Category Archives: Northwest

Chinese Paradise: Bo Lee on Mintz Lane by Vinh Q. Truong

15102 Mintz Lane, Houston, TX
(281) 880-8019

April 2004–”Hi Gurlfriend! What’s going down?” That is Mrs. Lee greeting a female customer that has just walked in the door.

“Hello!” And that, my friend, would be Mr. Lee yelling out from the kitchen in the back. He always knows if someone has just come in or leaving. Mr. and Mrs. Lee also have a son whom you would rarely see because he is always be in the back taking care of things. Running a restaurant can be a lot of hard work. He is a typical young adult who is very responsible and also very nice and polite. So as you can see, they each have their own ways of greeting their customers. The Lees are the owner of this wonderful place where, when you are there, you are family!

“Bo Lee” was originally located on Bamel North Houston and Veterans Memorial in the same shopping strip as Kroger. This one, a quite small building; belongs to someone else which whom the Lees are renting it from. The Lees have been running their business here for many years and have established a very close relationship with many of their customers. After a few years of saving up, the Lees decided to move on and build their own place. A place they could call theirs, a place that belongs to them. After relocating, Mr. and Mrs. Lee agreed to change the restaurant’s original name, Bo Lee, to Bo Lee on Mintz Ln. because of where it is now located. Mintz Ln. is a very small, about one-fourth of a mile in length, two-lane road hidden on the right side of FM 1960 going toward I-45. Covered by other buildings on both sides of the street, the entrance to Mintz Ln. looks like a driveway to a newcomer’s eyes.

On both sides of the narrow road have a small, narrow waterway that looks like small rivers on rainy days. Tall trees and large shrubs of all types give the small road a shady looks with a country-side like scenario. Also, the power lines run down the road with the light poles hovering everything else every twenty feet or so. The one story building looks like a small local store from the outside; like in of them movies where there is a diner out in a deserted area. But once you are inside, you will get this instant feeling of being home or some place that gives you a warm feeling to your heart and body.

Many of the first timers have a hard time believing that this place is a restaurant because of its looks from the outside. Inside there are about ten tables. Out of the ten tables, six of them are couple tables and the other fours are reserved for larger groups of customers. At Bo Lee on Mintz Ln., you can sit yourself anywhere without being afraid of being put near the bathroom, which sometimes can ruin your appetite. Don’t get the last sentence wrong. The restrooms here are lemony fresh. Some even say that the restrooms at Bo Lee on Mintz Ln. are cleaner than the ones at their own house. The Lees believe that in order for the customers to feel like home, the restaurant must have a house-like environment.

“People deserve the right to feel safe and comfortable when they are eating. Nothing should get in between a man or a woman with his or her meal. After all, they did pay for the food!”Mr. Lee adds. So whether you are sitting near a window or at the counter, here is probably as close to “home” as it can get. A place where you can relax be worry free, and just enjoy some of your favorite Chinese dishes that you have paid for.

If you think picking where to sit is hard (since you never really have that option anywhere else beside smoking or nonsmoking) then you need to think again. Here, at Bo Lee on Mintz Ln., you will not get bugged about getting an appetizer. Even though drink purchases are require. Not really! Everything is at your own will. From egg rolls to crispy fried shrimp served with sweet and sour sauce or soysauce, you would want to try many of the appetizers. There are also many kinds of soup you can choose from to go with your favorite dishes. The soups are rather quite good. The Lees believe that soup should be more than just water in a cup or bowl.

“I like soup with something I can chew on; rather than just me gulping down flavored water!” That would be Mr. Lee theory to making his “kinds of soup”. Soups are among the favorites at Bo Lee on Mintz Ln.; especially in the winter. What can keep you warmer in the winter time than a nice, warm, tasty bowl of home-cooked soup besides getting a big hug from a loved one? Wait! The ice-tea here is FREE! Surprise eh? Nine out of ten customers would prefer having ice tea for free rather than paying for it. The ice tea here is freshly brewed, unsweetened, and served with a fresh slice of lemon.

“When it comes to ice tea, a lot of people like it to be sweet; but many others like it just as it is. Plain cold ice tea served with or without lemon. The customers should have the options whether to sweeten the tea or not. And ice tea should be FREE with refills!” That is Mrs. Lee opinion of how ice tea should be, and many of the customers seem to agree. Here, there are also many varieties of soft drinks or simply if you just want water.

So you have got getting a drink over with, now it is time to order the food. A little warning from other customers: ordering the food can be a little stressful. Sure this place has fried rice and egg rolls like any typical Chinese restaurants. But with so many kinds of fried rice, picking one isn’t very easy, especially when you are very hungry from the smells as you entered the door. The fried rice consists of regular cooked white rice fried with eggs, vegetables, and your choices of beef, shrimp, pork, or chicken. Simply the best option is to order a “combo” which consists a little of everything. There are also many other types of dishes, which are served with plain white rice. If you are a person who is into something spicy then Kung Pow Chicken would be your favorite. And if you prefer something crispy that comes along with a sauce then drop the menu. Beef Low Meing is the one for you. Beef Low Meing is a “stew” with a mixture of beef and all sorts of vegetables. It is served with your choice of fried pan noodles or just plain, soft noodles. There are also Chicken and Pork Low Meing which all have shrimps and served hot. The sweet and sour shrimps and chickens are also among the favorites. And for vegetarians, Chao Meing Noodle is a yum! It is just like Beef or Chicken Low Meing, but without the beef or chicken. Instead, it is served with artificial meat made up of a formula of soy and other vegetables.

