Category Archives: Katy

Bedazzled and Confused: Katy Mills Mall

5000 Katy Mills Circle
Katy, TX 7749

Telephone: 281-644-5000

April 2004–The largest mall in the world, and I worked there. In Katy, Texas, at the intersection of I-10 and Pin Oak Road, 25 miles west of downtown Houston, laid Katy Mills Mall. A retail and entertainment destination featuring 200 realtors; including manufacturer’s and retail outlets, off-price retailers, category dominant stores, dining and entertainment venues. I want to talk about this mall, because even though it is a very good place to go, personally it was much more than just a mall. When people see Katy Mills they see the obvious and only the things that would attract them there. They see 1.3 million square feet plus 2.5 million square feet of out parcel development on 640 acres, enough to hold 3.5 Astrodomes. They see a year round, one-level, continuous one-mile indoor course with wood tile and carpeted floors which are 145,000 square feet, and enough for 73 homes or 30 basketball courts.

They hear motivational music on Mills TV, which can threat their mind and their bodies while they shop, and could also be used as healthy rewarding exercise program. They see incentive prizes and discounts at many of their fine stores. Unique architecture and bright colors, oversized features and 50 foot tall entrance features, not to mention their interior which is divided into seven neighborhoods, each with its own combination of colors, sculptures, patterns, sounds, and lighting. Even though I am not going to talk much about the mall in a whole it was still one place in the mall that my teenage years linked from and that was the start of trouble.

It all started when I turned 16, I was in desperate need of a job and I needed one fast. Some people think that the place where I worked was just any ordinary place, and to the ordinary eye that may have been so. But in my eyes that was far from the truth. See the ordinary eye saw The Great Steak and Potato Co. with this great big menu that had different types of sandwiches, potatoes, salads and the best lemonade you ever tasted.

To me it was like a small portion of the mall that turned into the whole entire mall. That store was the only thing that existed to me in Katy Mills Mall. Even though I saw everything around me and may have visited the other stores, they meant nothing to me. All I ever saw was the food court and everything that laid in my presence from my restaurant. That carousel that was in the center of the food court, the restaurants that were on the other side of the food court. I use to get so tired of looking at those other restaurants across from us too because they were all so colorful. Even though I was in the food court, I felt like I worked in a toy store and everything was so happy and playful. There were rides in the middle of the food court and little games like the machine where you try and win a stuffed animal, or the game to test your strength. The stage in the food court didn’t make it any better because it got annoying at times. It was this huge black platform that reminded you of that movie in Selena, when she got outside and she was performing in front of all of her fans. The speakers that fell from the ceiling and hung over the stage, the speakers outweighed the entire food court and when it was time of us to work we could not even hear our customers. To me it was like the life of the mall. That is where people went to come and relax, eat, rest, talk, meet people, or just to get something to drink from all the shopping that they were doing.

That is one thing that I really enjoyed, the fact that people came to the food court, the place where I worked and chilled. So, I took advantage of that opportunity. I used Katy Mills as my escape and eventually that mall became my life. I petitioned to work at my job for 40+ hours a week, while still going to school. I use to go to work early, left work late and tried to live my life to the best of my ability. I had that job now and it seemed like everyone liked me better because I had job and more money. I was talking to people when they passed by my job that I went to school with that I wouldn’t normally communicate with outside of class. I really like that, friends would come and I wanted to work more because I never had a lot of friends. Things began to become rituals. I was so called friends it leads to me every so often staying a little late after work. Well, I got so use to staying out late and going into work early, that the job was no longer my obligation or just a place of employment, it became my life. So, I got friends, then things began to get serious, since I was rarely at home, I began to use drugs. My friends would always go chill and do drugs then one day the came to the mall and stood right in front of those glass windows in front of my job and offered drugs to me. I thought to myself that I couldn’t really hurt anything if I used them right. So, I bought the drugs and went to my little hiding spot. There was long tunnel behind the restaurant doors. It traveled all the way to the other side of the mall. Down the tunnel, right in the middle of the mall I stood almost everyday smoking weed. That was almost every kid’s first drug. When I took my breaks and things of that nature I would go to that dark and deserted hiding place and just blow my life away and feel good about it. Slowly, I wanted more.

Eventually, a lot of things began to rise at school and I wanted to become apart of them. Our homecoming dance was about to start and there was this really cute guy that went to Kerr High School and I oh so desperately had to go to homecoming with him. His name was Isaac Ola. He was whom I wanted and since I didn’t have very much that I wanted back then he was whom I had to get. So, he came up to the mall one day and yes that is where we went out. From that point on, that is where we always met up until homecoming. He met me in the front of my job and I was so ready. When my mom dropped me off all I saw was magic. This is the first time out of every time that I pass through to get to work was outstandingly beautiful. To my left were the lights Books-A-Million and to my right was Boss, an appliance store. There were poles everywhere and weird designs that covered the front of the sidewalks and the entrance. You felt like you were in a circus with the lights all shining on you. As I walked through the middle entrance which automatically opened, the most annoying sounds came from the speakers above. They loudly shouted “You are passing through entry 2 into neighborhood 2 sponsored by Memorial Herman Katy Hospital”, then as you would walk a little bit father you would be like somewhat in a holding tank because there were doors in front of you waiting for you to go inside and doors behind you waiting for you to exit outside. As

As I proceeded I almost bumped into a car machine, where mother and guardians would purchase little cars so their child can sit down while they shop. As I glided to my left I continued to walk forward. Looking at all the accessories and amenities that Katy Mils had. I never really paid any attention because I was always in my own little world. The mall was shaped like a race track, there were ATM machines everywhere and bubble gum machines everywhere as well. As my attention fell from the mall, I finally saw who I had been waiting to see. Right in front of Great Steak, my job, was Isaac. Life couldn’t’ have gotten any better because I felt perfect. Well after homecoming he would show up sometimes just to see me. Everything I wanted to do, I knew I could not do it at home because my parents were so strict. So, I told myself if you want to get high, if you want to make extra money on the side, if you want to get away from home, if you want to see Isaac, then you have to take it a step father. So, I did, I got another job. I was in Katy Mills so much when I had days off people were like what happened to you yesterday, why were you at work? I liked the attention that I received at my job.

