Reimers Ranch 12-13-2018


The far bank

With the weather so great, I just had to get out and take a walk. It was really a spur of the moment decision as I had not really planned on it. So, I grabbed my cameras and filled my water bottle and headed to Reimers Ranch. I had no specific plans for any particular trail and ended up at the River Bend Parking lot. This is the one that leads to both the swimming areas and to the river trails which is where I opted to hike.

The River Trail

I walked along the river trail taking pictures of the wonderful views including the Pedernales River. The walking is easy although there are a couple of places where the trail gets a little tricky like climbing up and over the rocks. The plan was to walk to River View parking No 1. at which point, I would make the difficult climb up and out of the canyon and take the gravel path that runs along the top of the bluff back to my truck.

The climb out
Quite a climb

As usual, exiting the river trails at River Parking No 1 was a challenge. This requires literally climbing up rocks that are placed in the form of a very rudimentary set of stone steps, easy enough for the young and agile but challenging to old people like me. I safely made it out and then started to walk back along the gravel path. This is easy walking although it too has washed out in a few places and needs some maintenance work. I could see the storm clouds off in the distance and wondered if I would beat them back to my truck as I didn’t fancy getting a soaking although I was more concerned for my cameras than for me. As it happened, I beat the rain and made it back with time to spare.

Thunderclouds building
Almost back to my truck before the rain.

I covered a little over four miles and as usual, took a lot of pictures and have put them together in the form of a slideshow set to music. Enjoy.

Written 12/23/2018

McKinney Roughs 12-15-2018


I had the hikers itch and so grabbing all of my gear, I headed to McKinney Roughs just to get back out in the fresh air and spend some time with Nature. The weather was gorgeous with the temperature around 65 degrees and just a few light clouds in the sky, perfect weather for being outdoors. 

I pulled into the parking lot and there were a few other cars, hopefully all making the most of the sunshine and getting their exercise. I went through my usual procedures of boots and gear and decided to take only one camera with me. I must not have been paying much attention as when I got out on the trail, I noticed that I had brought the one with the smaller lens. The two cameras that I have are the Nikon D 7200 and the Nikon D 7500 with the latter a little more advanced with stuff that I haven’t figured out how to use. I wasn’t about to go back as I knew that I could still get good pictures with the 7200. It was equipped with a telescopic 16-300 lens.

All of the trails were open with the exception of the short piece on Road Runner that has been closed for quite a while. I planned on walking down Ridge and then complete the circuit on Bluff Trail Loop and finally ending up on Woodland and home. I met several people out on the trail and stopped to talk to a couple of young men, named Seth and Parker. They were very interested in the lichen growing on the trees and rocks and I never thought to ask them why. They are both holding a twig with lichen on it in the picture.

I met another older gentleman who told me that he was “turned around” and wanted to get on the Coyote Road trail. We were on Bluff Trail Loop at the time and I showed him where he would have to go if he stayed on the trails. His comment was that he was going to “bushwhack” it as he could hear his friends off to one side. I heard them too as without another word, he struck off in a direct line from where the sound was coming from sort of forging his own trail. Luckily for him, he was walking downhill making the going a little easier. “Good Luck” I called out to him as he disappeared among the brush. Hopefully, he made it to where he was going.

I continued on as I had before following the trails and taking a lot of pictures. Most of the greenery is gone with the occasional cedar tree still green and breaking the monotony. The panoramic picture below shows of just how barren everything is looking. It is winter here in my part of central Texas although by comparison to a lot of the USA, hard to tell it.

Winter in Texas

It was quite obvious from the condition of some of the trails that there had been a lot of rain  fallen in the past week or so as the trails were deeply rutted with many footprints. They were at the stage where the footprints from the walkers and had dried in that condition and it was going to take a lot of hikers feet to make the trails level and more comfortable to walk on especially as no horses were allowed on this particular trail.