Not only there are so many dishes being offered from the menu, Mr. Lee can also change it up a bit so it can be just how you like it. Many of dishes here you can mix and match because of its varieties.

As Mrs. Lee would always say: “Whateva you want, we either have it or we will make it. As long as it is Chinese that is!” Can it get any better than this? Not only you can make your own dishes, the food is freshly cooked right when you ordered.

“No precooked frozen here! If you want microwaved foods then you can always go to fast food restaurants or a drive through. People should deserve more for the money that they paid for anything, especially for food!” Mr. Lee commented.

At Bo Lee on Mintz Ln. the prices are not bad at all. Most dishes here averaged to be about five to seven dollars which are very close to the prices of many fast food restaurants; such as McDonald, Jack In The Box, ect. And what many people do not realize is that even though each dish is single serving, it would usually take two people to finish the dish. So that is like two people eating and only paying for a price of one. Now that is a good deal! All kinds of people come and go at Bo Lee on Mintz Ln. Some would dine in while others would do a take out. With so many varieties of fresh quality foods at a very cheap price, many people make this place as their personal kitchen. Others simply said that this is their favorite Chinese restaurant. Bo Lee on Mintz Ln.!

So why eat at Bo Lee on Mintz Ln.? At Bo Lee on Mintz, customers come before everything else. The service is more than wonderful. Why not ask if you should eat somewhere else? Different people have different tastes. Others don’t even like Chinese food. The only way to find out if this place is as good as it seem is to pay it a visit. Many customers said that Bo Lee on Mintz Ln. is more than a restaurant to them. Many even eat here more than they eat at home. Some people just don’t have time to cook because of a busy schedule. Others are just too tired because they had a long day at work. Whether you are dining in or taking out, this is the place to go to for Chinese. Food that is! With many varieties of freshly cooked dishes and a clean home environment, this is the place to be. No matter the ethnic, sex, or personality, you are always welcome here. And when you are here, you are family! Bo Lee on Mintz Ln. is a “two thumbs up” restaurant.

Map:

Links:

Ming Chinese Restaurant

Hunan Chinese Restaurant

Asian Food Grocer

Panda Express

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A Night in Hell: Rolling Fork Park by Joe Svec

Rodney Ray Blvd
Houston, TX 77040

January 2004–There is a small park on the corner of Rodney Ray and Fairbanks that I’ve gone to for years now. A friend of mine fell asleep there the first time we went and we placed him on the merry-go-round and spun him until he woke up. When he woke up he was so disoriented all he said was “I’m going to hell, who’s coming with me?” right before he threw up. So the name stuck. I don’t know the actual name of the park because I’ve always called it hell. I have many memories of this place. It’s been somewhere I can go with friends when I need time away from stressful things like school, and work. It’s a small sanctuary with a walking track around it. During the day hell is usually full of walkers, joggers, boy scouts, and a variety of other [yups]. At night though, is when hell really shines. After eight o’clock everyone leaves as if their shift is over, and that’s when mine usually begins. This night was no exception.

As I pull up to the side street to park (it’s best to park on the side street so cops don’t see you parked in the lot and come looking for you) I can’t see ten feet in front of me. There are no lights there but it’s not a problem once you know it like the back of your hand. I walk blindly around the track until the playground is in view then I take a left on the track and find the gazebo enshrouded in darkness. Do I see someone sitting in the gazebo? No, there’s never anyone in the gazebo, but I always think I see someone waiting for me. This structure sits in the middle of the park with massive oak trees all around it. They reach into the sky and fade into the night. I can’t see any stars out this evening but you rarely can in Houston. I look at my cell phone to check the time; it’s 10:55pm. I can make out an old beer can under the benches across from me. Surely other people must come here at night. I wonder why I never see them. As I sit there in the dark my mind begins to wander. It’s as if I’m in some kind of [sensory deprivation chamber]. I try to take my mind off the matter at hand.

I begin thinking about this place that I’m in. I think about the time that I first came here with the girl I loved but was too afraid to tell her. I mull over thoughts about how much I’ve changed since then, and how this place hasn’t changed in the slightest. I wonder who cuts the grass, and cleans up all the beer cans people leave laying around, and trims the trees. It’s seems as though this place is autonomous, as if it can take care of itself, and has a life of it’s own. Once, my friend cut his arm on the barbed wire fence separating the park from a massive construction site that looks like a rock quarry, and another friend of mine stepped on an empty forty bottle in the dark and cut up his brand new shoes. I look down at my shoes. I need some new ones. I’ll go get another pair tomorrow. White ones… white ones with a blue check. Not the big check, the small one. Yep, that’s what I’ll do. I take out my cell phone. It’s 11:15. I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes. Where the hell is he? Did he stop to get something to eat? Did he crash his car? I’ll wait another 10 minutes then I’m out of here.

I get up and wander around the track to kill some time. The track is about a quarter mile long. I walk past the grassy field where I once saw a group of cub scouts playing football with their dads. I remember how hard I laughed when one of the dads fell and hurt his leg trying to be Jerry Rice. The track itself goes over many little bridges where when it rains there are a seemingly endless number of small streams traversing the park. That’s when the mosquitoes are their worst. Sometime the mosquitoes are so bad here that you can’t stay for more than a minute if you’re not wearing blue jeans and long sleeves. Luckily the mosquitoes are all dead by this time. After the first chill of winter the insects all die off until spring. I walk past the little rut that goes back into the forest. I stop and turn around and go into it. Wow. Someone must’ve thrown a party back here. As I come into the opening in the middle of the trees all I can see is dirty blankets left behind from another day and piles and piles of empty plastic cups floating in standing water. How come I never see these people? The smell of stagnant water is terrible so I leave.