I started skipping school, with no transportation, so I would walk to Katy Mills just to skip.

My stories could go on and on about everything I experienced in that mall because 3 years passed by and I just quit a couple of days ago. Therefore, as you can tell, I can’t just look at Katy Mills like everyone else does. I don’t think I could ever get tired of looking or because that mall was my second home. I went to that mall to live and just to do what I thought I needed to do. I went to smoke weed and I got high. I went to get money and ended up coming out with extra advantages. I went to see Isaac and I did at every opportunity I wanted to. I wanted to see my friends and when I was at work I saw them I wanted to leave home and ran right to my comfort zone. I wanted to do everything and with no supervision or guidance that mall was my answer or maybe not. Now that everything is clear to me, I can tell you that Katy Mills is not just a place to go and enjoy the games and pizza, the clothes or the adventure it has installed in it. To me it is a place that has raised me from my adolescent, clueless and troublesome years and shifted me into my independent, strong woman hood. Thank that Katy Mills, I have stopped looking for myself found myself and thanks to God escaped my unknown escape to start my known life.

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The Marq*E by Gigi Lopez

7620 Katy Freeway,
Houston, TX
(713) 263-7843

November 2010-The image I can’t get out of my head is two teens having an Icee at the movie theatre on a Saturday night talking about how pretty and fun the Marq*E had been that night. Hip Hop music playing, doors opening and closing, water falling from the waterfall, kids laughing, and people saying cheers is heard every night at the Marq*E. Houstonians find this place like a get away. Yeah people think of Houston as a country with no tourist attractions but little do they know that this complex is a great place to go have fun. On weekdays, weekends and even holidays you will never see this complex closed or empty. Everyone from kids to adults have a place in this center where they can have so much fun. The Marq*E is the Heaven of Houston, anyone is welcome but its all up to you if you want to have fun or not. The Marq*E center is located on I-10 west and silber. This 360,000 square foot entertainment center features a 22-screen state-of-the-art Edwards Cinema and IMAX screen, a variety of quality restaurants and retail shops, a comedy club, and Houston’s most popular multi-venue setting night club. This center is very unique in Houston because there is no other like it.

The most popular is of course the Edwards Cinema. As you walk in you see all the lights and showings which make you just want to go watch a movie. All teens go to the movies to get away with their friends. I spend a lot of time watching movies there with my friends or cousins. The ticket takers are great on telling you where your showing room will be. Passing up that person is the great concession stand. The smell of popcorn, pickles, pizza, and hot dogs is amazing. There is about 15 showing rooms including 4 Imax Theatres. The Imax theatres are used for big showings like movie premieres or popular movies that always have a lot of viewers. The Imax is so big that there is four exits. There is the two downstairs and two upstairs. Upstairs is just for the exits to the theatres, no showing rooms. During the week there is a lot of showings as well for those who don’t like the rush on weekends. This theatre differs from others in many ways. One way is that there is people from all of Houston going to it, in comparison to others theatres where those theatres only have people from around that side of town its located in. There was a time I made new friends from Humble at this place. I was so shocked to know that these girls would go to the Marq*E all the way from Humble.

There is a lot of places to go to if you suddenly get the urge for some food . There is a Red Robin, Dave and Busters, Café Adobe, New York Pizzeria, and Wings & More. Café Adobe is a Tex Mex restaurant that has been running for 25 years. Café Adobe is known for Houston’s best Margaritas. If you are hungry for gourmet burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, wraps, and soups Red robin is the place to go. Red Robin has been open since the 1940’s and still going strong with its great food. Out of all the places to eat, my favorite has to be New York Pizzeria. This pizzeria has great smells as soon as you walk in. This small pizza shop has great flavors and different toppings for pizza. The owners are from Italy but opened up their first shop in New York. For this reason, this pizzeria has great Italian sensations. The pastas, wines, pizzas, soups, and salads have a very catchy taste that will have you wanting more. Wings & More is one of the most famous wings restaurant in Houston. I’m sure each place has its specials but everyone knows about Two for Tuesday at Wings & More. Wings & More will be full and a have waiting list to get a table every Tuesday.

Entertainment wise, there is Dave & Buster’s, Pump it Up, Improv Comedy club, and Drinks Houston night club. Dave & Buster’s is a family place where parents can eat and drink and have their kids satisfied as well with the games inside. It’s a bar, restaurant, and arcade all in one. They also have bowling for those who like to bowl. Ever dreamt of having an place to go where there is big colorful inflatable’s where you and your kids can have fun? Well at the Marq*E your dream has come true. Pump it up is an inflatable place where kids can go jump and have fun. They also have birthday parties on weekends and during the week they have “Pop-in-Play” which is a good thing for kids who are bored at home and want to go play. On special occasions they have Parents night out in which the staff takes care of the kids while the parents have a night out. Pump it Up has many locations in Houston but the one at the Marq*E is its central location and gets a lot of new and cool stuff. I worked at Pump it Up for about 6 months and I enjoyed it there as an employee. Also the comedy club is fun for adults who want to get a good laugh in. There are also magic shows and comedy shows for kids of all age. For those who love to dance, the Marq*E is also a place for them. Drinks Houston is a very popular night club in Houston. There is only one Drink Houston location and its in the Marq*E. Starting on Thursdays you can show up at that club for some drinks and dancing fun. There are 4 different dance floors in this one big club. The first dance floor is filled with people and plays party music. The second dance floor is called the 8.0 Retro. In this room there is music played from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. In the third dance room you have a mix of Latin music. This is called the Rain Bar, it plays Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, and Hispanic Urban music. The last room they have is called Center Stage Karaoke. This is the room where a person has thousands of song to choose from and gets to sing for fun or show of their great voices. Its nice to get away sometimes to just dance and have a good time. The bad thing about this club is that once adults start drinking they get very violent. There are some nights that end with violence.

