Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

254 | Harris County

254 | Harris County


Shortly after I moved to Katy the first time, in 2016, my parents bought me a bike for Christmas.

This was both a thoughtful and strategic gift, as I was in the throes of a very melodramatic identity crisis that largely revolved around me, Outdoorsy Adventurous Creative Sports Reporter Girl, moving from my college town in the Blue Ridge Mountains to what I perceived as increasingly un outdoorsy adventurous sporty places; mostly based on their elevation, and where surely I would never thrive. Katy, with its flatness and strip malls and humidity, felt like my personal rock bottom. I was a bundle of joy to live with, I am sure.

Running was my primary coping mechanism, but the volume at which I was pounding sidewalk pavement found me injured pretty quick. When my dad showed me my bright blue Liv X-Road on Christmas morning, it was both a push — get over it — and a pull — this might help.

And you know what? It worked. The bike was my first hint that I might, just maybe, be okay here. I might not have mountains, snow, or non-gross/non-reptile-infested bodies of water to kayak, but I did have a bike and miles upon miles of trail systems to explore.

George Bush Park was one of the first I checked off my list. My dad hadn’t made it but a few days of me riding before he got himself a bike, too; and the first time he rode George Bush with me, I pulled over in the middle of the stand of pine trees pictured above and walked into the middle of them.

“This,” I announced with a fervor, “is my favorite place in Katy.”

“You mean this group of trees where you can’t see any of it?” Dad deadpanned.

“Yes,” I said, because I am brat. “That’s the point.”


I think about that story every time I see those trees. Which is often. Because I live in Katy again, by choice. Life is hilarious that way.

I rarely bike, run, or walk through that pine stand without laughing (and/or cringing) at the memory. It reminds me how much I’ve grown, how often I’m wrong, and to give things a chance. To not put myself or the things I love in a box. That the presence of beauty in any given place is mostly based on my willingness to see it — or my refusal to. So stop being so stubborn. (It’s also a reminder that riding a bike may not make everything better, but it will definitely not make your day worse. So, you know, take that into consideration next time you’re having a rough one.)

Thought long and hard about what I would photograph for Harris County, since it’s so big and so urban; but in the end, it only made sense for it to be the trees that helped convince me to call it home.

10 Things I'm Loving Lately | Jan '19

10 Things I'm Loving Lately | Jan '19

254 | Caldwell County

254 | Caldwell County