I made my way back up Woodland heading back to the parking lot and passed an older couple sitting on one of the many benches placed on that trail. This trail leads directly back to the office and is designed for anyone to take a leisurely walk. It is fairly level with no hills to climb.

I arrived back at my truck just as a young lady was saying goodbye to someone who had dropped her off. She told him that she loved him and as we passed, I said “I like what you just said, There is not enough of it in the world today”. She replied that it was her uncle and I thought how sweet it was to belong to a tight knit family such as that. I thought about it as I sat in my truck relaxing after the walk and wished for a moment that I had a different life. Luckily for me, the feeling soon passed as we are talking of a life gone by and we can’t turn back the clock no matter how hard we try.

I headed home stopping at the HEB that I usually stop at and the Starbucks right next door before arriving home. Altogether, I covered a little over five miles including the HEB shopping. It all counts as exercise…

Below is a video of the nine panoramic views of the park.  Both videos are best viewed in full screen.

The video below is a slideshow of the many other pictures that I took. Both videos are best viewed in full screen.

Written 12/17/2018

Circle C 12-12-2018


Slaughter Creek

I happened to have my camera with me so I decided to take a short walk at the Circle C soccer fields. There is a small stream that flows in the park known as Slaughter Creek and it has substantial water in it at this time of the year. Not so much in the summer time when a lot of these streams tend to dry out.

I figured that I might be able to get some decent pictures of the stream so I parked my truck and wandered over to the closest point which happened to be right by the entrance to the Park and started clicking away. I noticed an odd looking tree that appeared to be half dead but a lot of that is the time of the year as all of the leaves had already dropped. This tree has a series of raised growths on it giving it this very odd appearance. I have no idea what caused this dis-figuration unless it was a climbing vine that managed to get incorporated into the trees bark but it makes for an interesting picture.

Now, I wonder what caused this?
A bigger view

I discovered there was a well trodden footpath that followed the stream so I decided to take it. I have walked this Park many times but this was the first time I have walked this particular trail. I knew that if I continued in the direction I was going, I would eventually run into Escarpment Blvd and from there, I could veer left and eventually connect up to the Main trail. This trail is very wide as the pictures show. There is also  Frisbee Golf course that sort of runs parallel to both Slaughter Creek and the Main trail with the two intermingling as they crisscross the park.

See how wide the main trails are.

This is a very popular Park for the local residents and is well used. The Soccer Fields are populated with kids training in the evenings and playing their matches on the weekends. All in all, a nice place for a short walk and with a Starbucks just across the street, who could go wrong. Altogether, I covered a little over 2 miles.

Written 12/14/2018

Pedernales Falls State Park 12-2-2018


Having an overabundance of energy, I decided to take another walk at Pedernales Falls State Park even breaking my unwritten rule about hiking on weekends due to the number of other people that frequent the Parks. Not that I am a snob or anything like that but I prefer it to have the trails to myself whenever possible.

On the way over just as I reached the Park, a message flashed up on the console telling me that I only had enough gas to drive 50 miles. I thought about it as I arrived at the Park Office and decided that I should head back into Dripping Springs and fill up just in case the truck ran out of gas before making it back home and I did not want to wait around for AAA to come and help me in the dark. Besides, I knew I would be worrying about it and would not enjoy the walk. It took about 30 minutes to Dripping Springs and back this time with a full tank and an easy mind. By the time I reached the Valero station, the message was telling me I had 20 miles left. I wonder how accurate these things are or whether it fudges a bit and really there is 50 or more miles left in the tank. I sure did not want to find out.

I stopped back at the Park Office and paid the $2:00 entry fee and made my way to where I had already decided that I would start, at the Bird Blind Parking Area.  Instead of taking the Duckpond trail as I had a couple of days before, I was planning on taking the Horse trail on about a 4 mile loop. Of course, the horse trail is much longer than that and is one of several in this Park. The horse part of the trail I was on is around 12 miles, much more than I was ready to hike although I did hike 18 miles, some of it in the dark at this same Park a couple of years ago when I managed to get lost.