The Marq*E is a unique place because even though it has international shops in it, it also has places that are only found in Houston. There is only one Marq*E center in Houston and it’s the only complex that has all these amazing services for you. Even the food places found in the complex are unique compared to others in Houston because they are much bigger, classier, and fancier than most of the other locations. The people at the Marq*E are very nice, never rude, and all get along. If I can say something bad about the people that go to the Marq*E is the teens that start fights between each other. Kids will be kids and always make little mistakes.

I am sure most people think of cowboys, horses, saddles, and ranches when they hear about Houston Texas. As you can see the Marq*E is far from that. It is just a place where any person of any age can go to have fun or relax.

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The Cliffs: Redneck Paradise by Kevin Michael


Rain Tree Village
Katy, TX 77449

January 2004–On most weekends you can find my friends and I in the middle of a field drinking beer and relaxing in the middle of a mud filled dirt trail. In the back of a little neighborhood called Rain Tree Village in Katy Texas you can stumble upon an old abandoned excavation site people from around these parts call this place The Cliffs.

I don’t know exactly when but estimate it at least twenty years ago this site was being dug out to build a waste dump. The hole being dug went rather deep and ended up going too deep. At approximately 120 feet the excavators hit a spring bursting forth beautiful pristine blue water. This sudden rush of water drowned out the cranes and excavating equipment and so the company just left them. After a couple of years with the rain the hole filled up more and now has left a large reservoir. With the water still a good twenty feet from the edge of the hole and the sides of the reservoir still being very sheared, this has left certain spots around the hole great for exhilarating cliff jumps. Although the jump is a pretty easy one but after many years the water has left a slight embankment and the water level making the jump a little more dangerous. The ledge is only about four to five feet out but if you miss your jump this can leave a very painful landing. If you hit the jump just right it can be the most fun you have ever had in your whole entire life. My personal experience with this jump has been mostly good with only one accident when I over rotated and landed face down and broke two ribs. During the day the cliffs are inhabited by neighborhood kids out for a swim and to go adventuring on their bicycles. Also there will sometimes be some people more around the college age swimming and drinking.

At night the atmosphere changes leaving mostly the college crowd with large four-wheel drive vehicles. The area directly around the reservoir is surrounded by many mud trails with varying levels of difficulty in navigating ability. The soil is a yellow-brown clay and sand combination. This particular kind of soil can be very slick when it gets wet this leaves many extremely tough vehicles stuck in the most unlikely places. Just this past Saturday night when I was out at the cliffs a buddy of mine with a Jeep Cherokee 4×4 with a lift and very aggressive mud tires was trying to leave and ended up getting stuck in a trail that is normally a very simple pass.

Also upping the degree of difficulty are three bayous that run all around the reservoir. These bayous really stand guard against most intruders. Many spots in these bayous have been dug out leaving a trail to cross the bayou but these spots are still rather difficult to cross. In one location in a bayou close to the neighborhood and at the end of a dead end is a crossing now pretty frequently used that goes right by a tree at the bottom of the bayou. This crossing is pretty tore up and when it rains the bottom fills up with at least a foot of water and leaves the sides very slick with water running down them. This pass is the intermediate pass which is only beat in easiness by the concrete pass on the other side of the cliffs only accessible by a totally separate neighborhood on a totally different street. The most difficult passes are where two bayous converge leaving a point that is barely climbable but can be mastered with some of the best driving skills.

In the back side of it all is a large mud hole that is secluded by dense thicket in all directions except in two places where you come in and where you leave. This hole is only for the big vehicles with the craziest drivers. I personally have fallen victim to this hole leaving my 89’ Ford F-250 stuck in a hole of 3 feet worth of water and mud. This part has taken many vehicles including a few tow trucks with drivers that over estimated their vehicle’s abilities. This spot is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Just in between the wash out hole and the bayou crossings is a clearing by the reservoirs edge. This by far is my favorite spot of the whole place. From there you can overlook the reservoir and watch the moon glisten off of the water. The water from here looks black except where the moon is reflecting off of it giving you a very eerie sensation and a reminder of how troublesome this place can be. In the distance you get a hint of the suburban style houses that seem to go on forever as they fade into the thicket that lines the left side of the view. This spot is perfect for relaxing and drinking a beer. A pathway has been cleared leading down to the water from this spot and onto a beach that has a dirt ramp that has been built by kids that use it to launch themselves on their bicycles into the water. The beach is also perfect location for our bonfires leaving the fire out of view of any passer-by that might call the cops. This spot really lets you get away from everything, to just have the stars above and no other sound or distraction that comes with living in the city. Many people that know about the cliffs have visited this spot making it probably the most popular spot in the whole place.

