Passing in the Street.


Neighbors Talking

How sweet it is this life we live
with things that happen from day to day
how many friends could we make
as we pass each other along the way
what tales we can tell as we pass the time
we are blessed with riches so sublime
the ability to think and reason too
and figure out what we need to do
to make our lives a better place
as we interact with the human race
love for each other as we share the wealth
of passions and feelings, sickness and health
to look out for your neighbor, the guy next door
that is what being a neighbor is for
if times are hard we should share the love
not trying to keep it all to ourselves
a pleasant smile a quick hello
“How are things today” you want to know
and even though it doesn’t seem much
what you have done adds the personal touch
as people who normally pass in the street
without as much as a glance or a greet
all feel better when you take the time
to look in their eyes and give them a smile
and to tell them in your own personal way
“Hello” and then, “Oh, by the way,
please have yourself a wonderful day”.


 

Another Wet Day…


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Another wet day in my home town
it has been like this for more than a week
the days before this were a hundred and three
and now it feels much cooler to me
it’s not unusual in Texas for such extremes
as we generally get a cooling trend
with the temperature dropping a few degrees
instead it has gone to eighty three
we can always use the rain
even when the streams are full
and flooding the banks and onto the fields
and washing away the man made shields.
the trails are much too to wet to hike
and with the chance of a lot more rain
out on the trails and under the trees
and walking in mud up to my knees
is not something that I want to do
these very wet days are very few
for not getting out is not overdue.

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Thanks for Sharing


100_0229I lost another fish today but this one didn’t catch me by surprise. She had been moping around for several days and not moving much. She would not eat any of the food that I put in the pond which was very unusual as she being one of the biggest fish, was always at the head of the food line.

I decided to treat the pond with Broad Spectrum Disease Treatment in the hope of a kill or cure. Unfortunately, it was the latter although I have no idea if the treatment hastened her death. She was a very big fish, measuring 30 inches from nose to tail with an 8 inch girth and weighed in at 12 pounds. Life does not go on forever and even in these Koi that are reputed to live as long as 100 years or more (in perfect conditions) mine lasted 26 years which is no mean feat.

Fish, to me,  are not like dogs or cats and I have no special affinity for any of them. I have only one fish out of the 40-50 large Koi that has a name and that is only because she is the biggest fish in all of the ponds. Her name is “Big Bertha”. Not very original but aptly fitting for such a large fish. The responsibility of having such a big fish is a bit overwhelming as other than keeping the water and the pond in good condition, I have very little control of her environment.

This fish is now food for the buzzards and coons that haunt the woods behind my house. The cycle of Nature goes on.

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Love and Promises…


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With so much rain these past few days here in my part of Texas, I have been able to catch up on a lot of the things that I had been putting off or had not gotten to. I’m talking blog work and such that requires a lot of my attention. I’m definitely not talking about cleaning and dusting my house. It would need a long winter socked in by about ten feet of snow to even come close in giving me enough time to complete that task. As we very rarely get snow in Central Texas around Austin, I am quite safe in predicting that my house will not get cleaned any time soon. The floors get mopped because I have three dogs but absolutely no dusting even though the  dogs do contribute to the layers of dust that covers everything. If I could just teach them to dust…

Maybe I need to get one of those, whatchamacallits, darn it, what are they called? I know, they are called wives. Wait a minute, I already tried that, three times in fact and they didn’t work for me. Anyway, the modern wife doesn’t know anymore about cleaning and dusting than I do and has even less inclination to do that sort of work. It would be a lot cheaper to hire a maid service than to get another wife which is what the modern wives do anyway. I am too old and set in my ways to share anything with anybody unless I don’t want it for some reason or another and then I will gladly give it away. Besides, at eighty years old, what could I offer anyone besides my unbounded selfishness, my dirty house and inept and decrepit old body.

The one thing I am still good at as age begins to take away some of my finer points is the ability to recognize a beautiful woman as I pass them in the streets and in the stores while I am out and about. This is to the extent that I stare straight at them with no subtle sideways glances and no attempt to hide my obvious delights in their beauty. Some of them probably think of me as a “dirty old man” and in retrospect, I probably am but what the hell, what else is left? I think I might enjoy a slapped face or a biting remark just because it would remind me that I am still alive and bring back memories of when I used to “love” others. It’s true, I fall in “love” with every beautiful girl I see.

Which got me thinking about “love”. What is love anyway other than being a four letter word?  It has got to be the most used word in the English language at least between two people. The guy says it to get in her pants and the girl says it to get into his wallet. Or maybe she has bigger designs and wants to take the whole thing, house, car, bank account…I love my camera but it is not capable of responding. I love my dogs and cats and all animals. Well, most of them. They do not have to give me anything in return but they do. I wonder if in their little brains or their nervous system, they have anything close to love. I know they have affection but is that the same thing? Probably is for them.

