM. As we rushed to gather our pets and a few belongings, the boat arrived at our front door. This was a very nice fishing boat piloted and manned by local volunteers. As we worked to corral our confused animals, they offered calm reassurance. “Don’t rush. We’ll get you out. Take your time. We’ll be fine.” Offering limited capacity, we loaded my wife, son and four dogs on board. As they pulled away from our house, a volunteer on foot towing a canoe approached me. We loaded the pet carrier holding my daughter’s cat and my trash bag full of clothes onto the canoe and began walking down our street. As we walked the water increased in depth until it was up to my chest. A red coast guard boat (different from the one that picked up my neighbors) came around the corner and picked us up. The young man piloting the craft told me they were with the Coast Guard unit from Memphis, TN. He was 24 years old. I was impressed at his maturity and his ability to pilot the boat amongst the submerged mailboxes, shrubbery and other obstacles. Pulling up to Memorial Drive, we offloaded and I was reunited with my family.


My wife took this photo of our poodle held by our son as they pulled away. Our house is in the background. 8.28.2017

Monday, August 28, 2017, 11:45 AM. That, dear reader, is how we arrived in this perilous situation. It was raining. We were wet. We were cold. There was no transportation and no shelter at British Petroleum. A neighborhood security guard was parked at our subdivision’s entrance. I asked him about the promised transportation. “You’re on your own, man.” We had nowhere to go and no way to get there. Frustrated, we considered flagging down a boat and having them take us home. It was at that moment the beautiful, shiny black Cadillac Escalade pulled up alongside us.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” ~ Psalm 56:3

(c) Jeffrey R Strege 2018

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