The Cliffs are not exactly public property so it is illegal to trespass on the premises. The land was owned by and excavation company and after the water filled up the hole they kind of abandoned it. After awhile, people started going out there and doing many things. After a couple people took their ATV’s and ended up killing themselves the company decided to sell the land to the government to unload the responsibility of what happens there. When the government took control they made it illegal to trespass. This has led to the occasional incident with authorities. In one occasion a police helicopter was deployed and used a spot light to find us and then tail us. This was just a scare tactic because after leaving The Cliffs they turned the spot light off and left. Sometimes during the day when people are swimming on the front side of the reservoir a police officer will walk over and make sure there is no underage drinking and ask the people to leave. If there is no other problems and you obey the officer they usually don’t write you a ticket. Occasionally you will get an uptight officer that is new to the area and will issue a trespassing ticket of about $200. Although that police encounters are rare they still happen.

A bigger worry would definitely have to be just the pure danger of off-roading. Besides the skeletons of the burnt out vehicles that still lay scattered around the area and how many of those have been towed out of the area, there still lies many vehicles at the bottom of the reservoir. There are numerous places that can take a vehicle victim beyond repair. The slick bayou sides have made many vehicles roll back down them but not on their tires. Rolling is by far the most dangerous experience you can have out here. I personally have witnessed a good friend roll his Ford Ranger down the bayou and only by the grace of god did he survive with only scratches. Several large holes leave perfect breeding ground for broken axles and other various suspension parts. Many trails a tightly lined with trees and given even the slightest slip can send your vehicle careening into them severely damaging the body of the vehicle. Many areas have very high water that can leak into your vehicle ruining carpet and rusting floor boards all while getting into your engine and flooding it leaving you stranded and out a very costly motor. Most of the time with careful driving and good old fashioned experience you can navigate these trails in and the out with any damage of any sort.

Like most places that are even worth visiting The Cliffs has its draw backs and dangers but if you have never been there you don’t know why it is worth it. I have been to this “redneck paradise” and seen its beauty and why it draws people to its magnificent reservoir with breathtakingly blue water and challenging but inviting mud trails that test you’re driving and vehicles abilities. A place where you can let loose, and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city with only having to travel as far as your back yard.

Maps


Why go “Outback” when you can get Salt Grass? : Salt Grass Steak House by Catherine Ray

Katy, Texas
2003

April 2004–There is this lady who goes to church with my grandparents, her name is Atha Marks Dimon, the eldest daughter of E. H. Marks. E. H. Marks was one of the four original cowmen who made the first (or inaugural) Slat Grass Trail Ride. This trail ride takes place every February, it starts in Brenham, and ends some 70 miles later in Houston. The very first Salt Grass trail ride took place in February of 1952. In case you haven’t already guessed the Salt Grass Steak House is named for this trail ride. Texans are known for their pride and their steak. It’s like gravy’s’ potatoes, peas’ n’ carrots, and peanut butter and jelly: you can’t have one without the other. And what better place to get good steak than at the Salt Grass Steak House?

The Salt Grass steak house I always go to has the smell of wood, and feels like a very big living room, with a big fire in the hearth. When you first walk into Salt Grass you’re greeted with a warm friendly smile. The servers are dressed in white collar shirts with a Bolo tie and black slacks. In front of the desk where you’re greeted there’s a waiting area, with cast iron arms and varnished dark wood. There’s also another waiting area outside on the wraparound deck.

If the Salt Grass is really busy you could have about a thirty to forty five minute wait. If you’re waiting outside, it can get really hot and humid, but at least you’re out of the smoke. If you’re waiting inside, the waiting area is in front of the entry way and to the left of the smoking section of the restaurant. In the smoking part there are about eight tables in two columns, they seat about four to six people each. The only thing that cuts the smoking off from the nonsmoking is a big wooden partition with openings at both ends. So the smoke drifts out, and mingles with all the other smells and gives everything a hazy dark feeling. The smoke stings your eyes if you sit right next to the partition, (unless you’re a smoker, then I guess you’re used to all the smoke) the further away you sit from the partition you sit, the less smoke you get. When you’re seated, not in the smoking area, you pass by the bar, which you can see from the smoking area. The bar starts at the far end of the of the nonsmoking side of the petition, and wraps around a little bit of the corner. Right by the bar on the far right wall, is the kitchen. Part of the kitchen is in the restaurant area, it’s where they put the orders to be served, and the rest of it is behind two tall stainless steel doors.

Besides the smoking area, the main part is divided into three sections. The main section has a really tall light golden brown wooden ceiling. To the left is another petition with big windows like holes with no glass and in front of you is the third part and the farthest from the front. The lighting is low, it has a hazy red glow, you almost can’t see the menu, if you go in for dinner. All the tables are bright mahogany polished to a perfect sheen. Mounted on the walls are heads of dear, longhorns (one named Bevo), stuffed rabbits, a Buffalo, license plates and other memorabilia that represents Texas.

When you are seated, they ask what you would like to drink right away. When they bring you your drinks they also bring along hot bread with honey butter. The bread is brown with black flecks in it. When you cut the bread, it is soft and warm and tastes like honey, after you put the honey butter on the bread. Before they bring your drinks, you look at the menu and try to decide what you want from baked potato soup to the Trail Boss steak dinner, the smells of the foods float out towards the tables. It smells like your mom’s kitchen.

While waiting for your food you look around and see families, couples, and friends eating together. You get the feeling that all your troubles don’t matter while you’re in Salt Grass, all that matters is that you’re enjoying your food and the people you are with. I remember the first time I ever went to Salt Grass, I was about eleven and we had just come home for the summer. It was in the afternoon and it was also the first time I ever had a Caesar salad. Before I went to Salt Grass I liked steak before, but after I ate there I loved it, and every chance I get I eat at the Salt Grass steak house. This steak house is the only Steak house I had ever been to,( until about three weeks ago) and this is the steak house my entire family goes to, so there are a lot of good memories from this restaurant, that’s what makes it so special to me. Most people who have been to Salt Grass steak house like it because it’s a friendly environment and there is good food. Most people go back at least once after their first visit.

