Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baytown's Best Kept Secret?



I've been itching to get out of my work/eat/sleep routine and git walkin' and what better time than the present? Over the years I've learned waiting for the perfect time to do something is nothing short of a case of excused procrastination and that perfect time will arrive when I am too busy to take advantage of it. I must make time work for me, not against me.

This past Thursday was wet and foggy – typical Baytown, Texas winter weather and if I was going to git walkin, I had to do it and do it now, so trusty camera in hand, I did.

Grabbing up my usual accouterments, I drug my hocks out the door (I always get sluggish when the sun is hidden from view) and plopped heavily down into the cockpit of my hoopty for a trip to Baytown's best kept secret – the Baytown Nature Center, or BNC for short.

The Baytown Nature Center is hidden away off of Bayway Drive and has taken the place of the Brownwood Subdivision, which was fatally flooded in 1983 by Hurricane Alicia. Driving from East Baker Road towards the Center, I was saddened to see how rough my old neighborhood had become. My old house on Ashby Street is long gone, but this section of Bayway Drive definitely needs a facelift.

Turning into the Nature Center, I was greeted by the window attendant and paid my three bucks for a day permit. The next time I go, I'm buying a season pass, which is only twenty dollars, or fifty for a family pass. Exiting my car in the Center's parking lot, I was immediately reminded that I had forgotten something very important – mosquito spray!

Swinging back to the entrance window, the attendant let me use a can of spray, plus two handouts showing the trails and I was ready to start walking. Hikers beware, the BNC is swampy and you WILL need repellant. I knew this and in my enthusiasm to git walkin, I flew out of the house repellant-less. Never again. Nothing short of a lightning storm or accident can ruin a good time on the trail, as mosquitoes and this place breeds the pesky varmints by the pound.



The first thing I noticed was a new trail through the woods that was under construction, so I walked it until I came to the construction crew, then I crossed over to old Brownwood Drive and headed into the fog for the Egret Tidal Flats. I want to make another note here. I believe in walking around town to truly see it, but much of the BNC can be seen from your car, so don't think that you must walk to enjoy bird watching here. Now after saying that, if you intend to see all of it, you must walk, so come prepared.

Due to the fog and the absence of other humans, I was able to get very close to a large number of wildlife. Ducks of many sizes and numbers, egrets, great egrets, herons, rosette spoonbills in their pink glory, hawks and cormorants were everywhere. I looked and looked for an alligator, but did not see one. I did see some really fat squirrels and if I could have spotted a bald eagle, I would have been especially fulfilled.

Not wanting to end my two hour hike without making a wide loop through the BNC, I turned off of old S. Bayshore Drive and hiked down what's left of Katherine Street, then Cabaniss Avenue, followed the fence line to Crow Road, back to Mapleton Avenue and finally arrived to see the Wooster Pavilion on Bayshore Drive. It's nice. Now, none of these street names exist anymore, having been replaced with trail names like the Arkokisa Loop Trail and park identifiers as the Crystal Bay Butterfly Garden. Incidentally, the Arkokisa were "a people formerly living in villages chiefly along lower Trinity river, Texas" according to www.accessgenealogy.com.



A must see is the view from the hill which elevates the Brownwood Educational Pavilion. On a normal day, a person can easily see the Fred Hartman Bridge and surrounding area. Today it was foggy and that was just as well, as it gave the area a feel of a misty elven forest. And that made my hike worth every step.

You may visit the Friends of BNC online and the photos I took by following the links on www.OurBaytown.com

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Wish I had your determination and perseverance on the exercise front!! Beautiful pics...even though it wasn't a beautiful day.

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