I continue my way around the track and walk past my car. I need to get that dent fixed. ‘’I got that dent coming here’’ I thought, but that was a long time ago. It happened as I passed up a car as it was turning into a driveway and its front bumper got hinged into the side of my car. I ripped it clear off. I pulled over the side as four large angry looking black men got out of the car and started flipping out once they’d seen the damage. I didn’t drive away because I was scared. I drove away because I knew they wouldn’t have thought to write down a young white guy’s plates and because I had places to be. As my walk wore on I came upon a picnic table, which always has four sticks on it. If I were to remove a stick, the next time I came there would be four sticks again. Who keeps putting these sticks on the table? Then the stark realization that I was lonely hit me. A line from [Jack Kerouac] came to mind: “ Ah poor mind of man, and lonely man on the beach, with God looking down with intent smile, I’d say.” I should be at home in a warm bed, and here I am all alone in a place called Hell, and in an ironic twist, I’m shivering cold.

Then as I continue my march back to the gazebo I step on broken glass, and it sends a chill down my spine. I flashed back to earlier that night. There I was sitting on the table in my friend’s back yard. I could hear the music coming through the house from the DJ upstairs. I was watching at people were parading in and out of the back door when I spotted a good friend of mine, Adrian. He went around saying hi and shaking hands. The last thing he said was, “Hey, you’ve got bottles.” Then he turned his head for a moment while someone fetched him a beer as a gesture of goodwill. Then as they grabbed the bottle out of the cooler, I knew what was coming next. I could see it in their [cruel glassy eyes]. Adrian never saw it coming. He swung the bottle with such unkind leverage that I winced before the bottle even hit. People screamed. People ran. People tried to save Adrian. If you didn’t do one of those three things you probably just sat there in open-mouthed horror while Adrian was stabbed in the face with a broken bottle. The Indians that say if you kill a man in the dead of winter, steam will rise out of his wounds, and that steam is actually his soul leaving it’s earthly shell behind. That night I saw steam rise from my friend’s face as he screamed in anguish.

I wish I could have more to help but it’s harder to pry a drunken redneck with a broken bottle off someone than you think. As my friend said after it was all over, “I tried, but he had the strength of a retard.” I don’t know why he did it, but he did. And all I can think about is Adrian’s lip hanging off his face while they dragged him up the stairs to the bathroom, the trail of blood on the off-white carpet marking the path they took from the back porch to the upstairs bathtub. I remember how he kept falling asleep while they waited for an ambulance and how people would have to shake him awake. It was after I shook him awake for the second time that I decided that I should get out of there, and told Rivers to meet me at Hell.

So here I am, still in Hell… still in the gazebo… still very cold, and it all seems so distant and calm now. I’ve just lit up my last cigarette. And as I sit in silence and take in the aroma of wet pine needles that had began to permeate the air well after dark I see headlights veer around Breen Street. I instantly recognize the car as a [Crown Victoria]. I think for a moment that it’s a cop but then realize it must be Rivers. I hear his car down open and close in the distance very clearly. There are no sounds here. Not even insects are awake anymore.

It was then that I realized that I’m glad to be in hell.

 

MAP:

LINKS:

Texas Parks and Wildlife
Alcohol Related Injury and Violence
Directions to Rolling Fork Park

Dance Town Bingo by Ana Ramirez

7214 Airline Drive
Houston, TX 77076-2436
(713) 692-4646 ‎

“The next number is B14. Is there a winner? B14?” James yells from the middle of the room. Everyone rushes to look through their cards for the number all hoping no one else screams “bingo” before them. Just as the room begins to calm down, a lady stands and screams “BINGO!!!” with excitement. The whole room tears up their cards to start a new game. This here is a night like any other night at Dance Town Bingo a place to have fun located on 7214Airline Drive near Little York. You might think that bingo is something that old folks do and that it’s boring for someone my age, but bingo is a game for all ages, young or old to play.

Dance Town Bingo is one of my favorite places here in Houston. It’s a small place where many people gather every night to play bingo with family and friends. Many come here nightly, and some at least once a week to get away from everything and have fun. Inside Dance Town Bingo people sit down at brown long cafeteria tables that are in rows up and down from each side of the room. There are lines at the entrance of the room everyone buys their books/cards. Each book has twelve small bingo cards and four pages for the different games that are going to be played during each session. Bingo experts will play up to thirty cards at a time. I asked a 32 year old lady named Sofia how she can play so many cards without missing a number.

“I have played bingo for years and it took me a lot of time and practice so that I could get good at bingo, I enjoy coming here every night to play bingo and just have fun like everyone in this room.” I noticed that everyone in the room had their own techniques some would mark the shapes that are going to be played with a yellow marker so they won’t accidently mark the wrong numbers and then mark it with the darker color when the numbers were being called.

In this room you see the large boards each side of the room, and small television screens on the wall, so that when the numbers are being called everyone can see. James stands in the middle of the room where he picks small balls out of the screen bal like they are bouncing balls. You can see the numbers being tossed and turned so that the same numbers won’t be repeated as the previous game. He takes out a ball and in a loud, very clear voice he says, “The next number is N42, N42.” He continues to shout out the numbers until someone screams bingo. Each card has small numbers at the bottom and when they win they call out the numbers and then James puts them in the computer and he shows everyone the card and how they won.