When your dinner arrives the smells float up to your nose and mingles with the smells already in the air, but you can distinctly smell your steak, potatoes, or what ever you ordered. Depending on what you ordered your food could be presented in such a way that you can’t tell which food is which, until you taste it, or you can tell what is what just by looking at it. The house salad and the Caesar salad look just like everyday normal restaurant salads. The potato soup is yellow with green and red specks in it, the top looks smooth, like there are no potatoes in it, you only see the potatoes after you stir it a little bit. Most of their steak is separate from the mashed potatoes, vegetables, or any other side order. The steak dinners always look nice and professional. The steaks are cooked the way you want them, so you don’t have to worry about the cow mooing at you, unless you want it that way. The deserts rage from a chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream with a cherry on top to key lime pie.

As you come to the end of your meal, you feel as though you can’t move (they give you that much food), they bring the deserts out from the back. From cake to brownies to ice cream they have everything. They have this one desert that just rises above them all; the Fudge Brownie Sunday. It has a fudge brownie on the bottom with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup with whip cream and a cherry on top. It is the biggest and the sweetest of the deserts, and from what I hear their key lime pie is really good too.

I recently went to the Steak house, because I was staying at my grandparents house for the weekend and I had the opportunity to talk to my waitress. Her name was Nikki and our conversation was basically friendly chit chat. I also got to ask her a few questions about how she liked work there and it went something like She really liked working there because most of the people were around the same age, so they could relate to each other and it was fun. Most of the people that you serve are really nice. When I asked her about working there she asked me if I was thinking about working there, I said no and told her about the paper I was writing. After that the talk turned to traffic and other everyday things like the weather.

After you have eaten your dinner and your desert you are so full that you feel you can’t walk and you think “Hmm, maybe I should find the bathroom.” That would probably be a good idea, you know start working off those pounds that you gained in the past hour. After you walk past the bar and the smoking and nonsmoking sections you get to the bathrooms. When you get into the bathroom you go into this really big peachy colored, nice, and very clean normal restaurant bathroom. The tiles are white, so are the sinks, with sterling silver faucets and white porcelain handles. The stalls don’t go all the way down to the floor, but they go down far enough to where the cover everything important. Even though this is a bathroom, it smells like a fresh newly cleaned bathroom that has never been used before. Now I’m not sure about the guys bathroom , but I believe that it is just as nice as the ladies bathroom. And most of all it is quiet, when the bathroom door shuts all the noise from the restaurant are shut out. So after your finished washing your hands and ready to go back to your table, you turn and walk towards the door and it says men on it. But that’s when you realize that they were just having fun trying to make you believe that you’re in the wrong bathroom. It was kind of cute you think as you leave to go pay your bill. After you finally pay your bill and leave a tip, you walk out into the Houston air with a smile because you just finished a good meal with nice people at a great restaurant. That’s why you go to Salt Grass and not Outback.

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Green Trails Park by Andrew Tran

Corner of Crescent Green and South Greenhouse
Katy, Texas 77094

November 2010–As I park my car along curbside with the entire view of the vivacious green park, a chills runs throughout my body.  Recalling that it was almost a decade ago when I last set foot in the old park.  As I approached the area, I take a drink from the old water fountain.  I bent over to take a sip due to the fact that I have outgrown my childhood water fountain.  The water, warm as always, but cold enough for a ten year old who had just gotten done playing a long game of football with about twenty of his friends.  Being absent for so long, I became aware of how much different the park looks with its new additions.

When I take a seat, I notice the new gazebo  that was built about a year ago, I sit down under the large cover on some black benches, the ground was cemented and the whole gazebo was made of six columns of a combination of red and black bricks.  To the right of me was the field, enriched with green grass on sunny days and the muddiest of mud on rainy days was where we enjoyed playing sports such as football, baseball, and soccer over the years.  Just about sixty yards long and thirty yards wide, this field was perfect for football during the summer.  It was also great for soccer and baseball for the most part.  The grass, still uncut, looks like a goat’s last supper.  As amazing as the color was, it was even more comfortable to lie down in it again.  I lay on the grass, staring into the endless sky as if time never existed.  Recalling the countless fun I had with my friends at this “coliseum.”   The diving catches I made, the homeruns I smashed out of the place, the look upon a defenders face as I would run past him for the score, and so on.  I got up off the bed of grass and continued along my walk through my past.  Ahead of me is the park playground, where kids would play “tag” and other games.  It was constructed so well that kids could be occupied for hours using such stations as the yellow corkscrew slide, the glide slide, and the bright blue monkey bars to hang down from, all encompassed within a giant sand pit.  I remember playing with all of them in my pastime so I decided to give them one last “play” from this nineteen year old.  As hard as it was to go down the bright yellow slide due to my height, I still felt the rush of cool air brush through my hair.  After I reached the end of the slide, to my left was the tire swing, a toy that quickly accumulated for lots of fun.  The tire spinner, quite possibly the most nauseating ride I have ever been on, was popular amongst the kids. Although it usually led to them feeling sick to their stomachs due to the dizziness, but people like me would never get tired of it. 

