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FullSizeRender-1My bike ride took me along the Buffalo Bayou.  The sun was beating down, rising higher in the easter sky and intensifying its heat.  There was reason to finish up the ride just to beat the Houston heat but something made me slow down and make an unscheduled stop.

From a distance I saw something that was not a normal part of the landscape.  My scanning the horizon and enjoying the views stopped short.  Like radar locking on to target I automatically started to slow down.

There on the grassy field was a lump standing higher than the freshly cut lawn.  It was the only protrusion making for an obvious oddity.  Over the hill was the water in the Bayou.

Now, I was close enough to identify the surprise.  It was a turtle.  I looked at him and he made me smile.

Its tiny head was protruding from beneath its very strong shell.  I don’t know how well a turtle’s eyesight is but it was definitely having some eye contact with me.  Maybe I was intimidating like most humans who tower over these amphibians.

Slowly but deliberately it drew in its legs.  Its head shrank back a little too.  Now its house of defense protected most of it if I was a real threat or danger.

Someone must have cut the grass recently.   Shavings were sprinkled over its back.  The design on its shell was now decorated with foliage and giving it a comical appearance.  I smiled even more.

I got closer.  My movements were slow.  I did not want to scare, just photograph it.

Now, its image is tucked away in my phone.  I left it alone never having touched or disturbed it.  From a distance on my bicycle I could just make out its slow and deliberate movements.

This turtle was heading some where.  It wasn’t in a hurry.  It couldn’t be even it wanted to.

Maybe as it crept along, it reminds all of us Houstonians to take our time in the hot humid summer days.  Moving at a turtles’ pace may have the merits of making life in the hot south much more manageable, don’t you think?  It was a least worth a long smile, right?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2126There are fascinating things to see while wheeling my way around Harris County.  There is no shortage of visions to make the ride interesting.   Wildlife is always a treat.

My eyes ripped from the trail.  Over to my right just a dozen feet off the trail was the unmistakable shape of a turtle shell.  It was alive and lumbering away from any human encounters.  He was in for a gentle one.

I dismounted my bicycle and parked it against a tree.  My trusty I-phone was handy and I prepared it to snap a photo.  There is something amazing about these slow-moving amphibians.  Their shape and color give them some camouflage but not enough when they are outside of the water.

He must have felt me coming.  This character did not know if I was a threat so he lowered his shell to the ground and IMG_2128retracted his feet.  His head sank into the shell too.  Nothing but God’s designed armor was left for this humanoid threat.

My I-phone preserved several shots in its digital memory.  The smile on my countenance was long-lasting.   It was just a matter of moments that I had looked away to review my photos.  When I looked up the terrapin was gone.  Scanning the landscape, this “slow” guy had managed to move away over 30 feet.  What a mover this guy is.

At the turn around point of my ride was a sight hidden behind a hedge of bushes and trees.  Locked behind a large gate and barbed wire were several structures that looked like an old western town.  There was a wooden clap board church, a general store and and two homes.  It was a historically preserved town of Barker.

IMG_2129In its heyday during the Railroad’s servicing of the cattle ranches, this was a bustling little town of over 80 people.  These fine folks of Americana actually had two churches.  No doubt one was the church that people went to for worship.  The other building was the church that they used to go to.

It was time to go home.  There were a lot of miles on the return trip.  The heat was beginning to suck out my final ounces of energy.  It was time for a rest.

On a park bench I let my muscles rest.  I was surrounded by the woods of the George H. Bush Bike and Hike Park trail.  It was scenic, beautiful and relaxing.  Time to soak it all in and revive my spirit.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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