Once in a while there will be more than one winner and he shows us each card some people may not like winning with other people because then they have to share the prize. The biggest amount of money you can win is $750, but if three people win then they have to divide that between each of them. I often see a girl my age sitting in front of me, playing bingo. She wore some blue jeans, a bright pink neon shirt, some black converse, and glasses. She with her sister, I see her here almost every time I come. She’s always texting and playing at the same time, and she gets upset whenever someone screams bingo before her. She gets so into the game sometimes that no one can stop her. I ask her why she likes coming to play she says her sister started bringing her, every day.

My mom’s friend Juanita comes every night I tell my mom that she is addicted to the game because even when she doesn’t have money she’ll go and play. She likes to go on Mondays because the cards are one dollar and she buys two or three. She always says “today is going to be my lucky day” but she never wins. I think it’s crazy to come if you never win, but some people want to win so bad. They keep coming to see if maybe their luck will change. I think you should just have fun, play the game, and maybe you will win.

Bingo isn’t just a game it’s something that anyone can do from small children to our grandparents. In the article Generations are United by Call of the Game, Lisa Gray presents a detailed story and how a young group of kids, as she calls them, plays bingo and get really into the game. They get excited when they’re about to win, “The crowd erupted: “WOOOOAAAA!” This was their new tradition, response to their favorite number.”(Ph. 6) This shows what kind of excitement that the game brings to them as well as many others.

In different cultures, there are other ways to play bingo, and other names. Hispanics have something they call “Loteria.” It is our Mexican bingo and is something that many Hispanic families have played at least once in their life. You could play just for fun or you could play with money if you want something more exciting. Everyone gets their cards and they pay 50 cents or a dollar depending on how much they want to play for. The way you win is by making a line all the way across, up and down, or diagonal. Unlike bingo, which has bingo at the top and lines with numbers loteria has lines with pictures. Someone calls out the cards and says the name of the picture on the card for example el valiente (the brave one) or el alacran (the scorpion). Then everyone looks through their card and when they win they will scream “bingo” or “buenas”. This indicates that they have won and as reward they win all the money that the people put in for their cards.

At first the idea of bingo was boring to me I didn’t think I was going to like it because it seemed like something, for older folks would be doing and it would be boring for someone my age. Once I started getting more into the game, I enjoyed it more and actually started to like it. I was amazed at the large amount of people that gathered up every night just to play. It’s funny how once I started to get into the game, I would get mad when someone would stand up and scream “BINGO!!!!” Everyone would just get their cards and crumble them up and a new game would start. There’s is usually two sessions and between each game everyone can finally get up and go use the restroom and get something to eat. They would then use this time to buy more cards and start getting their cards ready for the next game. The good thing about bingo is that you have many chances to win and play.

In my family every week is the same we all gather up Friday nights to go play bingo at Dance Town Bingo. I enjoy spending time with my family because we don’t have many times like this where were all together having fun. Everyone’s always busy and never home so it’s important to us to have at least one day of the week where we could be together as a family. It’s impossible to see each other during the week because everyone’s always busy running around here and there to going to working or school. We try to be together as much as we can but it’s never the whole family, but one thing is for sure we never miss bingo night that’s something everyone in my family enjoys and we go just for fun. We don’t really win like other people there has only been on time my mom won $350. You don’t know when you’ll win but if you do you’re the lucky one.

I have many good memories at Dance Town Bingo because I could be with my family and spend time with them that I can’t always have. I remember when I was younger and we used to be together more. I miss those days where we could just sit down and talk about our day and how everyone was doing. This is something we now do once a week when we go play bingo with the family. I remember all the good times we’ve had here and the many times that I enjoyed playing. It also reminds me of how we used to play loteria when I was younger this was a way to have fun with the family and spend time together. My brother Jose was younger like 4 or 5 during this time and didn’t know how to play very well but he would still try to play. I used to just let him win so he wouldn’t feel bad, but know that his older I compete with him to see who wins or who fills up their card the most. I like it when we just talk about everything were doing and have those fun nights where everyone is laughing and having fun.

It’s a good idea to have somewhere you can go and have fun with the whole family. For my family this is important because we could just go here and have fun and talk to each other about our week and what’s going on. This is the only time that I get to spend with everyone because everyone’s always busy and never home. Bingo is a fun and is a good activity that everyone should try at least once and I encourage everyone to try it. Don’t think it’s boring just have fun and play. There are many bingo places everywhere you just have to put your time and effort to go and don’t be surprised when u see people your age playing bingo.
Map:


Links:
Dance Town Memories
Bingo Call
Books

Bio:
Ana Ramirez is a second year student at the University Houston Downtown, who is planning to major as a teacher. Ana is a very freindly person that loves helping others in whatever she can. She loves kids and gets along great with people. She is currently a part time student at the University of Houston Downtown and a full time worker at Namco.

In my experience, Ana has proven herself to be an honest, hard-working young woman. she is generous and kind. Even as a teenager, she was always thinking of others. Several times, I have witness her volunteer to help others in her community.

At all times I have found her to be  humble, dependable, and a nice going person . She strives always for the best and takes a high interes in education. Ana plans to get a degree and pursue her career as a teacher.

Bear Creek: a Park, or a Gateway to Something Else By Juan Alvarez

3535 War Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77084

Fall 2010-The shadow of a movement forced me to see a deer standing by a shady green bush looking at the street as the roaring of the cars forced it to stand there and just stare at the traffic. When I finally saw some open fields, the first thing that caught my attention was the green grass cut down to the perfect level as did the soccer players yelling “I’m open! I’m open!” That’s when I knew I was at Bear Creek Pioneer Park.

This park had given me some of the most awesome memories of my childhood. When I was a young boy, I use to play soccer in this park. I remember that the first time my dad brought me here I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get out of the car. My hands were shaking and my body pumped with energy that I wanted to release in the pitch. The car was still moving, but I was already out the door. My dad told me to stay calmed and I turned to him and I smiled.

