Times, they are a changing…with apologies to Bob Dylan.


bob dylan - harmonicaI was thinking just the other day just how much times have changed even in my lifetime. The fact that I am now 80 years old does give a lot of leeway for change and I have to confess that I have seen more than just a few.

It’s the latest changes that are really bothering me. The ones over the last ten or fifteen years with the advent of the internet and social mediums like Facebook and Twitter. I think what worries me the most is the extent that these mediums are used and some of the hate and garbage that is written. Now this is America and everyone, by the Constitution is entitled to free speech. Although that is a very noble concept, The Founding Fathers could never have foreseen the extent that it has reached in this modern day and age. From telling everyone where you currently are just in case someone may be interested to showing pictures of what you had for lunch of which I am quite sure, no one is interested to having a point of view to any discussion and then blurting it out to the world sometimes using profane language that may be offensive to others.

When a decent discussion about something important is started, invariably and without fail, someone will start to make disparaging remarks about whatever they don’t agree with. Instead of having a logical point of view and respecting the point of view that others may have, sooner or later the discussion will turn nasty with some, who are not agreeing with the conversation, resorting to verbal violence.

What worries me the most that this type of online conversation happens at any level. I belong to a Neighborhood Group that encompasses several collective neighborhoods and we use it to keep in touch with each other with announcements, articles for sale, information concerning our neighborhood and such. Sometimes, we have pretty heavy discussions about things that are generally perceived as troublesome to the entire neighborhood and recently we had a discussion about the rock concert noise volume coming from the new church. That one also got very heated. Currently, we are in a very heavy discussion with the latest road project concerning the “Y” at Oak Hill. So far, there has been nearly 100 emails related to the subject but even in a local area like ours, invariably the conversation turns nasty. I don’t know if these people are just so antisocial that they resort to sarcasm and innuendo and sometimes, even downright name calling in order to have a say or maybe they cannot get their point across without sarcasm or have the capacity to present an argument without resorting to verbal violence.

I am quite sure this is true everywhere as anything that I choose to follow on the web that includes any form of discussion always seems to have it’s own contingent of naysayers and nasty speaking people.

We all know that this is a very violent country and I am not just talking about guns. Just below the surface, there is a whole segment of the population that are in discord with the rest. I am very concerned with the ease in which individuals like Donald Trump can get any sort of a following and indeed, be the Republican offering for President. There is an entire contingent of Americans who are so bitter and so filled with hate and mistrust that they just seem to be looking for a leader, someone like Trump, who they believe will lead them to the promised land and make their life better.

I came to America from the UK  almost 50 years ago because I had the opportunity to do so and because I was so tired of the incessant rain over there. My adopted country has been very good to me and I have managed to live a long and enjoyable life. Sure it has had the usual day to day sort of challenges but after all, that is what life is all about. It has only been in these last 5 years or so that I have really noticed how the temperament of everyday people is changing, and not I might add, necessarily for the better. Just look how people change when they get behind the wheel of a car. That is when some people are at their scariest.

People have more availability to information now, generally speaking, than they have ever had before. They are surrounded by air waves broadcasting everyone and their brothers point of view on every subject under the sun. Each of us and I include myself in this, have the choice of what we want to follow and what the extent of our involvement may be. It can be as simple as just reading about something to becoming quite literally, very heavily involved in a discussion on that subject. We each have points of view and some try to shout louder than others to get theirs across. Some resort to violence whether just verbally or physically or both.

But, there is an element of mistrust and hate just below the surface waiting for the right moment to become involved. Some wise man once pointed out that freedom comes with a price. Is this payback time? Have we reached the point where we will turn on ourselves just because we are now better informed and can believe anything we want to believe. Is it a case of, “He who shouts the loudest and uses the most profanity will be the winner”?

As I said earlier, as I am already 80, not much of this will affect me in the few remaining years that I may have on this earth but I do hate to think of what we are leaving for the next generations or even if there will be many more generations before we turn on ourselves.

Footnote:
This really didn’t come out the way I meant it to and maybe I am not a good enough writer to make it so.