I “love” to hike but how can love be returned from such a static environment. I love the English Premier League and watching Wayne Rooney play, I love audio books and listening to a good story, I love my car and on and on and from anything that I love, is it returned to me as love? I don’t think so. It’s like watching a show on television where the couple are running for their lives and it looks hopeless and he tells her, “I love you AND I promise to get you out of this”. How the heck is he going to do that when all the odds are stacked against him and yet he makes a “promise”? I guess if they are both dead, technically, he didn’t really break or keep it and of course, a good screenwriter will save the day for him but even so, “promise” is another overused word with very little meaning. Those three wives all “promised” and they are all gone…

Don’t get me wrong. I like most people and as far as I can tell at this late age in my life, have no known enemies. All of those that wanted my head in my early days have either died or at the most become senile enough they can’t remember that I chased after their wives. Some people I like much more than others but the truth is, I don’t love any of them and neither will I promise to save them from the end of the world.

There are some exceptions of course, most notably sons and daughters but I was not including them in this particular conversation. But, I promise to leave each of them a million dollars. Now that one is easy to break.  Such is life.

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McKinney Roughs 8-5-2016


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A panorama view of the Roughs.

I met with my friend BJ at the McKinney Roughs main parking area which was totally full up with cars to the degree that we ended up in the overflow parking. Most unusual as generally there are just a few cars and lots of parking places. This was OK with us as it was also the start of the trails we were planning on hiking. Turns out there were two Teachers Seminars going on plus the summer camp for the kids. We wandered over to the Office to pay out $2:00 (special rate for us old fogy’s) and hit the trails.

The few flowers that we found on the walk.

We had planned to walk the long loop which included Coyote Road , Roadrunner and then Yaupon which would have brought us back where we started except that when we arrived at the trail that would have taken us to Roadrunner, it was still blocked off due to a major washout and there was no way through to continue along the trails we had originally chosen.

Walking along Riverside by the water.

We didn’t let this deter us and took the Riverside trail which followed the river for a couple of hundred yards before turning into one continuous up hill climb. The walk along the river was very nice and the view of the river as it flowed along was very soothing. I should mention that all of the trails had probably within the last day, been dressed and were all in great shape. Real easy walking in most places and the only difficult section was on the uphill climb away from the river where it was all loose pebble stones.

Some of the trails we walked on.

Riverside turned into Bobcat Ridge which brought us back directly into the Parking Lot that contained our cars. Altogether, we walked 5.5 miles and even though it had warmed up and the humidity was high, was definitely much cooler by starting earlier in the day. The new water bottles worked out just fine. I finished one and was halfway through the other when we arrived back at our starting point. Money well spent. Needless to say, I was totally soaked as I usually am requiring a change of clothes before driving into Bastrop to reward myself with a Latte. I tried to get the lady at the window to take an earlier Starbucks cup from this morning to re-cycle and she gave me some lame story about them not being able to take stuff back through. Probably not her fault as she was following her instructions but for a minute, it really teed me off. Oh well…

A panorama of the views in the distance…

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As with all of these groups of pictures, if you click on anyone of them they will enlarge and you can view them by using the side arrows. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal size.

Pedernales Falls State Park 8-2-2016


DSC_3570-PanoI got up early so that I could beat the Texas summer heat but even so, it was still 10:00 am by the time I arrived at Pedernales Falls State Park. I already had an idea of where I wanted to hike this time and after buying my ticket and chatting to the friendly Park Rangers for a bit, drove back out onto  Pedernales Falls Road to park in the area across from Windmill Road.

DSC_3528My plan was to walk down Windmill Road past the Equestrian Camping Area, cross the pipeline and head towards Jones Spring. Walking on Windmill Road was easy as it was a park road although I am not sure how much traffic it gets. I branched off onto the Jones Spring trail and followed it for about a mile and a half. Some of the trail was easy walking but in many spots, it was really rocky which made walking  difficult.

I arrived at the old building first where I took a few pictures and then wandering over to the Spring which was bubbling away and releasing a lot of water.

As to be expected, the area surrounding the spring was lush and green and it really is a pretty little site. Amazing to think how long people have been using this Spring as their source of water and what stories it could tell if only it was able.

I had just bought a new vacuum bottle to keep my personal water cool as it had been heating up in my aluminum bottles as I walked and was nearly undrinkable. The vacuum bottle was so efficient that I had consumed more water than I normally drink and it was half empty. I should have re-filled it at the Spring but like I said, my brain had stopped working… It could have been a costly mistake as I ran out before I got back to my car and if it hadn’t been for the two apples that I had brought with me, I would have been in serious trouble as hot as it was.

But, I get ahead of myself. I wanted to hike back by taking the East Boundary Trail but was unable to locate where it started from Jones Spring. The map shows that it is close to the Spring but I could not find it. I backtracked to Windmill Road and then branched off onto Juniper Ridge Trail going East and followed it until I came to the pipeline. I could have continued on the Madrone Trail but it was beginning to warm up and I knew my water situation might become critical.