I played in the U14 league which meant 14 years old and younger. My team was called The Houstonians. When I played there I won six tournaments and played 13. There was a lot of second and third places but no matter what we are always one of the best. Our team was one of the best in the league and we always shined, but as time passed the players kept growing up as well. This meant it was time to move on with life.

I turn into the street that that cut across half the park, War Memorial Dr. The weekend is the time for soccer games which meant the parking lot usually is packed and today is no exception. I’m driving down the street and I see that there is no parking spots for miles. This is the first time I drive to this park so this time I actually notice that finding a parking spot is really difficult.

As I wait for the ongoing traffic to move forward, there is a game going on that caught my eye because of the teams that it involved. The team defending left is wearing a striped jersey with red and black stripes, and the A.C Milan crest on the left side of the chest area. “Fly Emirates” is written on the center of the jersey, which means that the team is sponsored by Emirates airlines. The shorts are black, with the crest on he left leg and they are all wearing red socks, but the cleats are different with every player. The cleats included brands like Adidas, Nike, Puma among others. The team defending right is wearing a navy blue jersey with the Real Madrid logo on the left side of the chest area surrounded by a clear interpretation of a sun. In the center of the Jersey it had the Bwin.com logo. The shorts are also dark navy but it had lime green thin designs on the sides. As the actual teams, these teams are not as talented. They just had the jersey of some of the best teams in European leagues.

I am still stuck in the long line to find parking when I noticed a baseball field that resembles a miniature version of the Minute Made Park. I realized there is more to the park than I knew. I finally see a parking spot where all of the baseball fields are. I get out of my car and think I should for once get the experience of Bear Creek Park, so I walk towards the baseball fields. A game is going on and the stands are filled with the screams of supporting parents of different races and ethnicities. They are all supporting their kids, and all appear to have baseball fever.

I continue walking and notice some animals. I walked towards them and I see three goats. One is a tan color and a brown along its back, another was all white with the long fur. The last was youngest, and had white fur with black fur right above its hooves. Their spacious corral had a little shed in the middle, and a stack of hay so high that the goats must see it like a mountain. The goats have a water container at the front of the corral, and right next to it is an access for children to pet the goats.

Next I see two deer. One has antlers the size of an overgrown watermelon about two and a half feet from its head. It has a thin face with a nose that is as black as a night without a moon. The fur is a dark tan that shines when the sun hits it straight. The other doe has no antlers, white polka dots that really made her stand out, a very small tail, that only extended about 5 inches from its body, and more energy than the other deer.

Further on I saw that a large majestic bird with a featherless neck- an ostrich. It was hiding in the back of the corral but I saw it through two branches on a tree. As I turned towards the laughter of children across the street, I noticed a playground. It had swings painted different colors, and a blue jungle gym with all the detail is painted red. The hut-like tops are light brown except for the one in the far end which is a slide. The slide is light brown but the steps up are dark green. The slide went in circles until reaching the ground to fall onto a pebble filled sand box. There were also monkey bars and some kids racing to see who would cross them the fastest or even cross them at all.

The next animal I saw is a bison. A large fur coated bull-like animal. The horns in this animal have three to four inches in length. But it have a body that is so big it could kill a human by just sitting on him. There are three bison in the habitat but all I saw them do was stand on one spot eating grass. I kept walking and I see a little house right ahead of the road, it is an aviary. I ran forward forgetting about the peacocks that are standing rite at the front of their habitat. I got to the aviary and the first thing I saw is an owl. Its light brown eyes took your soul away the minute you saw them. Its wings are closed to its body. Its head move from side to side reflecting the movement around it. The feathery bird move its head to all directions following all of my body movement.

When I turned forward I saw a Black and brown feathered hawk. The hawk is holding on to the highest branch in the aviary; I suppose it made it feel in charge. I saw the bird take flight to another high branch he had available spotting a dead rat on the corner of the cage. I turned around and I walked out of the aviary and headed back to the path.

 As I kept walking the figure of an bronze bald eagle caught my eye. The figure stood triumphant as it dived into a bronze splash of water catching a bass. I walk towards it and I see that it has the history of the park which I had knowledge of. It says that the park was created by the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a prevention for the flooding that occurred here in Houston in 1935. In a plated crest on the floor it also said that the memorial had been build in 1985 in honor of known residents who lost their lives in World War I and the wars ever since. When I looked at the plated Crest and read over and over what it said I actually started to remember all of the dead that had came of all of those wars. I finally understand what the phrase “In the land of the brave and the home of the free” really mean, and most of all it gives you a sense of safety knowing that there are men and women fighting for all of us to keep our God given rights.

I started to walk away, and as the Bronzed eagle fades away I feel that what this park has to offer is greater than what it appears to give. I finally in my car and as I was about to sit on my driver seat I hesitate and look around. I finally get what this park is all about: It offers Knowledge, a sense of patriotism, and a gateway for your inner child to surface.

Map:

Links:

http://www.co.harris.tx.us/Pct3/parks/bearcreekpioneers.aspx

http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/benbrook/Recreation/Parks/Corpsparks.asp

http://texasunitedfc.com/

About The Author

Juan Alvarez is a full-time student at the University of Houston-Downtown. He graduated G.W. Carver Magnet High in 2009. He is majoring in Criminal Justice to be a Police Detective. He plans to move up the chain of comamand until he is the head of a department in the FBI. For now he is currently working as full-time as Assistant Team Lead in the Adidas Store In the Galleria Mall.