I parked in the Horse Corral area along with several other horse trailers. These riders had already completed their rides and had loaded their horses and were sitting around enjoying a light lunch and having all kinds of fun judging by their laughter. Ah, the beauty of great times and good companionship. I went through my usual routine of preparing for a hike before setting off following the horse trail. I met one lone horse and rider who did not want me to take her picture as her horse was a bit skittish and acting up. She asked me to talk to the horse to reassure it that I was no threat which of course, I obliged. Amazing isn’t it that this bloody great big animal that towered over me needed me to talk to it to calm it down. I used to ride a lot many years ago and had my own animals but I cannot remember them being as big as they seem to be nowadays.

We both moved on and the rest of the walk was uneventful. I eventually came out on the West side fence line of the Park, on the other end of the Duck Pond walk of a couple of days ago. I made my way following the fence line this time going in the opposite direction until I came to the turn off to the Horse Corral. Just before reaching it, another couple of horse and riders came up behind me and we exchanged greeting as we passed. They were quickly out of sight as everybody and everything walks faster than I do.

On the way back in, I was lucky enough to spot a Cardinal among the shredded Cedar on the ground. It was a case of point and hope as he was never very visible at any time. I got lucky.

I ended back at the truck and sat around for a while just enjoying the beautiful weather. The last two riders who had passed me were in the big field area just trotting and cantering their horses around and did not seem to be in any hurry to call it quits. I wanted to stop at the Bird Blind so that I could get a couple of pictures of the sign and of the snake warning for my earlier blog. All in all, I covered about four and a half miles of very enjoyable walking and taking some great pictures. With the exception of the picture below and the Cardinal, all of the stills are Panoramic’s made up of several pictures 

Peaceful times

The drive home was uneventful now that I had a full tank of gas which is equal to around 725 miles of driving so I am good for a bit. I never normally allow the tank down below 150 miles and you can bet that I won’t in the future. Don’t like or need unnecessary worries. A quick stop at Starbucks in Dripping Springs on the way home and I was good to go…

Written 12/4/2018

A Walk at Pedernales Falls State Park 11-27-2018


This Panorama is made up of 6 separate pictures

I decided it was time for a change from my regular haunts at McKinney Roughs in Bastrop and Reamers Ranch in Dripping Springs so I chose to go back to Pedernales Falls State Park that actually has a Johnson City address. I haven’t been there for a while and wanted a change of scenery. 

The Park is located about 35 miles from my house and is at the beginning of the Texas Hill Country as that area is known. This is a State Park so it cost me $6:00 to get in, always well worth it from my perspective. The line at the counter was short but the guy in the front would not stop talking and asking what I considered to be dumb questions of the lone Park Officer that was manning the desk. She was very patient with him, much more than I would have been. Guess it takes all kinds to make up this world that we live in.

I finally got to pay my $6:00 and hopped back into my truck and drove to the Parking Area for the Duckpond Loop. I have made this walk before and the last time, managed to take pictures of an Egret and a couple of wild boars so I was hopeful that I would get something today. I went through my usual routine but as the weather is now a lot cooler at around 65 degrees, only needed to change into my boots. I elected to carry two cameras, one with the 150-600 long lens and the other has the 18-400 lens on it. Both are telescopic. The 150-600 is very heavy at around 5 pounds and really needs a tripod but I can generally get some decent long distance pictures  without one. 

The Duckpond is about a half mile from where I parked the truck and I took a couple of pictures of the trail in this part of the Park. The Duckpond is really two separate ponds, one of which dries up in the long hot Texas summers. It was the first one I came to walking from my direction and I approached very slowly and as quietly as I could possibly be. I managed get a couple of pictures of the ducks on this pond before they took off and flew around in circles before heading off. Walking to the second pond was much easier as the pond was hidden from view by the trees. Along the way is a Duck blind only this one is for taking pictures and not for shooting the ducks. I hung around inside for 15 minutes but the main body of ducks did not re-appear but I got some pictures of the few that were left on this pond.

