It’s April – Spring has Sprung

Nance and I love April and the annual arrival of Spring! Usually, the temperatures in April have not exceeded 90’F. The trees that have lost all of their leaves are green again. The Texas bluebonnets and all the beautiful wildflowers have bloomed. Families in Fort Bend are starting to plan for their annual summer vacation. The excitement of the rebirth of nature is ever present.

Nance and I celebrate April with a lot of outdoor activities. Since our kids are living elsewhere, and we have the “empty nest” at home, we embark on Spring “mystery field trips” – stay close to home excursions. We’ll eat at a local restaurant that’s off the beaten path. Or we’ll jump in the car and head to a spot for a refreshing hike. Or we’ll throw our bicycles in the bed of my pick-up truck and drive to a great place to ride. Or we’ll enjoy learning something about our local history that we never knew. We’ll even relax by spending the night in a small town that is less than ninety miles from Fort Bend. We are truly blessed in Fort Bend, because we can go to beautiful beaches to the south, rolling hills to the west, piney woods to the east and America’s fourth largest city twenty minutes away.

Here are some of our recommendations for our favorite close to home excursions. We are learning to play golf. We’re not very good yet, but we are very hungry after we finish a round. The solution is simple: head to Booth on FM 2759. The public is welcome to “tee it up” at the River Pointe Golf Club.  After nine or eighteen holes, end your hunger by driving to The Flying Cow for a Wagyu beef hamburger and Cajun Sweet Potato Fries. Want to eat, drink and shop? The Old Trading Post and Scotty’s Saloon are ready for you.

Nana of Nana’s Tortilla Factory in  Rosharon.

Nana of Nana’s Tortilla Factory in Rosharon.

Sometimes, Nance and I want to eat at a place where you can enjoy a great, relaxing meal without all noise of the outside world. If you want to enjoy a peaceful, delicious and filling breakfast, we have places we love in Rosharon, Needville, Simonton and Fulshear. Nana’s Tortilla Factory on Highway 6 in Rosharon has the best Tex Mex breakfast in Fort Bend County!  If a traditional American breakfast is what you’re looking for, you should enjoy that first cup of coffee at Roper’s Country Store and Café in Simonton on FM 1093 or the Jay Café in Needville on SH 36, right across from Needville High School.  If you’re in Fulshear and hungry for breakfast or lunch, you must go to the Essence House Café. They’re open seven days a week, 7 am to 3 pm.

Missouri City’s Alex’s Kitchen.

If you have a hankering for a five-star meal with a touch of romance, we have three favorites: Alex’s Kitchen, Brandani’s Restaurant & Wine Bar and Anthonie’s. Alex’s and Brandani’s are in Missouri City, and Anthonie’s is in downtown Simonton. Nancy almost passed out when she first tried the fried artichokes at Alex’s. I love the drive to Simonton and dining among the stars. We both love the gracious hospitality of Ron and Claire Brandani.

Claire and Ron Brandani just celebrated their eight-year anniversary at Brandani’s Restaurant & Wine Bar.

For an amazing hike, Nancy and I have two favorites in Fort Bend: Cullinan Park near the Sugar Land Municipal Airport off of SH6, and the home of the American alligator, Brazos Bend State Park just south of the George Ranch. Both of these parks give you an up-close view of Mother Nature’s beauty. There are alligators in both parks, but they won’t mess with you unless you mess with them. Both parks are a bird watcher’s paradise – the occasional bald eagle has been seen majestically flying overhead.

Alexander Hodge’s headstone in Sugar Land’s Cullinan Park.

Cullinan Park features the Hodges Bend Cemetery. Hodges Bend Cemetery is the final resting place of Alexander Hodge, the only human being that fought against King George’s tyrannical rule in the American Revolution and against Mexican dictator Santa Anna in the Texas Revolution. Bikes are welcome at Brazos Bend State Park, but are NOT ALLOWED in Cullinan Park. There are some easy and cool off-road trails in Brazos Bend that Nancy and I love to bike through, especially around Elm Lake to the observation tower. We usually see a gator. Or two.

If serious off-road biking gives you a ton of excitement, there are some very challenging courses in the woods in Brazos River City Park. These off-road trails are near the Brazos River. You can even ride under the closed I69/US59 freeway “turnaround” to some expert bike courses. These trails are pretty narrow with some steep inclines and declines. Nancy and I rode those trails once, and that was enough.

Fort Bend County’s Czech Center Museum.

Nancy and I made an agreement about our “mystery field trips.” She would plan local, half-day trips, and I would find a quaint, small town less than two hours from home for an overnight stay. Among the little-known Houston treasures Nancy found were the Czech Center Museum Houston and the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. With Fort Bend’s huge Czech population, the Czech Center Museum is a must see, because it feels like going to visit the Czech Republic. The Cistern is a drinking water reservoir built in 1926. It is no longer used to supply drinking water, but it stills plays an important flood mitigation role during hurricanes.

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.

Of our overnight road trips I planned, two small towns stood out: Brenham and Bellville. Brenham is much more than Blue Bell Ice Cream. We spent the night in small town luxury in the Ant Street Inn in downtown Brenham.

Twenty-Two North Holland’s Chef Corey Vasek in Bellville.

It was a quiet weekday, so we got to spend the night sleeping in an antique canopied bed in the Galveston Suite! The highlight of Bellville was a gourmet meal and a Texas shopping Mecca. Twenty-Two North Holland may have been the best dinner Nancy and I have EVER had. The chef/owner Corey Vasek is a true master, and he only has Texas raised products on his menu. He is held in such high esteem that he worked for the Von Trapp Family (Sound of Music) for many years. But, Texas called him home. A meal from Corey puts you in culinary heaven.  Then, time to giddy-up across the street to some high-class Texas shopping at Buck Ferguson Originals. Texas furniture, classy cowgirl clothes, western art – Buck Ferguson has it all.

Nancy and Pete Olson on a “Mystery Field Trip”s in downtown Brenham’s Ant Street Inn.

I’ve gotten myself too excited. I’ve got to start planning our next Texas Excursion! Nancy and I are always looking for ideas for our next “mystery field trips.” If you have a great idea or experience, please zip me an email – No suggestions with snakes – we are not very fond of snakes. As always, stay Fort Bend Strong!