A Memory of Home: Cafe Trinh by Uyen Nguyen

11341 Veterans Memorial
Houston, TX 77067

January 2004–Now that I live in Houston, some of memories of Viet Nam have become more pronounced. These remembrances make me aware of how far I traveled, the gap between the home I knew and the home I know now, and the ways I try to bridge that gap.

A very special place I have visited in my life time I would never forget is Da Lat city. I have heard of the city from tourists from all over the world and I still admire it after visiting it . Da Lat is a city located on the Central of Viet Nam. The city is well known as the most beautiful place in Viet Nam. Everyone in Viet Nam has visited it at least once in their life time. Da Lat is famous for its natural landscapes; for example, the climate, the lakes, waterfalls, the Romantic hill, pines hill with two graves, and so on.

Da Lat is a very special city in Viet Nam because its climate is different from other locations, which is always cool and humid all year round. People wear sweaters to go outside. It seems very strange for me when I visit the city. A bout a mile before getting to the city, it appears that the city is covered with fog. I could feel the chillness touching my skin as I drove along. I t is also really difficult to get to the city. On one side of the road is the mountain and on the other side is the canyon. I could hear the sound of the sea from the other side. The road is small and curved and very hard to drive on. Along the side of the mountain, big mirrors are placed on the wall so that the drivers can see ahead if cars approach from the other way to prevent dangerous occurrences.

Da Lat is a place with many secrets. It took the whole week just to visit all the different places. As I have mentioned above, Da Lat is well known for its two famous hill. Tourists cannot miss the chance to visit them once they get to Da Lat. The first hill is known as the Romantic Hill, a good place for lovers to enjoy their time alone and have a romantic talk. The second hill is very famous for its history, the Pines Hill with Two Graves.

Life in Da Lat city seems very busy during the day, compares to life in America hat I have seen. To make a living, on the two sides of the street, there are kiosks everywhere. They sell different kinds o food, drink, souvenirs for visitors. I see many people, in the heat of the sun, with buckets are walking on the street to sell customers their vegetables or whatever item that they are selling. I can see the sweat rolling from their head to their face. Their skins are burnt dark by the sun. Life seems hard but so simple from what I have seen, and I don’t see anything like that in America. Americans work in companies in good condition eight hours a day. I think that is because America is more civilized, Americans won’t eat foods that are sold on the street, but that is life in Da Lat, and in Viet Nam, in general.

When I visited Da Lat, I thought that I wanted to live there. I like the natural creation of the landscapes, not man made. I have been to the River Walk in San Antonio, and I think it is nice that the buildings around the river are old and classic, are placed above the water level, but I don’t have a kind of deep impression like I did when I visited Da Lat. People are very friendly and enthusiastic. At night, the city is quiet and peaceful compared to Houston. Here, people should seed out a special place that they found to relax from a busy and noisy city filled with cars, traffic, and pollution during the day. Personally, I have found one place that I can relax, Cafe Trinh at night. It is located in the corner of Gears Street and Veteran Memorial after exiting from Belt Way 8.

The coffee shop is a good place to stop after a hardworking day. I always find it in my leisure time. The coffee shop is very easy to spot for its color lights sign and with the shape of a coffee cup with smoke coming out from it. It is best known for its entertainment system, the game machines, the coffee, and the view of the city. Customers either stay inside to enjoy the soft and romantic music that always played, and they can choose their favorite songs by asking the D.J to play without any charges.

When I go to the Cafe Trinh, the view of the city reminds me of those French coffee shops located by Xuan Huong lake. They were always crowned with customers. When I looked at the tower, I could imagine myself in France right below the Eiffel Tower thought I have never been to France. Also, the lights are so bright that I can even see the reflection of myself in the water. It sounds not very interesting for some people because they may think it is just a regular coffee shop like any others, but they will find themselves wrong after visiting the place. Each individual has their own special place, and it is mine. I find it is a very special place, and somehow, it reminds me of when I visited Da Lat city always staying in my memory, something reminds me of home.

Maps:

Paradise Close to the City: Bentwater by Marcela Mesa

Bentwater Drive
Montgomery, TX 77356

1-866-866-8613
936-449-5700

April 2004–Montgomery is one of the fastest growing communities in the United States , which maintains an exceptional quality of life, thanks to natural jewels such as 22,000-acre Lake Conroe and 161,000 acre Sam Houston National Forest. Conroe was established in 1885. Bentwater, a neighborhood/country club that is nestled on the preferred north shore of Lake Conroe, Montgomery, offers gate-guarded access and private streets. With amenities such as 36 holes of world-class gulf, a prestigious Country Club, elegant Yacht Club, restaurants, and so much more, Bentwater is a paradise close to a great city, Houston .
Even before you see the neighborhood, you can admire the sparkling blue waters of Lake Conroe . Bentwater provides its home owners with a yacht club where they can enjoy the lake and sail for hours on end, but the glistening copper dome of the Bentwater Yacht Club will always be there to welcome them back home. Also, high atop the harbormaster’s observation deck, members are treated themselves to panoramic views and breathtaking sunsets. Many homeowners take advantage the full-service marina provided by the Yacht Club, which is the focal point of Bentwater lush, lakefront lifestyle. It’s also a place for landlubbers, with fine dining and a lakeside club. The waterfront pool is a popular spot for swimmers and sun worshippers of all ages.

This neighborhood is more appealing to adults. For example, it has a golf course with a spectacular setting that golf course designers dream about. It’s no wonder golf is the main attraction at the prestigious Bentwater Country Club, where two 18-hole golf courses offer distinctly different playing experiences. The Weiskopf Course was designed by tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, and The Miller Course was created by internationally acclaimed designer Scott Miller. The clubhouse serves up fine and casual dining, and hardly a day goes by without a fun social event for every member of the community.