I moved on along the trail and opted to follow the Duckpond Loop which I knew would bring me back out onto the opposite side of the field from where I had parked the truck. The trail follows the West side border of the Park and the boundary is a marked by a six strand barbed wire fence. This fence line is remarkably straight and this border stretches for a little over 3 miles.

On the neighbors property, there were two deer feeders set up about a half mile apart with the deer blind set equidistant between them, obviously getting ready for the deer season which is only a few days away. Seems a little unfair to me to treat the deer so nicely by enticing them with food and then only to shoot them. Barbaric is probably a better word and personally, I can’t see the sport in that. When I lived up North in New York State many years ago, I and my friends would hunt deer in the Adirondacks. The difference was that we would follow them to hunt them and might end up walking several miles through rocky terrain, sometimes through the snow in the hope of spotting one. Then, if you were lucky, you had to drag it back out of the woods to wherever you were parked. At least, there was effort put into the hunt. I only ever had one deer in my sights and when it turned and looked at me, deliberately shot wide to frighten it off. I didn’t have the heart to kill such beautiful animal. I think I enjoyed the camaraderie of the guys more than the killing although most of them would shoot at a deer and anything else that moved.

Continuing on the walk, I managed to take some nice pictures of that part of the Park and eventually came out into the field where the truck was parked. The grass in the field was very long as it had not been mowed until I got closer to where all of the buildings are situated and that had been taken care of. 

On the way back out, I stopped at the Bird Blind that is located there. It has an interesting warning notice stating to be very careful to check that there are no snakes in the buildings, under the seats or in any of the storage containers. Such is Nature.

I wanted to get more pictures of the river so I drove off towards that parking lot. I parked the truck and walked down towards the river and met a lot of people along the way, most greeting me as we passed, some with comments. I arrived at the overlook that also has steps leading all the way down to the river itself but I didn’t want to make that trip. Instead, I opted to stay at the Overlook and take more pictures. It sure is a beautiful Park and the Pedernales when it is not in flood, is pretty to look at especially at the Falls. The rocks are very impressive. The pictures in the video are all panoramas and are made up of three or more pictures joined together.

This Park does not have a large variety of trees, mostly it is all Cedar but occasionally you come across something different as with the pictures below. These trees are showing off their Fall colors.

This Spruce is growing in the river bed.

I made a slow drive back and detoured into Dripping Springs for a Starbucks stop before making my way home. Another great hike of a little over 4 miles and it was good to have a change of scenery.

Written 11-28-2018

Where Has the Year Gone?


Is this the path to eternity?

I was perusing the blogs that end up in my inbox on a daily basis to see if there was anything super interesting or that needed my attention. Out of the one hundred or so that make up the mornings supply, there are always some that are interesting or are from the bloggers that I choose to follow on a regular basis. These I pay special attention to while the rest are quickly sent to that hole in the sky where the uninteresting or unwanted blogs end up. Many are advertisements and they too are quickly eliminated.

I had one this morning from Amy Rose of Petals Unfolding commenting on exactly the same thing, “Where has the year gone?” She also attached some photos of a real Fall with beautifully colored leaves, not like what I get in my part of Texas. Here, there is the occasional tree with its Fall window dressing but we have a lot of evergreens that just drop the leaves without them coloring up and many keep them and are green nearly all year round. They drop their leaves in the Spring when the new growth arrives. This also means we have a double batch to clean up.

Back to the subject of this blog, “Where has the year gone?” I know that old wives tale or not, time is supposed to pass quicker as we get older. That is probably because we are each approaching our individual end and instead counting forward as we did when we were young, we are now counting downwards to that inevitable ending. Why that particular time has to go by so fast, I don’t know. Being older and retired with no clocks to punch anywhere, one would think that time would slow down. I even stopped wearing a watch as I really had no reason to keep track of time.

Of course, all of this is a fallacy as we all know there are 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day, 7 days to a week and any number of days in the various months. Whether we are young and can’t wait to grow up or old and can’t wait to act young again, time is always the same, never varying. The only thing constant is the count down to the end and that is an individual thing over which we have no control.

So, even though time flies by as we grow older it is just a misconception and just maybe a sign that we are really having way too much fun. Roll on 2019. Lets get into yet another year and see if this one goes by any slower…

Written 11/25/2018

McKinney Roughs 11-15-2018


I took another walk this time at McKinney Roughs in Bastrop. The weather was nice and balmy at around 65 degrees, just right for walking. When I pulled into the Parking Lot, there were several cars there including a school bus so I assumed that LCRA was holding another of their wildlife sessions. Such is the modern era that kids have to learn about Nature through a classroom instead of just getting out and into the woods to learn for themselves. Times sure have changed…

These are all Panoramic shots that I took. All of the videos view better in a full screen. Use the four outward pointing arrows next to the word Vimeo and Escape to get back to normal size.

I went through my usual routines, changing clothes and this time, putting on my boots, grabbing my camera and gear and finally, paying my $2.00 at the office. I had decide that I was going to walk Yaupon and back as the trail was still out where it connects to Roadrunner and Coyote Road. I set off along Bobcat Ridge until it met with Yaupon to the left and Coyote Road to the right and took the Yaupon trail. I had traveled about a half a mile and the trail was very muddy with standing water in many places. I was having misgivings about this trail when an older lady walking alone came towards me. We exchanged brief greetings and she said that the trail was very wet and was not going to get any better as she had covered it all the way to the Hilton turn off before turning back. She went on her way and after a moments thought, I turned and followed her. She was very soon out of sight and moved pretty quickly for an older person, much quicker than me, which is not saying much as I am definitely not going to break any speed records for walking.

These are the rest of the pictures that I took.

After much consideration, I decided to stay on Bobcat Ridge which I knew was on higher ground all the way. The trail runs real close to the zip line towers and rope climbing areas that LCRA has built as a part of their attraction although I had never before seen anyone using it but I could hear screams and laughter and shouts of encouragement as I approached. I took the trail that leads to this area to see what was going on and there in front of me were probably about 100 or so kids all either climbing ropes or waiting to ride the zip line. They were all screaming at the top of their voices as one of their friends hit the zip line. The girls outnumbered the boys by about 3-1 and they were also the ones making the most noise. Everyone was wearing a  belt type harness that also encircled each leg plus a hard hat. The slideshow below gives you an idea of the different activities that were happening. The video is very brief and was filmed without the use of a tripod hence the very shaky nature of it.

A very shaky video of the kids on the zip line.

I watched the kids for about 15 minutes and then continued on my way wishing that I were young again and had such freedom of spirit plus a lithe and agile body and all of the years ahead of me. Oh well.

I continued along Bobcat Ridge and then continued along Pine Ridge. I knew there was a pond along it as I had watched a pair of herons fly off it on a previous hike. I approached the pond very carefully just in case but there were no herons or any other birds or wildlife that I could see. I headed back and crossed over onto Pine Ridge and finally Riverside and back to the Main Buildings. I passed through the gardens that just a week before were alive with flowers and blooms of many different varieties only to see everything dead and shriveled up with the recent frosts. I am glad that I was able to get so many good pictures the last time. Such are the wonders of nature. On  the way back along Pine Ridge, I passed a full scale film crew who were making some form of documentary.

Showing different pictures of the kids enjoying themselves.

I arrived back at my truck after having covered a little over five miles and changed into dry clothes before making my way back home. As I sat in my truck, two very large tour buses pulled up in front of the Office and at the same time, the kids arrived back from the rope area all running in a single file which was most impressive. There were a few stragglers that dragged in behind the main group as there usually are. In my mind, I wished the kids long and happy lives and the thought that they had all experienced something today.

Written 11/19/2018