A Really Long Walk at Pedernales Falls 6-25-2016


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Wolf Mountain Trail showing Wolf Mountain.

I drove to Pedernales Falls which is about an hour from my house thinking as I drove about what trails I wanted to hike. It was about 1:00 pm when I arrived and was already hot so I opted to walk on one of the easier trails which is actually more like a road than a trail in the accepted sense of the word.

Wolf Mountain Trail is probably 25 feet wide in most of it’s length and it is the trail that leads to the primitive camping sites. Along the way, it crosses three different creeks, Regal, Bee and Mescal and it you walk far enough around the back of Wolf Mountain, it also crosses Tobacco Creek. At first, I had planned to just walk as far as the primitive camp sites and then double back and walk home to the car park but I felt good and once I got off the main trail, the trails were pretty shaded so I continued on around the back of Wolf Mountain. Incidentally, I didn’t see a single camper in the primitive sites, no tents or other signs that anyone was there.

I passed several hikers and bikers all going in the opposite direction of course and took a few pictures of them. There were others who I did not capture on camera as I circled the mountain. I came across an old stone house and a long length of stone walls. I wonder what stories they can tell and how long it took to build them by hand. Even just collecting the rocks must have been quite a process.

On the trail back, I kept a good steady pace (for me) even though it was hot and as usual, I was totally soaked in sweat. I made it safely back to the car after having covered ten and a half miles.

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

Reimers Ranch 6-24-2016


DSC_3147For a change, I decided to take a walk at Reimers Ranch where I hadn’t been in a while. I thought that maybe I would take one of the two long hikes but when I arrived, changed my mind. Instead, I pulled into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot and went through my usual pre-hike rituals  of changing boots etc. I set off on the trail that would lead me to Johnny’s Homestead and from there, headed North down the Multi-Use Trail.

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A few hundred yards down the trail, I came to the signs for the Kelly Prehn Trails which I knew branched off towards the river where  I could get some good pictures. This trail splits into two separate trails, the Kelly Prehn Overlook and the Pogue Canyon Overlook.

I walked them both and managed to get some good pictures of both Overlooks. The views from above are not the greatest and it is a long way down to the water. The Spruce trees however, are in fine form and show very well on the pictures. It is a pity that this trail is not connected to the last overlook on the Main Trail as it would be a fabulous walk as it followed the river.

Continuing, North along the Multi Use Trail, I came to another fork in the road with one trail leading to Turkey Loop and the other remaining the Multi-Use Trail. I opted to take the Turkey Loop in the hopes that I might get lucky and spot a Turkey or two. No such luck but I did get a picture of a sparrow which actually is more than I can usually get with any bird other than a Buzzard.

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I completed the loop and was back on the Main trail which from there was a straightforward walk back to the parking lot. I found a few flowers along the way and took pictures of them.

I arrived back in the parking lot with still a few cars in it. A couple of horses and riders passed me just as I made the turn and they were the first I had seen in a while at Reimers Ranch. Altogether, I covered around 5 miles of very easy walking underfoot. The trails are wide and flat with very little loose rock. My timing was good as the thunder clouds were rolling in as you can see from the pictures below and I drove home through the rain.

As with all of these slide shows, if you click on anyone of them, it will enlarge and you can use the side arrows to move them along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

 

Rattling the Monkey Cage


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It was quiet… a little too quiet on the night of April 11th, in this most wretched year of our Lord . I sat with friends in our usual booth in a nearly empty restaurant. Someone a little familiar caught my eye, as he made his way toward the side of the bar. I used to work retail. It was awful. I’ll tell you more about it some other time. I remembered the guy from when he came into my old job with his mother. I was there long enough that I could still remember him as a kid. I remembered the boy as a polite, considerate young man. I didn’t know him very well.