When people buy property in Bentwater, they can design their own house with certain rules to be followed. As you drive in the neighborhood, you realize that the neighborhood is divided in sections where some homes are more expensive than others; this is one of the requirements for a designed to be approved. Or people may also buy a house that is already designed and built by a construction company provided by the neighborhood, which are the ones who build all the houses. After a property owner designs his or her house, it has to be approved by a management association. You may find houses anywhere from the lowest price being $250,000 the extreme of $5 million or more.

For those who are not home owners and would like to have access to the beautiful features of Bentwater, the “Villas” are available. This is a small section inside the heart of Bentwater. It is full of small furnished houses which are rented to the public. Each house has any kind of accommodation needed in order to have pleasantry stay. Each one has a kitchen, a bedroom, living room, dining room, parking lot, and appliances. Those who rent these houses, have access to all the amenities offered by Bentwater. During their stay at the Villas, visitors may take tours around the neighborhood offered to view the newest available homes (On the Home-front).

For people who love to sail, the Bentwater Marina found in the Yacht Club offers any kind of service needed. There is a Ship’s Store, boat launching facilities, a fueling station, and an open pier for quick stops at the restaurant during the day. The marina also offers “parking” rentals for property and boat owners to keep their “toys” in a safe and protected place. Also, for those who would like to enjoy this beautiful and fun feature, but do not have boats or any aquatic vehicles, the Bentwater Marina has boat rentals.

My father is a man who likes giving his family the chance to take advantage of the opportunities that life gives us, which is why my family and I moved to the United States from Colombia about four and a half years ago; he wanted to give us a better lifestyle. My dad loves water and extreme sports, such as jet-skiing. Although we currently live in Sugar Land, when he first heart about Bentwater and its amenities, his impression was so great, he went and bought a lot with the idea of building a house in the future, which has not even been built yet. Such was his short term of patience, that after having the lot for a few months he bought a pair of jet-skies; he could not wait to make use of what was available to us by being land owners.

On a random Sunday last summer, my dad woke up early and did not have anything to do; he decided to wake everyone up in the house, because he wanted to go jet-skiing. Even though it was five of us already including my parents, sisters, and I, he told me I could invite a friend, Eric. Even though it was Eric’s first time riding a jet-ski, he seemed very enthusiastic and confident about getting on one. My dad, sisters and I had gone many times before.

When we first got there, my dad and Eric wanted to test the jet-skies out, but while in the middle of the lake, Eric’s jet-ski broke down. They had to pull it into The Marina by tying a rope from one jet-ski to the other. My dad thought it had just run out of gas, but when he checked it, he figured out it was something else he could not fix. This left us with only one jet-ski for the rest of the day.

Due to the breakdown of the first jet-ski, unfortunately we now had to take turns on riding the only one that was working. The first one to ride it was my dad; he wanted to make sure that nothing would happen to this one too. When he got back, I rode it for a while by myself first, which gave me the opportunity to drive it any way desired. I drove it very slow inside the marina because it is a residential area, but once I got out of it, I started going vary fast. I could feel little sprinkles of water hitting my face, they hit hard, but not to a point where I felt pain, it gave me enjoyment of the speed I was going. Unfortunately, joy does not last forever, the second time I had to go with one of my sisters which was not bad, but not as fun as going by myself. The best part of riding a jet-ski with my sister was that when I sped and made a sharp turn without her expecting it, she would fall off, which is very funny. After a while we got tired and decided to get off and go to the pool and rest. That is when Eric had a chance to get on one again. While he was riding, it seemed as he was having fun; he was going very fast and making sharp turns so all the water would splash back at him. For it being his first time, he made it seem like he was an expert. He was on it for quite a long time without putting any gas in it, but nothing happened to it while he was on.

Now it was my other sister’s turn. She had always liked to ride jet skies by herself but was never able to because of her age. Even though she was still not old enough to do it, my dad let her do it because he knows that she could manage driving one very well. She was very happy when she heard that she would have the opportunity of riding it by herself, so as soon as she got on, she went straight into the middle of the lake and started making sharp turns and speeding up. Even though she was having a lot of fun, about 10 minutes of riding, the jet-ski ran out of gas far from the Bentwater Marina. As soon as we realized that she was stuck out there by herself, my mom started to laugh and joking, she yelled out “get off and start pushing it in.” Even though she was disappointed, she still got off and started to do it. All of us started laughing. She was mad. She thought we were laughing because she was stuck, not because of what my mom told her to do. The only solution we had was to go to The Marina and let the guys that work there know what had happened, which is why one of them got a little boat and went to get her. He tied a rope to the jet-ski and pulled it in, similar to the way my dad and Eric did with the first one. Once they arrived to The Marina, they looked at the jet-ski to see what had happened, and this is when they realized that it had ran out of gas. The service that The Marina workers provided us was excellent. They were paying close attention to what was going on with us at all times at no charge. The only things that we had to pay for were the gas they put in the jet-skies and the food we had once we got hungry.

Bentwater is like a small city where, at walking distance, you can find anything you may need, but with a sense of elegance. It is a wonderful place to visit, and also a better place to live in with an excellent school district; within 10 minutes there are features such as a great outlet mall and the old, beautiful county of Montgomery , which people want to maintain as a traditional town.

Due to all these reasons and many, many more, is why we can conclude by saying that Bentwater is a paradise in the middle of nature, but so close to a great city, Houston .