After that, I made my way to what I used to call the “glider.” The “glider” was a 12 foot long zip line in which you would grab the small black handle and zip yourself back and forth while hanging on for dear life.  I recall riding the “glider” about a million times when I was a kid. Who would think that something so simple could occupy for hours of fun.  Before I rode the “glider,” I noticed the blue hangman handles, there were 7 handles each hanging from a chain all along on a bright blue bar.  Those were great, I loved the hangman, it would give me the feeling as if I was on “American Gladiators” for the hangman event, just swinging back and forth holding on by a hand was just exhilarating for me back in the day.  I couldn’t help but notice the giant blue columns of the climbing wall. The columns, tied down by in between by black chains and handlebars used to create a net for the kids to climb on.  I would use this thing to kick field goals in for football, as you can see; I was in love with the game of football.  Back then, I tried to incorporate football with everything I did.  Well, I climbed the wall and sat upon the top bar, having a breathtaking view of the park.  As my bare feet would shift through the cold, rocky sand, I noticed the set of swings in front of me.  I went over and took a seat on the red swing, then decided to fly back and forth a few times.  I realized that the swing started squeaking, which proved its old age.  Back when I was a child, that swing was used by all the kids in the neighborhood.  There wasn’t a time when I saw it not being used.  While swinging, it gave me an overlook of the whole park, which was beautiful.  It was the place where contests on who could fly the farthest were held.

After I launched myself off the swing, I went over to the little playground area for smaller children, which consisted of little red cranes to scoop and dump sand with, smaller sized swings, and its own little slide with tunnels to crawl through.  Kids had it great with this playground.  I went over to the red cranes, giving me memories about digging the biggest holes, as if I was a construction worker.  Back then, all kids loved to do was dig holes and what better a machine than a crane.  It consisted of a shiny black seat and two arm handles, which were each used to control a different part of the shovel on the machine.  Near the cranes was the smaller play structure which had the slides and tunnels, great to play hide and go seek in.  It also had two rows of yellow slides for quick fun.  The whole contraption consisted of two sets of yellow slides, one twisted and one straight, the little red tunnel for them to move from one area to the other and the steps for the children to walk to the tunnel.  By the structure were the little spring loaded rides, a horse and a turtle.  Both were tons of fun when I was young, I remember just riding the turtle for hours.  Those rides would remind me of when I saw little kids riding it as if they were back in the days of cowboys and Indians, chasing the Indians with their horse.  About 20 yards away from the playground was the sand volleyball court.  The court, regulation size, didn’t seem like it was used much over time, but I remember that place all the same; soft sand, black plastic border, and a net that rode about 6 feet high.  I remember all the older people playing there on weekends and at night; they would park their trucks toward the court with their lights on and play.  As for me, I don’t remember using it much when I was there, all I ever remember using the volleyball court was to throw the football over it for practice.  I used to throw the football back and forth for about an hour every time I was there, which helped me out in the future because I became a much better quarterback growing up.

After walking around the park and reminiscing more, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for the park.  From the large massive green field to the little black benches that are placed throughout the park for the adults to watch their kids, the park has provided an infinite amount of fun for everyone.  As I slip on my sandals and return back to the hard concrete of growing up, I begin to think about how great the times were and how much of an amazing childhood I experienced at that park.  Although it has been awhile since I was last there, it was good to see that even though I’ve grown up and moved on, the park has always stayed the same.

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Links

The Old Katy Rodeo Arena by Jacob Adams

6331 Highway Boulevard
Katy, Texas 77494

April 2004–While I was attending high school in Katy , Texas the end of February and the beginning of March has always been a very special time for the students and residents of Katy.  Dr. Leonard  Merrell, Superintendent for the Katy Independent School District spoke for the entire community when he said, “The show will go on,” (Kliewer,36) as it has in this community since the 1940’s.  After many months of preparation and anticipation the Katy Rodeo finally arrives, the waiting is over, and the fun begins with the sights, sounds, and smells that characterize the annual Katy Livestock Show and Rodeo.  Students in the Agricultural Mechanics and the Future Farmers of America programs in the Katy Independent School District spent months preparing for the week long events of the Rodeo.  The Future Farmers of America spent a year raising and preparing to show their prize winning cows, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, lambs, and rabbits.  The Agricultural Mechanics students spent months designing and building the trailers, barbeque pits, deer feeders, bumpers, sprayers, animal chutes, and feed troughs that would be judged in the shows.  Visitors from the entire community, not just the students, eagerly await the coming of the Rodeo each year.  This year the “livestock show, rodeo, and carnival will be March 4-6,” (FFA Rodeo 1) and will feature a “bull-ride-only event at the new rodeo arena’ (FFA Rodeo 1).

The arena has recently been razed by the district in order to expand their administration facilities which had become too small for the rapidly expanding district.  A new arena is supposed to be constructed on the same property as the administration building, which is also a recent addition to the district facilities.  For the numerous students who spent many happy and productive hours at the old arena, this is a mixed blessing.  A new, larger arena with modern facilities is cause for celebration and I am sure future students will appreciate it  and create great memories there just as previous generations created their memories in and around the old arena.  However, the old arena served as a gathering place for the citizens of the Katy community for more then fifty years.

The arena was part of the original structures around Katy High School , the first high school to serve the Katy area.  Very little of the original buildings from the old Katy High School have survived the years.  Even the original Katy High School , with its narrow hallways, red brick entrances, and multi-pane windows, has been remodeled and the new schools are all modern structures without the design and old world style that characterized the original buildings.  Although the site of the building remains unchanged the surroundings have changed dramatically and the campus that was once “encircled mainly by rice fields and cow pastures” (Kliewer, 36) is now the center of a thriving business district.  The new arena that is currently planned will be a more modern structure capable of hosting modern day rodeo with all of its attractions.  Even though the old arena had hard, uncomfortable seats and everyone had to squeeze together to allow everyone to have a seat, it had character.  A visitor could tell just by looking around that the arena would have many stories to tell if only it could talk.

