I grew up playing outdoors, unlike what is commonly accepted as normal child activity today. Being hyper was unheard of; we were boys. Baseball, football, whiffleball, Army – we played Army almost every day. We were the baby boomers, being born after World War Two and the Korean conflict. Of course we had toy guns and a lot of times, we had sticks that in our vivid imaginations were machine guns. We shot a lot of imaginary enemies of our country and many times, were wounded or killed.
My 3 brothers and I spent untold hours on long hikes in the woods, often staying gone from my Mom’s scrutiny for hours – or we rode our bicycles and would many times chalk up 10 mile adventures. We would climb trees and when our body weight over-powered the tall plant, we would hang on and ride the tree to the ground before letting go. This was our entertainment. Its what we did to entertain ourselves.
We would find a brick wall and one would bat, while the other threw a rubber ball at the strike zone or we would find a circular track and ride our bikes around it 100 times or more simulating a race track competition. One summer in Woodstock, Georgia, we camped out in the wooded section behind our house for over a month, only using the house for the toilet, a meal, or the occasional shower. We loved staying outdoors and it was plenty hot, wet, or cold all of the time.
I’ve lived in my present house for 22 years and with a large track of woods behind it, I’ve never seen kids playing there, so yes, times have changed from the ancient times of my childhood. Thank the big man in the sky, that is about to change again. Boomers are once again coming out of their houses and… walking. Maybe, just maybe, it will include kids and teens. The Blue Heron Park Trail has about 2.5 miles (estimate) of 10-foot wide sidewalk for us to bang our feet upon and it has a lot of activity and it is just one of the many trails our city has built for us Baytownians.
Thanks to Scott Johnson’s strong leadership and Sonja Payne, we now have a Baytown Walks program and I am pleased to say we had a good turn-out on its first day. Baytown for many years was a very hostile place for hikers, bikers, and walkers, lacking even a modest number of sidewalks, let alone walking trails. This has changed, but there is more work to be done and more wide sidewalks are needed.
We are fat, folks. There is no sense in denying it. We need to get off our rumps and walk. What, you’re not fat? Good for you. No go outside and start walking. Sweat all you want, but walk anyway and while you’re at it, bring a plastic garbage bag and pick up a little trash while you’re sweating. All that bending over will work wonders for that soon to develop six-pack and make the city look cleaner at the same time.
Speaking of making the city look better, I confirmed with a city employee that the proliferation of signs being stuck at every intersection advertising “Repairing credit for $250” and another that “Buys Homes Fast” are illegal signs, so feel free to remove and recycle them in your green can. They are litter, nothing more.
The city has an OAP (overall plan) to connect all of our trails together in the future and I for one applaud it. The sooner the better and every dime spent on it is an investment in our city’s future and our personal health. I am anxiously awaiting the trail expansion and fourth bridge across Cary Bayou in Walter Jenkins Park. I’ve put a bug in Dustin Schubert’s ear to certify the trail at 5000 meters so people will come to Baytown to train for long distance running. The area behind the dog park could be a spaghetti trail with elevation changes in that would make a runner’s mouth water.
And speaking of water, let’s get that kayak launch point on Cary Bayou at JC Holloway Park! The new launch point at the Baytown Nature Center is awesome!