Map

Links

Bentwater Home-site

Water Sports

Jet Skies

Jet Skiing Competitions
Jet Skiing Art

A Little Hope: Little Hope Ranch by Phillip Robinson

19922 Bauer-Hockley
Houston, Texas

April 2004–In a crass world like ours with all of the wars and fighting, it’s good to have a place that brings a little hope to life. Not far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Houston, about thirty miles to be more precise, there is a small plot of land. What sets this piece of land aside is that in the 21st century world of machines and technology, this little twelve acre plot of land has only a few small buildings and a fence all made by a family of amateur carpenters.

This ranch is in a part of Texas known as Cypress, like many other outlying areas in south east Texas Cypress is another annex of the Houston Metropolis. My family bought the ranch a few years ago as an investment, but its sentimental value has far outgrown its monetary worth. The animals and the property itself need to be fed and tended to daily.

When it’s my turn I prefer going by myself because out in the country it’s really peaceful and it gives me time away from all of my siblings, which can really be nice in a family with five other brothers and sisters. It’s not too far from my house which is just north east of Katy; a short trip west on the windy, hill-covered highway 290, then some back country dirt roads and finally I can hear the gravel kicking up against the undercarriage of my car like a dozen fists trying to beat their way through the bottom. A short distance up the road I take the left onto the ranch driveway. Immediately the wrought iron gate unveils itself from behind the massive Sago palms which shine a brilliant white as the sun bounces off the thin green needles in the breeze giving the appearance of twin disco balls swaying in the wind. “Little Hope Ranch” the gate reads in crooked letters that seem to have been created by a five year old. As soon as I step outside of the car the potent smell of hay, animals and the overall elusive scent of nature fills my nostrils. I walk up to the gate which was installed by me and my brother and unbolt the rusty padlock; it squeaks just a bit as I slide out the curled fastener. I open the creaking gate and drive through, down to the far end of the property to prepare the buckets of feed for my animals. We have four horses, one of which is more of a trophy piece because he is so mean it’s almost impossible to ride him without getting hurt. Aside from my horses I have a dozen goats and four cows. Contrary to what people belief cows don’t really “MOO,” but make the kind of noise people make when they clear their throats.

On the way to the feed bin all I can hear is the hollow field grass thumping the bottom of my car giving the illusion that I’m constantly hitting road cones. Each time the animals get fed we are suppose to check the fence line to make sure that no coyotes or foxes dug under it. As I walk down the fence line I remember the searing month of July when my mom, siblings and myself built the fence: It was the middle of July, probably the hottest time of the year in Texas. Our ranch was originally part of a seventy acre tract of land. The previous owner decided to divide it up and consequently we obtained new neighbors, and when they came we had to fence off our property to keep our animals off their land. The day the neighbors showed up we went to Home Depot and bought a manual hole digger as well as about two-hundred landscaping planks. The ground was so dry that we had to pour water on the spots we wanted to dig to soften the hard, cracked surface of the earth. It took us about two months to dig all 187 holes over the 2100 foot length of our property. We set the concrete with water from the near by pond.

To attach the wire fence itself to the posts we had to attach the whole fence to the back of our pick up and pull it taught. When it was all said and done it took us about three months to complete the fence, and the amazing part is that even though the fence is over a quarter of a mile long there is only a two inch variation in the posts. As I approach the bin I glance out the dusty window of my car towards the chicken coop to count the chickens and pigeons to make sure that foxes or opossums hadn’t snuck in and killed our birds. The chicken coop took the better part of a month to build; my siblings, Curtis, Krystal, Erika and Sabrinah and I did most of the work and my mom painted and decorated it. The parts where the boards are not quite flush let everyone know that it was build by young, unskilled carpenters.

Originally the chicken coop was suppose to face away from the fierce winter winds that are really common in Texas flatlands, but my mom made me and my brother construct the frame and we accidentally made one pole crooked and so we had to make the whole building crooked. After that we used fence posts to make the wall for it and gardening lattice for the roof. We didn’t realize that there were foxes and other predators in the area so we didn’t worry too much about sealing the roof, but after something kept getting in and killing our chickens we had to wrap the entire building in chicken wire. There is no worse sight or smell than the sun baking raw animal flesh.

Right past the chicken coop is the feeding area; complete with water trough and a five hundred gallon Rubbermaid container which conceals the livestock feed. I stop, turn the car off and half wrestle the key from the ignition. I step out of the driver’s seat to see the ever so common sight of our four horses and three cows running towards me because they know it’s that time. As I pour the feed into the buckets the cows begin to lumber towards me with a full head of steam and just when I think that I’ll be flattened by their two ton bodies they grind to a halt. The horses usually come further behind the cows from the farthest end of the pasture and they don’t need to hear the feed being poured to realize its time to eat. They charge at me as fast as they can and even though they are far away, barely specs to my eyes I can feel the ground shaking on their approach.

I feed the horses separately from the cows, mainly because the horses like to chase the cows and also because the horses always eat more than their share of food. Horses are a lot different than cows. Cows only eat and sleep; horses on the other hand have personalities and have really sincere facial expressions. I’ve been around horses and the riding equipment so much that I can’t tell whether the horses smell like saddles or vise versa.

After feeding the animals and inspecting them for ticks, cuts and scrapes I put everything back in its place and sit on my car and relax while the animals eat. After I drive out and lock the main gate sometimes I can’t help but look up at the ranch sign. “Little Hope” reminds me that there is nothing little about hope at all; a little hope for anything: humanity or something as mundane as your day is all a person needs sometimes to make it all bearable.

Farm and Ranch

Future Farmers of America

Horses

Horse Fun

Crazy for Cows

Map: