We land in Houston in less than ten minutes, when the Trinity river appears below us, its sandbars lining the outside of this bend, then switching sides and hugging the outside of the next bend like a twisted piece of yellow ribbon caught in the East Texas cypresses. We once lunched on one of those sandbars, near Lake Charlotte, on a Sierra Club paddling, run by Linda Shead and Tom Douglas.
We landed in the city where they are not afraid of a little spice in their food. We are in the city where the artist’s canvasses are large. But we are not here for long, because we have joined those who must fly through Houston to reach the green neotropics. At least we don’t yet wear floppy hats and jungle pants through IAH. We go from Terminal B to Terminal E, then show our US passports once again. This time there will be no Houston for us, though we grab a copy of the Houston Chronicle and read about overcrowded classrooms granted exemptions to swell even more and about the founding of Houston 175 years ago.
On take-off, we witness the gravel mines tearing the San Jacinto river. Freelance writer and my former student, Wendee Holtcamp, has written about this damage to a creek that is still lovely in places. Maybe the mining will diminish, according to a bill pollution-loving Governor Perry actually signed. The gouges along the river are there for all to see, every time a plane leaves IAH. But this is Texas, and environmental preservation is a forever challenge, as Bill Dawson of the Houston Advanced Research Center explains in the online magazine he founded, Texas Climate News.
All too soon we are soaring over the refineries of Texas City and over the Hurricane Ike ruins of the Bolivar Peninsula on our way to Ecuador. It is our choice. We could have stayed in Houston, but the cloud forests of Ecuador beckon. The Texas rivers will have to wait.
The Trinity river.
Flying over Texas City.