alligators, Brazos Bend State Park, Go Pro helmet cam, Greenspeed Magnum, life lists, MS, multiple sclerosis, No Opportunity Wasted, Phil Keoghan, recumbent trike, Texas cycling, Texas trails
I took my first trip to Brazos Bend State Park in Brazoria County yesterday. My OH my! The colors were like something that Pixar had engineered. The wildlife was verdant, abundant, and so font-row I almost squealed like a little girl several times.
I saw countless birds; a black snake & a copperhead, barely avoiding the former with a front trike wheel and almost stepping upon the latter while maneuvering for a better photo of this alligator.
Turns out, alligators don’t like trikes. Or at least not the sound they make crunching gravel. So even if I’d had my camera at the ready, all you’d see in the photos of the other six gators I came upon would be the swish of giant reptilian tails and the over-excited plumes of high-flying plop-splashes back into the depths of the lakes.
(Which, btw, reminds me that I really, really want one of these thing-a-ma-jigs.) ((One might argue that I actually need one.))
I sighted a red shouldered hawk before I even left the parking area, perched on the amphitheater’s stage as if awaiting his big monologue. There was a doe with three fawns munching in a wildflowered meadow–much too close to the alligator-and-lilly-pad-filled edges of waterways, if you ask me. I had that sensation, like when you’re watching a horror movie, and you want to scream out “What are you thinking? No, NO, NOOO . . . Don’t go into the attic/basement/field/forest/darkened hospital wing . . . For the love of pete, R-U-N!!!”
The great thing about this park on a sunny and hot day is the over thirty miles of trails with great tree cover. Which is to say, sweet, blessed, heaven-sent shade. There are well-spaced water fountains and restrooms, with outhouse-style port-o-lets at the far reaches of the more rural trails. I didn’t see very many people, which was nice. There were a few couples hiking, two very sweaty (and surprised to encounter a recumbent trike) runners, three family groups; no other cyclists, which surprised me, because these trails are frackin’ gorgeous. There’re gravel and crushed limestone trails, firmly packed dirt trails, paved wheelchair, scooter & stroller-friendly trails, wooden boardwalks, rutted & muddy root-filled trails for the rough & tumble-seeking mountain bikers. All of which the Greenspeed Magnum conquered without even batting an eyelash.
And though I didn’t actually encounter the horse & rider, I did notice evidence of them on the trail paralleling the Brazos River. I would’ve loved to have been on a horse out there yesterday–I miss horseback riding with a grief that tastes more like a loved one missed than a thing I’m not able to do anymore–but I’m grateful to be able to be out on trails at all, and I felt that effusive, delicious, heart-dancing brand of thanksgiving in a keen-bright manner.
The wildlife and flora, the bliss of solitude in the close embrace of mother nature, the anticipatory vigilance of all that the next curve of trail will hold–it’s a giddy, humbling, wide-awake, oxygenated, full-of-awe feeling. I couldn’t help but think of Phil Keoghan’s motto: No Opportunity Wasted. I think Phil should come to the great state of Texas and ride some of these opportunity-drenched trails with me. I bet I could smoke him and his two-wheeler on these twisting treed byways and really give those alligators something to talk about :0)
No Opportunity Wasted was the perfect theme of the day. Because the truth is that I didn’t want to get out and ride yesterday; I was still pretty sore & fatigued from the weekend’s rides. But I needed to take my husband to his job in Lake Jackson because he was leaving his vehicle with me while he goes on a work-related road trip. I’ve been meaning to go check out Brazos Bend State Park, but my ICE Qnt isn’t really outfitted with the proper tires for those kinds of trails. In spite of how my body felt, I refused to throw away the opportunity of being in close proximity to the park while being in possession of the Greenspeed Magnum (the SUV of recumbent trikes, on loan to me for review).
It would’ve been so easy to settle into the idea that I’d ridden hard and well over the weekend and deserved to rest my aching muscles and joints. When you have an illness and/or disability, others are quick to tell you to take care of yourself, take it easy, take a break. You even give yourself the same advice, you know, with that rationalizing, maybe-we-should-play-it-safe part of your brain. Sometimes it’s good advice, the “better safe than sorry” adage. As long as you’re not using “safe” as a code word for “easy,” as a way of opting for what’s more comfortable and convenient. As long as you keep in mind–smack-dab in the front of your mind, hot spotlight shining upon it–this principle of not wasting opportunities. Whenever you can dang well help it!
Yo, Phil, you know that life list of yours? Add this amazing Tejas adventure; you won’t regret it. What could be more fun than out-riding alligators and dodging snakes?
And don’t forget, good readers, sometimes “safe” & “sorry” are more like siamese twins than strangers; more like two faces of a coin that’s worth the same amount no matter which way it lands in the toss; more like interchangeable thesaurus-versions of themselves than cause-and-effect or good advice, much less good medicine 😉
Now go, get out there. Ride, run, write, explore, create, LIVE.