Bike ride tour of North Oak Cliff.

Today, after work, I needed to look at anything but my computer screen. How about some trees? Leaves? Grass? Heck, even a blank wall...just anything but pixels and pop-up windows.

I went into the backyard and saw that it was actually cooler than usual, a pleasant byproduct of the recent drizzle of rain. So it seemed like the perfect time to retrieve my dusty cruiser bike from the shed and take a ride around the neighborhood. Besides, I've been writing a lot about other places lately, and it's high time I wrote about where I live, my neighborhood in Dallas that I love so much.

We live in an area called North Oak Cliff, in the King's Highway Conservation District, and honestly, it's my favorite thing about this crazy, congested city. On most days, living in our own little bubble of Dallas makes all of that concrete seem like a distant memory. I feel a sigh of relief as I leave downtown behind, cross over the Trinity River, and exit Sylvan Avenue off I-30. Turn left on Sylvan, up a steep hill, and instantly I'm transported into a land of tall oak trees and rolling hills and porch swings and doors painted blue and red and purple.

Yet, it's still urban in its cultural diversity. There are so many different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives represented on my little street. And I love that.

So I dusted off my bike seat, the one with the "S" on it for "Stine" {or "Schwinn" but "Stine" sounds better...}, and set off to explore.

Here's a little tour for you, including some of my favorite homes that I pass all the time on my walking and biking route.

Let's go!

Across King's Highway down into the Kessler Park neighborhood and underneath a canopy of trees, past Rose of Sharon flowering in abundance...

First, we find homes flanked with cypress trees that look like they belong in Tuscany...

...a contrast to the Prairie-style homes with wide front porches.

There are also cottages like this quaint little number with the sprawling lawn and coral-painted door...

...and others with funny-shaped roofs that seem to belong in England.

Time to cross busy Colorado Boulevard: look both ways, and then gun it! I kept riding into the heart of the Kessler Park neighborhood, down the hill where I can always take my feet off the pedals and coast...

I saw that the Crape Myrtles and Oak Leaf Hydrangeas were in full bloom, and the sprinklers were on full-blast.

Around the circle, I passed one of my favorite magnolia trees, with a canopied area perfect for reading. I've never seen anyone beneath it though...

...and this Southern mansion, our very own version of "Tara."

As I passed on by, there was a woman walking out to the curb with a newborn baby in her arms. I saw a friend park in front of her house and run over; I could tell it was her first time meeting the new baby. Another neighbor across the street waved and then put down his watering hose to join in the fun. A lovely picture of community. I coasted past them and smiled...

At the end of the circle, one of my very favorites: the "Zen house" as I've named it, which makes me pause every time. It looks so peaceful and woodsy, like a staging home for the Gaiam catalog, with walls of windows, a chimnea, and a clean Asian style.

And then finally, I came to a sitting spot that begged me to park my bike and rest awhile under this enormous tree.

Time to head back home. On the way, I passed a VW Bus with "The Club" fastened to the steering wheel for security. Only in Oak Cliff.

Home again, home again, to wonderful 6-1-4, with beads of sweat on my forehead and awakened muscles in my legs. So glad I took this bike ride. I have realized that I'm the worst version of myself without a day full of some kind of nature, some kind of exploring.

I return home with a renewed thankfulness. I love our humble abode and everything about our little area of Dallas, Texas. It may not be Colorado, but it's home enough for me.