The new L. D. Robinson Pavilion will be a  “145,000 square foot” (Community 1) arena will include “5,600 stadium seats, concession areas, ticket booths, office space, locker rooms, and a full service kitchen” (Multi- Purpose 1).  Also included is a separate building that will have a scale designed to weigh animals which are brought to the arena for the various competitions.  In the past weighing many of the animals has been a difficult and time consuming process that involved weighing the animal in a trailer them removing the animal and weighing the trailer and them computing the difference to the determine the weight of the animal.  The new scale will speed up and modernize the process, however, it eliminates the time honored tradition that has long been a part of the Katy Rodeo and arena.  Many humorous situations have occurred while attempting to remove and control the livestock during this process.  The cows and pigs would often seize the opportunity to escape when they were removed from their trailers.  Students have frequently been called upon to chase and capture an escapee and many hilarious times have resulted.  Only someone who has attempted to capture a fleeing pig can truly appreciate their speed and cunning.  My friends and I were called upon to capture an escaping pig during last years weigh in for the livestock.  The escaping pig led us through the stock barn, around the petting zoo, by the ticket windows and then jumped the ditch.  We soon found ourselves chasing him across the track with the entire Katy track team watching us.  We finally caught him just short of the open gym doors and then had to struggle to drag him all the way back to the weigh in station thus providing additional entertainment for our audience.  Goats have been known to turn on their pursuers and the hunted became the hunter.  The new auction hall will include a new and improved sound system.  The auctioneer will now be able to be heard and understood and those bidding on the livestock will not have to guess what the auctioneer is saying.

For the old timers in the community, the arena was a reminder to many of them of their high school days and just driving by and seeing the arena reminded them of a time when they were young and their entire lives were in front of them.  Some of those old timers had children and then grandchildren follow in their footsteps and the rodeo grounds become a memory that they had in common.  The arena was a place where the young and old met on common ground.  It was a place where the gap between generations was bridged by their common love of rodeo and by their shared trials and tribulations at the arena.  In the past, when Grandpa told his story of how he lost the big competition because the gate stuck on chute number four, his grandson could empathize completely because that same gate stuck on his ride out of that same chute.  Now, these types of situations will no longer occur and future generations, while they may laugh at Grandpa’s story, will never know exactly how he felt.

I participated in Rodeo events every year of my four years in high school.  I designed and built barbeque pits, feeders, farm implements, and trailers as a member of the Mayde Creek High School Agricultural Mechanics team.  At the Agricultural shows our team frequently won ribbons and trophies for our exhibits.  During my senior year our Agricultural Mechanics team won Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion for the trailers that we designed and built for the show.  Our barbeque pit won Best of Show.  I have a great friend, Chuck, who shared this experience with me and I value the time we shared and fun that we had.

Students who participate in events there will not have to drop everything and run when someone screams for help because the cow, pig, sheep, or goat is escaping.  They also will not have the opportunity to laugh at the local rancher, who because he could not hear the auctioneer, thought he was bidding on a horse only to discover he has bought a crate of chickens or rabbits.

The new arena, which is to be built at the existing site, is no longer adjacent to Katy High School , but is to be built much farther back on the property thus making it less accessible.  This arrangement is less convenient for the transportation of the livestock and will provide little space for attractions and parking.  The new arena eliminates the small town atmosphere which ahs always been a major part of the event.  The new design of the structure eliminates the opportunity for visitors to attend the rodeo events and walk to restaurants, shops, and stores in the downtown area by isolating the visitors in an enclosed arena and preventing free travel from the rodeo to other local attractions.  In past years, visitors could easily walk to local restaurants and shops and then return to the rodeo.  Visitors will now have to drive to reach other businesses and downtown restaurants will no longer be an important part of the planning for this event.

The new building will cause the traditional carnival and the concessions to diminish in size.  The carnival is always a popular attraction for the community.  It is particularly popular among the teen age crowd who enjoy the thrill rides and the junk food available there.  Although the carnival always includes a number of rides appropriate for small children, the majority of the rides attract the middle school and high school crowd.  The carnival stays open well after the rodeo events have ended and many of the teenagers like to stay late and enjoy this time with their friends.  Along with carnival come the food vendors and concessions.  The traditional fare offered by the vendors is barbeque and more barbeque.  If you do not like barbeque then this is not the place for you.  Many of the vendors spend hours preparing their specialties and there is a great deal of friendly competition between them to decide who makes the best barbeque.

Although Katy is a small community and change comes slowly, change appears to be inevitable.  New students to the Future Farmers of America and Agricultural Mechanics programs will, without a doubt, come to appreciate the new amenities offered by the updated arena.  Students in the coming years will show their animals or display their building projects and hopefully create for themselves the same lasting recollections that previous generations did.  Future generations will create their own unique memories of the new arena and while they will be different from the memories of past generations they will be just as cherished.  Those young students may someday drive by the new structure and feel the same way about it as the old timers did when they passed the old arena.

Map


Links

Rodeo

The Cliffs: Redneck Paradise by Kevin Michael

 

 

 

This is a piece written by a student several years ago. It is fun to read, but it is now unlawful for people to explore this place as per this message we received: This is PRIVATE PROPERTY! Violators will be arrested. Unauthorized advertisement is forbidden. Please do not encourage others to break the law. (yes, it’s private property…i work for the owner) This is a verbal warning

Tree Village
Katy, TX 77449

January 2004–On most weekends you can find my friends and I in the middle of a field drinking beer and relaxing in the middle of a mud filled dirt trail. In the back of a little neighborhood called Rain Tree Village in Katy Texas you can stumble upon an old abandoned excavation site people from around these parts call this place The Cliffs.

I don’t know exactly when but estimate it at least twenty years ago this site was being dug out to build a waste dump. The hole being dug went rather deep and ended up going too deep. At approximately 120 feet the excavators hit a spring bursting forth beautiful pristine blue water. This sudden rush of water drowned out the cranes and excavating equipment and so the company just left them. After a couple of years with the rain the hole filled up more and now has left a large reservoir. With the water still a good twenty feet from the edge of the hole and the sides of the reservoir still being very sheared, this has left certain spots around the hole great for exhilarating cliff jumps. Although the jump is a pretty easy one but after many years the water has left a slight embankment and the water level making the jump a little more dangerous. The ledge is only about four to five feet out but if you miss your jump this can leave a very painful landing. If you hit the jump just right it can be the most fun you have ever had in your whole entire life. My personal experience with this jump has been mostly good with only one accident when I over rotated and landed face down and broke two ribs. During the day the cliffs are inhabited by neighborhood kids out for a swim and to go adventuring on their bicycles. Also there will sometimes be some people more around the college age swimming and drinking.

At night the atmosphere changes leaving mostly the college crowd with large four-wheel drive vehicles. The area directly around the reservoir is surrounded by many mud trails with varying levels of difficulty in navigating ability. The soil is a yellow-brown clay and sand combination. This particular kind of soil can be very slick when it gets wet this leaves many extremely tough vehicles stuck in the most unlikely places. Just this past Saturday night when I was out at the cliffs a buddy of mine with a Jeep Cherokee 4×4 with a lift and very aggressive mud tires was trying to leave and ended up getting stuck in a trail that is normally a very simple pass.

Also upping the degree of difficulty are three bayous that run all around the reservoir. These bayous really stand guard against most intruders. Many spots in these bayous have been dug out leaving a trail to cross the bayou but these spots are still rather difficult to cross. In one location in a bayou close to the neighborhood and at the end of a dead end is a crossing now pretty frequently used that goes right by a tree at the bottom of the bayou. This crossing is pretty tore up and when it rains the bottom fills up with at least a foot of water and leaves the sides very slick with water running down them. This pass is the intermediate pass which is only beat in easiness by the concrete pass on the other side of the cliffs only accessible by a totally separate neighborhood on a totally different street. The most difficult passes are where two bayous converge leaving a point that is barely climbable but can be mastered with some of the best driving skills.

In the back side of it all is a large mud hole that is secluded by dense thicket in all directions except in two places where you come in and where you leave. This hole is only for the big vehicles with the craziest drivers. I personally have fallen victim to this hole leaving my 89’ Ford F-250 stuck in a hole of 3 feet worth of water and mud. This part has taken many vehicles including a few tow trucks with drivers that over estimated their vehicle’s abilities. This spot is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Just in between the wash out hole and the bayou crossings is a clearing by the reservoirs edge. This by far is my favorite spot of the whole place. From there you can overlook the reservoir and watch the moon glisten off of the water. The water from here looks black except where the moon is reflecting off of it giving you a very eerie sensation and a reminder of how troublesome this place can be. In the distance you get a hint of the suburban style houses that seem to go on forever as they fade into the thicket that lines the left side of the view. This spot is perfect for relaxing and drinking a beer. A pathway has been cleared leading down to the water from this spot and onto a beach that has a dirt ramp that has been built by kids that use it to launch themselves on their bicycles into the water. The beach is also perfect location for our bonfires leaving the fire out of view of any passer-by that might call the cops. This spot really lets you get away from everything, to just have the stars above and no other sound or distraction that comes with living in the city. Many people that know about the cliffs have visited this spot making it probably the most popular spot in the whole place.

The Cliffs are not exactly public property so it is illegal to trespass on the premises. The land was owned by and excavation company and after the water filled up the hole they kind of abandoned it. After awhile, people started going out there and doing many things. After a couple people took their ATV’s and ended up killing themselves the company decided to sell the land to the government to unload the responsibility of what happens there. When the government took control they made it illegal to trespass. This has led to the occasional incident with authorities. In one occasion a police helicopter was deployed and used a spot light to find us and then tail us. This was just a scare tactic because after leaving The Cliffs they turned the spot light off and left. Sometimes during the day when people are swimming on the front side of the reservoir a police officer will walk over and make sure there is no underage drinking and ask the people to leave. If there is no other problems and you obey the officer they usually don’t write you a ticket. Occasionally you will get an uptight officer that is new to the area and will issue a trespassing ticket of about $200. Although that police encounters are rare they still happen.

A bigger worry would definitely have to be just the pure danger of off-roading. Besides the skeletons of the burnt out vehicles that still lay scattered around the area and how many of those have been towed out of the area, there still lies many vehicles at the bottom of the reservoir. There are numerous places that can take a vehicle victim beyond repair. The slick bayou sides have made many vehicles roll back down them but not on their tires. Rolling is by far the most dangerous experience you can have out here. I personally have witnessed a good friend roll his Ford Ranger down the bayou and only by the grace of god did he survive with only scratches. Several large holes leave perfect breeding ground for broken axles and other various suspension parts. Many trails a tightly lined with trees and given even the slightest slip can send your vehicle careening into them severely damaging the body of the vehicle. Many areas have very high water that can leak into your vehicle ruining carpet and rusting floor boards all while getting into your engine and flooding it leaving you stranded and out a very costly motor. Most of the time with careful driving and good old fashioned experience you can navigate these trails in and the out with any damage of any sort.

Like most places that are even worth visiting The Cliffs has its draw backs and dangers but if you have never been there you don’t know why it is worth it. I have been to this “redneck paradise” and seen its beauty and why it draws people to its magnificent reservoir with breathtakingly blue water and challenging but inviting mud trails that test you’re driving and vehicles abilities. A place where you can let loose, and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city with only having to travel as far as your back yard.
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