Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
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…
The Austin Pond Society held their last meeting of the year in the form of a Christmas Party. The theme this year was Mexican and the food and decorations reflected that. Members came dressed in gay colors, some wearing hats and the main dish for the food was Tamales along with all of the fixins’. Members provided more Mexican dishes plus a myriad of deserts.
For the second meeting in a row, attendance was down. The weather had taken a turn for the worse with a cold front so maybe that kept some people away. Altogether, I counted twenty seven members present. Blue Santa and Mrs Klaus had to drop out at the very last minute due to being stuck in Chicago so a couple of other gentlemen, David and Scott filled in, making speeches and receiving all of the donated toys of which there were two very large sacks.
There was no business to conduct so the entire evening was focused on food and good company. This was Jeannie’s last meeting as El Presidente and I and the Membership would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her past five years of serving the Members of the Austin Pond Society.
So the curtain drops on another fun year. I wonder what is in store for 2019?
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
I took a drive to Reimer’s Ranch with the intention of taking a short walk and a few pictures. As is my usual practice, I drove into all four parking lots with the first and the last both very busy and loaded with cars. Both of these lots have access to the rock climbing areas.
I got out and walked around for a bit at the second Parking , known as River Bend Parking No 2, which is the one that leads to the beach area and noticed that the gate was closed and locked leading to the beach. This meant that it was not accessible for vehicular traffic, a sure sign that the swimming season is well and truly over. There were several cars and people about as it still a great place to take a hike.
Deciding that walking was not what I really wanted to do, I jumped back in my truck and took off down Hamilton Pool Road and headed past both Hamilton Pool and West Cave Preserve before getting onto Cypress Mill Road (RR 962). I enjoy just driving and seeing if there is anything that catches my eye and luckily for me I was able to get a nice picture of the Cypress Creek crossing the road (picture above). It was getting to be late afternoon and the sun was very low creating a very beautiful effect.
Cypress Mill Road brought me back out onto Hwy 281 so I turned East and headed to where Hwy 281 intersected with Hwy 290 and drove back in to Dripping Springs stopping at the new Starbucks that has been installed there. I say new but I guess it must be a year old by now…
All in all, a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, listening to a great Audiobook and enjoying the Texas countryside.
Now fully enthused with getting back to hiking, I took another walk at Reimer’s Ranch fully intending this to be just a short hike for a couple of miles or so. Instead, it turned out to be the longest one yet of these most recent walks. I went through my usual change of clothes routine but it was not until I had covered a half mile or so that I realized I had not changed into my hiking boots. Luckily, my shoes are walking shoes with thick soles and lots of support so it was not really a big deal. Certainly not big enough to turn around and change.
I hadn’t planned on such a long walk. I thought that maybe a short loop from the Mountain Bike Parking Lot over to Johnny’s Homestead. At that point I was going to decide which way I wanted to go as I had five different options. I finally chose to take the Multi Use Trail which surrounds the entire park and then turned off onto the Kelly Prehn Overlook. Just prior to making the turn, a young lady passed me running the Multi Use Trail. I had noticed her with her husband or boy friend in the same Parking Lot that I was in. He unloaded a bike which I supposed was for his use as she was the one running. Great way for both of their different interests to be combined to one location.
I continued along the trail leading to the Overlook where I was able to look down the gorge and see the stream at the bottom. I was a bit surprised that the stream was not flowing much heavier after all of the rain. The pictures that I took do not do the view justice as I was not able to capture the depth of the gorge from the overlook but it is probably around 150 feet.
From Kelly Prehn, I took the trail that leads to Pogue Canyon. Both views are very similar and Spruce trees are dropping their needles very fast as winter approaches. Again, my pictures do not show the depth very well. I walked back to the Multi Use Trail and kicked around which way I wanted to go. I finally decided to follow the young lady and took the Multi Use Trail which eventually brought me back to the Parking Area which had emptied considerably from when I first arrived. I was really dragging by the time I got back and my two pedometers registered around 6.5 miles. I sure wish my hot tub was fixed as I could really use it after these sort of walks.
Following the successful walk at Reimer’s Ranch a couple of days ago and all enthused because of the cooler weather, I hit the trails again this time heading in the opposite direction to my most favorite park, McKinney Roughs. Reimer’s is in Dripping Springs and McKinney Roughs is almost into Bastrop and the two parks are very different. Reimer’s has the Pedernales River flowing though it and the land is much more open. It used to be a working ranch in its earlier days although Mother Nature is doing a very good job of reclaiming the land for her own. Reimer’s is a Travis County Park. Old guys like me, get in for free which is another bonus.
The video above is made up of Panoramic pictures, sometimes as many as six separate pictures all rolled into one.
McKinney Roughs is an LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) Park. This park also has it’s own river, the Colorado River which is every bit as big and sometimes just as frightening at the Pedernales can be. Where Reimer’s is flat and open, McKinney is densely forested and includes some of the famous Bastrop Pine Trees as well as a grand assortment of everything else. The entrance and main buildings are built on the top of a high bluff and then it all slopes down towards the river. When you are walking McKinney, it seems like all of the trails are uphill. LCRA has developed this park to be a location for summer camps and conferences and the buildings are set up as dormitories and meeting rooms. It really is a wonderful and idyllic location to get away from it all. Oh yes, it costs old guys like me just $2:00 to get in. As an added attraction, LCRA has built a Zip Line on the furthest end of the park for those brave souls that need a bigger thrill than just hiking.
I went through my usual process of changing clothes and outfitting myself with my camera bag and camera belts and grabbing my walking poles, headed for the Office to pay my $2:00. The very pleasant young lady behind the counter informed me that due to recent rains, all of the river trails were closed. I thanked her for the information and taking a look at the map, chose to walk Bobcat Ridge which is a very pleasant walk. Some of the trails were a bit muddy but nothing I couldn’t handle. Bobcat Ridge ends at Riverside and this is also where the trails were barricaded off. if you can call yellow tape a barricade, to inform hikers that it was off limits to go down to the river. I met a young fellow sitting on the bench that was located at the trails intersection and we struck up a conversation. He said that he was trying to get into better shape which is why he was out there although he was sitting and resting when I spoke with him. We chatted a bit more and then I went on my way heading up Valley View which as the name suggests, does have some very nice views of the opposite valley. I took a few pictures and then headed up Ridge which brought me back from where I started. Around the building and dormitory area, the gardens are very well kept and there was an abundance of flowers just begging to have their pictures taken.
All in all, it was a very pleasant afternoon. The weather was bright and cheerful and it was not too hot. I managed to cover 5.5 miles and the old body creaked a bit towards the end. It is so exhilarating to get out and commune with Nature and well worth all of the aches and pains.
Now that the weather has calmed down a bit first with our dreadfully hot summer followed by non stop rain, I was able to get out to take the first serious walk of the Fall season. I opted for Reimer’s Ranch as the walking is fairly easy and I wanted to work my way back into it. After such a long lay off, this old body needs some time to gradually get acclimatized to extra effort.
There were a lot of cars in all of the parking lots as others chose to enjoy the mild weather and get outdoors. The Horse Parking area had 5-6 trailers in it and I did see a couple of horse and riders as I drove to the very last parking area that is called River View Parking #2. This lot is the main one for the second of the two Rock Climbing Areas. It took me a while to get ready as I did a complete change of clothes putting on older shorts and tee shirt and of course, my boots. I tend to sweat a lot and generally get back in totally saturated requiring that I change again this time into dry clothes for the trip home. Gotta keep my truck as clean as possible and sure don’t want sweaty seats. It also took me a little while to sort out my camera gear as apart from the short walk a week or so ago, hasn’t been used for several months. Not so much the cameras as they are always in use but the belts and my Cotton Camera carrying systems have kinda sat idle for a few months.
Finally satisfied that everything was in place and opting to carry just the one camera with the 18-400 mm lens, leaving the heavy long lens behind, I set off. I was going to walk the Turkey Trail and follow it to the very end of the Park. On the way, I came across an Oriental family of Husband, Wife and a small child. After saying hello, they asked for directions on how to get back to the Parking Area and I was very happy to oblige them.
Pressing on, I came to end of the Park and chose to take the Lower Trail which would take me past the Rock Climbing Areas. It was very quiet as far as wildlife was concerned and the only thing I saw were several Buzzards floating in the sky. I didn’t see any other birds of any type nor did I hear any. As I neared the Rock Faces, I could hear the chatter and laughter of the climbers and it wasn’t long before two groups walked past me on the way out. I also passed a young lady with a large puppy which looked like a pointer. She was having trouble with it as it was still learning how to behave. I always step aside for these young people as they all walk faster than me and I don’t want to get in the way of the enthusiasm of youth.
I managed to miss the exit from the gorge and found myself walking further than I had intended eventually climbing out at Parking Lot #1. This meant that I had to walk the gravel path that connects all four parking areas adding a mile or so to my original distance that I had planned. I eventually arrived back to my truck and sat for a while before driving home. Altogether, I covered a little over 5 miles, a bit more than I had planned but I felt OK which was the main thing. Altogether, a very enjoyable walk and it was good to be back on the trails again.
The video is of the Park as I saw it thru the camera lens.
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