Then… he spoke. Not to me, but to those around him. More people started to flood the restaurant. They’d gotten out from a recent Trump rally on the other side of the river. They were…

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Pedernales on June 22, 2016


DSC_3119Another hike at Pedernales brought on by my desire to get out and about.  This time, I drove into the Wolf Mountain Trail Parking Lot and then opted to take the North Loop Equestrian Trail for a bit before branching off to the East Boundary Trail travelling South. I followed this for about a mile and then took the trail that I thought would lead me back to the parking lot. However, I managed to take the wrong trail and cut back too soon meaning that I backtracked over the same trail more than I had originally anticipated.

I still ended up back at the parking lot but cut a little of my planned hike. I walked a total of 4 miles on another hot day with some shade provided by the cedars so it was not all bad. Interestingly enough, the trail was still quite wet in places as the water continued to drain down from the higher areas. At one point, I came across a solitary egg, deposited on the ground. There was no nest and no sign of any bird watching over it. A bit of a mystery.

I got some great pictures of the wonderful views and many of the various types of trail that I walked. An enjoyable couple of hours out walking.

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

 

McKinney…Again 6-19-2016


DSC_3046After enjoying yesterday’s walk at Mckinney so much, I decided that I needed to go again only this time, I would take the longer trail. The trails down alongside the river are still closed awaiting repair after the recent floods but I figured that I could still walk the big loop comprising of Buckeye, Pecan Bottom, Coyote Road and back to the parking lot via Yaupon.

I drove into the Pope Bend Trailhead noticing a couple of horse trailers already in the lot. The horses and riders were already out on the trails. It was good to see the horses back as they had been banned due to the floods. I followed the usual preparations of boots, hat, camera belt, camera and hiking poles and set off along Buckeye. The first thing that I saw were the trails had all been dressed and were wonderfully smooth (for trails).

The walking was just great and I walked along accompanied by birdsong of different kinds. Seems like there were a lot more birds than usual. From Buckeye I took Pecan Bottom which is home to many large Pecan Trees the most famous of which has its own sign which indicates it is over 200 years old. it is huge and although I took a picture, I cannot do it justice as I can’t get the entire tree into the frame.

From Pecan Bottom, I walked along Coyote Road and met the horse and riders as they headed back to the parking lot. I snapped a couple of pictures of them as they passed each calling out a cheery greeting.

THe going got a little tricky where Coyote Road and Roadrunner intersected as the trails had a major washout at this point. I was able to squeeze through enough to continue along Coyote Road which at the point turns into a major uphill climb all the way until the trail intersects with Yaupon.

This was the home stretch although it by itself, was almost 3 miles of walking. I made steady progress and was very grateful that the trails were sheltered with tall trees as the day was growing hot. I spotted a few flowers along the way including the wild variety of the Lantana. It looks exactly the same as the common garden variety.

Yaupon is an interesting trail to hike. It has many ups and downs and is shaded for most of the way. It helped that it too had been recently dressed which made the walking so much more comfortable. I passed one other couple going in the opposite direction (I never pass anyone going in the same direction)  and finally made it back to the parking lot.

Altogether, I covered almost 6 miles and arrived back to the car to find that the horse trailers had all gone and I had the lot to myself. As usual, I was totally sweat soaked as the temperature was well above 90 degrees but I knew that a bottle of water and a Starbucks Grande Latte and I would be just fine.

Although many of the trail pictures look very similar, they are all of different parts of the trails. There is one picture of a dead moth that I had never seen before. All in all, another very enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

Again, as with all of these pictures, if you click on anyone of them, it will enlarge it and then you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

It’s Back…


HotWeatherThe heat, the bloody Texas heat
is back with us again
though Spring did last till the start of June
it too has finally passed.

Now we are back to our normal climes
no rain or clouds in the sky
but one thing we can be sure
the sun is shining bright.

Temperatures of 100 degrees
are now getting to be the norm
and the only time to be outside
is early in the morn.

Do I mind how hot it gets
depends on what I’m doing
if I’m just walking around the yard
then I don’t feel like I’m stewing.

If I want to take a hike
or work outside a while
then I do not like the heat
as it make me feel fragile.

I spend a lot of time indoors
making up silly ditties
got to do something to pass the time
even if they are quite clueless.