Below are pictures of the Pipeline and of Windmill Road. See how open they both are. No shade anywhere…

I only had one other choice at that time and it was to walk the pipeline back to Windmill Road, a distance of about a mile and a half. I dislike walking on the pipeline as there are no real trails as it is not included in the trail system. The walking can be tricky and the hills are really pronounced probably because you can see straight up and down them with no trees to block the view. There are no meandering trails that wind back and forth to take the edge off the direct ups and downs. And there is no cover at all. It is direct sunlight all the way and yesterday, it was bloody hot.

By now, all of the water was gone as was one of the apples. I walked up Windmill Road after getting off the pipeline and came to the Equestrian Camping area that I thought might have water. They did but I could not figure out how to turn it on. I could not find the shut off valve even though I knew it had to be very close. There was a trough full of the cool clear stuff and for a moment, I was sorely tempted to take a drink out of it but instead, sat under a tree and ate my remaining apple which I knew would sustain me as I was now less than half a mile from my car. Physically I felt fine except for dry lips and Vaseline Lip Balm took care of that but I certainly did not want to push my luck.

This is a picture of Wolf Mountain taken from Windmill Road

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I finished the walk and broke out onto Pedernales Falls Road which I only had to cross to get back to the car. I used my new found remote starter trick that BJ had shown me to get the car running so that it would cool a bit as I walked towards it. I was sitting on the tailgate and two more cars pulled in. I try to always bring a change of clothing as I sweat a lot and am usually totally soaked by the time I finish a hike. Even my leather belt changes color with the moisture it picks up from my shorts. Sorta has that wet look.

I toweled off and changed into drier clothes and headed back inside the Park to the Headquarters to buy a bottle of Gatorade to replace the electrolytes I had burned up. I have absolutely no idea if the stuff does any good  but it was really cold and went down very smoothly.

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I really enjoyed the walk and covered almost 9 miles, 8.6 to be exact. There is something about being out alone with Nature on the trails surrounded by the greens and browns of the Texas countryside. Back in civilization, I stopped at Whole Earth Provision Company and purchased another vacuum bottle, this one a little bigger than the first. Now I have two which should carry me over for future walks and I can even bring hot coffee in the winter time.

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As with all of these pictures, you can click on them to make them bigger and then use the side arrows to move them along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

McKinney Roughs 7-31-2016


DSC_3513-PanoI hit the trails again, this time back to  McKinney Roughs which has more shade trees than most of the Parks that I go to. With the temperature forecast to go as high as 95 degrees, any shade was going to be more than helpful.

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I arrived at the park at the Hwy 71 Trailhead around noontime, a little later than I had planned and was not a bit surprised to find that I was the only car in the parking area. If there were any others, they had already come and gone. Smart people get up early to beat the heat. I need to try that sometime…

My original plan was to hike Pine Ridge going down the steps and then back up out of the valley to Bobcat Ridge and completing the loop back onto Pine Ridge. However, as I was going through my usual preparations, I noticed that I had not picked up my water bottle after filling it and had left it on my kitchen table. It sure as hell wasn’t going to do me any good sitting there. I thought about it a bit and even I am not stupid enough to go out hiking without water so I changed my plans and headed along Whitetail towards the main offices. I knew that there was an outside drinking fountain on one of the dorms and I figured I would fill up there and then continue on with my original hiking plans. I had a spare bottle in the car, albeit very empty. Whitetail is almost a mile long and so after filling my bottle, I decided that I was not going to hike the complete loop but to walk back along Pine Ridge all the way to where the steps come up out of the valley, backtrack a little and then hit the parking lot. I took my time but even so, the sun was very warm. The trail was under shade a great deal of the way with the Loblolly Pine trees and Live Oaks casting a lot of shadow. I always like walking under the pine trees as the pine needles always smell so nice. Some of these trees are very beautiful.

The zip line project seems to be moving along and it looks like there may be as many as three different runs in different directions. I took one picture of the tower closest to the parking area. and another much further down in the valley.

At one point along the trail, I came across a tree that had fallen a long while ago and that had completely disintegrated and a little further along a piece of wood that had petrified. I wonder why one rotted and the other petrified?

The trails are in really good shape and except where I followed one of the tracks made by the zip line contractors heavy equipment, the grass is short. I have been experimenting with making panorama scenes from 2,3 and even 4 pictures stitched together. The software in Lightroom works very well and the top 2 pictures and the one below are good examples. These are without the aid of a tripod.

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The group below is of the fine trails at McKinney Roughs.

I read somewhere that the color green has a very soothing affect especially when it is linked with the great outdoors. This for me is very true as I am never happier than when I am outdoors and walking the trails. I passed one bush of American Beauty Berry that is just getting ready to flower and it was the only flowers along the entire walk.

As with all of these groups of pictures, if you click on any one of them, they will enlarge. You can then use the side arrows to move along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.